You may remember me from my Boggled column, which ran in the Citizen from 2019 - 2021. Boggled focused on the effects of brain injury on myself, my peers and the struggles we face day to day with an invisible disability.
My brain injury occurred in October of 2018 when I was assaulted by a male Caucasian street person who was trying to steal my purse. My 33-year career in social work came to an abrupt end. There began my journey to find purpose and meaning in a world so foreign that I might as well have been living on Mars.
My decision to return to writing in the Citizen was prompted by a recent event that most people would shrug off. For me, it shook my foundation so badly that I was forced to do some deep soul searching.
A few weeks ago, a man tried entering our house. It is a common occurrence in my neighbourhood, the Millar Addition, that our houses and vehicles are constantly being checked if they are locked. On this particular day, our door cam recorded a video of a huge man with wild, yet vacant eyes making earnest attempts to get into our house.
Thank goodness our door was locked. Unfortunately, this did not end here for me. That night I couldn't sleep. I normally don't have problems sleeping. The following night I maybe slept for an hour, then sat bolt upright in bed when a woodpecker was pecking away at the flue on our chimney. I thought someone was breaking into our house. The insomnia continued for the rest of that week. My therapist confirmed for me that my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had been triggered. I had been diagnosed with severe PTSD after my assault.
To put it bluntly, I was pissed. I had worked so hard with my therapist and my other professional supports to reduce my PTSD symptoms. I had achieved amazing progress. And here I was, feeling like I was back at square one.
I couldn't stand myself because I was so negative and bitter. So I prayed. And prayed. I requested a divine intervention because I couldn't go on feeling scared, angry and sad. Things had to change or else I was going to tumble down the dark hole again. I did NOT want to go there.
Then it came to me. I am not so different from these folks who are struggling to survive. The only difference is that I have a home. Yes, a physical home which I am extremely grateful for. But I have been trying to find "home" since acquiring a brain injury. "Home" meaning a place where I feel safe, have a sense of belonging, purpose and acceptance. Because of my disability, I have experienced many situations where I have been discriminated against, judged and criticized.
Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, I was jolted with clarity.
So now what?
With the blessing and support of the Prince George Citizen, I will be dedicating this column to exploring homelessness from numerous perspectives. Once again, I will be embarking on a journey, with you Citizen readers walking beside me. Your company is and will be much appreciated.
Diane Nakamura is a Prince George writer.