Natalie Grant "More than Anything"

Friday, September 7, 2012

A New (Ad)venture

I am going to be having a change in my daily routine soon.  I have been accepted into a day program for people with schizophrenia.  I attended one such program many years ago while living in a group home.  Although I was supposed to continue attending that program, I dropped out of it not long after completing an intensive section of it designed for people who were recently discharged from long term hospitalizations or who were very unstable.   I "graduated" from "Hitler's Day Camp" (a derogatory term assigned to the program which was autocratically run by a man named George Neffinger--who, although he did his best to be a dictator--was in possession of a softer heart than he liked to advertise.)  Following my completion of this program, I was assigned to a group more intended for "Lifers"--people with chronic mental illness who needed a place to go to keep them out of the way of their housing staff or parents during the day.  This group was known by the initials of some title that I can no longer fact I recall nothing much of it, other than it was a completely hopeless assignment..a place where mentally ill people slouched around and bummed cigarettes.  I did not last long there.  It was too hopeless. It was meant for mentally ill schizophrenics  which I was not. (Just ask me--I would vehemently deny that description regardless of a list of hospitalizations as long as my arm....and three suicide attempts.)

But this place, I am getting the impression from the descriptions given to me by my case worker, is a better place.  A more positive, more optimistic place--with higher functioning people in it.  I am hoping it is a place where I will meet some people like me.  My husband completely doesn't "get" why I would have any interest in it at all.  But then he does not have to sit alone in a house 24/7 and he doesn't have to feel like an animal of a different species when he is amidst "normal" people on a daily basis.  I have wanted for quite a while to have a friend who also has this disease; someone who can have a clue what life is like for me.   I've never been one to compare symptoms and share war stories with people.  When I am in my pain management doc's office I put on my headphones and crank the volume and keep my eyes glued to my book.  Not the most friendly of postures, but I cannot abide those "my pain is worse than yours" scenarios that so frequently take place in such locales. 

And while it is a natural part of the camaraderie amongst people who share a diagnosis, to discuss with others like themselves, past events, hospitalizations, symptoms and delusions they have in common with others, there is generally not a competition to be the sickest one there.  Granted in some hospitals people of certain diagnoses do tend to compete for the spot of the most sick person on the unit....but people with SZ are not generally among those.  People with this disease are more often unassuming, keep to themselves, and are usually very nice.  The intake nurse at the last hospital I was in (several weeks ago) confided in me that people with schizophrenia are her favorite patients because of these very qualities. 

It is for reasons such as these--and because these people share in common with me symptoms that are alienating and isolating--that I would like to attend such a  group.  When you have a disease that society perceives as being bizarre and unusual--and are generally shunned from social inclusion--then it is kind of nice to be amongst others who have also experienced that. My husband fears, I think, that I will begin to act more "schizophrenic" and less "normal" as I go and am surrounded by MI adults. (MI=mentally ill).  I do not think that that will happen...and he doesn't know how I act now anyway since we do not see much of each other.

So yes, it boils down, largely, to loneliness and to boredom.  I do often long for other surroundings than my room in my house.  And it would be nice to hear someone say to me, "Good morning, Cynthia. How are you today?"  So I am going. With or without spousal approval or comprehension.  And if it turns out to be another program of despair and despondency...then I will not continue to go.  But I am going to give it a chance.
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