We all have different needs and we all feel different feelings.Even the word feelings is a little bit icky.
I once had a charming neighbor who had a kitten named Mr. Feelings and we’d laugh every time we said it, because feelings, a small pink nose and Mr. just all seemed so riotus.
I don’t think we knew that we were being postmodern. We weren’t being anything. We just thought it was a funny name.Of course, the only reason it was funny was because we understood how foolish and silly the word “feelings” was and is still. We liked that a small white kitten could be called Mr. and that a Mr. could look like such a small white kitten.
Mr. Feelings. The name carried a bit of scorn and the kitten was a terror.
What happened to our emotionality? Ugh. I can’t stand the word emotion. I probably say it about 50 times a day.
Emotion this, emotion that.
I motion for new words.
All the old ones are wrecked.
“Feelings?! Ha! Who gives a sh*t about feelings? Feelings are for p*ssies and b*tches!”
Oh, did that make you feel something?
Just out of curiosity, what did you feel?
Did your shoulders seize, did your blood turn to iron, did your cheeks flush?
Are they flushing now?
What do you feel about the word flushing?
Are you embarrassed? For me or for you?
Is this a fish spitting seahorse dragons or is it a sperm cell or is it just a cloud?
I choose all of the above and they all are pretty great in my opinion.
Deep breath. Don’t worry, it’s all a big experiment. Don’t worry, I’ve been saying that for years.
I’m seeing what happens if I come home from work and sit on the porch and listen to the insects that aren’t so
scattered as they have been, they are
synchronous. Either that or I’m only listening to the parts I want to hear.
It’s been a long day of stories and lessons and a great deal of speaking and waving of hands. What a lucky person I am to love my job. I get to talk about feelings, and thoughts, and how we experience them. I am one of the relatively few people in the world that is afforded the opportunity to actively and interactively consider what precisely it feels like to be human…in my experience…in the context of supporting other people in their own consideration of their own lives and experiences within them.
As I drove home from work today, I thought about writing an essay about how Peer Support can, does, and will change the meaning of mental health and in its very nature establishes a new ethos of conscientious service and re-evaluative resourcing.
Peer Support identifies lived experience as having value. Granted, most Peers are low-wage entry level employees and so lived experience isn’t perhaps as valued as it ought to be. However, it is worth something. It is a credential of its own. However, it is not enough to have been through some struggle or another ~ in order to be an effective and helpful Peer, one must be actively engaged in one’s own process of recovery.
This is not to say that recovery looks any particular way. However, a certain self-directed conscientious participation in one’s own life is a common element of many strong recoveries. If we cannot control our circumstances, we can at least know what we feel about them and participate in what we become within them. We can structure our lives in ways that support the best of who we, on our most hopeful days, might imagine ourselves as being. That can look a lot of different ways.
In the existence of people who have recovered strongly from significant challenges with mental health and wellness, there is ample evidence that much of what we have been told is true about our psychiatric states is simply not true.
When people with lived experience in the psychiatric system begin to work in the psychiatric system, the system changes. Force and coercion and stigma are diminished and people receiving services may have stronger self-advocacy skills. Further, there is the immeasurable shift in experience when one enters an environment for help and finds that the people there to help are people that have, in their own way, “been there.”
It is for this reason, this having “been there,” that many Peers deeply understand how alienating and oppressive clinical psychiatric settings can be. Many peers know how it feels to be the only person in the waiting room, in an office full of “normal” people who don’t look at you or talk to you. Worse, to not be the only person in the waiting room, to be sitting across from someone and you can’t say a word beyond a quiet hello and maybe smile some weak crooked smile. Really, what is there to say?
Because the role of Peers is to support people in their recoveries and safe navigation of difficult times, people necessarily discuss feelings and thoughts, how experience has power that can be distressing or frightening or unpredictable in confusion. Life is no longer a matter of mysterious and damning “symptoms” of a “chemical imbalance” – it is a series of experiences, and there is leeway until there is not and then we find our way or we don’t.
Wow. I just realized something. Most people don’t think of their lives as a story, do they?
I’m getting to the part where I write a brilliant essay about Peers that shows precisely how they can shift the system and in their existence even challenge the ideas upon which the system was built.
Note: This is an experiment in context and communication, cause, effect, and the null folly and clumsy good luck of earnest intention.
If you look directly above the I, you may seem a vague kittenish form…but, only if you want to and, tell me, who doesn’t want to see a kitten in a cloud? Oh, above vague you may see a figure that may appear to be pulling itself along what would be the ground if there were such a thing as ground. There’s not though. There are just clouds and clouds are just clouds after all.
Remember my favorite quote on the topic?
“How human it is to see a thing as something else.” D. Delillo.