Monday, October 18, 2010

Analyzing chronic mental illness right on the spot

I have been thinking very hard since the latest big fight broke out on the patio. Now at least one of the participants, if not both, will have to spend some days in recovery. I feared for Suzanne's life she got so overwrought. She has been in here for quite a long time, I would say about 8 years, so she has had time to get used to the mixing and mingling of many different kinds of people, but she had been physically ill for some years so was just starting to come out more again. I would say that people who are reclusive for whatever reason do have a time adjusting to more socializing. That is really the test of emotional stability.
Doc has been very reclusive which is why I am always tense when he decides to socialize when I am present. It is one thing for him to talk in the safety of his apartment lacing his remarks with sarcasm, but another to go out and throw that kind of remark out in the crowd. He is undoubtedly going to run into someone sooner or later who will take offense and then the fight could be on!
I see people as getting into a habit of being a little imperious and then taking that habit out in a crowd. There will be good natured people who will let those who act like they were to the manor born get by without wrangling with them, and then there are those who won't.
I regard socializing among people who are vastly different from one another as a big challenge. I think it is a great day when we seem to accomplish something in the patio talking to one another. Perhaps a stimulating discussion, a depth reached that is unusual, an entertaining laugh filled couple of hours... It all seems worth the struggle when that happens.
That's why I continue to risk unavoidable clashes with the contentious. The youngish man in a meltdown was out in the patio this morning sounding hoarse from all his shouts and fake laughing sprees. Don't know what management has in store for him, since they will be met with more written complaints about his behavior, threats, insults and the like. He doesn't seem quite so daring this morning, probably realizing he has jeopardized his place in this environment, and if he is evicted as unable to adjust, he will face a somewhat sad uncertain future with budgets so tight homes that offer a more controlled environment to the mentally ill are in short supply. I have been really concerned about him, but know if he is unable to rein himself in his stay will unavoidably be terminated. I think he has already passed that point. He has violated too many rules of civilized behavior in a big apartment complex.
Insulting someone on the elevator when just you and he are aboard is a big no no. That feels threatening, since we must all ride elevators. I live in the tower on the 9th floor so the elevator is unavoidable, and he accosted me in the elevator and insulted me, so now I am trying to avoid ever getting on one with him. Which is not always possible. If I found myself alone with him, I would get off at the first opportunity. He is not to be trusted. So far he has not physically assaulted anyone, but he has threatened to hurt people's dogs.
It takes so many incidents to start eviction proceedings, but complaints about him are serious enough that the process has probably already begun. A trip to the psych ward for about three weeks which is the length of stay usually has not proved to be effective enough.
As I said I am sure there are other complexes in the city where the chronically mentally ill deemed capable of independent living do not go. I think this complex is a hot spot. I am sure most of the older people who cannot handle that kind of population have already departed. Some are still complaining especially when there is an ongoing crisis, but for the most part most of the older residents have been here a long time and probably will not go anywhere unless of course it is feet first.
Not all are as intrepid as I am mixing and mingling with all in the patio. I love being outdoors sitting under the trees as do some of the other older residents. I am preparing to take some photos today so you can see some of our regulars down in the patio. I regard them as a very tough bunch who mostly keep their good humor no matter what is going on. I regard them as natural born healers who stabilize a society with their friendliness, tolerance and stability. They are people who do not lose their tempers easily. They can go with the flow while maintaining their own individuality. I always think of them as the people who keep America strong.
We seem to have an epidemic of young mentally ill, and I think that is the result of depending too much on technological entertainment without enough interaction. Children grow up playing video games for hours isolated in their homes. These children are going to have a tougher time should they ever be required to interact with others more than they are accustomed to.
Children are taught to interact by their parents and if their parents have trouble interacting so will they, because years of teaching will be lost to them from not being required to interact when they are young! If you are troubled by kids spending too many hours playing video games whether it your own or grand kids or whoever, I think you are right.
I would always be arguing with my grandson when he came to visit to get him off the computer and playing games so he could interact with me a while. I knew I had to let him do it some because usually he had no access to the Internet at home, so would bring his games with him. I applauded his mother taking him to church where he mixed and mingled with other people and other kids. His dad always had computer access so he would let him have access there.
I spent years attending all the workshops on Saturday and all the productions of my son's theater company because I thought all this interaction was so good for people. Later when he taught theater in high school I would go to their productions, too, and get to know the kids, so I could applaud their work.
It is a big challenge to try to get kids more active as well as older people. I regard some of these people living here as having never learned to interact with people, so they are handicapped in a sense. Some of the residents are very reclusive and don't talk to anyone, but seemed to be able to maintain their sanity with very little to sustain them, but their habits can so severely limit them so as to make living a long life with too little joy impossible.
I have also seen people unable to say little more than a greeting. Right now a younger neighbor who used to be able to do that has fallen into a severe depression and is unable to say anything! Nobody knows what triggered off this change, but now we realize that her greetings each time we saw her were much better than this sad lost look on her face. We don't know what to do. We look at her with concerned questioning looks, but she is unable to respond and just moves among us like a silent ghost, obviously not happy but unable to tell us why she is not happy. If we don't see her at all, though, we are more concerned. We realize that if she holes up in her room and does not come out at all that might be a worsening state. Because that has not been her habit. We don't think she can be that reclusive without danger. Management through experience is learning to recognize some danger signs as well. Some recluses we don't worry about. The younger the people are the more isolating is a concern.
See, we are all learning. We are becoming more adept at reading the signs ourselves of a neighbor possibly disappearing in their own empty world.
This is good for us. I never liked this complex as well when it was more exclusively old people. That is not natural. Older people I think need to mix and mingle with younger ones in order to help nurture, teach, observe, and give stability through their own survival techniques. Government has had to find a place for the desperate chronically mentally ill as well as other disabled. Those who do not want to interact will move on to other places with a larger elderly population, but I like this mix even when it upsets me. I think of interacting sometimes as work I do for free. Volunteer work where it is needed.
Making people feel at home who have been crippled by something in their genetic makeup or by a too damaging environment. More studies are in order. More observation. More writing about what might be wrong.
So I content myself with this life I lead in this challenging environment.

1 comment:

Have Myelin? said...

Very thoughtful post...


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