Lauren Sp.

When I first arrived at Carlisle House the clients and I sat and sang keoke for a long time. Peanut was mostly in charge of the event, singing and dancing along with Melanie, however, we all took part in singing songs such as “faith”, “hey mr. tambourine man” and “shout”. I then met Ron and Melissa and spoke with Melissa about where she lived and what high school she went to. Then Melissa and I took pictures of ourselves and the other clients. I then sat with Melanie for a long time while she sewed pillows that she gives to the other clients and her grandchildren. She told me about where she lived, her pets and her grandchildren. Peanut was aggitated that we were no longer participating in kereoke so we all got up and Gerry, Melanie and I danced to the electric slide. Slowly, all of the clients lost interest and began scattering and doing their own activities and I left shortly thereafter.

the time I spent today at the Carlisle House made me experience an all- over good feeling. I didn’t feel as though I was there to “help” the people there, I was just there to have fun with them, and I definetly did. Speaking with Melanie and Melissa about their lives and relating with them was special to me. What I really enjoyed was the all-over good feeling of lack of self-consciousness, usually people are a little embarassed to sing and dance in front of others, and usually I would be too, but there I found myself, dancing and singing along to all the songs I usually wouldn’t be caught dead singing and dancing too, and I had a blast. This trip made me realize that this is something that I would like to do with my life, I always knew I wanted to work in social services, and I had thought about working in the mental health profession, but for the first time I realized that I think I would be good at working with those with mental illness.

One aspect of this experience today that I found connected with our class is the idea of pre-concieved notions of others. In “Motherless Brooklyn” one could hardly tell he had Tourette’s syndrome until he began to tic, well with some of the clients I found it was interesting in that I would first think that they could not speak, or were too ill to want to communicate with me. The next minute, they would be up there singing kereoke, completley changing my preconcieved notion of their condition. What is interesting about mental illness is that you cannot tell how “sick” one is, or to what level they function by looking at them, much like our main character in “motherless brooklyn”

When first going to Carlisle House (or now known as S.T.A.R) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at all. My sister works with schizofrenic clients in a residential situation where they are getting assistance in reintegrating into society after hospitalization. From the stories she has told me, I expected a more intensive care program much like hers, where although the clients have much independence, there is a lot of counseling and help from the staff. At S.T.A.R I was surprised by how small a role the staff plays in “helping” the people that spend time there. During orientation, the staff member said that at many times a staff member may not even be around and that the clients “pretty much run the place.” This both surprised and pleased me that those with mental illness are given the space they deserve to just hang out and interact with others without too many people trying to constantly tell them what to do or counsel them.

With the little time I am able to spend at S.T.A.R I hope to contribute the interpersonal skills I have of caring and empathy. For the most part, however, it seems as though spending time with the people at S.T.A.R is going to be just being with another person and interacting, and just being myself would be my best contribution. Although, hopefully I can positively interact with the people I meet there and they can enjoy the time we spend together.