How my journey down the worst streets in all of Canada got me questioning my own self-fraudulent thoughts.

Written by Stephanie Jackson


How does our personality type impact our path of anxiety, substance abuse, mental illness, and crime?  

I remember my first trip out to Kelowna, British Colombia for a teaching conference in 2012 and I purposely built in a few extra days of that trip to visit Vancouver. I wanted to see what one of the absolute worst places to call home in all of North America really looked and felt like:  Vancouver’s Downtown East Side DTES.

The DTES has one of the largest concentrations of drug use, poverty, mental illness, sex work, and crime.   I’m sure there are lots of other places to visit in Vancouver, but I had already made up my mind and my mission despite the pouring rain to make my way down to the worst streets in all of Canada.

With my journal, dark sunglasses, iPhone, jeans, hooded sweatshirt and a completely unaltered mind, I tried to make this sheltered blonde white girl blend in.  My body was filled with a rush of nerves, fear, and fascination.

My mind started flooding with the anxieties of: What if someone notices me?  Finds out what I’m doing or sees through my bullshit sham of a person I am?  These were the thoughts that kept intensely building as I walked down the street in complete distraction of my own torments failing to experience any of my external environments whatsoever.

I finally got to my parked beige rental car, got in, locked the doors, and sighed in relief and disappointment.  With zero recollect, pictures, stories, I had nothing to show of my journey down these streets, only the feeling of sitting there with my own self-fraudulent thoughts rushing through my veins, I thought: What the hell really is my problem?

Within a few minutes I snapped out of it.  It was the stark contrast of my clean, safe, heated interior of the beige rental car to the external world that reminded me of my initial exploration desire.  I started up the car and pulled out my camera and drove down the streets, stopping and taking pictures through the comfort zone of the car.  I witnessed the lingering effects of extreme filth, poverty, and the rampant mental alterations of substance abuse which left my presence completely in oblivion and unnoticed. I just stayed there for hours in the quiet observation of the human desperation and despair.

I never really thought about why I needed to do this, but maybe on some level I was facing my own worst fears of somehow ending up like this one day.

The fear of somehow hitting the lowest of the lowest level of rock bottom in society; I mean you hear those stories of girls who’ve come from a good home, education, and end up like this on the streets.  To this day I don’t really know what my fascination is all about?

I think it has to do with the curiosity and study of the human life.  How so many factors determine our journey, path, and health.  The complexities and intricacies of personality, environment, circumstances, genetics, it all plays a role on some level.

Are we predestined to live out a certain path? Are we born with our personality or do we develop it through our life journey are always questions I wonder and theorize about.

Are certain personalities more or less likely to get caught up in the underworld of drug use, mental illness, sex work, or crime than others? Or are we a product of our environment, society, circumstances, and traumas?

I had the recent pleasure to interview Barbara Maulding, owner and founder of Creative Space Online Counseling and Coaching in Algonquin, Illinois.  She specializes in anxiety and trauma and often references the DISC and Myers Briggs Personality Assessments in her work. Hearing about Barbara’s fascination with the criminal mind and her path down forensic psychology and mental health counseling sparked our common connections and interests.

We both have that same underlying question of how did that person get to that point? What are the details contributing to the problems and solutions in breaking patterns and cycles within mental health, substance abuse, and a life of criminal activity, are questions that keep us both up late at night.

Learn more about Barbara Maulding and to get in touch with her:

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