Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 1 - Not an Office Job

People are interesting. Some people strive to be, "normal" and people who qualify as "normal" take for granted what it is like to not have to try. I shadowed at my new job yesterday and met some of the guys I'll get to work with. They all have some sort of diagnosis in the schizophrenic realm. We get stuck - you, me, mental health professionals - on how people with such a diagnosis must be "crazy." And we imagine crazy to fit inside a certain sort of box. There was a guy, that I didn't meet but was told about, who has an alternate universe, a Utopia where everything is better. He firmly believes that it exists and is learning to reconcile it with this reality. The woman who was telling me about him said this: Who are we to really say it isn't real? To decide that there isn't something that we just don't see.
Logic tells us that we are to say, but our brains are wired in all kinds of funny ways. That guy is on all the meds that it should take to get ride of delusions, voices etc.; but they are still very real for him. That is what led to that statement.
One guy talked about how he processes the things that aren't real - how talking about them when they are happening can help distance him. Hearing how he works through this was fascinating. Listening to him and realizing how desparately he wants to not be noticed as different was, well, it's hard to say exactly what it was. See, he's the sort of guy that you would NEVER notice was "different." A handsome kid, energetic, bright and he happens to be schizophrenic. I guess when things get bad for him they are terrible, but otherwise you would never know. Unfortunately for him meds require cycling a lot, meaning they don't work as long as you would hope without you needing to alter them.
With my bipolar I can relate, not in the same way exactly, but generally speaking. If only doctor's would listen though (they don't because if I am not actively trying to kill myself and am still able to function when I have to so clearly the meds are working JUST fine).
Crazy isn't what you think. It is different for each of us. It is real for each of us. What some of us used to say in the crisis center and people I've known who have working in locked mental health places: Sometimes the biggest difference between us and the kids in there is that we have the keys.
We aren't all so normal - and other's aren't all so crazy. I mean it isn't the same but you should be thankful for your good mental health. We should open our boxes a little too.

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About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: And my comments and anecdotes on life at:

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel