Apathy

I’ve written here before about disruptive people, at both Menninger and at the step-down program, and how they make me angry. I would think that most people can relate to that – when you are doing something intensely difficult, intensely personal, or both, it is really aggravating to have people who seem to be there for no other purpose than to be disruptive. They make it hard to talk about personal issues, largely because nobody wants to open up with someone who clearly doesn’t respect the process around – if they are disruptive, why would they bother adhering to the rules about not discussing private material outside of group psychotherapy?

What I’ve noticed recently, though, is that there are several people here who aren’t disruptive – they just don’t seem to care. They come to groups, but they don’t appear to pay attention. When activities are happening and other people are sharing or talking and opening up, they refuse to say anything or let anyone know what they are thinking or feeling. They seem to just be going through the motions, and I don’t know why – largely because they don’t say anything about who they are, why they are here, or what they hope to get out of the program.

I’m not angry at people like this – I know it can be hard to open up in front of strangers, and with so many new people here recently, there are a lot of relative strangers. But it is sad that, with most of them coming from Menninger, they feel they have to close down and keep everyone here out. It’s sad, because I know I want to hear about them, and I want to be a support and maybe even a friend. Without some kind of opening up on their part, though, that is hard to make happen. I know I can reach out to them, and I have tried, but even with that there seems to be little or no reaction. If they won’t engage even when someone else makes the first move, then there’s really not much I can do.

I don’t know why people choose to come here with that kind of attitude. I hope it isn’t because of their particular mental problems, because I would think they wouldn’t have left wherever they came from (likely Menninger) with issues that serious unresolved. To close yourself off from this community, to keep everyone – both staff and peers – out, seems like a waste of time; they are here to learn how to reintegrate with the world, but if they can’t even connect to us, a group of similarly damaged people, how are they going to cope with the outside?

I know I’m not necessarily one to talk – I have trouble reaching out to people, too. But I also have no problem sharing my experiences, or talking about things in groups. I talk to people both in and out of groups, and I have made a lot of connections. I care about being here because I was miserable when I came to Menninger, and for the first time in a long time I have hope. So I feel for these people who just seem to struggle with even the most basic engagement here, because that will only make things harder for them when they leave. Maybe they feel like they shouldn’t be here, that they would be better off outside, that they have plenty of others to connect with once they leave. But there is a reason they are here – voluntarily, except, perhaps, by those told to come here by their parents – and by ignoring that and just going through the motions, they are doing themselves a disservice.

I’ll put up a shorter post about day 6 of my gratitude challenge a bit later.

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