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Quick note: I am currently sheltered, but acute mental health symptoms are making it extremely difficult to get by day-by-day. Access to sufficient social services is nearly impossible, I desperately need help with finding a pro-bono attorney to help with disability claims and a possible wrongful termination suit. In the meantime I have no income. Please consider sending a few bucks to help out in the meantime; thank you!

Hey! My name is TJ McDowell and I'm just your friendly neighborhood gutter punk down here in Midtown, Philly. I lost my job while in inpatient treatment for mental health back in February, so I'm doing what any loyal punk would do-- taking it to the streets.


No seriously.. In January I had been working for about 9 months for a company called SS&C Eze when they called me in for a meeting with my manager and HR. I had recently been hospitalized for schizophrenia and they informed me that I was receiving a verbal warning for tardiness/unexcused absences. A few days later I was involuntarily hospitalized again for schizophrenia/suicidal ideation and was terminated while in the hospital.  The interesting thing to me is that the company has an 'Unlimited Flexible Paid Time Off' policy that can be used for anything other than illness...?


While my Bachelors is in Physics, my first Master's is in Pastoral Care and Counseling and I carry a Professional Counseling License in PA. My second Master's is in Business Administration and I also have a Professional Certificate in Financial Technology from UPenn; so I'm great at banking, finance, and coding in Python and Solidity. 


In the summer of 2020 I was working as a counselor when I felt a call to move to Philly in the wake of George Floyd's murder and the ensuing social unrest. I've loved Philly since I was born and I felt the city beckon me to come be a healing presence during such a tumultuous time. I left an 8 year tenured career at an inpatient treatment facility, drained the modest 401k I had acquired, and spend every last cent moving to Philadelphia and slowly building a counseling caseload during the first few months of the pandemic.


In the summer of 2021 I had my first ever shizophrenic 'break' catalyzed by a ton of career stress and other personal circumstances. Admittedly I got into mental health counseling by way of being a client; I have several diagnoses myself including ADHD/ASD, Schizophrenia, Bipolar 1, and intermittent substance use disorder. 


I spent Q4 2021 - Q1 2022 studying FinTech at Penn to change careers, recognizing that 'compassion fatigue' was a major contributor to my schizophrenic break. Turns out I find the stock market & coding to be really interesting too, and the salaries in FinTech were a lot nicer than counseling.. lol. Anywho, by April of 2022 I was hired at SS&C Eze and started making 6 figs.


However by midsummer 2022 my symptoms returned sporadically but with an awful vengeance. It is a hellish rigmarole trying to navigate Crisis Response Centers, Psychiatry Appointments, Outpatient Therapy, and Medication Management in our post-pandemic healthcare system. As someone who was clean & sober for over 10 years it was a really tough decision to turn to 'street pharmacists' again to mitigate my complex symptoms.. but my reality can easily turn to a waking nightmare without safe, strategic, informed, and deliberate chemical intervention.


From then, through the fall, and into today I have been hospitalized nearly a dozen times. These include several involuntary admissions for delirium attributed to my schizophrenic disorder, a 26 day stay at an inpatient for Drug & Alcohol, once for heat exhaustion and dehydration, and twice for overdose deaths. I have died a total of 4 times since this past summer.


My car has been impounded and is facing auction due to unpaid tickets received while the schizophrenia had me believing that Armageddon had happened. I have missed several months of rent in 2021 & 2022 due to not working during my career change and now due to what I believe was a wrongful termination (I believe I have a case under the Americans with Disabilities act, but several law offices have already turned me away), so I am very weary of eviction. I currently have no income and neglected to renew my SNAP benefits so I am currently without food stamps as well. 


That being said, when I was an active IV heroin and cocaine user in 2010 I became very tactful at navigating the network of abandoned properties, food banks, and other services for situations such as this. I am currently working on renovating an abandoned house in Camden in the case that I and my cat Schmutz get evicted from our Arts Condo studio. I am, as it stands, anyhow a street-certified Gutter Punk . This is why I wear a Safe-To-Squat symbol on my clothes and put it on my spanging gear.


I am super approachable and love a good convo or even just thoughts and prayers, but I promise any generosity will go a long way. Any cash donations will be used first and foremost for stuff for Schmutz, since you can't use food stamps for pet supplies. In the meantime I am supporting myself and my mental health ny creating & selling art from things I collect off the street, as well as writing poetry, essays, doing graphic design, photography, journaling, doing tarot & I-ching readings, and various other self-care type coping skills.


I love you, Philly.. you're so fucking beautiful. Below you'll find various ways to get in touch with me and offer support.. please do!

Help us out, if you can! 

Your pal, TJMcDowellDotCom 


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