Wednesday, December 3, 2014


So, I was feeling low and miserable so I went to the doctor, and she referred me to a case manager. The case manager seemed OK, but then she wanted me to do stuff way before I was ready and I just couldn't cope, so I stopped going.

It was like this.

We got on OK and I was saying that I had no money, and couldn't get ahead. and I was working just to pay the mortgage, and my marriage was more or less over and I didn't know what to do. And she said, well, we have the best evidence based treatment for this, and she told me to rob a liquor store.

I thought, that was pretty hard out. I didn't want to do it; I didn't see the point. It's just not how I think. I said, I don't even drink. I hardly even have been in a liquor store, why would I want to rob one?

She said, well, Karen, I am sorry that you are not taking responsibility for your own treatment and your decision making. We are suggesting the best treatment we have. If we had anything better, we would give it to you. I know that you are new to all of this and we are asking you to make some pretty big changes, but you do need to work with us, you know. Look, there is time for you to think about this. How about I see you in three days? By then I expect we will all be on the same page and you will have been able to rob the liquor store.

I went back in three days and she asked, how did you go?

And I said, I had felt so fucking stressed about it I had hardly got out of bed and I wasn't sleeping.

And she said, now, Karen, there is no need for language like that. I am not going to talk to you if you won't engage. I take it you didn't rob the liquor store, then.

So of course I had to say I hadn't even left the house except to buy food and then I felt bad about not robbing the supermarket, like I thought she would want me to.

She said to me, well, maybe you would do a bit better if you were high. It's OK, you know. Lots of people need to get high to be able to do a robbery, we treat a lot of people like you and there is no shame in it. No one should discriminate against you for this. I will get the doctor to see you and he can give you some methamphetamine.

Hell, I said, I am not keen on that. I suppose you are the experts, though.

She said now, Karen, that is not the best attitude. We might be the experts at knocking over liquor stores, of course we are, but you are the expert on your own life and we need you to participate fully in your own treatment. He is a nice doctor and he will give you the best deal. So I will see you in a week.

I went back in a week and of course she asked how I got on now I was on methamphetamine. I thought about it and said well, it is certainly easier to get out of bed in the morning, in fact sometimes I don't even go to bed at all. And I had some sort of fight with the neighbours and the Police came. Are these side effects?

You can imagine what she said. She said, well, if you really can't tolerate the meth, you should have let us know. You really aren't making the best choices about this. We can only do so much you know. The rest is up to you. You need to take responsibility. Have you robbed the liquor store yet?

Well guess what, I hadn't robbed the liquor store. In fact I said, this is so far out of my usual way of thinking, I was further away from robbing the liquor store than ever. And the meth was just making me say stupid things online and keeping me up all night. I didn't even know where to start. I felt hopeless.

She sighed and said, there is a limit to what we can do, Karen. We only have the contract for brief intervention. We can't run your life for you. We are trying to help but you are doing nothing for yourself. You seem to have quite a treatment-resistant illness here. I think you will be with us for a long time. You can't expect the meth to fix you, it is not the whole answer. You have to ask yourself if you really want to get better. We don't want you becoming dependent on services. Tell you what, I will make a referral for a Criminal Support Worker. They can help empower you to make the right choices and get alongside you, you know, take you out to Gun City, find some gang connections, that sort of thing. In fact, this is a great organization for you, because it is peer led. Everyone there has known what it is like to struggle almost as much as you are right now. Probably some of them found it just as hard to rob their first liquor store.

I was like, my first liquor store? Does that mean I have to keep on robbing liquor stores? Am I going to spend my life robbing liquor stores, fighting with random people and getting fuck all sleep? I can't live like this! I am over this! I can't cope. I don't want to rob a liquor store! I never did. You aren't listening to me, you are just trying to make me do stuff that doesn't make any sense.

Then she told me I was being histrionic and that I had a choice to refuse their help. And that I should stop crying. Then she got security and I was escorted off the premises, as they say. So that is why I didn't go back.


The above piece riffs on mental health services and how they talk to people, of course. And the criminal justice system, indirectly, when it fails to realize the desperate daily pull back to crime. It is also about the nature of change itself. How hard it is not to default, to eat the cream bun, smoke the weed, do the thing that gives a moment's relief or a fleeting sense of being part of the human race.

Thanks to Tina for suggesting the concept, and Dex for being my inspiration.