Respect The Process
You are clearly awesome. You are part of my chosen family. You are vital to my existence. However, I need to be blunt with you. It has come to my attention that 50% of the people living this house are, in fact, under psychiatric care. Furthermore, 100% of the people in this house are currently assisting someone in their journey to mental health. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to this entire household that certain standards and courtesies be met at all times. Those who aren't under psychiatric care are working hard to help those who are working hard to find peace, balance, and stability. As the loudest voice of the folks taking meds and seeing shrinks, it's high time I spoke up and put into writing the things that we, as a household, need to continue functioning as a group of four emotionally healthy friends and roommates. We will all be held to these standards. They are non-negotiable.
First and foremost, there's the stuff your mama should have taught you. Be nice. Don't criticize people in their own home for petty things, such as cleanliness (household or bodily), food choices/preparation, music choice, sleep schedule, TV/movie choices, choosing to gargle pickle juice, ANY OF IT. This is our home and our castle and should damn well be a safe place, mentally, physically, and emotionally for everyone who lives here. If any of the above things truly, horribly offend you, then you have the choice of going home. You're in our home. Where, pray tell, are we to escape your judgement?
Also, we are not always going to be in the mood for company, period. We have a right to couple time. We have a right to alone time. We have a right to roommate time. Do NOT show up at my house without calling, texting, or messaging someone on facebook. I can only speak for myself, but I get facebook notifications on my phone so it's pretty much the same as texting me. You MUST wait for a response before coming to my house. Unsolicited knocks on the door will not be dealt with kindly. Do not expect to be let in except in cases of legitimate emergency. Respect the fact that estrogen time is estrogen time, and everyone in this house has the right to hand pick the exact group of people they want to hang out with on occasion, and that's not to be trodden upon. Period. If I'm spending time with my girls (or my husband, or out of town friends, etc.), I'll tell you when you call or text, and I'll need you to accept that and find something else to do. It's pretty much unilateral in the house that text messaging is our preferred method of contact, none of us answer calls from unknown numbers, and the only time you should leave a voice mail is if you're calling from an unknown number, because three of us never check our voice mail. Text messaging doesn't interrupt dinner, demand a response while driving, or interrupt you while you're on the crapper.
At any given hour of the day or night, it is possible and probable that someone in this house will be sleeping. We have an early bird, a napper, and a couple night owls. Use your inside voice at all times. Try not to stomp when you walk on the wood floors. Close doors gently. For the sake of our nerves, do all of this at all times.
In addition, sometimes we will still have friends over even when we want a bit of quiet time. We all understand that sometimes, you have to get the hell out of your house for awhile. That's cool. But if we're clearly more interested in reading (yes, even on the computer), writing, watching something on TV, or just staring at the four walls in silence, we need you to respect that. We will be straightforward about needing quiet time.
Don't come to the house obnoxiously intoxicated, or become obnoxiously intoxicated once you're here. If you drove to my house intoxicated, I absolutely will think less of you as a person and will call you out on it when you sober up. I shouldn't have to explain this.
I also shouldn't have to explain bathroom manners, but here I go anyway. Poop if you have to poop. If you leave a skid mark, there's a handy brush right next to the toilet for eliminating it. If you pee standing up, lift the seat, whiz, then put the toilet seat down. Please, PLEASE make sure your aim is true, and if not, wipe the damn seat. Next, flush the toilet. Then wash your hands. I really don't care that you don't have to wipe, you still just handled your ding-dong and I don't want your ding-dong hands all over my things, and I certainly don't want them in my bag of Doritos, you...you filthy ding-dong handler, you!!!
This house should also be a safe space for our things. Obviously, we don't want you to break or steal them. But it goes deeper. Don't touch the electronics that don't belong to you, well, except for maybe that TV in the sunroom that's from like, 1995. Watch basic cable all day on that for all I care. But leave the rest of it alone unless someone who lives here gives you express permission. Don't unplug a lamp for your fucking phone charger. There's other outlets. Don't just sit down at somebody's computer and hop on facebook or youporn or whatever it is you kids are into these days without making sure that the computer's owner is ok with that. If someone cooks, don't assume there's enough for you unless someone offers you food. If you're not an out-of-town guest and you have to ask for snacks more than once, it's probably time to go buy some damn snacks. Don't help yourself to the fridge or pantry. The food here is not communal. Don't take the last of anything, and don't try to be cute and leave 1/2 teaspoon of mayo in the jar or a single slice of lunch meat so nobody can say you took the last of it. You are rude and you are not fooling anyone with that shit.
Speaking of things, please keep your things in check while you're here. We already have four adults sharing common living spaces, and that gets messy enough as it is. We don't expect you to clean our messes, just leave things as they were when you got here. Throw your trash away. Take your dishes to the kitchen, knock the food off in the trash, and give them a quick rinse. Don't put dishes with food still in them directly into the sink. Don't use the dishes as trash cans or ash trays. If you take your shoes off, put them out of the way. Don't leave your books or device chargers or dildos or nose hair trimmers laying all willy nilly about my house. Round your shit up and put it off to the side somewhere if you bring enough shit with you to strew about the house. This holds true whether you're staying a night or a month, and for fuck's sake, don't expect to spend more than one night here in a row unless we have made prior arrangements or you live more than an hour away. This is not a boarding house. And when you leave, lock the door if it was locked when you got to it (or if everyone is asleep), and leave it unlocked if it's unlocked. Don't leave the door open for any reason, and make sure that neither of the cats are underfoot when you walk out. They're both declawed, and if you let them out, I may put gum in your hair. I may kick your shins. I may tell you to get the fuck out and never come back. Don't fuck with momma's babies.
Be clear with your needs and expectations. Don't say "might" or "maybe" if you mean "yes, definitely". Don't say "any time" if 9pm doesn't work for you. Part of the process of working toward mental health is being honest and direct with yourself and others. I'm holding myself to this standard. There's no reason you can't follow suit. If you need help, or if you need anything, don't be afraid to ask. Just don't try to drop hints or couch the request in humor or a tale of woe.
As for assisting each other on the journey to mental health, certain boundaries are necessary. None of us can afford to dwell on negative things. There will be a one hour time limit on bitch-and-moan sessions. After that, it's time to move on. Dry it up, reel it in, and let's find a distraction. The doctor is not always in. The doctor has office hours. The doctor likes to go golfing sometimes. Deal. None of us are getting paid. Our payment is when said courtesies are reciprocated in our time of need. We are perpetually paying it forward. Don't occupy the mental and emotional resources of others unless you're fully prepared to return the favor and will do so, willingly and fully engaged, when those services are called upon. If you do not like it, we will give you a full refund and direct you to the door. We do not perpetuate negativity. If you are also currently under psychiatric care, we request that you keep all discussions of such on a constructive note. If your doctor is a dick or your therapist is an airhead, go ahead and say it, but respect the process for what it is. Understand that there's two of us who are trying our hardest to maintain a positive, productive, healthy outlook on our treatment plans. Nobody's perfect. We get that. However, we all need to appreciate the fact that we're privileged enough to be receiving this care in the first place and make a solid attempt at getting the most out of it. Respect the process, even when it's not ideal.
This is far from the first time I've listed my expectations of the treatment of my household, my roommates, and my things, but this is the first time I've done it since I've been in a mental state where I hold myself and those in my household in enough esteem to accept nothing less than respect and consideration from the people in our lives. We are four kind, caring, patient, helpful people who want nothing but the best for those we care about, but we really, really suck at standing up for ourselves. That's changing, right now.
Understand that we do not love you any less. Very little has changed. These are the things we've always wanted and expected, and frankly, we're tired of not getting them. If you are being rude, you will be called out on it. The first time will be politely. After that, the gloves are off. It's a question of respect. If you do not respect us, we do not care to remain in close contact with you. We won't be harsh and unforgiving, but we will not be ignored or taken lightly.
We do still love you.
The Medicated 50% and Their Handlers (hehe, dirty)