Archive for April 7, 2014

Go Get Help

Trigger warning: discussion of mental health & addiction

I’ll tell you a true story- I am a live-in caretaker for a house owned by my family, and I rent out rooms to people to help cover expenses. Last fall I took in a woman who was living in her car, and she indeed paid rent fair and square. But it became clear to me after a while that she was an alcoholic (not recovering as she’d claimed earlier) and had mental health problems that weren’t properly being treated (my psychiatrist fired me because I missed too many appointments!) and seemed to be cognitively impaired due to past drug use (I found out later she’d started using crack at age 14) So this is kind of a giant cautionary tale of Do Not Try to Be an Amateur Social Worker.

I felt compassion for this woman, and felt that if I didn’t try to help that no one else would. She’d hit bottom, and had no where else to go. The problem was, is that she would not help herself. She kept promising she’d go to treatment, talk to her sponsor, do this or that. I took bottles of vodka away from her, forbid others to give her alcohol, offered to help her organize her paperwork in order to help get her the services she needed. But it was always excuse after excuse. I was allowing myself to be manipulated. Finally she ended up in the mental hospital, and her family managed to have her committed. (Due to legal requirements this had never happened before) This finally meant that, in order to regain her freedom she would have to cooperate with proper treatment. I (and my partner) were incredibly relieved.

Now this is a pretty extreme scenario, and I’ve definitely learned a lot from it. From now on I will only help people who will help themselves. I’ve been in many situations among Pagans, in which I was trying to build community, but it couldn’t happen because the individual Pagans weren’t dealing effectively with issues in their own lives- like employment, housing, mental or physical health, or dysfunctional relationships. Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs– you need to make sure the things at the bottom of the pyramid are dealt with before you can make it up to the top. Systemic oppression can get in the way yes, but personal responsibility comes into play as well. If you have a problem, admit it and get help. Get treatment for your depression or addiction or eating disorder. Get therapy if you have emotional issues that are getting in your way.  Get identified and get appropriate services if needed if you or others suspect you may have a disability like autism, AD/HD, etc.

To get financial assistance, you will have to fill out paperwork in a proper, timely manner. And you will have to show up on time to various appointments and answer often intrusive and personal questions. It will probably be unpleasant. There might be a waiting list. The system will be rigid. You might also need to try religious-affiliated groups that might not be Pagan/GLBT/poly etc. friendly. (Though if their religious/ideological views are more of a hindrance to you getting help than avoid them) Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s not fair. But you can’t change society effectively until you get the help you need.

If you have friends and family members, clergy and co-religionists that are standing in the way of getting help, if they are abusive, use substances irresponsibly, blame you, re-evaluate those relationships. Find new friends and chosen family that will be supportive as you learn to take responsibility for your life. You may need to repair relationships with estranged love ones who have given up on you in the past. Talk with your therapist or someone else who is working with you to figure out that best way to develop these new relationships and when/how and if to repair old ones. Thank you for listening and best wishes on your journey to recovery, health and prosperity.

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April 7, 2014 at 9:50 pm 2 comments


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