My name is Phillip O’Donnell. I’m 22 years old and homeless in San Francisco. Homeless with purpose. I’m on a journey to save my life from the crippling depression that has plagued me since as early as 7 if not earlier and other social-institutional factors that exacerbate my depression like the toxicity of my family and the loneliness I felt in the social world of Houston, Texas. When I arrived in San Francisco, I was shocked to see so many cultures aggregated into one place, and I spent a large portion of my time observing. Once I began truly interacting, I discovered an abundance of intelligent, likeminded people who soon became my friends. I learned that I really am not alone, that I belong. Most importantly, I learned I can be happy here.
Soon after my arrival a month ago, another surprise came my way when I learned of the services this city provides which I was completely ignorant of, and hope swelled within me. I remember thinking This is where I belong, and I can get the help I need to truly build a life for myself, however, the reality of the limitations of these services hit me. Namely, the difficulty in receiving housing. I have been trying to get an SRO, but the waiting lists are long and space is scarce. Nonetheless, I am determined to keep trying, and in the meantime, I sleep on the streets, Golden Gate Park, and when luck comes my way, a hostel or a generous person’s apartment. Although I am surviving, the lack of consistency makes it extremely difficult to move forward especially when the tendrils of my depression strike at my soul.
Upon receiving housing, I plan to work for one of the organizations providing the services that are critical to my survival. I want to contribute to the effort to end homelessness as well as meet more people facing homelessness and learn their story in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the root causes of homelessness. Homelessness is, in part, a consequence of the flaws in the design of our civilization. If we can illuminate these flaws and how our civilizational design creates homelessness, we can make more effective efforts to help people get on their feet and keep others from facing this hardship. Also, I will write a new book now that I have published my first novel Rise from the Mud…Breathe and finish my college education, so I can work towards building an institute for Optimal Civilizational Design to work on finding a true solution for homelessness and all other manifestations of our species’ pathology.
Living on the streets is a difficult thing to do and an easy place to get stuck even if you have the drive and resolve to do the work required to escape. I fear the struggle will get the better of me, that I will get hurt physically and suffer subsequent psychological damage like PTSD or that my depression will push me to kill myself. It’s a scary position to be in: to depend on strangers for survival who also struggle to stay afloat. I cannot wait to become self-sufficient and have a safe, consistent place to stay. A place I can overcome my depression with the help of my old and new friends. A place I can build my life and manifest my dreams. A place I can call home.