When I started to work with Tyler, he had been in a shelter for quite a few months and had been struggling with his mental health. At that point, his goals were to go back to school and get a job. He knew what he wanted to do but often he would put it all off and get overwhelmed.
Tyler had begun seeing a psychiatrist. He struggled with the low and escalated moods brought on by processing all of the things that surfaced – a result of the trauma he experienced. Just before the pandemic reached us, Tyler started applying for jobs. There were many ups and downs through the process. Sometimes there was no response at all and sometimes there were long waiting periods to hear back about his application. This was a challenging time for him. We spent many days talking about the time it took to complete an application and whether he would be qualified enough. We also spoke about the difficulties that could arise from taking on specific jobs. But Tyler stayed positive and hopeful.
Within three weeks (which felt like years), he landed himself three interviews in two days – eventually getting himself a job. His spirits lifted and he felt good. However, the job took weeks before it started and there was little contact from the employer. At times, Tyler wondered whether to call and ask if he even still had the role, and tried to make contact with someone about the next step. After a few weeks though, they contacted him and gave him the start date for his new role.
Then the gravity of the pandemic became clear.
Tyler’s goal was to go back to school now that he had a job to support himself, but applying to go back to school during the pandemic was a feat in and of itself. “How would classes work?”, “How will I learn?”, “Where will I find a quiet space to work in a shelter with 30 other residents”, these were some of the questions he had. Tyler went ahead and enrolled in school anyway. On the tuition due date, he faced obstacles: the website crashed, and his bank card wasn’t being accepted. He spent hours trying to pinpoint the exact problem. Eventually he got online and made the payment, making it official that he was once again a student.
The next few weeks starting back at school while working were overwhelming. Tyler experienced some struggles with his mental health. However, this time around, he could now recognize that he was making positive steps forward in his life. He was creating the future that he wanted for himself. He had learned a lot through his counselling and had developed some productive coping mechanisms and ways of self-soothing. His frustration continued to come during the pandemic and the restricted movement in shelter, but he decided to turn the frustration into motivation. He advocated for himself to go to housing viewings. His Social Worker supported him with rent subsidy applications. Tyler found out the following week that he got a place of his own! He could move in a week later.
Tyler has since come back to the Drop-in Centre to say hello to staff and let us know how he’s doing. He’s still working his job and even got himself a promotion. He is also still working his way through school and seems happier and healthier than ever before. His story brought hope to all in such a difficult time. It was a success story we all needed to hear.
Story shared by Alibhe, a Youth Worker