Descent Into Homelessness: Stop All the Clocks


Editor’s note: In this six-part series, Denise documents her journey through homelessness. From normality, to troubled and teetering to full blown devastation and back again, she shares her story: Descent into Homelessness. This is part two; click here for part one.

Bear is dead.

Bear is dead, and in an instant, the wobbly little scaffold that was keeping me together collapses and crashes in pieces all around me.

I’m broken.

I’m done.

It’s a week before my birthday and the only thing left in my life that I actually give two shits about is lying dead on a table in front of me.

I literally cannot bear it. I feel my head implode.

My phone starts to ring. I ignore it. It rings again. This time I answer, attempting to explain through my tsunami of tears to some poor, unsuspecting, faceless person on the other end. “No, actually, I can’t talk right now, that my world is crashing down around me and so I really do not want to buy their life insurance, or a phone contract, or double-glazing or whatever it is they are trying to sell to me today.”

I hang up before they get a chance to draw breath.

I’m ushered into a side room. I’d like to think that it’s because the staff care enough about me and Bear to want to make sure that I’m ok. But in reality, I think they just don’t want me scaring anyone else in here with my madness.

They make me cups of tea. A box of tissues appears. The staff tells me to stay as long as I like until I’m feeling better.

As of today, hell will literally freeze over before that can happen.

I stay for what feels like an eternity.

I just can’t bear to leave him here, in this place that he hated. It always used to scare him. His very own Room 101. I try to tell myself that at least he doesn’t have to be scared anymore, although that’s little consolation. None at all, actually.

The staff are getting twitchy now. They tell me that if I’m ready, they will take it from here.
Only I’m not ready. I’ll never be ready for this day. So no, I don’t want them “taking it” whatever that means. And I definitely don’t want them taking him.

He’s my friend, my wingman, my everything right now. A furry, one-eyed ball of glue that was the only thing keeping me together. It’s incomprehensible to me that the next time I see him he will be just ashes in a box. He doesn’t belong in a box … He belongs here … with me.

I wish that I could tell them that, but I can’t formulate the words. And anyway, I know that I don’t actually have a say in this now. He’s dead and I’m grieving. I’m not thinking rationally.

The staff have got a job to do. I need to let them do that.

I finally let them take him and then I’m shown out of the side door.

Within seconds I’m alone and out on the street.

I cry all the way back to the caravan park, fully aware that I must look a bit deranged. I don’t actually care if I’m honest. So if anyone asks me, I will say “Yes; yes, I am deranged actually, thank you for asking”… because as of this moment it’s true.

Maybe they will console me, or take me somewhere warm, possibly give me a shot of something so that in my dreams this isn’t actually happening. Then my life won’t be a car-crash and Bear will not be dead.

Only no-one stops to console me. Or take me somewhere warm.

There will be no shot to take my mind off things. I simply walk on in the rain instead.

I literally cannot take this. It’s too much. My heart was already broken … now it lies shattered, fragmented, in pieces.

Like me.

An eternity later, I get back to my van and curl up on the sofa.

It’s raining outside. Floods, actually. My tears make it look like a drizzle.

I don’t bother to change out of my clothes, I don’t have it in me to care that I’m soaked. Instead, I cry, and I cry, and I rage, and I rage … at the ceiling, a cushion, the walls and the sky. I tell God that he can stop now. That there’s nothing left to take.

I don’t think that he’s listening. Or maybe, I tell myself, he just doesn’t care.

I look at Bear’s bowls in the corner on the floor. I was hoping that he would be needing them tonight.

Only today has shown me that there is no hope now. There wasn’t for him and there isn’t for me.

And I realise with absolute conviction and clarity, that I literally give no fucks about anything now from here-on in.

I’ve had it with this shit.

I’m finished.

I’m done.

I want out …

Denise Harrison

Denise Harrison


Denise Harrison is a writer, blogger and podcaster bourne out of her own personal experience of homelessness, addiction and poor mental health. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Big Issue, Metro, The Guardian and Happiful Magazine as well several not for profits. She is passionate about raising awareness and tackling stigma around addiction and mental health and recently wrote the film script for an educational film called This Is Depression.

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