When a seizure disorder began to impact his daily life, Larry found comfort through self-medication.
Larry’s substance use disorder only added to his health issues, and with little to no help from healthcare professionals, his emotional and mental health deteriorated. Just like his health, other aspects of his life began to spiral out of control. His relationships with those closest to him suffered, he lost his job, and he found himself in a deep, chronic depression.
For fifteen years, these afflictions left Larry addicted, alone, and homeless.
“Somewhere along the way I lost the purpose for life. You know, I didn’t give a damn. I didn’t care I was on the streets. I didn’t care I was cold. I didn’t care I was wild and crazy, I was in the jungle.”
Larry remembers the first time Heartland Alliance Health’s outreach team said they could help him leave the streets. He remembers thinking that he spent too much time in that jungle. Housing wasn’t for him, he thought – and he certainly couldn’t trust some stranger promising something as life-changing as housing.
But the idea of someone helping with his seizures? That opportunity really stuck with Larry. The vulnerability of a seizure on the streets is dangerous for a multitude of reasons – and recovery often meant even more substance use. Larry was growing tired of his years-long cycle and was at least interested in finding a professional who could help him find some stability.
He decided it would be worth a conversation with the clinicians at Heartland Alliance’s northside clinic. He met his doctor for the first time, and he was able to quickly pick up medication on- site. Larry loved the ease and judgement-free treatment. He soon became accustomed to bi-monthly visits with his doctor, and the regularity of his seizures began to diminish.
All the while, an outreach worker named Chris stayed in touch with Larry. He’d make sure to check in after doctor visits to make sure Larry had his medication, food, and other resources.
“Chris and I got close over that time. After some years, Chris just stopped in the middle of a conversation and said ‘Wouldn’t you like somewhere to stay?’”
Larry’s new apartment was near the clinic. At first it was difficult to get used to. He’d stay for three or four days, and leave for three days straight. Larry was still wild.
But just as his previous cycles would pull him down, housing and healthcare seemed to reverse the trajectory. He started making friends. He started finding new interests. He reconnected with his children and his faith.
“I was thinking about what I really should be doing in life. I started to feel like I didn’t need the streets anymore.”
Larry’s been housed for 15 years. He sees his doctor every month, and shares updates on his children with the staff. He especially loves to give Chris a hard time any time they run into one another.
Today, Larry’s seizures only occur once in a blue moon. He has curbed his drinking dramatically, and removed all other drugs from his life entirely.
“This feels like a place I should be. Home. I’ve got it together now. I like the way I’m living now. To hell with the wild life. I’m staying home.”