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  • Writer's pictureHannah Telluselle

Dealing with homelessness

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

I'm going to dare. I'm going to share what it's been like, to be homeless. The absolute worst part of it, has been to not be able to choose, cook and eat my preferred food. Food that is essential not only for my wellness and health, but also for my survival. I've had a sensitive stomach since I was a child. Perhaps my emotions land there, or my instincts have been developed a lot due to the many travels and moving my family did growing up, including to war ridden countries like Beirut. I started to eat pescatarian in 1996, after learning about the ways of the meat industry in Sweden, when I had accounts of the same as a copywriter. A couple of years later, my then boss had the nerve to assume it was just out of political correctness and fired me, when I said no to writing a letter from the meat supplier's CEO encouraging Swedish farmers to add more antibiotics so the pigs could grow faster before Christmas, even as there were two other copywriters in the firm, who could have done that job. I would never do anything, less say, out of only political correctness! This is not necessary at all, when one has fostered a true compassionate nature and is noble and polite in one's own disposition. In 2008, I understood that I was gluten-intolerant (besides avoiding lactose) and helped by anti-histamine besides changing my diet. And right when I finally felt better and really could focus on getting a new job, after having had a couple of years of sick-leave due to my stomach and my teeth, upon my return to Sweden after my first stay in Hawaii, I became homeless.

I had lost my benefits of being on paid sick-leave with suspicion on fraud, that was completely unfounded. The investigating clerk believed that I was commuting to Hawaii on a weekly basis, since I was writing about having been there into my first Swedish book in an effort to create something lifegiving out of my grief over my mother's passing. During their 3 month long investigation, I had nothing to live on more than luckily had inherited a sum from my grandfather. At the end of the year, after also being late with rent, I had to start shoplifting food to survive. The Swedish social security decided to pay my rent directly to the landlord, but made them late and forgot one, apart from my initial late one. Thus, my lease of my home where I had lived for 9 years, was terminated. I appealed of course and my landlord was kind enough to let me remain until the final decision, a whole year longer. However, in October 2009, I had to leave. At first, I was able to rent my friend's apartment, who was living in Spain at the time, and then to another that I found through my blog actually, but in January 2010 I had to stay at a women's shelter. This meant to only be able to eat what they serve, when they serve. My friend had started to renovate her apartment, but I was allowed to go in and borrow her gas-stove, so I did that most evenings with a tealight candle and the casserole in my backpack. That way, I could ensure that I at least had one good meal, although shoplifted. Then I got some more student loan and went to Hawaii.

I always stay at hostels in order to be able to cook my own food, but really think it's often exhausting to have to share room with others all the time. I've met some wonderful people, so don't get me wrong, but it sure isn't a good way to live. In the beginning back in Hawaii 2010, I lived well while studying graduate courses, and was fortunate to be able to rent a little studio just a block from the beach in Waikiki for 800 USD per month, even to be paid weekly would I want to. But in 2011, I had to start shoplifting again when I ran out of student loan, since I was refused a temporary work-permit by the university for financial hardship, even though another Swedish student was allowed, and since they delayed my registration. While I was detained due to thus not being able to uphold the conditions for my studentvisa, I again had to fight for my life to be allowed to eat proper food. Proper food is for example rice and tofu, or fish and potatoes and some fresh vegetables to go with.

Back in Sweden, when I finally got a small apartment to start over with in 2014, someone broke into it on serveral occasions, stole things, planted others so I had to prop up my door to be able to sleep safely. But, at least I could stop shoplifting. Because of the stalking and weird insinuations about my mental health, I moved back into the social security's public housing, so I could live with others around me for my safety. Since then though, every time I've found an apartment, I've lost it, either because it's short term contracts with others' furniture, or mostly because the Swedish social security office denies me rent, although it's way cheaper then staying at a hostel. Like in fall 2017, when I had a chance for a long-term lease, I instead had to start begging on the street for my survival. I have always my papers in order, I've lived on my own since I was 19, including freelancing in my own firm a couple of years, owned my own apartment when I was 20, and have never done any drugs. Yet, I'm always met with suspicion and thus have to wait many months, which for example in practicality forces me to pawn my computer and phone, in order to eat and sleep, which of course makes it even harder to try to both apply for jobs but also working. In 2018, I went to Germany with my private grant, that I've graciously received from the Swedish House of Nobility, that enables me to sustain myself for some 4-5 months and there too, I had to beg for my survival while the Swedish embassy refused me a loan to get a ticket back. I did this on purpose to be able to prove it. Sometimes, I snuck into the common kitchen at a hostel to be able to cook some food. A couple of times I had to sit up in the cold waiting area inside the central station, or sleep on a bench inside their little office. Or huddle inside the warmed up areas where ATMs are kept. And go to the little women's café where we were allowed to borrow their kitchen daytime (ironically though, since I was neither a prostitute, nor a drug addict, they couldn't really help me). One time, I had asked to be allowed to put my two suitcases inside the reception of a small hotel during the night, saying that I would check in the day after. As if raining from above, that morning, a guy handed me enough to do so, outside his restaurant together with a cup of tea. And then there was of course the total Divine luck of meeting a girl named Anna from Peru in the middle of the night at a hotel reception, who was leaving her flat in the nearby town Gelnhausen, who simply handed me her keys, when I had had to leave a secret church shelter inside Frankfurt. The little town of Gelnhausen also helped me with a ticket back to Sweden (which I paid back within two months) and let me live in a refugee shelter a week before leaving to attend a hearing. The year after in 2019, I went to Portugal, where I found more respite and healing in a cleaner, safer and lighter environment, yet still had to start begging for my survival and even though I've missed a trial where I was sought, I still wasn't allowed to loan money to pay for a ticket back.

During all this time, I've also been stalked by a psychotic Swedish man in person and ridiculed with false libel by a famous woman, who probably is envious of my usually skinny figure... which neither the Swedish police and courts have dealt with. Now, in 2023, after also having had to deal with gruesome pain in my teeth and bones, while I undergo treatment to get dental implants, also thankfully to the same private grant last year, I have had to again apply for welfare, so I can start living again, including resting up after skincancer and all this, so I can work more to be more self-sustainable. Yet... it's been 4 months and I'm still waiting for my check. I've been offered both a cute studio and a room downtown, that I had to turn down. Again. Am I supposed to not eat and sleep in the street meanwhile? I'm working part-time with translations, but since the above mentioned famous woman coerced the court with lies, for them to force me into a mental institution, not only have I to endure their food too and fight a year just to be allowed to take vitamins, I can't work more at the moment and therefor also need assistance for rent. Which of course, again, is much cheaper than any state controlled alternatives or private hostels. I can't tell you how degrading, debilitating and devastating it feels. To see one's own path filled with love, laughter and creative pursuits according to my abilities (and education, experience and talent), pass me by because others stop me from hopping on the train. A train that they would never be on.

Why would this be any sign of mental illness? To be hungry, cold and tired? Poverty and dissent aren't symptoms. Society needs to stop the power playing and cut to the real issue of disbelief in fellow human beings.

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