`Coming out Mad,’ as a professional with a marriage and family therapy license has been a rocky journey over uncharted and lawless terrain.
I share my experience to help embolden others who have experienced trauma, stigma and institutionalization to do the same.
I believe the field and many who become stuck and ineffectual in it need us badly. I pray that others experience less pain and isolation than I have.
Historically, we may prove to be the key to improving care. But with the current state of the mental health field, some may not welcome or support us.
Mad Rumors Leading to Secrets
Mid-career, I was incarcerated in a border state hospital while trying to escape to Canada to seek asylum.
In later years, I was barely aware that there was a survivor’s community. I was busy scratching to survive in the economy to avoid more institutionalization.
During the licensing process, talking about what I experienced made no sense.
Following years of underemployment, I failed at a three month trial period re-entering the clinical world.
People who either liked me or could sense my desperation kept in touch by inviting me out even though I didn’t drink.
Many let me know that the mad rumor was circulating. One professional told me she was glad when I landed on my feet. She would later admit she had been afraid I was going to end up living in a tent.
Instead of returning to homelessness, I got a solid part-time job on a medical model unit that could lead to more. I also participated in a therapy internship for foster care kids and went back to work at the deli in which I had been underemployed.
Every other week, I got a half a day off. At all three sites, I started off fresh, knowing new people. I faked it in all locations. Honesty and mental transparency had little to do with it.
Class Deficiency Leading to Silence
Although I was successful at that first foster care internship (perhaps because I lived in a ghetto for six years and had street competency), I got cut at year’s end by a doctor who I offended.
They didn’t tell me that they needed the 10 loyal clients I built up for next year’s doctoral students. Instead, the director let me know that I clearly came from a different class and was incompetent to associate with the rest of the staff because I was so ignorant as to call them by their first names.
I should have known that the fact they called each other by their first names didn’t give me that same entitlement.
In selecting a new internship in order to get child and family hours, I did not think that transparency would pay. I was solidly surviving now. My sense that treatment involved a phony class divide was reinforced. So, I misrepresented myself in order to get hired.
When asked a leading question by an interviewer who looked at my resume (and perhaps the color of my skin,) I contained the salty spite I felt. I agreed that I was ready to come home to insulated suburban reality and start the real work.