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Just thought I’d throw that out. Even so, I really related to “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”.  So why would a movie that takes place in a psyche ward remind me of work?

The first reason–and the least significant–is that when I began my job, it was something temporary in my mind–until I found something better suited for me.  I was taking classes and moving in the direction of another goal when I accepted that position.  That was how I stepped into a whole different world, much like Craig in the story when he takes a detour from jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and heads to the hospital hoping to get a quick fix to tame his suicidal thoughts.

While I don’t suffer depression and am not suicidal, as the story unfolds you clearly see the circumstances and pressures that overwhelm Craig and contribute to his clinical depression. Circumstances and pressure are things I definitely relate to. These things will drive me to chocolate every time.

The biggest reason I relate to this movie is because I live it everyday. Or at least 6 nights a week. As the characters are revealed, you cannot help but fall in love, laugh, empathize, and cheer them on. I was once criticized by someone who told me “you always pull for the underdog.”  The criticism puzzled me for a long time and I dwelled on the thing like it was some sort of birth defect.  But my critic was right. I do this thing. Most always. And that’s because I was born to pull for the underdog. It didn’t take me long to completely understand that this was–is– exactly where I was supposed to be at this point in my life. The peace and joy that came with finding my place is something that cannot be defined. What I can tell you is that it no longer mattered how others perceived me. It no longer mattered that I didn’t have a career title that made people puff up with pride on my behalf. None of the certifications that previously made me feel like I was “on my way” mattered at all. None of it compared to the knowing  that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, for whatever reason.

The sweetest and most important reason I relate to this movie is because of my co-workers.  Just the thought of them will cause a happy physical response that comes from a deeply spiritual place. My heart turns to mush, I usually laugh out loud, and sometimes I get happy tears. The character I relate to most in the movie is Smitty. He’s the guy who gets to take the patients into the psyche ward, show them around the place, and introduce them to the others. He’s the lucky one who covers enough ground that he is able to know them individually. He also wears a great hat in the movie. That’s me at work–the lucky one– but without the hat.

My co-workers? Most of them don’t have psychological disabilities, though some of them do. Some of them are learning disabled and others have physical disabilities. Let me introduce you to some of them:

Charlie has OCD, once wrote lyrics in Nashville, and has a passion for Karaoke and Waffle House. K.Z. is a walking miracle whose left foot never leaves the ground. It drags behind every right step he takes. The new custodian (don’t know his name yet) has muscular dystrophy and pours his heart into every Elvis song that comes on the radio. Kenneth had a career as a drill sergeant in the Army and later in law enforcement until his knees blew out. Now he is the ever-watchful floor maintenance man who somehow has everyone figured out. This is true. He can tell you, with no trace of judgement, who was abused and who did drugs, which drugs they did–because it isn’t uncommon for people recovering from substance abuse to come work with us for a time.  Or people who suffer depression like the lady that started last week–a career school teacher who needed a break from the norm because her husband just passed away and she doesn’t really know where to go from here. So for now, she shuts herself away in a night shift world that, except for once in a very blue moon, is free of mean people. Like the movie, most everyone on the inside feels empathy.

Therapy happens in the most simplistic of ways whether people are doing warehouse ballet or parkour, dressing like the Village People, conjuring their inner nerd, or hearing Eric’s holler of “WOOHOO!” if it seems too quiet–to which the entire place erupts with “WooHoo” responses–and this is a pattern that will repeat itself about 30 times per night.  These are mere moments of time, quick like a smile, usually in passing, but therapeutic in value nonetheless. 

No. It isn’t a psyche ward but there was once a sign above the office door that said, “House of Nuts”.  One day, I walked through, felt right at home, and somewhere along the way made a decision to stay put.  It’s kind of a funny story.