Yesterday evening I attended a workshop sponsored by Organization #1 on mental health issues. As my early readers know, I find these workshops to be, by and large a colossal waste of my time; far too much emphasis is placed on "inclusion", which I define as allowing people who like to speak the opportunity to speak as long as they like, even when they have nothing much to say, and on "open sharing", defined as allowing people to veer off onto tangents as they tearful recount intimate, painful moments of their lives only vaguely related to the topic at hand (please read "Yak Milk" for background). When I attend a workshop I want education. I do not want a blow-by-blow on how we had to get grandma committed. There's a time and a place for everything. I am constantly under the delusion that these are workshops, not group therapy sessions. Perhaps that means that Snobby is the one with mental health issues. This workshop was not useful in helping me figure it out.
But good can come out of these three-hour mental deserts. There is always some sort of role-play activity that I invariable enjoy. It's like a game and I do find these activities educational in a manner in which no lecture can be. Yesterday's was probably the best I've ever done (aside from various and sundry associated with no workshop; no description here due to potential maternal readers).
In an effort to get us to understand what it is like to live with constant hallucinations. We broke into groups of three. Two were to plan a trip and one was to whisper in the ear of one of the planners so that the other couldn't hear. I was in a group with Some-Random-Guy and my friend SuperCool-Woman. I was to play the part of Disembodied Voice and SuperCool-Woman was the psychopath. I elected to whisper in English, in French (our main mode of communication), and, in honour of the fact that she is a recent arrival from Algeria, in the smatterings of Algerian Arabic (learned from ex-bosses), Palestinian Arabic (learned from a phrasebook), and Yemeni Arabic (learned from an ex-lover). None of these dialects are mutually intelligible, making the whole exercise extra fun for her.
SuperCool-Woman Plans a Trip With Some-Random-Guy (abridged)
SuperCool-Woman (SCW): Where should we go?
Surly Hallucination (SH): [Arabic] Cheap! Expensive! Train station!
SCW: [purses lips to try to keep a straight face]
Some-Random-Guy (S-R-G): I dunno. Any thoughts?
SCW: Maybe Iceland?
SH: [Arabic] Coffee! Tea! Airport!
SCW: [French] Stop it! [struggles to maintain composure]
S-R-G: I'm sorry? I don't speak French.
SCW: Sorry. Are you interested in Iceland? [takes sip of water – this is foreshadowing, the sign of a quality bloggie]
SH: [English] In Iceland they roast babies for Christmas! Mmmmm...baby gravy!
SCW: [almost spits water all over S-R-G. Fights to regain breath]
S-R-G: Are you OK?
SH: [Arabic] My love! Orange! My heart!
SCW: [falls off chair and is no longer capable of communication]
So now when I see people talking to themselves, to people I can't see, or laughing for no apparent reason, I have a much better idea of where they're coming from and why it's not such a big deal in terms of talking to them. It's a great exercise. I encourage you all to try it.
We all had to switch around. When it came my turn to be nuts, I found it much easier just to do what the voice told me. God help the world if I ever become a paranoid schizophrenic.
My Love! Orange My Heart!
May 21, 2004
posted by GreyGuy on 21.5.04 | Permalink |
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