This has been an interesting week for me. I’ve had to face my mental health issues and deal with the darkness that took over me last spring. On Tuesday I took the day off from work because I had orientation for my new volunteer position. It’s at a transitional housing facility for mental health clients. I think of it as a half way house – people can come and go as they please, but they enjoy shared meals, they have chores and house responsibilities. Most of them have just come from jail or a psychiatric facility of some sort. When I was hospitalized, a lot of the other patients were going to this facility following their hospitalization. Some of the patients had been there before and loved it. At the time, I thought it was my house. I thought I ran the program and that I was helping all of these wonderful people. So, a few months ago I decided that if I felt so strongly in the mission that I believed it was my facility, it’d be a good place for me to spend some time. I had some hesitation and worry that it could trigger me. I was worried they might not accept me as a volunteer – less than a year ago I could have easily been on the other side things. Still, I decided to reach out and about a month ago I had an interview there and got the gig.
So, back to this past Tuesday – I had to go to orientation at the very same facility where I flipped out last year. It turns out that the half way house is part of the same program. It was weird being back at that building – I recognized the receptionist and prayed she didn’t recognize me. How could she forget. I ran through the lobby screaming and attacking my husband. They had to call an ambulance for me. I pushed around the cops, and apparently threatened to kill them. I barricaded myself in a room and banged my head on the glass window. I made quite the scene. Now, here I was checking in at the counter for orientation. Now I was on the other side. The orientation went fine, it was uneventful. It left me excited for my first shift at the mental health house.
Friday was my first shift. I don’t know how Fridays came into the picture, but since I don’t have much of a social life I decided it didn’t matter to me. So, every Friday from 7-9pm I’ll hang out at the mental health house. My job is really simple – basically I just hang out with the clients, there are about 15 of them. We can play games, do art projects or watch movies. This Friday we watched Oh Brother Where Art Thou. I don’t like that movie, but hey – it wasn’t my choice.
I was really nervous going into my shift – I didn’t know how I should act. I was worried the clients would pick up on my nervousness and not like me. I know how sensitive I was when I had an episode, and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or come off as rude or cold. I wanted to be kind, warm and welcoming. Of course, being non-judgmental was also one of my goals, and one of the requests of the staff. I only spoke with a few of the clients while I was there, but overall they were very nice. They all seemed pretty heavily sedated and on drugs. In fact, at the beginning of the night the staff read a story out loud about a bipolar woman’s struggle finding the right medication. It was designed to make the patients want to be medication compliant, to keep working with their doctor to find the right meds at the right dose. It was a little difficult for me to listen to because I really don’t believe in medication and am working towards being med free myself. Right now I’m on a low dosage of Lithium and a very low dosage of Zyprexa – an anti-psychotic that makes me sleepy. I’m weening myself off of that one and hopefully next month I’ll be done with it completely.
Anyways, the few clients I spoke with were nice and conversational. However, there was one client who was very fixated on me. He thought I was Satan. I found this to be a very interesting situation, as I do identify as darkworker, and in fact when I was sick, I believed I was Hitler reincarnated. Darkness was part of my story. He spent the whole night talking to me about how I needed to accept God’s love (he thought he was God) and that I was very powerful. He was clearly delusional, talking about all of the war’s he had fought in and the lives he had taken. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by his story. I probably should have corrected him more, but I kind of played along and just listened. I didn’t think there was much I could do to convince him I wasn’t Satan. I tried at first, and he didn’t believe me.
At the end of the shift the volunteer coordinator asked if there were any triggers for me and I said no. But, later in the night I thought – um, yeah. To have this man think that I was Satan got me thinking about my own delusions and feelings of guilt for past karma. Like there is some sort of darkness in me. It’s funny because I am not a mean or angry person. I think I’m kinder than most and wish to do no harm. What I really think is that we’re all a little dark, I’m just more comfortable with that notion than most people. I know I’m capable of doing horrendous things – we all are. Still, I can’t help but wonder what it was about me that made him think I was Satan. I think he’ll probably be around this Friday too – he didn’t seem ready for discharge. This time I’ll work on correcting him – I am not Satan. I’m just a volunteer.