Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Who Is Strong?

    What is strength? Society measures strength in terms of big muscles and poundage lifted. And when we set the bar down, even more steel is added or us to hoist. So strength in our society is usually determined by who can lift the most.
    But I think this idea is all wrong. Strength has very little to do with big, sweaty, man muscles and everything to do with the 7-10 pound pinkish gray lump of dense, twisty neurons packed into our brains. Strength is a set of chemicals acting in tandem to create a mindset that cannot be broken down.
    You may ask how I know this. Honestly, It’s not my strength I am writing about. To be honest, life has taken me to the level just below Potato Bug in recent week and I just cannot wait to find out what that actually is! My money is on Rosebug with the weird pincers that go for the ear… Anyway, The strength I am writing about can only be found among those that have no way out. Those with disabilities with no cure, those in chronic pain, and those whose minds are locked under a different code than the rest of us.
    I myself could finish this essay on the merits of my own experiences as a person who has worked with the developmentally disabled population or years and who is also an active member of chronic pain clubs all over the net. But even that is not strength now that I have seen the eyes of those labelled insane by our society.
    Having worked with those who are dually diagnosed-having both a physical disability and a mental diagnosis, I have seen the crisis area in local hospitals before. And I have seen the “psych ward”. But that was a long time ago. So a recent experience in the psych ward brought back memories, and scared the shit out of me. And there was nothing I could do. Nothing. Crisis units are just that, for a crisis. so if your crisis is under control but there’s no where to go, you get to sit in the waiting areas and be approached by new admits. Sometimes, you are graced by a show when the new admit is brought in in restraints kicking and screaming. Yes restraints are still used.
    Then you get interviewed, but no one asks what you mean by certain statements, Only the report of a negative action is read along with some of your ‘crazy talk’ while you were under the influence of a good deal of medication. but you find out soon enough that you don’t get to make the decisions anymore. The doctors do. So youre being admitted to a place that will help you feel better and there will be people who can spend one-on-one time with you to start figuring things out. OK. Its for a little while only. 48 hrs until re-evaluation. no problem. They never tell you these meetings are set up to be of perfect composition to switch to a 60 day stay at the doctor’s command. 60 days was never mentioned,
    So you go up to the ward and it’s quiet and it’s older people and we assume maybe the younger ones are at the gym or laying down.  Better to admit how wrong we were. And then your medicine started for day 1.  And you haven’t seen a doctor yet. And there’s no one to talk to. And no-one your age. But you have to participate in group activities. Yet music group was a bust. She made you play YouTube videos and tell everyone why they were your favorite yet you were not allowed to play the one you wanted. Oh, and you can talk to this other patient and your suitemate was removed to a different suite down the hall-by a bunch of guys…
  So its Monday and you are supposed to have a review. Its not a review, its an assessment and a treatment plan for that day. A med for sleep and a med for psychosis. Where did that come from. I don’t need that. And why can’t I hackey sack in my room?? And my treatment plan is to take the medication? Can I talk to my mom? By day 7 you are on a sleep med and an anti anxiety med but the truth is hidden. The antianxiety med is truly what they said but your sleep med is an antipsychotic. The one they have been trying to get you to take. They figured out a way, But you can come home now and go to an outpatient doctor now.
   You survived 10 in the shoes of a mentally ill patient in a crisis ward. You survived 10 days witnessing things no one should see, thinking things no one should have the exposure to learn to think, second guessing your sanity, then second guessing the truthfulness of everyone around you. You even came through it all seeing the good in everyone there. You made a friend who is busy, but with whom you talk on ‘the outside’.
    You survived and thrived one of the worst environments left in the so-called civilized world. And strength is STILL measured by one’s muscles and not by their character. Unbelievable!

Sharilynn Battaglia


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