Image by Clint McMahon, used with Creative Commons License, edited by Mydnyht Rantings
I went to a mental health clubhouse today. I’m familiar with them – I’ve had friends who have used their services, and as I mentioned in my goals post, I went to a clubhouse affiliated with my old therapy clinic to get help with applying for disability. One of my friends who attended a clubhouse recommended them to me – she said it was a good social opportunity and there were a lot of people there who would understand what I was going through. I mentioned it to my therapist at the time (a therapist I got no good work done with, who ended up leaving the clinic for a better job elsewhere a few months after we met), and she said I was too “high functioning” for attendance at a clubhouse. I didn’t know what she meant. In retrospect, “high functioning” wasn’t the right word – it’s just that clubhouses provide opportunities for people with mental health concerns who wouldn’t find them elsewhere, and at the time I wasn’t in need of any of those opportunities. I was thrilled when, on the tour, I saw a bulletin board with sheets to sign up for activities and saw one advertising help to get clubhouse members their driver’s licenses. The clubhouse offers services to help members get their GED, and while I have a high school degree and graduated fairly high in my class, I’m hoping they would help steer me in the right direction if I decided to go back to college. These are the kinds of opportunities I need – things to help get me back on my feet and (much to my chagrin as it is to say this) help me become a “functioning member of society”. What does that even mean? I went from being too “high functioning” to attend a clubhouse to now needing their services to become a “functioning member of society”? I’m only worth something if I can drive to the job that I have, the job that I earned with my college degree? When I was there, a lot of people asked me if I was coming back the next day. Some of the members do come every day, which is great for them. But all I could think of was, “But what about the dogs and the housework? Who will take care of them and how will I get everything done?” I know a lot of people leave their dogs alone all day, and even crate them all day while they’re at work to prevent accidents and chewing disasters (this is what we have to do when we are both gone). And I know most homes are dual income and the housework is split between the partners (although women usually still end up with most of the housework – I wonder how that would work in our case, being a couple made up of two women?). But I hadn’t realized that I’d become so accustomed to being a homemaker that I couldn’t picture how things would get done if I weren’t. A big part of it is that I am a creature of habit and I crave the structure of routines, so once I get one in place it’s hard to deviate from it. But honestly? While the goal is to get me to a place where I can work outside the home – where I can handle the stress, anxiety, and pressure of holding down a job in a professional field – it doesn’t necessarily mean that I will work outside the home. And that’s ok.