I am sitting here in the newly renovated waiting room of my doctors office and cringing. For some reason waiting rooms make me very uncomfortable and I try to maintain my distance between me and the other patients carefully. It’s not that I have anything against them, it’s just that this whole place makes me tense up. The doctors office carries the fear of sickness and unusual behavior of certain people. Often, it is dirty carrying the dust off the street not to mention the stench of unwashed people. Now, there are some good and some bad things about the newly renovated waiting room. For instance, the waiting rooms cold dingy white floors have been replaced by pleasant modern wood floors; yet the walls painted a modern tan are strikingly bare. The chairs are new and comfortable, they no longer sink when you sit in them and are arranged in a new more functional way. Everything looks modern and warm, yet somehow to me it feels like a waiting room still – cold and smelling too clean now.
But it is the people in this waiting room that disturb me most – clean or dirty. Some of them are very sick, unwell inside their heads; they wail and moan, rock back and forth, talk in loud deformed voices, socially they cannot handle themselves. Some pathways in their brains just do not run the way a healthy person’s brain does, or at least not at the moment. But I am ashamed to feel this way, these very ill people cannot help that they are how they are; they require compassion. They just want to be treated normal yet that is a really hard thing for people to do for them. I was a little like them once.
Some of the other people I would consider normal I guess. They are relatives of the patients or people who are able to handle themselves in public – who care for their appearance, are quiet and polite, who wear fashionable clothes, put on makeup, bathe often, just have that well cared for look. I consider myself one of these people now. But thinking about all this, my uncomfortableness in this room, it makes me think what a hard life it is for some people – to have a mental disability. One that sets you so apart from other people by your behavior, actions, appearance, and sometimes intelligence. I only know what it is like for me and my small disability. But for some people who have to live penny to penny on AICH, who cannot communicate properly or effectively, who are often alone in their struggles. It must be a very hard life. Another thing to consider a lot mental illness are not cut and dried, and often not curable. Each bipolar person experiences the illness in his or her own unique way with unique symptoms, some similar to others, but still unique. And Lithium does not suddenly cure you, that’s not how it works. So I am sorry I hate the waiting room at my doctors office, but that will not change. I have compassion but I cannot help how I feel. I am relieved when my doctor takes me to the calm of her office, even more when I can leave this awful place. At least they tried to make it nicer, renovating it, but to me, it did not help.