Anne loves big wigs and colorful makeup to match her larger than life personality. She enjoys arts and crafts, making new friends, and is in charge of her mental health. Though she’s in an incredible place today, just over a year ago, Anne was homeless for the second time and at the mercy of her delusions. Before going back to the streets, Pathways to Housing DC originally helped Anne move into her first apartment. Anne always had the support of her Pathways DC team, but after four months of feelings of paranoia and other heightened mental health symptoms, she left. It took many months before Asiza, Anne’s Service Coordinator at Pathways DC, was able to make contact with her again. Asiza’s team diligently searched for Anne all over the City. Anne often believed that spirits took over her body, so when team members found her, they always had to begin by asking, “Hi, are you Anne? I’m from Pathways to Housing DC.” For several months, she would say no because she didn’t feel that Anne was present. She would instead introduce herself as someone else, like a doctor named Laura or a police officer named Sandra. After several months of these types of interactions, there was finally a moment where everything changed. On a Tuesday afternoon as Asiza’s Team Manager, Sophie, waited in line at the Social Security office with another consumer, she saw Anne standing in the next line. Sophie approached her hesitantly and asked if she was Anne. Much to Sophie’s surprise, Anne gave the biggest smile and said, “Yes, of course. You’re from Pathways!”
Anne is living with paranoid schizophrenia and wanted to prioritize managing her mental health. She willingly entered a psychiatric unit where Asiza’s team learned that each spirit Anne felt inhabited her body was reminiscent of a traumatic sexual assault she experienced in childhood. This was the first time Anne had ever disclosed her past so intimately, and Asiza’s team worked to ensure she had a stable and supportive system in place when she was discharged. Anne’s next step in recovery focused on moving back into her apartment. When Pathways to Housing DC moves an individual into an apartment, their team helps to meet their basic needs- ensuring they feel safe and stable, helping them manage their mental and physical health, and connecting them to services like Medicaid, food stamps, and Social Security. Now that Anne is finally comfortable in her new home, she’s excited to do more activities in DC, like go to sports games (she’s a big Capitals fan). So often, family ties are broken when a person experiences homelessness and these reconnections are one of the most important things things our staff work to address. Anne wants to heal her relationship with her son, whom she hasn’t seen or spoken to in many years and Asiza’s team is working to make this a reality. Ultimately, people tell us they “want to feel normal” again. Although Anne has gone through a transformative year, Pathways DC will continue to support her through all of her challenges and successes. Anne reminds Asiza each time they meet how grateful she is that Pathways DC didn’t give up on finding her. Because of housing and a team that never gave up on her, Anne has found stability, taken control of her mental health, and most importantly, Anne possesses a renewed sense of purpose.