Friday Afternoons Spent in Mental Health Treatment Facilities

"Friday Afternoons Spent in Mental Health Treatment Facilities." 2/16/13. Acrylics, resin sand, crow quill with gold ink, marker, and peptol-bismol on cardboard. 15½x4¼”.
“Friday Afternoons Spent in Mental Health Treatment Facilities.” 2/16/13. Acrylics, resin sand, crow quill with gold ink, marker, and peptol-bismol on cardboard. 15½x4¼”.

The sixth piece from “The Weak End” series. Says: “What you call success looks like success. It isn’t. It’s a lowering of the bar. And that’s my fucking chair.”

I’m going to try something different today. Normally, I force myself to keep the focus on myself. I force myself to not write about other people. I also force myself to look at what’s really going on when I’m upset. I think that (a lot of the time) this makes for good mental health and boring fucking reading. So, today, let’s try something different: here’s a rant’s worth of petty bullshit about total nonsense! (Followed by just a little bit of reflection).


“Graduation” from Tranquil Shores (and plenty of other places like it) involves a ceremony called a “coining.” To coin out, you’ve gotta complete every item on your treatment plan. The coining is in recognition that you’ve done everything that’s been asked of you and proven your commitment to your emotional well-being and continued success. It’s a big deal.

Or so they fucking say.

I coined out last week. The number of people that came out to it and the things that they had to say [everyone in attendance at a coining speaks] left me humbled and speechless. And in all honesty, I didn’t think that I’d ever actually get there. I had been in treatment before but I had never not been kicked out. But even still – getting to coin out implies that there’s been a fundamental change from the person that you were when you checked in. It required a lot more than just not being so unbearable of an asshole that you’re actually forced to leave. Was I even capable of fundamental change? I had been a piece of shit for a long time and I had serious doubts. But something was different this time. I did change. I trudged through shit and hell long before I got here and I brought a lot of it with me so I could continue to step in shit even while I was here. It’s supposed to be a three month program but it took me seven – but that’s exactly how much time I needed; I couldn’t have gone any faster. What matters is that I did the work I was terrified to do and I got better. Actually getting to coin out meant a lot to me. It was the biggest fucking day of my life.

But this girl… They say that to coin-out you have to prove that you’re “willing to go to any lengths.” Less than a week after arriving, she decided that she wasn’t willing to do inpatient treatment. She’d stay but only if she could be an outpatient. That doesn’t sound like “any lengths” to me. And what was she here for? Her primary issue wasn’t with alcohol or drugs but with codependency. She was dating some guy that was also secretly dating other girls, telling each that she was the only one. And she had a stalking problem. So he’d lie about what he was doing, she’d spend hours following him around all day and night, find him going out with other girls and/or over to their homes, confront him, they’d have a huge blowout argument, make up, and then the same god damn thing would happen the very next day. Again and again. Even while she was in treatment! She continued to do this shit. That’s why she wanted to be outpatient, I’m sure. Throughout her time at Tranquil Shores, she was told consistently that this guy wasn’t healthy and that she couldn’t be healthy either so long as she stayed with him. Every now and again, she’d break it off but she’d always start stalking or dating him again (usually both). And now she’s getting to coin out – and today we found out that they’re a fucking couple again. Because she invited him to the fucking ceremony. That’s absolutely equivalent to if I had pulled out a needle and shot heroin at my coining. It was a giant “fuck you” to all of the counselors that have worked with her on this and even to all of us, who have sat in group after group with her, listening to her talk about how it’s destroyed her life. 

So why the fuck was this girl coining out? Because she put in three months? Big fucking deal. That’s how it works at a lot of other treatment centers but that’s not how it’s supposed to happen here. This cheapens the whole thing; it makes all the other coinings suddenly mean less. It’s like the time I spent studied like crazy for an exam that I knew we hadn’t really been prepared for. I got a 98% only to find out that since the second highest grade in the class was a 54%, everyone’s grade was getting bumped up by 46 points…. Except for mine of course – there’s no such thing as a 144%. So why the fuck did I bother to put all of that work in when these lazy dipshits that just show up and hope for the best get the same result?



Okay… So I’ve struggled with how I wanted to present this piece for a long time because it is petty and it is childish and it is (in a sense) bullshit. Did I really feel that way about this situation? Yeah. Do I still have a hard time understanding why Tranquil Shores allows some people to coin out but not others? Totally. But does any of this have anything to do with me (or take away at all from my coining or my recovery)? Absolutely not.

Why did I put the work in? Because I fucking needed to to save my own life. Did we all get the same result? Of fucking course not! The coining is a ceremony to acknowledge the progress you’ve made –  just like a grade is an acknowledgement of the things you’ve learned. But the coining itself isn’t progress just as a grade isn’t itself knowledge. We may both get 100% on the test and we might both coin out; that shit (on its own) means nothing. What matters is what’s in my head, in my heart, and in my fucking guts.

As for what’s in your head, heart, and guts… well, that’s none of my fucking business. And I’m not really in a position to make any kind of estimation on the subject (tempting as it (clearly) is) anyway.

And I forgive you for sitting in my chair, Matt. I found another one.


In the unlikely event that the girl who coined out after me reads this, please don’t get bummed out about it. I actually think you’re alright. This is just some eight month old shit about me being crazy.


“The Weak End” paintings

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