August 11, 2011

Passing By The Dark Cave (Day 20 - August 11, 2011)

The "Dark Cave"
I've been in the Dark Cave a number of times in my life.  It's dark (. . . duh! . . . thus the name), it's lonely, and it's painful.  Yes, painful.  Once inside the Dark Cave you experience hurt from your very soul.  And, the Dark Cave is disorienting . . . as soon as you step inside the doorway disappears and you lose sense of which way is out, or even if you can ever get out.  But, to me, the worst part about the Dark Cave are the "voices" (seemingly from within your head) that had lured you into the darkness in the first place, and then only intensfied once you were inside.  I have no desire or intent of entering the Dark Cave ever again . . . but from where I am standing I can see it's entrance.

That Poverty Guy battling mind games.
Whereas I had expected this first phase of That Poverty Project to be all about the impact of being without the comforts of home on one's physical well-being, I was wrong.  Sure, there are daily physical challenges - staying warm, walking everywhere, and accessing food.  However, I am finding that the biggest challenge (at least so far) are the mind games that go on in one's head.  I find myself having to be diligent and vigilant in warding off the ever present negativity that is awaiting the chance to poke holes in my self-esteem.  "You're dirty!"  "You can't do what everyone else is doing!"  "You're not going to make any difference in the world."  I am so blessed to have a ton of personal tools along with my faith to resort to in order to deal with these as they arise.  Still, it's hard.

As street homelessness that we know in Canada represents only a small portion of the homeless in the world, I had also hoped that this experience would provide me opportunity to gain insight into being a refugee.  However, that hasn't happened to any large degree yet as I find that psychologically I am probably most associating with the homelessness of those on the streets (albeit getting only a glimpse of what they truly experience).  I think that is probably because my current situation most closely resembles theirs.  I'm not talking about living in a tent or having limited clothes or feeling dirty and grubby . . . but rather experiencing "have not" in an environment full of "have".  To know and see what is close in proximity and yet knowing such is out of one's reach can be demoralizing.  It makes one feel apart . . . different . . . less than . . . which conflicts head on with our base human desire to belong.

The Dark Cave is depression, which you may have guessed if you or a loved one have experienced it before.  I have experienced five major depressions in my adult life, and don't desire nor expect to experience another one.  Since my last one (about 4 years ago) . . . I have developed many personal tools that help me recognize and deal with the early warning signals before they get out of hand . . . I take medication that works well for me . . . and I have spent more time developing and deepening my faith and spiritual life.  However, for many on the street, depression and other mental illnesses are quite common.  For some, the mental illness may be the reason that they ended up falling through the cracks and landing on the street; for others the fact of being on the street (however they got there) has worn them down to the point where they become mentally unhealthy.  The mind games, the lack of belonging, the being without in an abundant society . . . it can take down the very best of people.  As I mentioned, I can see the entrance to the Dark Cave from where I stand right now.

Do you know why I know that I will not end up going into depression this time despite my history and my current circumstances?  It's because I have never seen the entrance to the Dark Cave before.  In the past, I felt a slipping (a falling . . . a spiralling) into the abyss, which later was diagnosed as depression . . . but I was always there before I really knew what had happened.  Due to the therapy and years of work that I have done, my faith, and my medication (which I see as providing the seratonin I need, much like a diabetic needs insulin) . . . I can see where I am at and where the "Dark Cave" is . . . which means I also know where not to go.  My hope is that people will recognize that many of those suffering on the streets have an illness of some form, and need help accessing the professional help necessary before they can heal and work to improve their lot in life.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.



  1. Thanks so much for sharing Sean. As someone who has also battled depression as an adult, I can identify with much of what you have shared tonight - and I know how hard sharing that can be! Know that we are rooting and praying for you! God Bless (and keep warm!)

  2. My dark place is called "My Black Pit" and, as you know,I spent a lot of time there many years ago. I, too, have been on medication for the years since then to help me not go there again. I gasped out loud for two reasons when I read the part about you not going into the cave because you can see the entrance. First of all, I hate it that you even KNOW about the cave and secondly, I have just realized that I only know what the inside of my pit looks like...I have never seen the entrance because,like you,I have always just landed at the bottom with no warning. So...if you can see the entrance, then you can stop yourself from going into it. There are MANY people who should have that information...many people who don't have the physical "lacks" that you are experiencing for the first time. You have given us just one more reason why we should never see a homeless person on the street in the same way ever again. Maybe he just didn't see the entrance to HIS cave and now he can't get out. Poverty Guy, please keep that entrance in sight. By the way...that picture will not be having a place on our mantle. Big hugs.

  3. Thank you for sharing those scarey thoughts. You are very brave to do this project, most would not. Definitely putting your words into action. Prayers for your body to ensure, your mind to conquer and your soul to soar!!! Hugs, Audrey

  4. Sean D. Krausert, EditorAugust 12, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Thanks for all the comments that have been posted. Your support and encouragement are appreciated more than words can do justice. Of course, as I have said often, what I am doing is minor compared to those that live far worse everyday.

    I encourage everyone to do whatever little bit more that they can for those in poverty, and to encourage others to do likewise. And, sometimes that little bit more is helping to break stereotypes voiced by people in your environment, or encouraging our leaders to address the problem better.

  5. Heather FredericksAugust 13, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    hi sean,

    i saw that picture and wondered how I might feel if one of my sons was doing this project.....and I thought of your mom and how she might feel about it.

    but wow....just think of the insight you will gain from this project, and the fact that you are making a difference to others....for example, i saw a homeless person the other day, with a sign (Hungry. Please help me). and I looked at him differently than I usually do, but more importantly, I watched other people looking at him, and I think that i'm being accurate in describing my perception.... people were judging him. they were 'staring him down' and then when he looked their way, they had a rapid, almost jerky movement of their heads as they looked the other way. it was as if they didn't want to make eye contact. and i have to admit i have been guilty of the same thing. something i will strive not to do next time. at the very, very least, I can offer a warm smile.

    so you see, it's already making a difference, in that I am seeing things from a new perspective. thanks to you and your project.


  6. Heather, I needed this kind of feedback at this very moment more than you know. Thanks! I am so thankful that people are reading and then reflecting for themselves about these issues. Way to go!