From the Inside Out 

​Today, not for the first time in my life, I walked through the doors of a new CMHT.  This time it felt different.  Over the last year, through work, I have experienced these places in a new way, from the perspective of supporter rather than supported.  I have marched into meetings where I have felt comfortable to sort through information about the lives of others. I have learned to feel confident about advocating, discussing.  It took a while to recognise emotionally that I was not the one under scrutiny  (at least not in the same way) but once I did, I found myself able to enjoy working in this new capacity.
Today I found myself back in my old position, in an attemptedly happy waiting room with an assessment looming over my head.  I envisioned my colleagues watching this scene unfold and was overcome by the oddness of it.  I was led by a kind, bright person into a small room where I was asked for what felt like (and may have been) the fiftieth time, to go through the details of my life, starting at birth. 

I noticed as I spoke how easy it is for stories to vary over time.  Stories about yourself are never objective.  They change according to your thoughts and feelings at the moment of telling.  I felt suddenly terrified that I would get it wrong- how can you get your own story wrong?- that I would somehow forget something crucial or remember something vital but hitherto unmentioned.  It went fine.  The decision was made that, as I generally function fine, I require no intervention bar perhaps a medication review.  I should receive an appointment in the post sometime next week. I was congratulated on riding out my crisis, on my long-ish stint of stability, my ability to see past myself.  I told the kind, bright person that I liked her necklace.  I left.

The whole experience was like walking through a mirror or going to a country where people drive on the other side of the road but nobody thought to tell you.  Quietly unsettling.  For a year I have walked in different shoes.  Today I put my old ones back on and remembered what it is to be on display in a glass case- no- to be a glass case yourself and have someone look through you, shine a light, open you up. 

It felt incredibly strange. 

It felt like a new injection of empathy.


2 thoughts on “From the Inside Out 

  1. Trying to keep stories straight is difficult. You’ll find out that in my blog. I was homeless at one point of my life. Sometimes I talk about how difficult it was getting sober because I was homeless. Sometimes I talk about my frustration because I was sober so I shouldn’t have wound up homeless. Neither is a lie, each just happens to be my truth at the time I was writing it. Today I believe I was homeless after I got sober. We’ll see what I think tomorrow.

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