Timeline: Orlando in San Diego

As I approach my third year in California, and especially because today is a Sunday, I have decided to list the activating events, challenges, misfortunes, insights gained and triumphs that have propelled me down the rabbit hole and into an increasingly wondrous chaos of Recovery in San Diego. 

 Vista, CA. Orlando arrives in San Diego in August of 2014 and stays at his middle sister’s place for 2 months – Kicked out.

My middle sister’s Middle Sister Syndrome. My father’s features on my face to remind her of his betrayal subconsciously. Her full Type 2 Bipolar Disorder, un-medicated. Today I harbor no more resentments toward her, now that she moved to Las Vegas. This wouldn’t be the end of my love for her as a sister, but I wish to never see her again.

Anxiety is the drive that causes me to execute the directive to self-destruct from fear of further pain.

Tri-City Hospital

 Oceanside, CA. First hospitalization for intoxication and suicidal ideations at Tri-City Hospital for 10 days in November 2014. Released to:

Isis Crisis Center

 South Bay Area, CA. Isis Crisis Center, renamed Del Sur Crisis Center/CRF in 2017. 12 days in November 2014.

Depression lives in the past and Anxiety in the future.

Referred to:

La Posada de Guadalupe
 Carlsbad, CA. La Posada de Guadalupe (men’s shelter) / Catholic Charities. 4 months, from 2014 to 2015.

This stop on my hellish experience in the downward spiral sparked the creation of a housing plan and its employment division when I noticed the disproportionate amount of drug addicts and ex-convicts versus men with a mental challenge who lived in a state of disappointment, so much to do with the dearth of employers who would hire any of us. I applied for a position at Interfaith Community Services. More about that later.

 Vista, CA. Choices (residential rehab in Vista) – 4 months in 2015.

I must thank Delcy, the sales rep of a pharmacy in Northern California who both provided me with the stability of meds delivered at the shelter for my various physical and mental ailments and directed me to my first Case Manager, Rafaela. Rafaela used to dance for Prince on his tours! She called and made the referral to the program.

Much of my street slang and attitudes were exponentially enriched when I was exposed to the mixed demographics that made up the population of this program: AB 109 ex-convicts, self-paid clients, Ryan White-funded clients and clients with varying degrees of sexual identities.

Oh, the personalities! Most of the counselors were addicts in Recovery, most extremely unpleasant and rough. The unjust promotions of the worst possible offenders to positions of Management in the four Houses owned by the company and the favoritism for self-funded clients left me baffled and irate.

However, this experience came with some hilarious moments, all sprinkled from various people and at random times of the day. One ex-meth chemist was on parole and served as a counselor for us wayward souls in a bargain with the State of California. During the peak of the better times, his quotations included the best advice I’ve ever laughed at. He said: “If you cannot get someone to pay for your hotel room for a night or two, your hustle is weak!”

The fun ended bitterly after four months of receiving dictums from high school dropouts-turned-philosophers against my will. They took on the task of “showing me how to live” in a sobriety I grew to hate. Vodka had never tasted better than the day I walked out of my “house” of idiots.

OH, don’t let me forget to tell you that their Program Director at the time went on to lose his license and faced jail time for propositioning a male prostitute who bargained with him to enter the program for the fifth time for another round of “Recovery”.

middle sister hell
 Vista, CA. Stays again at middle sister’s place to work things out for 2 weeks in 2015. Kicked out again.

You would think I learned from my first encounter with the woman’s rage, but I stumbled again. I begged Rafaela again for help desperately. The kindness of strangers… Rafaela received an approval to release emergency funds via Townspeople to cover one month’s stay in the sober living “colony” of four interconnected homes.

R&R Sober Living
 Vista, CA for 1 month of required Recovery meetings and lots of preaching in 2015.

I was not expelled because of a relapse; loneliness brought on the need for human contact and I was caught receiving fellatio from an acquaintance by another tenant in the room I shared with two other guys. Oops.

“To understand Recovery, you must know what you are recovering from.”
— Steve K.

Mercy Hospital
 Hillcrest, CA. Second hospitalization for suicidal ideations. 7 days in 2015. 

I define Chronic Depression as a daily call from Earth to make me its own, to return to dust. Every day, I choose to live. 

Released to:

Jary Barreto
 San Diego, CA. 5 days in 2015.

Great news arrived suddenly at the wrong time! Interfaith had conducted a background check and after a second interview, they hired me! Unfortunately, this wonderful event interfered with my treatment at the crisis center. I exited the facility against professional advice and I went on to yet another new beginning.

Employment at Interfaith Community Services
 Carlsbad, CA. 1 month in late 2015.

My trial employment period ended when I exited the program and the money I was paid (12.50/hr. part-time, no benefits) simply could not fit for the expenses of a monthly bus pass, a shared room and food. Desperation made its appearance in my timeline again.

The outrage and my resentment over enduring the rotten conditions at the men’s shelter compelled me to reach out to a few people in different government agencies, asking for information on how to affect radical changes in housing for the poor. 

During my sessions of computer use at the Carlsbad Library (excellent job on the building!) I began to connect the dots, to trace the money for housing development. I sent an email to the San Diego Housing Commission later that year after a little more torture.

Behind my disappointments now lies pessimism, but not all was bleak in those days because I had begun a transformation, a change of careers into Mental Healthcare. 

It is during waiting periods that I pick up literature of various kinds from kiosks or coffee tables and the turning point that launched my new career in Mental Healthcare came when I took a brochure announcing courses in mental wellness at my first haven of mental recovery, the Mariposa Clubhouse before my intake. In it was information about the W.R.A.P. (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) class taught by instructors from Recovery Innovations International. That course was the key to Peer Employment Training. More about that later.

Palomar Hospital
 Escondido, CA. Third hospitalization for a panic attack and suicidal ideations. 7 days in 2016.

Do you ever start to believe that life doesn’t want you? 

After Adrian, my Case Worker at Owen Clinic advocated for my entry into a long-term program, I was released into:

Father Joe's Villages - Josue Homes
 La Mesa, CA. HIV+ transitional housing program – 3 months, from 2015-2016. Historical note: the house in which I stayed served as a hospice for AIDS patients in the 80’s.

Alas, this stop would be brief as well. I shared a room with a man whose sole focus was in helping his severely schizophrenic friend by allowing him to sleep beside his bed, after staff completed bed checks. This I would find out when I woke to the panting and alarming body spasms my roommate’s friend had one midnight. The result was a panic attack from my roommate’s threats to accuse me of sexual advances if I did not keep the facts of that night to myself and my subsequent exit from the program for consuming a handful of Klonopin pills to calm down the irrational fear gripping me and its consequences. 

One curious insight came to me after I filed to appeal the decision of the Program Director at the time and had a meeting at the St. Vincent de Paul (as it was known until last year) offices located in the Villa Harvey Mandel building on Imperial Avenue in Downtown San Diego: even during what you’d call a “blackout” I was functional! The cameras in the house caught me as I became an increasingly “touchy-feely” guy and this was great news for me! Why? Because I don’t become Jeffrey Dahmer when my subconscious takes over. I was thrilled, but homeless yet again.

Tri-City Hospital
 Oceanside, CA. Fourth hospitalization for a panic attack and suicidal ideations for 10 days in early 2016. Released to:

 Oceanside, CA. 10 days in early 2016

I have continued to put myself in harm's way because of a deep-rooted shame. The origin of my anger can be traced back to my frustration over being helpless as a child during the first domestic violence episode with my parents.

2016 saw two more hospitalizations. Couch-surfing. Employment. A documentary. Three crisis centers. "Camping out in nature" between programs...

The Way Back Recovery Home
 Golden Hill, CA. July 2017 - October 2017

middle sister hell You would think I knew by now not to trust her. She offered a room in her garage she was building for the purpose of healing and moving on with our lives, but instead, her Bipolar disorder turned her again into the monster I've grown to hate and she kicked me out in the cold again.

Orlando's Recovery Plan

1. Morning meditation: Envision the entire day as desired, then create a contingency plan.
2. Kegel exercises and stretching.
3. Shower & chores.
4. Anger prevention checklist: 
  • Acceptance.
  • Good manners.
  • Ask myself if I am all right.
  • The intention to be thoughtful of others.
  • Be in the moment.
  • Close my eyes and express quiet gratitude to The Energy surrounding me.
5. Achieve one or two of the short-term goals listed in the client plan per day.
6. Learn one new word per day.
7. Clean shoes at the end of the day and sprinkle talcum powder in them when available.
8. Practice breathing exercises.
9. Rest.
10. Repeat.

What’s playing in my Obama phone's flash card at the moment? A selection of mp3s from almost every decade since the Twenties from these artists (in no particular order):
Air ▪ Soul II Soul ▪ Billie Holiday ▪ Ella Fitzgerald ▪ Cocteau Twins ▪ Lisa Stansfield ▪ Grace Jones ▪ Black Box ▪ The Police ▪ Prince ▪ Alpha ▪ Belanova ▪ Goldfrapp ▪ Soulsearcher ▪ Thievery Corporation ▪ Eurythmics ▪ Samantha Fox ▪ Duran Duran ▪ Astrud Gilberto ▪ Mecano ▪ Chet Baker ▪ Bananarama ▪ Scissor Sisters ▪ Peaches ▪ Ludacris ▪ Tiësto ▪ Les Nubians ▪ Philip Glass ▪ The Bloodhound Gang ▪ Veldt ▪ Curve ▪ Lana Del Rey ▪ p.j. harvey and about five more.


At the time of the publication of this post I will have been back from the brink of oblivion for a solid fifty-two days. Having the companionship and the searching spirit of my peers has been less of a challenge to enjoy than during other residential recovery periods. I’m attending Recovery meetings at The Alano Club in Golden Hill and Dharma Bum Temple in University Heights. 

I’m Orlando and I’m still a seeker and a shipwrecked soul looking for a solution to homelessness in San Diego, CA.  I'm still curious to know how my story ends.

Image: V-69 Digital Marketing