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July 17, 2011 7:19 PM   Subscribe

In continuation of this question, what resources can I forward to my family member, now that he is off the streets?

Check out the other question if you want some background info, but long story short: I have a family member who became homeless at the start of the year. While he was given some assistance by family members who live in his state*, and spent some time going in and out of their guest rooms (and sometimes in and out of shelters), he spent the last six months living out of his car and trying to fend off total disaster.

Good news is that he's been employed for a couple of months now and has moved into an apartment. Thank god.

Bad news is that he has obviously been affected by the ordeal. We were having a conversation on the phone, and it is quite apparent to me that this has been a trauma to him (of course it has!). He talks about how he feels shell-shocked, overwhelmingly angry, unsure of what to do. I told him that all these reactions were understandable, given his situation, and encouraged him to see a therapist when it will be possible (probably not until his health insurance kicks in).

In the meantime, what resources could I forward to him? Websites? Books? This thread has the exact theme I would like to guide your thinking, but I am looking for non-fiction, therapeutic books. This thread had some resources, but I am not sure if only sending him PTSD literature would be helpful, as I am not a therapist, and I don't know what would be the best read for his situation. Also, while my first impulse is to get him a book, he would probably be more likely to sit down and read a information on a website, so any good online sources might be more useful to him.

Obviously, books on recovering from homelessness would be ideal, but any other readings/ideas that you think would be appropriate would be helpful, as well.

* Much of the familial help that I was hoping he was getting was disjointed, at best, or neglectful, at worst. And those who wanted to do the most for him were either across the country or in another country all together, which hindered a lot of our efforts. I think the (perceived, or not) lack of support this is contributing to his feelings, so it may be something your suggestions might possibly consider.
posted by vivid postcard to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
I just watched someone I know go through this. While he was homeless he seemed to be holding up pretty well and actually didn't seem to mind it very much. He was very resourceful and was proud of himself for that fact. But a disturbing amount of the homeless mindset stuck well after he found work and was able to afford an apartment again. The worrying about survival is one thing, but then there are things you learn to do on a daily basis, and you get really used to those things and feelings. When you suddenly no longer have to worry about those things, it can take a long time to recover the "self" that you were before it all happened.

In the case of the person I know, what seems to help most is when he spends time with people living a lifestyle that is more like what he used to be accustomed to - not just living day to day and waiting for food and trying to occupy time - people who live a relatively stable life, and, most importantly, people who really care about him, which it sounds like he lacks.

Would it be possible to visit him, and maybe you could see first hand if there are any habits that seem to have stuck from when he was homeless? Maybe you could kind of take the lead for a day or two, cook some meals with him, make sure he's not taking 6 showers a day and whatnot?
posted by wondermouse at 8:09 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

To deal with his anger, would you be willing to call OS email him every day even briefly? Let him feel a consistent unbegrudged love, because one of the awful herd instincts of our species is to withdraw from people who seem to be in trouble.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:19 AM on July 18, 2011

Call or email, sorry for the autocorrect error..
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:20 AM on July 18, 2011

I am already in regular contact with him, and am providing the emotional support that I can.

However, he has been on the streets for a long time, and suffered some physical traumas while out there. In our conversation, even he said that he felt he had "affected thought processes," "didn't know where this anger was coming from," and "sometimes felt like he was reliving it, in a way."

I can't be there all the time; I am looking for any resources that might help him when I (or a therapist) are not there.

(wondermouse: good idea. I don't know just how soon I can make it out there, but I think you are on to something, and I may try for a visit ASAP).
posted by vivid postcard at 7:49 AM on July 18, 2011

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