Jon Dolan recently published an excellent article on Alternet called "5 Pieces of Advice for the New Paupers" describing his experiences living in poverty. The article doesn't go into a lot of detail about what caused this descent (in his case, a three-month process), but instead focuses on what he learned once he got there. It's a fascinating and scary article, covering everything from the primacy of warmth and why it's necessary to be somewhat pushy at food banks, to the way your sense of shame fades once you've experienced cold and hunger and how you eventually won't mind the smells anymore because everyone smells.
Dolan describes the bitterness you'll feel living like this, and how you have to find a way to shut that off. After describing a job interview that didn't go too well, he says
After months of being a bum, I was the wrong volume, the wrong temperature....You'll find that if you want to get back into that quiet, odor-free, polite world, you're going to have to decompress for a few months. What happened to us is that we fled, found a basement apartment on borrowed money, and stayed there, keeping the heat on high for months. Then we were ready to try again for a job.This article, and the many follow-up comments, are worth reading. Let's hope those slipping into poverty find their right volume, their right temperature.