Many of my patients are struggling with multiple mental health issues. They struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma issues, paranoia, and so much more, but it’s also very common for my patients to be struggling with problems related to services. Many times, they have been other places for help, and feel that they have been treated badly, and some of them have. I won’t say that my profession doesn’t make mistakes, but someone else’s mistakes should change your life for the worst. Sometimes treatment is just about overcoming injustice, and developing a quality of life in spite of what someone else might have done.
Let me start out by saying that I know there are struggles in life. I have watched people struggle to keep a job, manage to maintain housing, and have enough money to eat and feed their children. Life isn’t easy, and sometimes it throws so many curve balls that it’s hard not to get smacked in the head. My job is to help people improve their quality of life, not to get disability, so my focus is to help people improve their outlook. Patients often get angry with me when they tell me how to write notes so it will look good for their disability hearing and I refuse. It goes against my training to help people stay sick.
That being said, I know that there are things that don’t just go away or magically get better. I often explain trauma work differently. The idea isn’t to cure, but to manage. I can’t make the trauma pictures stop flashing, but hopefully the flashbacks won’t come as often. When they do, I hope to help the patient get through the event quickly, and have it be less intense. With many patients that I have worked with, I understand that I can’t eliminate the problem, but I believe you help them manage it differently, and not be afraid of it when it happens. When I talk about it, I talk about integration. I believe that you integrate all of your experiences, good and bad, into who you become. That helps you survive anything.
Over the years, I have talked with so many people. I talk with patients, friends, and people I meet anywhere. I think about the people who have been able to overcome overwhelming events and I think about how they are able to talk about what they went through. As a part of treatment, how you talk about trauma helps your therapist understand where you are with the event. Some people talk about things and are detached. Some use humor to cover where they really are, and others just don’t talk about the issues. Some people lose trust for providers after things they have been through and things they are told. Being a support person isn’t easy either, but we try (at least most providers do). but only the patient has the power to change his/her own future.
When it comes to fighting injustice, I try to help people make process, no matter what happened to them in the past. At the end of the day, it’s their lives, and they deserve to be happy, whether they have been through traumatic events, or whether they have been through unhelpful systems. So don’t let other people define your future. Don’t give your power away. Be happy, in spite of the problems in our world. That’s what being happy for life is all about.