*Mental Illness - "Left Eye Closed"*
I was talking to a Psychiatrist friend of mine earlier today (NO! He's just a friend, and I'm not his patient ;) ) about a mutual acquaintance.. He kept reiterating that our Mutual Acquaintance had pretty bad mental troubles, and at their age, with troubles that bad, dealing with them would be a lesson in futility for me. To quote my friend, "It's not Politically Correct to say, but success in dealing with the mentally ill long term is the exception, not the rule."
I "do" have some background in Psychology... In fact, I stuck to Electrical Engineering in College because during my Work Study in Psychology I quickly tired of seeing the exact same people every week, talking about the exact same problems, and never doing a thing to change their circumstances... Over several Years I only saw maybe one or two success stories... I don't mean to cast judgement, I'm just relating a fact as it applied to my experience. As an Engineer, as someone who Fixes problems, I realized that I wasn't suited to become a counselor.
Anyway, my friend finally said, "I wish I could make you understand how hard it would be for someone like that to ever 'get well', but I don't have the words to do it.."
Well, *I* have the words.. now he does too... They clicked in my brain Many years ago when dealing with the VERY mentally ill... especially those that don't really want help..
* Suppose someone tells you that to function in society, you have to close your left eye, and Keep It Closed... for the rest of your life. *
Obviously that sounds ridiculous to you, but you really want to "get well" and "fit in" and you really want your problems to stop, so you do it to the best of your ability.. Maybe you also take some medication to help keep that left eye closed... Maybe once a week or so you go to a specialist that reminds you to keep the left eye closed, and gives you tips on how to keep the left eye closed (but basically, visiting the specialist just serves as a "Weekly Reminder" to keep your left eye closed)
If you want to understand the difficulties faced by people with True mental illness, or with those that choose to try to help them.. Try closing your left eye, and keeping it closed for 2 days. Pretend that when you close your left eye you are "Normal", and when it's open you're doing something "abnormal"... Keep a journal...
Within an hour, You Sneeze. After you sneeze, you realize your left eye is open! How long has it been open? You quickly close it again. You get in the shower, after washing and rinsing your hair/face, you're singing happily, and suddenly you realize your left eye is open Again. You quickly close it. Someone startles you in the kitchen, left eye opens... or hot oil pops onto your arm, left eye is open... after a few hours from the initial effort of trying to keep the left eye closed, you seem to forget more and more to keep it closed, and it stays open longer and longer before you notice it's open each time.
You wake up the next morning, by 10AM Coffee you realize you opened both eyes when you woke up, and forget to close the left one...
You start laughing with some friends (for the first time in a LONG time they seem to be accepting you), but suddenly they move away from you... oooops, left eye opened after laughing and you forget to close it...
... you're starting to get the picture about the difficulty, and that's just trying to keep One eye closed.. imagine trying to adjust your whole life-time's ingrained behavior patterns!
It's sad, but you can start to see the uphill battle you'd be up against for the rest of your life, and that's IF the person wants to "get well" (and Most patients really don't think "they" have a problem, they're just trying to "play along").
Hopefully this helps... it's the best analogy I came up with while counseling, and I haven't revised it in many years.
I'm NOT casting judgment on the Mentally Ill, nor upon those that try to help them... However, be sure that you don't have a bad case of "Shining Armor Syndrome".. because that road is a hard one, and the rewards just aren't there.
Before you rush in to try to "fix" someone's problems, even if asked, try closing your left eye for a day or two as a reminder of what you're in for...
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