When I was still in graduate school, doing my internship in professional counseling psychology, one of my supervisors gave me some advice. She told me that I would need to toughen up if I was going to survive working in the field of psychology. She tried to prepare me for the best and the worst, saying,
“Nikki, you are going to see and hear some upsetting and terrible things. You must prepare for the worst, but never stop hoping for the best."
“The worst what?” I asked her naively.
‘The worst of everything,” she answered.
Whoa…what was SHE talking about?
A week later, during a clinical training, I heard the worst thing I had ever heard. And then I heard worse than that worst and so on and so on and so on. I was so naïve! Could I do this job? Could I hear these stories and work with these broken, abused people without breaking down emotionally?
How did I know so little about the world?
How in was I going to be able to help these people heal?
Thank heavens I had good supervision and support during my internship. The abstract concepts I had learned in graduate school didn’t help me once I was out in the real world working with clients. When a schizophrenic teenager is jabbering word salad while slicing her thighs with the gleaming pinpoint of her geometry compass because Joey from New Kids on the Block told her to, it’s not a good time to try to engage her in cognitive restructuring exercises.
My time as a therapist doing direct care wasn’t always that dangerous, but it was always intense. There are so many people struggling, suffering, and feeling alone, helpless, angry and afraid. I loved and hated working as a therapist. It was the best and the worst. Charles Bukowski’s poem – one of my all time favorites – describes the experience and the feelings.
May is Mental Health month. I say that it will be a month of madness on my blog, because much like the NCAA playoffs in March, the only thing that I can predict is that it’s going to be unpredictable! I will use terms/words that aren't politically correct. Words like madness, crazy, loco, nuts, etc. If you don't have a sense of humor or a basic understanding of the tone of my blog, or at the bare minimum, an ability to avoid taking everything personally and feeling hurt when the wind blows in your general direction, I suggest you take the month off Moms Who Drink And Swear and return in June.
This month, I have to write about this stuff because...
"If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it's your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life." ~Charles Bukowski
My soul burns. I want you to learn. I want to learn more. I want the stigma gone! I want people to get the help they need without being afraid to do so. I want people to know how to get help, how to help - I want, I want, I want! Helping people learn to survive and thrive despite having mental illness is my passion. 'Tis my calling, my purpose, my desire.
My hope is that this month will prove to be an interesting and interactive experience! I will be writing blogs and short stores about mental health and mental illness. I will be sharing blogs written by others and responding to emails I receive and conversations on the Moms Who Drink And Swear™ Facebook page with blogs and links to resources. So many people have reached out and want to share their stories.
I’m going to do the best I can with the time I have. There’s no way I can cover everything. The only thing I can promise is that when I share information, it will be from the most valid and reliable resources I can find. Again, I can’t stress enough that I cannot cover everything. I hope to spark your interest in the topic of mental health, mental illness and overall wellness as it relates to mental health enough to get you doing some work on your own.
Learn! Listen! Laugh!
There is so much misinformation, so much dangerous, wonky nonsense on the web.
So many things affect our mental health – genetics, epigenetics, environment, experience, illness, etc. The brain is the wild west of the human body. The mind-body connection is still full of mystery, much in part because we are all so unique.
And so will this month of May’s musings about mental health. Hope you’ll be a part of it, whether you lurk and learn or actively participate!
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