LONELINESSThere is nothing like it
| It's presence can be a glare in one's vision ...consuming, blinding, exhausting | Not at all akin to the quiet comfort of being alone, loneliness can grab you by the throat and cause you choke ~ metaphorically, if not in actual physical sense | One can be consumed with loneliness while surrounded with people |
These things said, it never ceases to amaze me that mental health professionals constantly fail to recognize the impact and effect of loneliness on their clients | Making matters worse, not only do they fail to recognize this, there are times, after clients try to talk about loneliness, or of difficulty even being able to talk with someone else [not even getting to the point of developing relationships
] the clinican diagnoses as "symptomatic" of a person's illness |
Making things still worse is the long unwritten, but long standing practice of mental health clinicians discouraing family and friends [already often in fragile, endangered relationships with the clients] from sticking around to show support to those suffering |
Equally appaling is the practice of subjecting clients to "groups" day-in day-out in both hospital and outpatient clinical settings, constantly urging clients to talk about themselves, then for the clinicans to later complain that their clients seem "...awfully self-absorbed
Now, how is that, exactly?
Years back, when I was working at an Client Rights Advocacy organization which was struggling to meet financial ends' meet all the time, staff at the agency were dismayed, disturbed amd disgusted when an already high-paid, emotionally distant bureaucrat was awarded $3 million dollars [over a three year period] to oversee a research program whose sole purpose was to determine if people who had been long hospitalized with "mental illness" did better if they had friends |
Cripes! those of us working at the almost always financially strapped agency could answer that question FOR FREE!
Of COURSE, people do better when they have friends, even rented ones [something the well-funded program planned to hook people up with late in the first year of the project]
But so much money is devoted to hiring staff who can micro-manage whether or not people are taking their meds, or making certain that professional "boundaries" remain intact between clients and staff | Little or none is attached to efforts that might actually help make people's lives easier | By linking people to their families and friends, or to help someone identify the very real barriers that troubled people often have when trying to cope with day-o-day difficulties |
It isn't asking for much | And in helping someone effectively deal with loneliness, it brings them much closer, and much quicker, to succesfully integrating back into the chaos that is the "Real World" for the rest of us, by learning how o establish friendships |
Come on clinical careerists | Wake up and recognize for your clients what you take for granted in your own lives | Namely, it's perfectly normal for folks to have trouble starting acquaintenceships but, once begun, become foundation stones for more integrated lives |