Who Needs the Therapy???

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? πŸ˜‰

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? πŸ˜‰
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 forΒ  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.


12 responses to “Who Needs the Therapy???

  1. I remember when I chose to go into an inpatient program that I too had the same picture of the place as you did and was surprised by what I found. It does take great courage to admit you need help and to seek it out. I would never be so free if I didn’t make that choice for inpatient treatment.


    • Me neither Janet. Just last night my husband and I were discussing the past 2 years and I would not even be alive today if not for that program. We both know that for sure.
      Thank you for your thoughts as well. πŸ™‚ It’s nice to know others have been helped this way too. Have a great day!


  2. Heather,
    do you think your experience is typical? I read so many on wordpress who were further traumatized by their experiences at inpatient hospitals and so I vowed that I would never let my wife go to one, though thankfully she never got to that point.

    I’m very happy you had such a positive experience, but I have to wonder if yours is the exception not the rule. I wish yours was the rule. Your experience really does seem fabulous and I’m so happy they gave you the tools you needed to start healing!


    • Well… I have a few answers for that.
      I think that if someone goes and feels forced, does not feel ready, does not want to make changes (yet or ever), or if they are doing it just to please others? I think it can be very damaging.
      I am also sure that some places are not as good as where I went and I realize how incredibly blessed I was to live in Canada and have such a world rebound hospital to go to. It is VERY highly regarded with a 30 year history of this particular program. It is tried and true.
      I also know that some people who went to the exact same program that I went to absolutely hated it. I feel they were not really ready or not there for themselves. Oftentimes they were there because a spouse said “This or else!”, a workplace said “Go or you are fired.” and so on. That does happen sadly.
      I do feel that my experience is typical IF you are ready. IF you want to be there. IF you are doing it for yourself first and everyone else after you. Most importantly? IF you are really ready. It is VERY Hard work. Quite honestly the hardest 8 weeks of my life. I went through more pain than I ever thought possible… but I was ready for a change and ready to begin to heal… so I did.
      I also run a support group for others who have graduated from the same program and so many of them are doing so much better. The majority (95% or so) are very happy they went and feel they are healing.
      Sorry my answer is so long but I feel that each person has a very different experience because we all enter at different places in our healing journey.
      For me? It saved my life. Very literally. When I left I promised my husband I would do everything they told me to do and the deal was… if I still feel just as miserable when I left? I coudl kill myself and he wouldn’t blame me. I only went to get off the hook. Just the fact that I am alive and writing to you is a testament to the good they did. πŸ™‚


      • No need to apologize. I appreciate your thoughtful reply. I was pretty sure you were north of the border here. I just don’t hear many good examples down here in the States. From the various times you have written about your experiences there, I wish all inpatient places treated their patients with the same dignity as you were.


      • I often mention the name of where I went because they accept patients from all over the world. During my stay, I was there with 2 Americans, 2 Irishmen, and people from every edge and corner of Canada. I have a deep respect for Homewood and the people that work there. πŸ™‚ Thanks Sam


  3. Such an insightful and true post, Heather. A sad commentary on our world…


  4. Powerful Heather… It is just really sad the world indeed has it all backwards!


  5. I love your posts. .. i always start out reading thinking YES, that’s so true! And frustrating! And then you somehow seemlessly end with so much positivity and encouragement. I think you’re awesome. And thanks for sharing your experience. .. The thought of being inpatient terrifies me because of the idea of not being in control of my safety. … but it’s good to hear a good story πŸ™‚


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