This is my story in response to this prompt:
I spent nearly four hours in the Santa Monica psychiatrist’s office that day. Before I got there, I got a drink at Jack-in-the-Box and prepared to meet my judge, the one who would declare me crazy because I was just crazy or out-of-sorts temporarily because of stress caused by my job.
Considering I had experienced two severely mentally ill people threaten my life within two months, one with a specific and clear plan, one would think my problems were job based but I didn’t realize when I was given the freedom to feel better part of the solution would include being investigated by my employer, pitting my co-workers against me and after an investigator came to my house I no longer felt safe anywhere.
I was surprised at the psychiatrist’s office, taken aback, by the many people filling the room with papers similar to mine but markedly different. I had written my story carefully on four single spaced, typed pages.
I had carefully taken the reams of tests.
When the psychiatrist’s assistant talked to me the first thing he said was, “You like to write, don’t you?”
“Yes, I like to write,” I said, worried they would find that somehow wrong as well.
The other people were interviewed fairly quickly it seemed and I sat and waited and waited and sat and finally got in to see the doctor and found myself enjoying the process. I told my story again and again and once more for good measure and when I walked out into the almost setting sun on that October afternoon, I came to the awareness it no longer mattered what anyone thought about why I had become so severely depressed, so deeply dissatisfied with life itself that I couldn’t speak because I felt my voice was an affront to God.
At my worst I didn’t even feel worthy of the effort of suicide. I simply rested on my side, looking blankly out my bedroom window. My mind held no opinions. My voice was silenced: apathy was my daily bread.
I looked out over the Pacific Ocean and sat on a bench, relieved this last hurdle was over.
I knew from working with psychiatrists as a deputy conservator, the psychiatrists almost always found for the county, not for the individual. I took a deep breath and decided what I had learned was my belief superseded anyone else’s and furthermore, I wasn’t convinced I wanted to go back to such an unpleasant work environment anyway.
I cried as I told the doctor how much I cared for my clients, even the ones who threatened me. I enjoyed the hands-on work with those I served.
The bureaucracy was a different story.
I pulled out my notebook and without any thought at all, these words came off the tip of my pen.
Take away the degrees, titles and accomplishments -
What is discovered at your core?
What is your unique, special spark?
Buried deep, neglected, that you've chosen to ignore?
Seeking to please whomever
Drowning out pure longings from your heart
Struggling, freezing, Suffocating
Until finally you choose to start -
Whispers from the Spirit
Souls song from deep within
After dancing, stranger among strangers
Claim it! Your Life! Now Begin –
It was October 29, 1999 and within a week I was told the psychiatrist had found in my favor and I was awarded workman’s compensation which meant I would be getting increased benefit from my job as a result.
A week after that, I decided I wouldn’t return to my job, that I would instead create a new life setting my own parameters for success as a writer, life coach and… whatever else came along I would improvise as I went.
And so I did.
This poem has accompanied me continually.
It has become my anthem, especially at times of fresh starts and renewed beginnings like this one right now.
I’m so grateful you are with me as we begin this next chapter.
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Julie Jordan Scott inspires people to experience artistic rebirth via her programs, playshops, books, performances and simply being herself out in the world. She is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy-extraordinaire and mixed-media artist whose Writing Camps and Writing Playgrounds permanently transform people's creative lives. Watch for the announcement of new programs coming through the end of 2016.
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