So much of the work that I do is surrounded in secrecy, privacy law, and simple social taboo...I work with mentally ill folks, after all. And even though the days of "lunatics" (mental illness was thought to be brought on by the full moon or lunar cycles) and the "ship of fools" (when the mentally ill used to be cast out on a ship to sea and simply forgotten) are only read about in Psych 101 text books as history, there is STILL so much mystery, apprehension, and even FEAR regarding the mentally ill. Mostly because I believe we do not understand and cannot comprehend or rationalize mental illness in simple terms...and many fear at any moment they could be afflicted with it...it is human nature to fear that which we do not understand.
In July of this year, I will have worked in the mental health field for 21 years...it seems like such a very long time, and yet, there is still so much I do not know and have yet to learn about my practice and my patients. I have no simple understanding of mental illness to impart upon anyone...and yet, I feel I have learned to "understand" mental illness in terms most would never comprehend.
For instance, it is NOT the mentally ill that I personally fear...but instead, I have great apprehension about those who think of themselves as "normal" because there is NO such thing when it comes to the mind and human nature. We tend to live by social "norms", but even these preset societal beliefs change and become outdated or "abnormal". All one needs to do to witness this fact first hand is to turn on your TV and watch a program from the 1970's and then catch a clip of a show airing or filmed in 2007...1970 appears very "not the norm" to our world/society today.
I often wonder (and have even written about it in the past here) how my life, my mind, my beliefs, my socialization might have been different had I chosen a DIFFERENT line of work or profession? Had I become a traditional house wife or computer programmer or school teacher...what would my world view be today had I NOT seen the side of mental illness and human nature that I view on a daily basis? I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on this issue, but it does lend me pause at times to "wonder"...
I believe in a very simplistic, dualistic manner of thinking flowers DO grow out of s#!+ (fertilizer) and I have seen a LOT of "fertilizer" in my job. Because I am often placed in the center of this "fertilizer" pile, I believe I have grown a greater appreciation for the "flowers" of the world...sometimes I have to search for them, but the "flowers" are always there somewhere...pushing up out of the s#!+, budding, and blooming.
I don't know why there is mental illness in our world...I don't know why many of the tragedies and sorrows exist. But I DO know why I am here and why I have BEEN here today...after 10, long and fairly difficult hours, dealing with a variety of "events" in others lives, I have been here to bear witness to someone's story...to be present in another person's life...to accept them, to care for them briefly, and to let them go. Believing that I have somehow made a difference and taken notice of a tiny "flower" covered in fertilizer...
And so it goes...I promise when I am less tired tomorrow, I will return to my ever-sarcastic and violently humorous self...really...seriously...LOL