People Like Me

I recently met a man who worked as a nurse at a psych hospital at which I was a frequent patient.

This man and I briefly reminisced about our roles as patient and care provider and he said, “I didn’t like the way you were treated.”

I knew what he meant.

As funding for public health vanished my experience as a patient changed.

Chronic doesn’t means that you don’t get better.

Chronic means that the timeline for recovery is longer
and fraught with setbacks.

A serious mental illness can take years to learn to manage.

After privatization people with Chronic Mental Illnesses
were accused of malingering and squeezed out of services.

It didn’t matter that I wasn’t malingering.

It didn’t matter that I was misdiagnosed.

I recall that a nurse looked at me during a treatment group
at the hospital and said,  People like you are the reason, then
she caught herself and stopped.

She was going to say that people like me forced the system to sell itself out.

The worst symptom of the chronic illness is the one that induces counter-transference hate.

The man who had worked at the hospital where I was a patient said the staff hated me because I’m smart.

He said that they didn’t understand how someone so smart can have a chronic mental illness.

I sighed.

Professionals should know better.

Their hate replicated the animosity of my first day of school.

I already knew how to read when I entered the first grade.

Everyone, especially the teacher, hated me for it.

I was that little Jew Boy which meant that I had no right to be
smarter than the real white kids who were Christian.

That was the first day of the daily beatings.

I still don’t understand why being smart is bad.

And I will never understand how people who work in behavioral health
don’t know that intelligence does not prevent mental illness.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2016