Many residents in the Support House spent time in the Psych Ward, Prison and homeless shelters. Each of those institutions are restrictive environments. There are official institutions rules and regulations and there are the social hierarchy rules among the patients, inmates and shelter residents. It is no different in the Support House environment. The only difference is that the Support House residents have freedom and they have the independence to do and go anywhere they want to go. There is no curfew; there is only one rule is that there is no overnight guests. Even that one rule does not restrict their freedom. Yet, within their minds there are not free. They act as though they are still institutionalized, instead of finding something to do they just hang around the Support House grounds, and they just sit in the day room staring into space like they would do if they were still in the Psych Ward.

But for some of the Support House residents they were never in the Psych Ward or Prison, yet their mental health deteriorated to the point where they cannot live without some sort of support. Perhaps their mental capacity was always on edge, but people in their lives tolerated the bizarre behavior that those with a mental health illness often displayed. But there is always a limit that family and other people will take before they start to gradually abandon them.

Tanya, a 60 year old Puerto Rican woman came to the Support House she never spent time in the Psych Ward or in Prison. By all accounts she lived a normal life, most of it in Puerto Rico. She was married and is the mother of two. She moved the City with her family. Her husband passed away a couple of years ago and from there she became estranged from her children. Eventually she lost her apartment and with no other support she ended up in a homeless shelter.

In the homeless shelter Caseworkers noticed Tanya’s bizarre behavior and referred her to Psychiatric services to get her mental health condition treated. She was diagnosed having a bi-polar disorder along with being schizophrenic, with verbal outbursts when she doesn’t get her way or if she is frustrated. It is unknown how long she had the condition, but it is certain that she became estranged from her children and whatever friends she had because of it.

Tanya was accepted into the Support House program she has been compiling with taking her meds under supervision. But living with the other characters in the Support House environment has not have a positive influence on her. She associated with characters that encourage her to take substances. Now Tanya regularly smokes the synthetic marijuana K2, crack and some form of opioids along with her cigarette habit.   

Now despite taking her prescribed medication her mental and physical health is on the decline. Her teeth has fallen out and the ones that are left look like they are rotten. She became obese, and has developed aliments of arthritis in her toes that she uses a walking stick. Physically she looks older then her 60 years.

Her living environment has declined to the point where her room has become an open house for the other residents go and “party.” The idea of parting to those living in the Support House environment is to engage in some type of illicit drug activity.  They knock on Tanya’s door all times of the day or night and asked to be let in.  When they are in Tanya’s room, they smoke or snort their choice of drugs, then in most cases with the men, they engage in sexual activity with Tanya before they leave.

In some cases multiple male residents and their guests will go into Tanya’s room at the same time, do their drugs and drink their liquor and when they’re finished they gang bang Tanya. The Support House staff is well aware of the activity going on surrounding Tanya’s room. The House residents mentions it; but staff are powerless to intervene because the activity is in the privacy of Tanya’s room, the activity is not disturbing the other residents, it’s not interfering with the Support House operations, and most of all Tanya is a willing participant and is consenting to the sex.

The unhealthy sexual activity make Tanya feel like a sex goddess that sometimes she puts on a skimpy dress and go to the corner a block away from the Support House to pick up men. Most of the men she accosts look at her with disgust. A member of the Support House staff would end up persuading Tanya to go back to the House before someone does something to her.        

Overall Tanya’s mental and physical condition is still declining. There will be a time when the services that the Support House offers will no longer serve Tanya’s purpose. She will need to be in a facility that could provide a higher level of care.

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  1. Very sad story. My brother has aged rapidly over the last 10 years or so (paranoid schizophrenia) – mainly because, when he isn’t supervised, he stops looking after himself at all – neither washing, eating or drinking. It’s all very sad. Tanya is putting herself at huge risk but, like you observe, she thinks it’s all great and doesn’t see any dangers.

    Liked by 1 person

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