This series is my living autobiography, here my voice, my life is shared with transparency and reflection. I’ll share my experiences as a young African American woman, an academic with mental illness and a child abuse survivor.
If that is interesting to you read my autobiography’s first chapter, SquareOne.
This is a trigger WARNING for the following
- Mental Illness
- Child abuse
- Honesty & Transparency
*life event update*
An Update. We’ve mangled and meandered our way to Washington State. In this post, I write about our nightmarish and unavoidable journey back home to Washington State, land of some wonderful social service resources.
We’re back in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) ready to start again.
Let’s start with the ‘We.”
The “We,” includes my Fiance Alexander, a bearded Frost Giant, age 30. He is a Square Shaped, Senior Snack Wrangler, and Bringer of Coze.
He’s my person and I’m his.
We left Tacoma, Washington with two freeloaders, a killer potato kitten of leisure and one magical forest fluff kitten banner tail.
Where did we start, let’s start where we were before we left Washington.
Two years ago, I had just graduated from the University of Washington Tacoma. I pushed back my graduation date one semester so I could leave the country for the first time for a study abroad.
I went on a study abroad trip. Titled, the Psychology of Super Heros, the psychology of good and evil. The second course was the Psychology of Food and Culture.
Food and culture from Austria, Vienna; Munich, Germany; and The Chez Republic, Prague.
From Vienna to Oregon, I met up with Alexander (my other half). We loaded up the cats and drove over 10 hours to Claremont, California.
We chose to move to Claremont for my graduate program and Alexander’s Forestry program I found at a local college.
2015 – 2016
I did have other an offer from another graduate program but this program didn’t have Positive Organizational Psychology research practitioners or faculty.
Choosing between two programs was a long and arduous process. After a lot of reflection, conversations with my fiance, research advisor, and constant personal introspection I made a decision.
Some of my criteria of merit for choosing a graduate program was as follows.
- Actionable industry connections
- Funding, I need fellowships and grants that I can apply for to offset the cost of the program.
- Research Opportunities
- Program Professors should be industry leaders in the behavioral organizational social sciences.
This graduate program met these criteria, so I left for graduate school at Claremont Graduate University. My partner of 5 years, Alexander left for Citrus Community College for Environmental Biology and a Forestry Certificate.
I’m glad I was able to complete 2 years of graduate school working my ass off in every facet of my life, psychologically, interpersonally, and professionally.
But after spending my life ignoring the severity of my mental health illnesses. This ignorance, I never rested or never took time from school and work that to fully address the pain woven from an abusive childhood.
I’ve never had the luxury of doing anything but working to support myself; Working to improve myself through education, introspection, and healthy interpersonal relationships. The combination of pure exhaustion combined with rigors graduate programs, ignited by mental illnesses doomed me to failure. Failure leading to an unforeseen forced work hiatus.
I’m rebuilding my world one day at a time.
I’m imprisonment within a capable nature, incapable of accessing the full volume of my ability. It is i n f u r i a t i n g !
Backward. The move from Washington to California, 2016
The months surrounding the move he would joke about how horrible it will be when I move and leave him and the fur babies behind. He went from stability to college instability and touches of poverty.
The move from California to Washington, 2018
Now I’m here without the U-haul crates that we shipped from across three states. We came back to Washington with a lot less baggage, physically speaking.
One large suitcase.
Two large army duffle bags.
Two pet carriers that happened to be an inch too tall, prompting a purchase of $110 for two pet carriers and then $95 each plus tax for their plane tickets.
If time and mental illnesses permitted I would have had two emotional support animals, who fly free.
We had always planned on getting out of Claremont as soon as possible. Southern California is an expensive place to live. Our income had grown in proportion to the living expenses but there were many un unforeseen problems. Problems that created more expenses that were met with a reduction in income at every turn. ‘Luck’ was not on our sides.
We chose to move once living in So Cal became untenable. Social resources for food and other public assistance adds stability to surviving higher education.
Life was unbearable. Not only where their emergencies at every turn, but Southern California also doesn’t have resources for the needy, comparatively to our old home. For example, in Washington, we could go to food banks. There were resources for basic housing needs.
Let’s talk about food stamps. I had food stamps in Washington but couldn’t get them in California because we, Alexander and I were both going to school full time. In California, we didn’t qualify for food stamps because Alexander’s income was untaxable.
When I worked I made too much to meet their 1,200 a month income limit when I wasn’t working I didn’t qualify for food stamps because I wasn’t working just going to graduate school full time.
In undergrad, I had a lot more income, state social resources, grants from school as the bases for survival. I went to the University of Washington, Tacoma (UWT) of the four years of my undergraduate education. UWT even has a short-term loan program where you can borrow money for a semester. It’s wonderful for emergencies and the like.
These safety measures made parking tickets, flat tires, sick kittens, and everything that can go wrong in life bearable. That’s with me working, going to school full time, working as a research assistant and interventionalist, I was exhausted all the time.
In summary, Southern California was more expenses, we had fewer resources and access to social service assistance that previously made life livable. This translated to our move because we didn’t have the time or resources to seek out services that make being poor affordable. Such as paying almost $400.00 to bring our pets home with us, back to Washington.
I’ll talk about some specifics of our major moves below.
The move from Washington to California, 2016
One of the biggest parts of our plan that was drafted during the financial planning section of the first move. the Budget for Grad school, for study abroad, and for moving back home to Washington State these plans started when I started applying for graduate school.
I sank to the ground turning to Sir Boots of Fur, my kitten. If moving would have been on my terms I would have paid nothing. Well, $20 tops for some second-hand fabric flight approved carry-on bags. The plane tickets would have been free because my fiance and I suffer from mental illness.
If we had the time, we could have used our health insurance to seek out a new psychiatrist, my previous psychiatrist was employed by my graduate program so I couldn’t see her.
The psychiatrist that I saw outside of school would take months to get an appointment with. We didn’t have months. We had days to sell all of our worldly possessions. All we need is each other, our kittens, and some clothes that’s what was left with.
But I didn’t plan for PTSD to disable my life, conspire against my academic and professional progress. But no, I was taken down and taken out of my graduate program which provided me with student loans and lots of part-time work to stay afloat.
If time and mental illnesses permitted I would have had two emotional support animals, who fly free.
Instead, I’m was a grown ass woman sitting down on the public floor, not just any public floor an airport floor? I’m talking about the line next to the self-luggage tagging kiosks. In the customer service line, at the register.
I didn’t have the energy to stand, so I sat with my kittens. My kitten Sir Boots of Fur has seen me through my father’s heart attack, my big sister’s kidney transplant, and my Fiance’s 2nd and last deployment to Afghanistan.
In hindsight, I’ve slept behind lines of airport terminal waiting many times. Under the window that houses a sunset, sunrise, and planes doing plane things. I would wrap my purse around my torso while I use my backpack and laptop edges as a pillow, a pillow that I need to protect in my negligent gate terminal slumber.
Back at the Airport.
Back at the ticketing station, I move Sir Boots of Fur’s cage around so that he could see his sister (Jack) and watch the commotion of ticket bagging lines at SouthWest. Then the bill rings up to 3.00 dollars more than we had in our collected estates.
I tilt my spine in defeat which also gave me a better look at my fur potato baby. A baby that I bathed in tears and cuddles through many many panic attacks and apathetic debilitation periods, because fucking PTSD. I just get to do more work than if I didn’t have mental illnesses pressuring my personal growth to damnation.
A viewing gallery of illnesses gathers– never stopping to distort every shred of motivation for life. For a journey that seems link a hampster wheel littered with neglected potholes, but then again neglect insinuates that there are a right way and a wrong way for a life to be lived or even find a life worth living.
Eventually, some kind people came forward and gave us money so we could end this purgatory. If we missed the flight, if we didn’t have money to bring our emotional supportive fur babies I don’t know what we would have done. We used every last dollar in our bank account plus cartable donations from strangers to pay for the plane tickets Boots and Jack (the kittens). We had money for this, set aside for this but our pet carriers were an inch too tall and therefore couldn’t fit under the set in front of us on the plane.
As I was melted online the floor, in front of the baggage scale served as a pedestal with the fees for pet carriers that we couldn’t afford. It was humiliating, these people that helped I couldn’t communicate to them. I could say thank you but I didn’t have the strength to add context to this pitiful one-way trip we couldn’t afford. There’s too much to share, I couldn’t only muster “we didn’t have time to get them certified as emotional support animals which would have made the kitten’s trip free. Free so we could have afforded those overpriced pet carriers.
Thanks to anhedonia, I felt a detached sorrow of helplessness to be unable to make the situation better. My mental illness stole time and resources from me that put us in this penniless situation filled fragmented support lines.
In the end, we made it here. Alexander had to call out for donations in line and without him, we wouldn’t have made it. Boots and Jack our fur babies made it and we have the resources to take care of them here. Here we have the resources to rebuild.