Sunday, August 19, 2012

Basketball for Crazy People

In every hospital there are OTs - Occupational Therapists. They are wonderful people, whose job it is to prepare you for integration in the outside world and to help you gain the skills you need to function effectively.

My OT was an odd duck, to say the least. She would hold group meetings with patients who were well enough to attend. Eventually, I met that criteria. My meeting went something like this:

OT - I will be doing the talking today.

Me - Excuse me, I hope this is okay to ask - but isn't this a group session? Aren't we supposed to be helping each other?

OT - No, because Idon't want you sharing ideas about how to kill yourselves.

Okay. Anyhow, the sessions were mostly her talking about:

a) How to behave so that nobody would suspect we had been treated for a mental illness (we had been at home with a really bad cold).

b) What to tell an employer so that we wouldn't be discriminated against (we had been on a holiday).

c) How to cope with housework and other pressures (we needed to hire a maid or a personal assistant - if we couldn't afford one full-time, then even a few days would help).

Looking around the room, I knew that I was one of the few people who had a job. It is very difficult for people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other forms of mental illness to maintain employment. I was working, and there was NO way I could afford a maid, or go on a long holiday. This woman was a little out of touch.

Then there was the day I finally got some physical activity other than pacing the hall. In our hospital gowns me, my buddy Tom, and two other guys were taken by the OT to a little gym we hadn't known existed. It was on the bottom floor of the building, and had a basketball court.

I LOVE basketball! We were so excited just to get the chance to move around!!! We were going to play two on two. We started, then the OT blew a whistle.

"What are you doing?" she yelled. "There is absolutely NO running! We do not want you getting injured."

Seriously? No running? For twenty minutes we glumly walked around the court. I would take a shot, miss, then had to slowly walk to get the rebound. We couldn't block out or check closely - if we touched each other at all, the whistle went off. We had to keep a metre apart.

Most OTs are amazing people, but all I learned from this one was that I needed to hire a maid and play basketball in slow motion.

If you ever play me in a game of one-on-one, THAT's the reason I am moving slowly. It's not that I'm getting old. ;)


Kiki said...

I love how this story highlights how inhumanely you were all treated & how easily disregarded mentally ill people are in general, while still being hilariously funny. When I tell people about my anxiety disorder they either give me the 'that explains everything' look, or they play it down like it isn't a major part of my life & I'm bluffing. No, dude, I'm totally not bluffing. I feel like only your immediate family knows the truth. Thank you for being so open, D'Arc!

D'Arcy said...

You're welcome! And you've given me a great idea for me next post.
you're the best - and I think you cope with your tremendously difficult disorder marvelously. :)