Mon 1 Aug 2005
Areej and I walked over to the Steven’s Center this morning, getting there around 11:00AM. We stopped by Stephanie’s office to tell her that we were there, and to say hi. We headed straight for the dining room, where we knew people would be. Everyone was helping Ron, who is the main chef at the Center, make lunch. We sat with Sandy, Tom and a few people who were visiting from the Pennsylvania State Hospital. Most of the visit consisted of conversation versus the activities that we did with everyone at the last visit. At noon, everyone started putting tacos together and eating. And Areej and I, after eating some food with them and having a discussion about local buses (and Carlisle’s horrible version of a transportation system), left around 12:45PM.
This day in particular consisted of a lot of stress. It seems that everyone we talked to had anything but a peaceful weekend. Tom mentioned that his new meds were having odd side-effects, and Sandy’s weekend mostly consisted of looking for jobs. Everyone else just seemed tired and content to sit around drinking coffee. Debra, a new member who i met today, mentioned that perhaps there should just be a caffine I.V. in the Center. Tom brought up the conversation again about Tom Cruise’s comments regarding therapy. This seems to be a discussion that’s brought up frequently among the members at the Center. We all agreed, after explaining Scientology to a few people who were talking with us, that different methods of recovery work for different people. It’s just rather frustrating to me that there is still such a stigma attached to mental illness and therapy. Even when I was listening to Sandy talk about finding a job, she mentioned that it was hard for her to work certain jobs because of the stress level. I suppose it’s just easier for the rest of the world to not think about these issues unless they have a loved one or a friend who goes through a similar situation (or they go through it themself), but I don’t think people realize that it could be someone close to you who is going through such set backs. People should just take these injustices more personally in my opinion.
On that note, I couldn’t help but think about the article “The ‘Careers’ of the People Exhibited in Freak Shows: The Problem of Volition and Valorization,” by Gerber. The article concerns with the physical aspects of disability rather than the cognitive. However, it’s true that the “higher” places in society and “better” jobs are assigned to those who at least give the impression of being normal cognitively as well. The members of the Steven’s Center did not ask to have something that society stigmatizes, just as someone with an extraordinary body can not control society’s stigma upon physical disability. And thus, they cannot always acquire the jobs and positions that they would like. Sandy explained that she would like to be able to carry a good job, but none were available to her due to the fact that she was a member of the Center; that most people would not hire an individual going through active therapy. And while most of these members are not going to make money off of what society might find as a spectical, the way that the members of a Freak Show would, the situations of most of the people I have met in the Center speaks openly to the lack of choices there are in occupations for those with a cognitive disability.