Looking back I think of some of the clients I made a connection with while I was a chemical-dependency counselor and Mental Health Clinician. I worked in several places and had to work on and off nights, sometimes days and often swing shifts.
Facilitating lots of groups was often part of my job. I would meet one-to-one with clients, counseling them around their issues which were made more difficult because of drug addiction or mental illness. Some were abused, and finding their way in life. I worked in a shelter for battered women, referring in new clients, talking with them by phone. I gave them referrals being careful to assess whether they might become actively suicidal or whether they were safe for the night. I talked with them at length, being a caring listener with an open heart to help them so that they would know someone cared about whether they might become actively suicidal, and made a brief treatment plan to handle stress, reach out for help and make them promise to not commit suicide. This took time and care and I enjoyed it a lot. I liked to feel like I helped someone every day by really caring about whether they were doing better or not, taking steps to reach their goals and whether they felt cared about.
My specialty was working with co-occurring disorders, usually with drug and alcohol addictions and being seriously mentally ill at the same time. Making a diagnosis difficult, my clients often couldn’t talk about whether they were drug addicts first, or whether they were mentally ill and used drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.
I was tasked with having a client who lived by herself in a room at a facility where I worked, making a home in a place where she could never be a sane, rational person who has a job, being married or going to school. She was all alone in her room talking with something, an entity, that kept her under its controls. She was scared, withdrawn and not used to talking very much. The thing wouldn’t let her express herself and she had trouble talking about it.
Looking back, I knew I was unable to do anything for this young lady who was being reduced to a slave to what some might call an imaginary being she made up in her head. Not having experience with this kind of hallucination where the thing seemed real was a frightening thought. She became less and less of a person functioning on her own while the thing was taking over. My school taught that things like this were often associated with schizophrenia, a type of a psychotic disorder where the person no longer has insides and outsides but are often-times floating in space and not fully in control of the body.
She had symptoms including hearing voices that no one else did, feeling controlled by the hallucination that she described as a male figure who somehow could take over her life. It was an ugly mess. Who would know what to do in that case? Could a mental health clinician really help someone who was taken over by a power, to become free? Never in my life would I have done much good to help her.
There were medications she took to help alleviate the anxiety she had, or to make her sleep. But who knew what to do with a woman in such distress this way?
Were they all too callous to understand from biblical terms that some people may be truly inhabited by a demon? In this case, my understanding is the woman had been this way for several years already, and was not getting better. She was not free to understand what was happening well enough to say a prayer for herself which might have begun a breakthrough in her life in getting free of this demon, which is why I can’t be a therapist anymore. I simply won’t believe what they told me at the college I went to.
I am suppressing what I really think of getting “a higher education” that costs so much, and where our ideas are regularly suppressed. In this case, the woman might have had her life back, if only we could have taught about how Jesus is the Healer and not some man with a demon making decisions over persons seeking psychiatric treatment. I think it’s all too strange a life participating in such events.
I cannot give up on telling my story and why I’ve made a decision to not play therapist for a living at all. I can’t go back.
Jesus and I walk the same path.