The Poem below clearly demonstrates why a peer workforce is essential, living with mental ill health must not define a person or his/her ability or capacity to live a life of purpose, meaning, choice and citizenship.
You and I
Adapted from a poem also entitled “You and I” by Elaine Popovitch
I am a resident. You reside.
I live in a program. You live in a house.
I am placed. You move in.
I am learning daily living skills. You hate housework – you may even have a maid service, a laundry service, and often have take-out pizza for dinner.
I get monitored for tooth-brushing. You never floss.
I have to be engaged in a meaningful activity every day. You take mental health days.
I am learning leisure skills. You spend every evening watching television.
I am aggressive. You are assertive.
I am aggressive. You are angry.
I am depressed. You are sad.
I am depressed. You feel lost or uncertain about your life.
I am depressed. You feel stressed or overwhelmed.
I am manic. You are excited.
I am manic. You have passions and feel energised, productive.
I am manic. You charge to the limit on your credit card.
I am non-compliant. You don’t like being told what to do.
I am treatment resistant because I stop taking medication when I feel better.
You never complete a 10-day course of antibiotics.
I am in denial. You don’t agree with how others define your experience.
I am manipulative. You act strategically to get your needs met.
I have a few beers & I have a co-occurring disorder. You have a few beers and you’re socialising, unwinding, relaxing.
I am a consumer, a patient, a client, a schizophrenic, a bipolar, a borderline. You are a whole person – complete with your gifts, strengths, warts and challenges in living.
My case manager, therapist, doctor, RN, rehabilitation counsellor and vocational counsellor all set goals for me next year. You haven’t decided what you want out of life.
Someday I will be discharged…. Maybe. You will move onward and upward, perhaps even beyond the mental health system.
You see, I have problems called chronic. People around me have given up hope.
You are in a recovery process and get support to take it one day at a time.
©Laurie Curtis, M.A. Consultation, Evaluation and Training for Mental Health Systems. 83 Davy Road, Middlesex, VT 05602 All Rights Reserved)
Anne Deveson (2003) states in her book Resilience “…few services have the time or resources to take a holistic view of an individual.
We live in a quick fix society… One in forty Australian children is being medicated for an emotional or a behavioural problem – a thirteen-fold increase of the past decade.
A quarter of these drugs are taken for behavioural problems. Remedial classes, better schools and support at home might be the answer.
We have been so used to “fixing things” … we fix our hyperactive children with Ritalin, our depression with Prozac, our lack of self-worth with alcohol and drugs.
We fix our social problem with legislation … we fix our health problems with drugs which cause resistance in the next generation or germs and viruses: this is causing an increasingly recognised threat to our ability to deal with past and future diseases”.
Consultant, Mentor, Speaker.