Pretending to Care

Disclaimer: This post is going to come across as extremely negative. Now, I never claim to be the most positive cynic in the world, but I’m going full dark side here. And while I generally try to keep the language G or PG rated, that may go out the window in this post as well. If you want smiles and rainbows, you came to the wrong blog. Today is not the day for that sort of foolishness. Today is not the day to mess with me.

Of course… now that I’ve written that disclaimer I’ve lost some of the fire that was fueling my rant. Maybe it’ll come back. I don’t know. Most of this post will basically be verbal vomit.

I’m getting burned out at work. I just… I don’t know how to deal with certain things anymore. I don’t know how to deal with certain people anymore.

I hate it when someone I know asks me how work is going. Because I don’t feel like I have anything positive to say anymore. In the year and a half that I’ve been in my current position, I can’t honestly say I’ve loved my job. I’ve enjoyed the company I work for and have felt that the powers that be are generally supportive. I’ve never felt as if my contributions have been unappreciated by anyone in a supervisory role.

That said, the actual job I do? I’m having a hard time buying into its actual effectiveness, considering the clients I serve.

It’s taken me a year and a half to realize that my job is the very definition of insanity. I keep doing the same things with the same clients over and over again with the hope of finding a different result. I know… There are probably a ton of jobs out there that feel that way at one point or another.

But that is literally what I do. The same thing. Over and over. And I expect a different outcome every time.

I work in Mental Health Skill Building. At least, that’s what the job is supposed to be. 97% of the time I feel like more of a glorified Uber driver. Yes, a large part of the job entails accompanying clients to various appointments or stores or community resources. But the part that’s supposed to matter is the part where we attempt to work on independent living skills. That’s the hard part.

Wait… It’s not difficult to work on independent living skills. I can impart that basic knowledge to anyone who’s willing to sit still and hear it. The hard part involves the vast majority of clients who don’t want to hear it.

I work with eight individuals at the moment. And while I can’t necessarily speak for any of my coworkers who find themselves doing the same job I do, I think it’s safe to say that maybe 1 out of every 10 clients is willing to put in the work in their active attempt to become more independent. Because the whole idea of this Mental Health Skill Building deal is to get to the point where the client doesn’t need the Mental Health Skill Building anymore. Because at that point they can do it on their own.

But if only 1 out of every 10 clients is actively participating in these services, where does that leave the other nine?

These are the ones who have been kicking around the program for years. These are the ones who will continue kicking around the program until the day their insurance companies finally decide that they don’t want to pay for these services anymore.

And I complain whenever we reach that point with a client. The representative from the insurance company makes the unilateral decision that this client no longer needs Mental Health Skill Building services. Usually that decision is based on how long they’ve been with the program and how much progress they have made… or haven’t made as the case often may be. I complain because this person or these people I work with are clearly in no shape to attempt this thing we call life on their own. Those independent living skills that we’ve been trying to work on just haven’t sunk in.

At the same time, I totally get it. If I represented an insurance company whose bottom line is the bottom line, I’d deny coverage, too. Because let’s not fool ourselves into believing that any insurance company gives a damn about their clients. Okay? We all on board with that? Good.

A year and a half into this job and, honestly, I’m having a hard time caring anymore.

The two key words in this program are the first two words in this program: Mental Health. People would not be participating in these services if mental health were not an issue. So before anyone starts yelling at me for coming down on and not caring about individuals diagnosed with mental illness, believe me, I’m aware.

But something else that’s important to remember is that no matter an individual’s diagnosis, it’s not so severe that they should not be able to succeed to some degree in this Mental Health Skill Building program. If their diagnosis were that severe, they would not qualify for this service.

That means I’m left with approximately 9 out of 10 clients who are capable of enriching their lives and actively learning new independent living skills and just don’t. They choose not to. That is what makes it hard to care at this point, a year and a half into this job.

Why should I care about whether or not a client succeeds at learning a new skill when they don’t give a damn about themselves? Why should an insurance company continue to pay for someone to receive these services when that person doesn’t give a damn about themselves?

I feel like I’ve been pretending to care for a long time. Now it’s getting hard to even pretend.

I wake up in the morning and I really do try to be positive about the day ahead of me. But by the time I get through seeing three… four… maybe five clients throughout the day… I’ve just lost whatever shred of faith I had in humanity. I get back home and I’m infuriated by the day I’ve just experienced. I come to the realization that I need a vacation. At the same time I never want to leave my apartment again. And I certainly don’t want to deal with people.

Please note: I would never have entered the field of mental health if I absolutely did not care about people on some level. But there’s an old joke I’ve always liked that goes something like this…

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but the light bulb has to want to change.

That’s how it is with so many of these clients that we’re supposed to be serving. We can provide them with all the necessary skills and tools that it takes to get them on their feet and capable of taking care of themselves day after day. But until they actually care enough to want to do something with those skills and tools, there’s no point.

At the end of the day, when it comes to the individuals I work with, there are two types of clients I could potentially see. There are survivors and there are victims. The survivors are those 1 out of 10 who are ready to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and put in the work so they can make it work. The victims are the other nine who want to avoid taking responsibility for any choices they’ve made thus far in their lives while shifting the blame onto friends or family members or those Mental Health Skill Building professionals who are so desperately trying to help them get back on their feet.

But don’t mind me… This is just the rant of a tired, bitter man who has grown weary of screaming at brick walls that have disguised themselves as human beings.

Feature Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

3 thoughts on “Pretending to Care

  1. Im so sorry you’re feeling this way, Aaron. Its so hard to have expectations with a job and the outcome is based on the actions of others and those people don’t want to step up to the line, or even just inch towards it to give you some sort of joy at the end of it. I really hope that you are able to find that joy again in your work, or maybe find something that will give you the happiness back.

    Liked by 1 person

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