Hello everyone, my name is Katrina and this is going to be a long story. I am truly grateful to anyone who takes the time to read it. I think the details of all of our stories matter, and would love for you to comment your own in whatever form you choose.

I’m on a low income Internet that costs $10 a month, so video uploads won’t work. Besides, I’ve been a writer since I met Mrs. Plavnick in 8th grade English. Teachers deserve so much more than our gratitude.

In the above photo I was getting ready to head out to celebrate with our local DSA chapter. We had just elected our first Democratic Socialist ever. He’s now headed to city council. This post is inspired by the following Tweet:

I wasn’t always so involved in politics. Growing up I was the oldest of four children in a household that struggled. My biological father chose not to know me until I was fourteen, and even after that he only used me until I decided not to see him any longer. My step father was addicted to drugs and alcohol. My mother was anxiety ridden and couldn’t be alone.

Let me say before I go any further I love my parents. Growing up we don’t understand the hardships our parents faced. We aren’t aware of how hard the system has been on them. We don’t know much about generational cycles. My parents are my rock today, and I am so grateful they are alive and in my life. We are very close and they have both grown and taken accountability.

When my biological father died, my older sister, who I also didn’t meet until I was fourteen, had been staying with us for a couple weeks already. She lives a couple hours away and had to go home and back to her family and work. This left our father’s funeral details up to me. I was left to go through all of his things alone, and in the end, I am glad it worked out that way.

I don’t know my biological father’s story of childhood. I do know that in his bible I found a letter I had written him years prior. He had kept every piece of artwork my children had ever made him. I understood that he may not have communicated it, but he did love us. Nothing anyone does to us is as personal as it can feel, and that time in my life brought a lot of healing.

I never advocate to understand the psychology so much that you make excuses and stay in toxic relationships of any sort. It’s acceptable to understand, so that you can forgive, and to move on. I have boundaries in my life now, whereas for years there were none. I wouldn’t change the fact that I cut him out of my life, but I wish when I had I understood more that his inability to love me out loud had nothing to do with my worth.

My stepfather raised me, and we didn’t always get along. In fact, I told my mother it was him or me and left home at fourteen. Today he is my everything. He would do anything for any of us kids. His addictions back then were a way of escaping the hardship and his own trauma. He’s the best father I could have ever asked for, and the most amazing Papa to my children.

My mother has grown so much and she credits me. See, I was in an abusive marriage for fifteen years. During that time I tried everything from religion to psychology to figure out why I was the way I was. Why I made the choices I did. How I could become a better mother to my own children. I didn’t want them to grow up and feel like they came second or weren’t loved and worthy.

Eventually I learned everything I could about human behavior and psychology. One of the things I learned that really helped my mother is that what we tell ourselves matters more than anything. My dad would always say to her during anxiety attacks “It’s mind over matter”, but it was never as helpful as he intended. It’s now tattooed on my neck.

She would spend a lot of time calling me when she was in her attacks. One day she said to me, “I always feel so great and positive when we are on the phone, but as soon as we hang up I feel bad again.” I told her this is because we are with ourselves constantly, and so what we tell ourselves is what matters more than what anyone else will ever tell us.

If I spent an hour telling you how much I believe in you, that everything is going to be okay, and that you’re worthy I’d be wasting my time if your plan is to spend the next ten hours telling yourself I was lying. This is why it never works to run from our problems. Ignorance is never bliss.

Mom’s response was, “You just taught me what your dad means by mind over matter. I understand it now.” From that point on you could notice her growth. I have anxiety, too. Sometimes I look at myself in a mirror and remind myself it’s not real. That I am in control. I have learned that going to other people isn’t helpful. In the end, it’s what I tell myself that determines how I feel.

If I do go to someone else I try to choose someone who is going to remind me that it’s okay to feel bad, but not to unpack and live there. Someone who reminds me that my motivation, determination, and hope come from within. Outside forces can be useful, but ultimately it all begins within.

Needless to say we weren’t taught the importance of politics. When I began going to church and reading the bible I thought surely putting God first would have everything fall into place; just like Matthew chapter six promised. What it did was lead me to realize I had been taught a salad bar version of the religion. My twins were 9 at that time, and had so many questions. I learned quickly the bible isn’t suitable for children.

As I began to search for answers I became more and more fundamental. This was years ago, but it took me a long time to come to a place where I can speak about it this openly without cringing or crying. We gave up holidays because those aren’t Christian. We kept the Saturday sabbath because the 7th day is Holy, and that isn’t Sunday. I started getting caught up in conspiracies.

Eventually I worked my way out of faith altogether. I had to answer Pascal’s wager, and it took awhile for me to say with confidence that if the God of the bible was real I would rather burn in his hell than worship him. I mean no offense to believers who may stumble upon this. I absolutely support your right to believe and to be whatever religion or no religion if you choose.

During this time I started becoming interested in politics. The connection between the right wing and religion was undeniable. I understood how awful the right wing was after that, and I began speaking out against religion and the right wing. I was a very hardcore atheist for many years. Today I am spiritual because I can’t deny my experiences, but I worship no Gods.

Up until Bernie ran in 2016 I was simply a Democrat. I voted for and loved Obama. Even when I would come across things I didn’t like that the Democrats had done I would convince myself they were the lesser of two evils, and felt like we didn’t have a choice but to vote for them. I wasn’t on Twitter until about a year ago, so I hadn’t learned the worst of it.

The more I learned and grew as a person the more I realized I deserved better than the situation I was in personally and politically. The man I was married to hadn’t let me work, or taught me how to drive. My only way out was to apply for subsidized housing, but the waiting lists were always closed. When they did open they were only open for short periods of time. I eventually got accepted and moved into my current apartment on October 29, 2016.

I continued trying to make things work while living separately until November of 2018. Information came forward that required I immediately cut it off, and we do not see or speak to him at all. Our divorce was supposed to be final Oct. 1, 2019 and they postponed it. It became final three years to the day that I moved into this place; October 29, 2019.

I’ve never been covered under private health insurance. Years ago I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in an ER. I had been there six times that year with it through the roof, but had no insurance. The doctor there wrote me a prescription for Lisinopril that would last three months & only cost me $10. The bills were piling up. My credit suffered greatly.

When I left my ex-husband, I got a full time job working for the Medicaid hotline, but I couldn’t afford Cobra, and they took my Medicaid because I apparently made too much. I wasn’t sick, but I do have four out of place discs, stenosis in two spots of my spine, scoliosis, and arthritis. This causes a ton of pain and neuropathy. Without Medicaid I couldn’t see a spine specialist or afford my medication.

I kept working, started paying small amounts on old bills, got my student loans in good standing, and qualified for my first loan. I was feeling good. Eventually, the pain got worse and I started feeling worse. I found a clinic that would see me for $40 and was diagnosed with diabetes and my liver markers were not good at all. My mental health was suffering due to my job.

We had a man call us once who thought we had the power to turn his Medicaid on and off. We didn’t have that power. All we were is a go between for the state to not have to deal with problems. He threatened to shoot himself, and I don’t know if he ever did. We were instructed to give them the suicide hotline number and move on to the next call.

I could tell you a million horror stories. Some calls would make me cry and it frustrated my lead. He would tell me I had to learn to separate emotions from the job, but how do you do that? I had a lady sobbing, begging me to help her, and I could not help her. If we had Medicare For All that wouldn’t have been an issue, and I absolutely grew more radical for Bernie working there.

Another woman called me upset because when you have Medicare you can get Medicaid as secondary insurance, but Medicaid will refuse to pay until Medicare has paid first; they are a “payer of last resort”. Her husband had cancer and ended up in the hospital, so they forgot to pay his part D, which was for his medication. She wanted to know if Medicaid would pay, since Medicare was punishing them and making them wait to get it back.

I had to tell her no. Her husband was literally dying of cancer, so she was stressed out, forgot to pay it, and now he was going to likely die sooner because we wouldn’t pay for his medication. I don’t know if he died. That not knowing was always the worst part, and years later I still think of them all.

My current situation is depressing. The good news is I have lost fifty pounds, reversed my diabetes, am off all the medication I was on, and my liver markers are normal. I follow a lazy keto diet and it works for me. I have more weight to lose, but I am so proud of myself.

I can’t do any rigorous exercise, so it’s all been done through changing my diet. I do physical therapy stretches from home to help with pain and sometimes yoga if I can. My legs are not in great condition because of the pain, but I still canvassed in 2018. I knocked on doors for 8–12 hours a day and would come home and just sob, but back out I went the next day.

I always fought for the most progressive people first, so I started by making calls for Abdul El-Sayed and registering voters with Sunrise. I am very much an introvert & never thought I’d be so involved, but I learned about them separating families and all I could think of was my own children. I attended my first protest alone and the rest is history.

I was still vote blue no matter who at that time. In my case, governor Snyder had poisoned Flint. His replacement, Bill Schutte, would have been as bad or worse than him. So when the corporate Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer, won the primary I canvassed for her, too. In some cases the lesser of two evils is just the right choice. An entire city is dying now.

I plan to canvass for Bernie with our local DSA that I’ve recently gotten involved with. The days I can’t bare to walk I can make calls or text. Right now my cell service sucks in my apartment and it’s cold outside, so in order to make calls I have to be able to afford a Lyft to my parents or somewhere else, but texting works here. We should all be involved in whatever ways we can.

I applied for social security and was denied being four credits short. They then denied me disability. I can’t work full time because if I do I won’t have insurance, and my Dr. is sending me for more testing and to see a spine specialist. They think what is going on with my legs is more than just from my back issues. They’ve thought it for years, but I was uninsured.

Disability is now telling me I cannot appeal their denial without new medical information. So my only income is child support when and if it comes. My dad was my ride everywhere, be it work or grocery shopping, but a couple months back my parents were rear-ended while waiting to turn into a gas station and dad’s car is totaled. Since it still starts the dealership is making him pay the monthly payments, and he cannot afford another car.

I sold my television for $40 in order to afford a bus card. I had planned to find a part time job because the child support stopped after October 2nd and everything was falling behind. It has since started back up, and I just can’t bring myself to take the bus in the cold. The pain is just too severe.

My pain is so bad even working part time that even with a ride there and back jobs are so difficult for me. For me to have to stand out in the cold, which affects my pain in ways I can’t describe, waiting on a bus, on top of working just isn’t going to cut it. This Christmas the kids are going to get maybe 2–3 cheap gifts each, but thankfully it’s never about the gifts for us.

I was working part time in the evenings cleaning men’s public restrooms. I didn’t mind it because I was left alone. I’d turn on my music and just go at it. One Friday I left unable to walk or stand up straight. My doctor ordered a new MRI and said I had made the problems worse.

Due to my back issues the job required too much bending over, so I had to quit. I have an EMG test scheduled for January 30th because Medicaid won’t let me see the spine specialist until that is done, and they were scheduling way out. Wait times exist in our country, too.

My mom has to have surgery the day after Christmas. They found a lump on her uterus. At her last exam they were a bit more concerned it could be cancer. We won’t know for sure until a couple weeks post surgery. Yesterday my dad found a lump in his stomach, and he has an appt today at 9 am to see what they can do about it.

My aunt is fighting lung cancer. My other aunt was recently diagnosed with MS and a brain tumor. Another aunt has bone cancer that is incurable. My youngest child has to see a cardiologist now because the small attacks we were told came from anxiety may actually be something to do with his heart.

My 20 year old had one knee surgery over a year ago, and the other knee has been damaged since. He has needed another surgery for over a year, but had no insurance. I finally added him to my lease because he can’t work. I got him Medicaid that was turned on November, and they’re shutting it off this month.

I asked my caseworker why and he said because he is 20 he needs his own case. This made no sense because my 22 year old lives here and is on my case. So I applied again as I was instructed, only for a new caseworker to call my son and tell him my caseworker was wrong. So his insurance is currently up in the air again.

My other twin was pregnant this year and we ended up in the ER. The pregnancy was ectopic. They did give her Medicaid after that and it covered the bills, but the republicans in Ohio would have her die by forcing doctors to perform a implantation procedure that simply doesn’t exist. We live in such dire times. The world is on fire and we need an organizer in chief.

Oh, and that loan I took out to build up my credit? Yeah, I had it all paid except my last three payments, and due to my financial situation my bank account is overdrawn almost $300 and the loan payment is three months late. My last payment was this month and it hasn’t been paid since September. All that hard work, almost a year of paying $90 a month, and now I’m almost right back where I started.

My student loans aren’t paid off. They are over $70,000 and I joined a low income repayment plan to get them in good standing, so they weren’t affecting my credit. In 20 years I get full loan forgiveness, but when you read the fine print you learn that once they forgive the loans you’re taxed on the full amount. Where will I come up with that money?

My brother is an addict. He has tried and failed to stop using crack many times. Most recently he was living with my parents, and while not using crack he had replaced it with constant marijuana. If he didn’t have marijuana he would do just about anything for it.

Two days before Thanksgiving he swallowed a bunch of pills and tried to kill himself. Thankfully my dad was able to call an ambulance in time. He is currently in a place out of town. Two days ago he passed out and stopped breathing. He now has to see a cardiologist. They think it’s affected his heart.

I think about my children’s futures. I worked so hard to build up my self-worth and leave an abusive situation for them. I worked so hard to teach them about the choices I made, why I made them, and how they can avoid them. Now, I don’t even know if they will have a planet that is habitable. If the planet dies nothing else I wrote about matters.

Not healthcare, not student debt forgiveness, none of it. Bernie is the only one I trust on these issues. I refuse to take chances. No other politician you can name has a record as consistent as his. “Hello, somebody!” “We have ALL the receipts!” as our beautiful Nina Turner would say.

Obama talked such a progressive game. I was so excited to elect our first Black president and have him actually fix things. Instead, he filled his cabinet with a list bankers gave him. He took more money from Wall Street than any president before him. He started new, illegal wars.

But he gave more of us Medicaid and got gay marriage legalized, so people forget the rest. There is no real difference between Democrats and Republicans. The only slight difference is that Democrats are more likely to offer those small concessions, but when we need a fighter they are siding with the fascists every time.

Obama learned my governor had began a slow ethnic cleansing of his own people in Flint, came to pander, promised Fema, and instead sent in the army to do unannounced bombing and terrify them further. He killed Americans abroad without due process. I could go on and on. But when he got in the race there wasn’t a lot of historical data for us to go by.

With Bernie all the history is there, and while he isn’t perfect, you cannot say he hasn’t been consistent. You cannot say he hasn’t always fought for a rainbow coalition of working and struggling people. People with stories like mine. I support Bernie because he is talking to the issues that plague not only me, but everyone I love, and even strangers I don’t know.

I support Bernie because he has always, always, always walked his talk. Without him running in 2016 I don’t know that we’d stand a chance to save ourselves, but here we are. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to save the planet, to ensure our children and their children not only survive, but thrive. The real question is why doesn’t everyone support Bernie Sanders?

All my love and appreciation for everyone who is part of this campaign and movement. I am proud to stand on this side of history. One day we will be known in history class as the movement who changed it all in the nick of time. I will never apologize or be ashamed that this is who I stood with.

Also, I mentioned a teacher in the beginning of this post. Bernie’s plan for education also includes making sure they make a living wage, are appreciated, and don’t have to spend their own money on supplies. His plan to make sure Black people, who have been most affected by the war on drugs, can profit from its legalization. His humane immigration reform.

There is no one else worth my time, money, or dedication. I may not have much money, but after buying a few gifts today with the little I had I sent Bernie another $9. Sometimes I send $2.70. Yes, I’m struggling but only Bernie has a plan to help me change that.