Ahh. There’s nothing like two weeks in the hospital to perk a person up.
As always, the experience of partial hospitalization is a combination of learning and acceptance. Because the program has changed so much, the learning curve is a little different this time. Mercy Hospital merged their Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse programs. Theoretically, this makes complete sense. Most folks with mental illness turn to drugs and alcohol to dull the symptoms and escape from their emotional pain. Treating both at the same time rounds up all the demons in one pen.
But, I’m one of the lucky few who’s only hooked on second helpings and Cheetos. As I told my counselor at Mercy, “I understand the whole 12 Step shtick. It’s a gateway to doing the inner work we all need to do. It’s not my gateway, but I can respect it.”
So, I’m learning a lot about addiction, resistance, and willfulness. I’m appreciating my life in comparison to folks who have faced a Rock Bottom a bit rockier than mine. I admire these fierce, ruthless addicts in their fight to be free and clean. I’ve made more personal connections this time around than ever before, because… well… I’m one of them. Badasses tend to recognize one another.
And, again, I see a bit more clearly that I’m meant to do this work. Once the depression started to lift, I found myself able to listen closely and catch signals of distress and/or bullshit. Again, I found the staff remarking on those skills and encouraging me to continue. One counselor said, “I need you working in the adolescent unit.”
I get it now. I need to do this kind of work. Not just because I’m good at it, but because it’s the next step in my own recovery. I’ve been convinced for years that I’d never be able to re-enter the work force. I’m too vulnerable, too capricious, too broken. Well, it’s time to give up that belief.
It’s a slow process, changing firmly held beliefs. Ask any Catholic-turned-Atheist. Or a Reformed Republican. We believe what we believe, and we always find evidence to support our beliefs. So, I’m on the look-out now for different bread crumbs. I intend to get that Peer Support Specialist job at my mental health clinic. I’ll follow up next week, as is appropriate. I’ll ask the counselors at Mercy to write me some recommendations. If I ever hope to be free, I need to do this.
In the meantime, I’m in treatment for another week or two at the least. That’s fine. I still have a lot to learn.