Homeless man battling mental illness shares his story

At the Busy Bee Cafe, 44-year-old Taras "Rush" Tanasson was taking a break from the pouring rain in Ventura. He asked the workers if he could come inside while the storm passed. On our way out, Rush smiled and began telling us his story.

Rush: "For 15 years, I worked with computers, I started my IT career with IBM. I worked for Exxon Mobil and I worked for the government of Canada".

Gina: "How do you go from having a job like that to being homeless?"

Rush: "My ex found someone else and I could not cope with the idea and that slowly eroded my sanity to the brink where I was about to do something bad."

(Rush says he left his home and began using drugs. Shortly after, he says he had a mental breakdown because he began hearing voices.)

Rush: "Yes, many at the same time."

Gina: "What are these voices saying to you?"

Rush: "All kinds of things. It's like a feeling that starts with uneasiness. Somewhere at the edge of your consciousness and then it creeps in, to the moment that you feel that's not you anymore. Your thoughts are overwhelmed by some thoughts coming from the outside but it's not your thoughts because you could never think of something like that."

(Rush has moments of clarity. He says most people he comes across, have no clue the kind of hardship he or any homeless person is dealing with.)

Rush: "They can try it for a weekend... just pretend they're homeless... leave their house alone and just go outside with no money and poorer clothes to see how they are treated and maybe they'll be a little bit more compassionate next time when they see somebody, shriveling and miserable and yearning for a little bit of warmth."

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