Several years ago, Sarah found herself in an extremely difficult situation involving family bonds and financial challenges. The life of one of her children was at stake, yet so was the livelihood of herself and two of her other children.

No one should ever have to choose between necessary medical treatment and a place to live, but Sarah was forced into that position. This is the story of how Sarah approached the situation, the fallout that followed her decision and how she continues to cope — while managing her own mental health — in her words.

I am a single, hearing-impaired mother living with PTSD, depression and anxiety.

I have four children and my eldest two boys, Andrei and Chaz, [have] Duchene muscular dystrophy (DMD). [They] live in Tennessee with their father, as they feel most comfortable and have specialists they’ve been seeing for years there.

Three years ago, my eldest son, Andrei, went on life support. I had to make a choice to travel to Nashville to see my son one final time or pay my rent to keep the home over my two children’s heads that lived with me.

Sarah chose to go be with her son in the hospital. Making the trip had both a positive impact and unfortunate consequences.

Sarah's Son Andrei in the Hospital

We were fortunate to have Team Joseph sponsor us to get to Tennessee in order to see Andrei, and Chaz. Going [there] helped prevent my son from dying. The doctors told me the only reason [he] turned around was because of a renewed sense of wanting to live that came from seeing his mother and sister there for him.

It was a scary time for me, and I had to protect both my other children from the situation as well.

Thankfully, Andrei was able to go home [to] a comfortable and nice house. Me and my other two children have literally been homeless ever since, with no hope for getting a home because the place we rented from lied and charged me for damages and unpaid rent despite the fact that my onsite manager signed off that my apartment was clean and understood I had put in a 30-day notice and cleaned the apartment as per the lease agreement.

Three of Sarah's Children

Now, me and my kids are couch-surfing and living out of our car because of this corrupt housing entity and what they have caused for us. I still feel vulnerable and I felt attacked by [the] property management company and non-profit that is supposed to help impoverished families and keep them out of homelessness, but quite literally forced me and my family to stay in it after knowing my son had been on life support.

I am still vulnerable here and I am still being courageous in living every day in a way most people will never begin to understand. To be honest, I pray that they never do.

I have PTSD, depression and anxiety and [these issues were] pushed to the top of the stack considering what all I was dealing with. I had a very hard time and felt very alone and isolated in ways that nobody else could understand around me.

[I] remind myself that I am a warrior inside. That I am Native American and resilience is written into my DNA, that there is an ultimate Creator out there who will always renew my wings to be as strong as the eagles’.

The thing about strength is it’s not born. It’s created. A famous writer, Sai Marie Johnson, said it best: “Easily I could have given up. Easily I could have given in but when I think about it, not really. The memories I have propel me forward but I can’t let anything hold me back.”

Sarah J.
Eugene, OR
Lives with PTSD, anxiety and depression

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