As an alumnus, some of you may smile as you remember a time when #CupOfJoBruno was a regular LMC dose of bitter-sweet wisdom growing up in Pittsburg. I’m glad you’re still here. For those of you who haven’t heard of me or read my work, Hi! It’s a pleasure. I hope you’re ready for a dose of extra strong, a little nutty letter-to-the-editor.
I’m angry y’all! As a matter of fact, I’m pissed off.
After I graduated in 2010, I went to Oregon to continue my education. After that celebration in 2014, I hit the road and traveled all of the western states as a truck driver. I returned home in 2016 and have been struggling to live in the Bay Area ever since. I traveled a bit and lived a focused, intentional life to become a better version of myself only to return home and start advocating for all the things I didn’t have when I was younger. But the journey of being a better version of myself, I had to unlearn a lot of things I learned as a child. And, it’s been a journey y’all!
This current journey of constant growth and struggling with back-to-back mental health crises landed me in the behavioral health system of my home county. A system that doesn’t work. A system that doesn’t give the consumer the support they need. It’s a system I should have been in as a child, but I wasn’t. In the few years I’ve been home I’ve been in multiple situations that were unhealthy, abusive, and outright dangerous. Mostly due to my own inability to dismiss my anger. And I’ve been angry for far too long.
I had to quit my job in Oakland because Bay Area traffic is abusive. I was in a horrific car accident in 2017, which has caused some major anxieties around driving. And, I even had a couple of unpleasant 5150 holds that have forced the system to pay closer attention to my needs. Unfortunately, I now find myself homeless, sleeping in my car along the delta, like so many others. I find myself doing exactly what I need to be doing. A lot, but also nothing at all. I am doing what feeds positivity into my soul.
I’m writing again. I’m laughing again. I’m trusting eye contact, enjoying food, and visiting people I haven’t seen in over 8 years. I’ve rekindled a few relationships, and I’ve ended a few others. I’ve slept on a couple different couches, a few floors, and took showers in more bathrooms I’d like to admit. I’m a business owner. I hold degrees and have plenty of skilled training. I’m self-published with an established voice online. I’m building a movement with Delta Peers, advocating for Peer Support in California, and I’m working closely with the behavioral health system of Contra Costa County, voicing my opinion and introducing innovative programs of change. I’m also being asked to be the face and voice of homelessness and mental health in Antioch.
This ain’t no joke anymore! I’m angry, and I’m doing something about it.
With that said, I’m writing this to remind y’all that this isn’t ok! The system is f——. People are hurting. People are suffering every day and they’re being treated worse than most dogs. And, I’d like to say thank you to LMC for supporting their homeless students. I’ve heard through the grapevine that y’all have a supportive program for the students without permanent residency. Good job! Keep doing that. I’m honored to be an alumnus of LMC! Don’t worry y’all, I’ll be around.
Life is too short to go too long without a shot of Cup of Jo!