So, it’s the end of my first day back in St. Louis since February. It’s been a pretty long day, especially considering I am worried about having possibly damaged a friendship yesterday. I think if I hadn’t thought to bring along my tablet, I would have spent much of the plane ride out here thinking about that. But as it happens, I did bring my tablet, and that got my mind off that subject and onto the conversations I would be having here with my family.
This is not only the first time I have been back in St. Louis since February, but it will be the first time I have seen my sister since then; my parents have visited Houston several times, but she’s never been able to. It was great to actually get the chance to see her again; we’ve talked a lot on the phone, and she has been a big help in assuaging some of my fears and working out some of the finer points of various plans. I was genuinely happy to see her, something that, five months ago, I don’t know that I would have felt or been able to acknowledge.
We all went out to lunch at a personal favorite restaurant of mine, and we spent a couple hours talking. We talked about treatment, the people I have met, the things I have done, the ways I think I have changed. My parents let me know how much they are behind me and my plans, though they want to make sure things are a little more concrete and detailed before I return. It was a very emotional meal for them, it seemed; at one point, my father, who I cannot recall ever having seen cry in my life, seemed about on the verge of breaking down when he told my sister and I that he felt there was a greater plan for us.
After lunch, we went back to the family house and my sister and I worked on a week-by-week schedule of what I want to accomplish in my remaining time at the step-down program. While I’d love to be able to get into the field of mental health advocacy, the simple fact is that I have neither the training nor the ability to work a non-paying job, and so I will try to do volunteer work with that if I can. Otherwise, though, I am looking heavily into teaching, at places like community colleges, private high schools, and centers for gifted children. They seem like they would be places I would fit in well, so those are primarily what I will be applying to.
We worked on other things, like trying to find an apartment, looking into purchasing a car or being able to use the public transportation system of Houston, how to purchase health insurance once my current school program runs out, and where to find groups in Houston that I can attend that aren’t tied to my step-down program; as much as I love my friends and fellow peers from the program, I need some contacts outside of them for when I do eventually leave the program. Once it was all down on paper, we took a break to make sure we had thought of everything, then I presented it to my parents.
Aside from some questions of specificity, and whether it was what I thought I could accomplish, it went remarkably well. Along with some school names I had been given by a member of the step-down program’s staff, we found some other places to look into, some other areas I can investigate, and I think I managed to answer all the questions I was asked to the liking of both my parents and my sister. That done, we chatted for a bit, then went out for dinner, reviewing some of what we had done for the day, then came home, and everyone drifted off towards bed.
And so here I am, writing out this record of my experiences of the day. I was somewhat nervous coming into this, because I felt I would have to push much harder to get my parents to support me, but they seem to sense that this is really the direction I want to go, and have decided to back my play. For that, and the support they have given for the time I have been in Menninger and the step-down program, I have to thank them, because it hasn’t been easy for them either. Tomorrow, I will get a chance to see my old psychiatrist, speak to my former department head at school, and probably say goodbye to a number of grad student acquaintances in the area. It will be bittersweet, but I have hope that it will work out for the best.