Bewitched Wich


Rachael Jarman, Staff Writer

Wichito is someone I met on Spoon, a streaming app I have been a part of for a while. His birth name is Juan, but he changed it to John in court. I prefer to call him Wich, or Wichito, because that is the name I am used to calling him. This is a nickname he had gone by while he was living on the streets of Los Angeles and Sacramento, California. I wanted to learn more about him and what he has been through, so I asked him questions all about it. 

Wichito has been through quite a lot with being so young. He just turned 21, yet it is still a young age living with so many memories in his mind. Most of these memories are very traumatic and would be for anyone, really. He has changed a lot after everything he has experienced, yet it is hard to act like he hasn’t been through so much. He has several mental illnesses, most of them being caused by his past. He has Childhood Schizophrenia, Type 2 Bipolar Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Paranoia, all of which he takes medication for.

I asked him, “What is one of the memories you made while being on the streets that you will never forget, good or bad?” He responded by saying, “The worst thing I had ever picked up on the streets was cocaine and heroin; drug addiction.” His cousin was the one who first influenced him to start taking these drugs, along with cigarettes, PCP, and Meth. He and his cousin were pretty close, and his cousin unfortunately passed away during a drive-by shooting by members of MS13, a gang he had been head of. Wichito had been living with him for a while beforehand, and this is one of the things that caused his PTSD.

“When did you have your first episode of schizophrenia, and when did you realize you had it? Did it scare you?” I asked Wichito. He said back to me, “I was about 16, in 2015, on October 20th; I was at a party that night. When I had schizophrenia, developed it, and knew that I had it, it did scare me at first, but I had to tell myself that I had to live with it.” He experiences schizophrenia every day, and it is something that he has adapted to. He hears a lot of voices from his past, and the voices mostly torture him mentally. This is something he has accepted to live with since there is nothing he can really do. 

He was next asked, “Have you always had Bipolar or did you develop it?” He had responded with, “When I knew I had Bipolar [Disorder], it was right after I knew I had schizophrenia. I have Type 2 Bipolar Disorder. I had a mental breakdown, and it was really bad. I went to court and a mental hospital, and they told me that I had to go to a neurologist and therapist. After I got out of the mental hospital, I went to a facility in Lagrange, Georgia, called Hope’s Corners. Then, after I got out of the mental facility, I went to a neurologist and psychiatrist.” He stayed in the mental hospital for about three months, with people being drug addicts and having different types of mental illnesses. His experience of being in the mental hospital was both good and bad all at the same time.

“How much different do you think your life would be if you didn’t ever live on the streets?” I asked him. He said back to me, “It would be very different. Up to the point where I’m established in a good home and in a good place with my parents when I never had them. It would be great.” He would’ve had a way better future, made better grades, maybe even gone to college. He wishes all the time that he had gone to college as he should have right after school, and while he was on the streets, he “either walked or snuck into buses,” and sometimes he “would even ask strangers to drive” him to school.

 A majority of the relationships he was in were extremely toxic. One of his very toxic exes, in November of 2017, “overdosed” him and “threw [him] in a trash can to die.” “She took all of my money,” he said, “and burned all of my clothes and ID Card.” She didn’t care anything about him and was horrible to him. There were several situations where he would be treated harshly like this, and it has a lot to do with the mental illnesses he has to this day.

Wichito is fluent in Spanish and learned it while being on the streets of California. I asked him about how quickly he had become fluent, and he responded by saying, “It was a slow process. I learned it on the streets of California in Los Angeles and Santa Monica; I was 15.” Now, in the present day, he works with people that speak Spanish, such as Guatemalans, Hondurans, Mexicans, Peurto Ricans, and some Caucasians. Learning Spanish was definitely a positive experience from living on the streets, with him being able to talk to others that speak it, as well as being able to talk to his family in Spanish and English now.

I asked Wichito what one of his favorite places that he had discovered in Los Angeles. He told me about a place that was called Callejones, in other words, Santee Alley, which is “the best place” he had “found in Los Angeles, California.” Callejones is kind of like window shopping, and it’s very ghetto, but “you can buy clothes for cheap there, and you can find some really good things there.”

I then asked him, “What is one of the greatest lessons that you were taught by living that way for so long?” He responded with, “To always be grateful for what you have every day, because not everyone has what we have. And to be grateful for the people you have around you yourself because sometimes we have to live up our life everyday and just appreciate how great life really is and how beautiful it is.” Being in hard situations, living a certain way for a long period of time, and being in a place where life can be so much different than where you will be in the future will all teach you that you have to be grateful and thankful for what you have. It also makes you realize that life is a complicated, dark, yet wonderful and beautiful thing, and that whatever you have, you must be thankful for. 

I asked Wich what got him off of the streets and into a home. He saw a woman walk out of a club, and she came up to him while he was looking for clothes in the garbage can. “What I was wearing was ridiculous. I was wearing a polka dot shirt, ripped jeans and dirty ripped shoes,” Wich said. The woman took him for shelter, and he was a little skittish about it at first. She started to ask him questions like what his last name was, what his dad’s name was, who he knew, etc. They both finally realized that they were related. She was his Auntie, his mom’s sister. Wichito then started talking about moving to Georgia, saying, “My friends that had met me to come to Georgia, they supported and helped me, even though we went through our darkest times. They just always supported me through everything that I’ve been through.” He met these people through social media. Later on, after he moved from California to Georgia, he then moved to Idaho then back to Georgia because his Auntie called him and said that his sister was in Georgia. She gave him her number and he had called her. He asked for her name and she said that it was her, and she was really surprised, happy, and crying as well. It was a very emotional moment, and she asked him what part of Georgia he was at, and he said Lawrenceville, Georgia. It was close to her, they FaceTimed for quite some time and they decided to meet up. She took him out to eat and bought him clothes because he had been homeless. 

Wichito plays several instruments including: “piano, keyboard, drums, electric & acoustic guitar, didgeridoo, shofar, waterphone, flute, clarinet, xylophone, steel drums, violin, viola, cello, electric & acoustic bass, trumpet, saxophone, and a little bit of banjo.” He learned to play these instruments “by ear in music stores by hearing Rock, Classic Glam Rock, or Anarcho punk.” He is very talented when it comes to music, and it is a passion of his. 

Wich was asked one last question, “How is your life now, and how much has it changed since then?” He said, “Honestly, my whole life has changed so much. I became a better person than what I used to be, and I’m so grateful where I’m at now. I’m very very happy. There’s no other place you can call home but your own, you know? There are no other people you can love so much than the people you live with and you can share a smile with every day.”