There is a difference between the way we make sense of things and the things we make sense of

He made two mistakes.

His first was that because of his job he had good insurance.

His second was that he told the people in the  ER he was depressed.

They called a counselor for the psych ward.   She asked him if he had ever thought of hurting himself.  He figured everybody had at some time or another and said yes.

She left to speak with the doctor.   When she came back she told him he had a choice.   Either he could agree to a voluntary admission or they would commit him.

He was afraid he would lose his job. He agreed to voluntarily admit.

They diagnosed him. He was commitable they said. He must have severe depression.

He had worked for the US government for twenty years and had to have a security clearance to work. They promised him no one would know he had been there.

They found out and his job was gone.

3 weeks after he was successfully discharged, after the insurance said they would no longer pay for him being there, he jumped off the bridge on the way to the hospital. He died. No note.

There is a difference between the way we make sense of things and the things we make sense of. If you lose that distinction then we become the things we are called. Whoever calls the names controls the lives of the people they name. They define identity, relationship, and purpose. We all become the list of what we “have” and when things go poorly it is about inadequacy and not injustice. Diagnosis becomes not a description of how we have lived but a prescription for how we can live and what we can expect.

The way we make sense of things is either useful or not. It is either works or it doesn’t. But none of us are the sum of the things we are broken down to. Life is more than a symptom of what we are called.

Someone once told me that psychiatric hospitals ultimately admit people only because they get paid for them not because they can help them.

I don’t know. Somehow it seems like the business of mental health should be about more than the business of mental health. When the sense we make of things makes it hard for it to be about people being with people I wonder how much sense it really makes.


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