I remember the day that I was told I was going to be sent to an in-patient program at a “Health Centre” 3,000kms away from home. While researching it a bit so I would know what I could take or what I would need, I realized that MANY programs were run out of this “Health Centre”. I then read some history about this place (Homewood) and found it was called a sanitarium many years before. That just sealed the deal for me. I was going to a hospital filled to the brim with unstable people. I knew I was unstable too and that is what scared me. How safe could a building filled with unstable mental health patients be?
I got the shock of my life when I got there. Everyone really looked normal. People walked about the grounds and the buildings freely with very few exceptions. There was laughter, smiling, a few quiet folks… really very normal. There was one lady talking to herself but she was having a GREAT chat and was laughing at the obviously funny person that was invisibly keeping her company. No harm there right? The atmosphere was actually more comfortable than almost any place I had been before. Almost everyone was kind, respectful and just going about their day. Shocking right? 😉
After the initial shock wore off, I got to meet my nurse and I was treated very respectfully. I was not given harsh rules, told I was not allowed to leave or anything of the sort. What I chose to discuss or keep private was respected completely.
I met my other nurse the next day. He asked if I had any concerns and I decided to ask if I was truly safe there. I mean… I was on a floor with all these people who were just as screwed up as I was. How safe could we be? 😉
I will never forget his answer.
“It’s not the people within these walls that scare me. It’s the people who should be here but won’t admit it that scare me. The people who are here know they have issues and they are here to work on them.”
In the 2 years since that day, I hear his words every now and then when I think of my own birth family or I have interactions with people who THINK they are totally normal while all I can see is obvious cracks in their mental health? I actually think that the wrong people are sent to Homewood. It’s all arse backwards!
It’s all the people who’ve been so badly hurt, abused, neglected, been given very little support, inadequate mental health treatment, had terrible upbringings, rotten marriages, or have been to hell and back in various ways that are in that building. It is the people who have the least of everything that are giving their whole hearts to healing damage so very often not caused by their own doing. These people who have been ground down to feel like they are less than human who strive the hardest to heal, to grow, and to be good people.
So why is that backwards?
It is the abused who fill that place not the abusers. So often the people who caused the worst pain do not even see they need help and if they do? They ignore it and place even more blame on their targets.
An in-patient program is only one example of this arse backwards world. Who seeks therapy? Who writes blogs? Who reaches out to help others even when they have so very little to give to themselves? Who are the people who work hard so that those who follow will not need to deal with the same issues?
It is the abused who do a great deal of the “dirty” work. We’ve been left to clean up messes that we did not create.
So I know that sometimes we feel embarrassed by our mental illnesses, ashamed to admit the truths of our lives for fear of being judged, we worry about being believed and if we are believed? Can we handle the knowledge that our secrets are out there now? We go to counselling or write blogs or books or go to treatment programs or take medications or fight these battles all by ourselves.
The abusers do none of this.
So why are we so hard on ourselves? We all give so much to so many people. The people who SHOULD be in therapy are not. They should be the ones that are embarrassed, feel dirty, hold guilt, experience shame… but we do that for them.
WE are the strong ones. Be proud of yourself for every tiny little itty-bitty step that you take. You are so much braver than those folks that just stick their head in the sand and pretend like nothing ever happened.
Hold your head high. You are doing your best which is far more than I can say for the people who hurt you.
My wish for you is that you can find a way to give yourself credit for being the one willing to do the work that was never yours to begin with. Those who come after you will be so much better off.