When I was at Yale University, I took a lot of classes in sociology. In these classes, we covered homelessness. At the time, I never thought about my mom being homeless, but I can see now how it happens.
Based on all my research and personal interviews with people who help homeless people and those who are homeless, I know how it can happen to people who are bipolar or simply hit a run of bad luck.
A person runs out of money; he/she gets fired, is laid off, etc. If the person can't find another job he/she eventually starts to run out of money. A person stops taking medicine, and eventually he/she gets into a bipolar episode and can't get out of it.
Unfortunately, suffering from bipolar disorder predisposes a person to suffering the other consequences. That is, a person who has bipolar disorder is more likely to be fired from a job, get divorced or suffer other set-backs that can cause financial hardships.
They are also more likely to run out of money during an episode because they are being outrageous risk takers and spending their money with no thoughts about tomorrow. People who are bipolar may spend thousands of dollars in days and not think about it until much later.
Eventually he/she can't afford things like insurance, car payments, and/or a telephone. The last hold out is the mortgage on a house or the rent for an apartment. Eventually the person is homeless. With this in mind, I believe it's super important to protect one's wealth when you are dealing with bipolar and also make sure you take your medicine to prevent this downward spiral to homelessness.
The most dangerous part of this pattern of homelessness for someone suffering from bipolar disorder is that, when they become homeless because they have lost everything, they stop getting treatment. Why? Because they no longer have money for doctors or medication and they no longer have a regular routine or home. Without that stability, they can't get a job and get back to a safe, stable environment where they can get well again. They become trapped in their illness and in their environment. It is a vicious cycle that can be very difficult to overcome.
Also, not only could a person become homeless but he/she could go into a depressive episode without medical treatment or any supervision and commit suicide-up to 15% of people who have serious mood disorders attempt suicide. The rate is higher if the person with a mood disorder is homeless and not getting proper treatment.
David Oliver is the nation's leading experts on helping and supporting a loved one with bipolar disorder. You can get learn about many of David's little known, yet effective strategies to cope and deal with your loved one's bipolar by clicking here right now. View all articles by David Oliver