For the past few months, the same memory has been floating up to the top of my mind. I figured I might as well share it here. I think it might be a reminder to share more of myself than just what I think are ‘important woo things’, because its a reminder that its the little things which can make the biggest difference
When I was as the end of my time in massage school, we were sent out on a variety of externships to get practice with real world clients. For one of mine, I chose to go give massage at a group home for mentally ill folks, many of whom were (recently) formerly homeless, who were at a point in their treatment where they were transitioning back into living and working. We were giving relaxation chair massages, nothing fancy. It was mostly a chance to practice intake and working with strangers. I was in my white pants and fancy little polo shirt from the school, looking all neat and professional for all that we were throwing pillows and towels on a table for folks to lean on – no actual massage chairs were available for offsite work.
My last client of the day was late and not a happy camper, but I didn’t have to be anywhere and he looked like he needed the massage. I sat there while he painstakingly filled out his intake form in wobbly block print, hands shaking the entire time. He had trouble spelling, especially his medications. He asked me how to spell one of his meds – seroquel.
I told him, and mentioned I took it as well, and he was so surprised. Its hard to describe, so many years later, when I can’t recall the exact words. But while before we started we talked a little. I was taking seroquel at the time because I used to depersonalize; for a very long time, my doctors thought I was bipolar (long story short, while I am OCD and clinically depressed, the BPD was a side effect of the hormones I’d been on.) I told him that I was bipolar, and he said he was too. That some of the meds he was on made his hands shake and his muscles hurt. And he was amazed to see that I was doing “So well”, even though I didn’t feel like I was at the time. Shit, I still don’t feel like that. But just that little bit of sharing made a huge difference to him. He left that day smiling, because he said he figured if I could be ok and be doing so well as a massage student and what not, that he could do ok too.
Its a good reminder for me that how we perceive our selves against others is relative – I certainly didn’t feel like I had my life together compared to other folks I knew, but to this man, I was a light in a dark place. And I learned that sharing some of the things folks hide about themselves can make a huge difference to someone struggling with the same thing.