17 October 2005

Mississippi Dept of Corrections, NAMI, and Me

Well, a friend went with me to assist with the presentation for the Mississippi Department of Correction's training.  I'm glad she did as she had never seen an IOOV and she was a huge help to me as several things required "fixin'" (the TV/VCR and the flipchart and the improvised easel).  Also, she served to help me check my reality of the situation afterwards (for example, was that man as hostile to me as I thought he was?  Why yes, Debra, he was.  In fact, I think I would expect him to do his level best to rip you to shreds in his evaluation.  Thanks, that's what I thought.)

As I assumed, most of these folks resented having to attend YET another annual week of training for field officers.  I discovered when I got there that I was scheduled for 4 hours (?!?!).  No problem.  So I asked the coordinator of training for MDOC, when I met her right before the presentation, if they would be heart-broken if I let them out early.  She said of course they would.  So I did my damndest to keep them there til six.

No.  All kidding aside, I was scheduled to begin at 1.  But because the guys didn't really want to be there, we started at 1:30 when most of them straggled in from an extended lunch.  I told them I was going to give them a modified presentation because after the IOOV, we would take a short break, then I was going to cover some other information in brief.

Shortly after I began the IOOV, there was a gent who interrupted me to tell me that the problem with my suggestion that they should take someone who might be off their meds, self-medicating, etc. to the ER is that, well, who is gonna pay?  So I repeated his question so we ALL could hear it.  and said, let's focus on that.  First off, if the person needs meds, they aren't going to receive them in the jail cell.  Second, it has been FEDERAL law for about 15 years now that the ER cannot refuse treatment based on the ability to pay, especially if it is truly an emergency.  Third, ability to pay should not even compete with matters of health and life or death.  Tho it does and we are often the worse for the wear for waiting too long to seek treatment.  Fourth, most of our counselors, mds, etc. tell us to call 911 in the event that we are feeling suicidal.  We are told that we will be taken to the ER where they are equipped to deal with crises.  It's a good thing for me to know that if ever I need to call 911, I can expect you to lock me in a cell instead, thus triggering deeper panic and perhaps bringing on a psychotic break.

The gent glared at me and he crossed his arms like a petulant child.  I don't expect he'll send me a christmas card this year.  So, there might be a really nasty volitile evaluation, penned by him.  If so, I decided to take it with a grain of salt, cuz you win some and lose a few for whatever reasons.

Shortly after that, another crusty ol fella whipped out his cell, sent a text message, then followed that up with a cell call.  I stopped in midsentence and waited til he noticed, and asked him to take it outside, thereby extending common courtesy to myself and the other attendents.  He stopped out with not a lot of grace.

I am thinking that won't be a glowing review either.  Damn, and I was so counting on a perfect-pleasing score of having nothing but super positive evaluations and feedback.  But alas, I think the general overall mood was one of, I'm here, cuz I gotta be, alright?  YOU the speaker should be glad...

I did do the IOOV and asked them to complete the eval forms before they stepped out for a break.  I think there were a couple folks who did not complete them.  I think there were 15 or 16 people there, excluding my friend and myself.

The state coordinator for education and training of these fine folk, approached me afterwards and asked if I would be willing to come to the state convention next year and speak.  I said, of course, I'd be delighted.  And I would be.

Cuz, afterwards, there were a few folks that made their way up to me and thanked me for coming out.   They said that it was good to put a face to MI/BD (mental illness and Brain Disorders--not bipolar, cuz i know in med field they use bd to designate bipolar, but i used mi/bd to stress the chemical/biological nature of the condition in today's presentation).  The folks who approached me afterwards were very encouraging in their words and feedback.

One gentleman said that I have inspired him to finally do what he has been thinking of and that is to offer a support group for divorced fathers so that they can better understand how to effectively stay in touch with their children in reality, instead of in body only.  That was a real boost to my day.  I wish him lots of luck.  I told him that that sort of thing is needed in our society.

so, that was a quick overview.  when they came back from break, i told them about the education classes, and the three most common mi/bd, and our support groups here in the Golden Triangle.  They had that info on a sheet in front of them adn I said that I am certain that each one of them knows at least one person that could use this information, so please pass it on.

So, there might be a few less than glowing evaluation sheets.  I'm chalking that up in part to the general hostility that those persons might have had regardless of who gave what presentation.  Course now, I could be wrong.  They might have been mature enough to set aside their obvious contempt for attending such things, and actually paid attention and learned some amazing (shocking, but oh so true) things about MI/BD and those who have the conditions.

Anyway, there it is.  I hope that I did not encourage hostility with any of my own preconceived notions or assumptions that I drew early in the game.  But I think I most likely did.


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