I’m lucky to have an opportunity to share my writing here and enjoy reading others’ work. I’m into outdoor sports, first responders, and mental health.
Respect in EMS
“Survival of the fittest,” quipped the hard-drinking, burger-devouring, reckless-driving EMT as he stepped over the 18-year-old overdose victim’s body. Back in the ambulance, he imitated the vernacular of the low-income family of the girl we’d tried to save. Then he looked at his watch impatiently. Lunchtime. The girl had died vomiting out of her nose in front of her mother, and the EMT just wanted lunch. “I have no sympathy for addicts,” said the EMT. “They do it to themselves.”
“Yes, sir,” I said to you in the Ski Patrol headquarters. We weren’t on a call. This wasn’t even a practice scenario- we were just hanging out. You weren’t my boss in that moment. I knew I’d made a mistake when you looked at me quizzically. It’d been the “yes, sir” of a white woman who was proud to afford a simple human dignity to a person of color. Now, thanks to you, I see that things like dignity and equality do not belong to white people. They are not ours to give like presents to Black people or anyone else. It’s evident through your actions what you believe, Leland: they’re gifts from God to all humanity.
What Is It Like To Be Mentally Ill?
To be mentally ill is to be physically ill. The organ that houses your soul fails you. The most complex biological structure in the animal kingdom succumbs to rampant dysfunction. It is a part of the human body that can never be transplanted, never truly repaired, never understood adequately. Your personality and perceptions fluctuate with its chemical changes. Crippling imbalances in neurotransmitters and life-altering abnormalities in structure indicate disease, but are referred to as mere issues- a vague, nondescript, near-demeaning phrase. The behavior associated with brain tumors and diabetic crises is understood to be a result of a natural disease process, but “mental health issues” scare those lucky enough to enjoy sanity out of any sympathy. A sacred few try to offer compassion, they try nobly, yet they cower in fear as you step close to them and shift their weight awkwardly in your presence. You’re frightening. You’re weird. It’d be more comfortable for them if you’d go away.
A Detour on Christmas Eve
I figured out why no one likes me. There’s a phenomenon called the Ben Franklin Effect: if you ask someone for a favor, they’re apt to like you, even more so than if you do something to help them. I don’t ask for favors. It’s uncomfortable. It makes me feel weak.