The Value of Consumers

I had class all weekend, and I really just want to work, but I have done all the work I can do without people returning phone calls and answering emails, so here I am blogging instead.

I am in graduate school for community mental health. It’s interesting for me, being in a program to serve consumers of the system when I am one myself. It is especially interesting listening to people speak about consumers, not knowing that I am one. I am a wolf in sheep’s clothing, clandestine in the classroom.

Yesterday we spoke of populations we would not want to counsel. After all, that is what we will end up doing, counseling — most of us at least. And it was a course on counseling theory. I and another student spoke first, stating we would prefer not to counsel people who had sexually abused children or who had raped women. I spoke of the anger it would incite in me, knowing so many people, and having supported so many clients who have been victimized and traumatized by such individuals, their lives indelibly marked by sexual crime. It is a part of my collective unconscious now, the effects of sexual crime, and I think — rather, I fear — that if faced with a client who admitted to raping a woman — I may smash his head in with a paperweight.

Another woman spoke of not wanting to work with clients with Borderline Personality Disorder. I was shocked at this. I have known people with BPD. I have supported people with BPD. And while they have not been my favorite individuals to know or support, I could never imagine shutting the door on them completely. They have an illness, not caused by their own hand.

This morning, I read a <a href=dancingwillow.wordpress.com>blog</a> by a woman I know who I believe has BPD. She may not; I am not qualified to diagnose anyone. Altogether, she is a decent individual with a significant traumatic past that she writes of, and it has left its mark on her emotional life. I took magick classes with her through a Dianic Wiccan temple for about a year. She was dramatic and young and always in need of attention. She became involved with a woman  and acted in the classic BPD symptomology. When she spoke in class, I wanted to stab my pen through my ear, she was that fucking annoying. But her writing … her writing is amazing. Not everyone with mental illness is a loss. She is a testament to that.

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