Yesterday’s blog alluded to some time I spent as the administrator of a 200 bed, locked mental facility in Los Angeles. It was called Kellogg Psychiatric Facility and was a renovated luxury motel. It made for a very nice facility with a huge kitchen, and large areas for occupational therapy, art therapy, music therapy, and behavioral therapy. We would pick up patients from state facilities that had been released due to legislation that forbade the warehousing of patients (by loading them up with sedatives) in state facilities. Thorazine was one of the popular drugs of the time. I picked up a patient once who was on 4,000 mg of Thorazine a day. I couldn’t believe he could even walk. The average dose for our patients at that time was about 400mg of Thorazine a day. It was my practice to cut the medication in half for a time, then cut it in half again, and continue to cut it until we saw the behaviors that had made the medication necessary in the first place. We would then gradually increase the medication until the symptoms disappeared and we could integrate the patient into our many different types of therapy. By doing this, we were able to get about 100 patients a year into group homes and out of our locked facility, thereby saving the state a whole lot of money. Eventually, the state came to see what we were doing and changed the California Administrative Code to reward other facilities that used the same methods we did. It didn’t always work. One time I picked up a patient in the facility owner’s Mercedes (my car was in the shop) and because the car was German and the patient Polish, he screamed for the police out the windows thinking I was the Gestapo taking him to prison. We were only stopped twice, the second time, the kind officer turned on his lights and led us back to our facility. The worst mistake I made was picking up an arsonist (unknown to me at the time) and cutting his medication back as we usually did. We got it down too far and he set fire to his room one night when I was working late and still at the facility. The fire department was called, but the patients could hear all the yelling and would just stand up in the smoke and wait. I crawled below the level of the smoke (it was about halfway down the room), opened the doors of the rooms, saw the legs of the standing patients and would then get them down and out into the open air. I guess I did a bit too much because when the fire crews got there all I remembered was passing out. I came to being taken from the ambulance and into the hospital (no patients were injured and the damage was minimal) but I had smoke inhalation. I thought they were making a big fuss over nothing, but then one of the doctors explained how close I was to dying and that what he called my heroic efforts had saved several lives. I just had to spend one night in the hospital, but the owner came to see me the next day to chew me out for not being careful with observations as we lowered the arsonist’s medication. The fact that the guy was an arsonist had never appeared in any of the charting we received and only found out from a social worker after the fire. I got no awards, no special treatment, no raise, and was almost fired for risking my life (foolishly according to the owner) to save patients and we had to buy all new fireproof mattresses. My pay was even docked for the days off I took (smoke inhalation turns out to be pretty bad). Of course the patients didn’t thank me, they didn’t even know what had really happened. Not a single person thanked me or complimented me for my work that night. It’s like that sometimes. You do the right thing and no one notices or you are even treated badly for it. This is all leading up to a famous quote by Mother Teresa that you should commit to memory. In my almost 71 years (next month), I have lived this more than once.
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
What else is there to say? It’s about you and your response to God’s call. You may feel alone, betrayed, and hurt by people you thought loved you—same thing happened to Jesus, all his disciples, and millions of Christians over the last two thousand years. God cares and there will always be people who will know the true you. If you’re lucky, they may even tell you so, but even if they don’t, love, care, pray for your enemies, turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile because you are doing all those things surrounded by the loving arms of God’s embrace. No better place to be.