February 1, 2010

surfing choppy waves

i am reading this book written by the weekend, overnight doctor bellevue's psychiatric ward. i feel at turns fascinated by her portrayal of mental illness and terrified by the conflict in julie holland's life. she recounts health and happiness, while detailing out picking fights with her boss and patients and avoiding her dying friend.

this shows me two interesting observations. one, the disparity in health that other people, too, have in their lives. we can be truly healthy in some ways, while in denial or in poorness facing another part of our lives. i have trouble admitting those are in fact different parts, subject to different environmental cues, being a fan of the 'everything relates, whole is bigger than sum of parts, look to whole to understand any part' theory. think the confusion stems from not seeing a big enough whole. i wonder if i can ever see a whole, being a part myself.

also, i think i mis-apply the relationship of and to everything, translating that everything is, in fact, the same: feels the same, has the same abilities. even the differences, i chalk up to being, in some way, temporary roles or masks that anyone could play (anyone could be a murderer, anyone a princess). i see this as connected to my empathy - i feel strongly that that person could easily be me, that i could be them.

the second thing i noticed from reading is less about life and more about me: the tales of conflict terrify me. i had to stop and get into child's pose. i had to make a cup of tea. i wanted to finish the book and take it back to work today, and find myself both ignoring it and being drawn to it. i read a chapter, then get up and pace restlessly around. i worry about julie; over-identification with main character. she feeds conflict, she claims survivor skills and ignores survivor guilt. she holds a false kind of strength based on toughness and shells, not flexibility and inner core. granted, she notes this and wonders how else one survives in such a chaotic environment, occasionally noting the skills and tactics of co-workers.

need to go read more.

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