We don’t always fit the box

“We don’t always fit the box” I heard myself say that recently. There’s many a true word said in a cliché.

It started me thinking. We’re either “thinking inside the box” or “outside the box”. We either “fit the box” or “don’t fit the box”. We may even fit the box because we’re able to think outside the box..!

Do you fit the box?

Working as a Paramedic I would sometimes have patients that we said “fell into a grey area”.  This was just another way of saying they didn’t fit the box. We would know they needed help. But they weren’t ill enough to fit the criteria for treatment. They would have to either get better on their own, or get worse and then get help.

The reality was we just didn’t have a suitable box.

This could be especially difficult for those with mental health problems where the police had also been involved. Some may just have needed to see their own doctor. But it was outside of surgery hours, or there were no available appointments for a few days.

There were also times when people absolutely fitted the criteria for help or treatment. But when it was offered (and strongly professionally advised) they refused.

It is their right to refuse.

People aren’t box-shaped

I’ve come to the conclusion that we have lots of boxes. These are made out of our personal beliefs, opinions, what we have been taught or learned, societies’ rules, our social groups’ rules, our needs and desires.

It’s like another way of looking at our map of the world’.  All of which can change.

Wonderful things can come in boxes. But I don’t think people are box-shaped. Parts of us might fit the box for a time. Sometimes we might try hard to make ourselves fit and get uncomfortably stuck.

I prefer to think of fitting into numerous overlapping moveable boxes. Or, better still, perhaps we could be a completely undetermined, malleable shape, strong, but bending, growing, flexing, shrinking, curving, ever changing…

Look outside the box

I believe it’s totally normal to feel you don’t fit into a box, at least some of the time.

For many years I believed I would be a Paramedic until my retirement age. I fitted the box even though it was sometimes an uncomfortable fit!  But I became traumatised as a result of an emergency I’d attended.

Suddenly I was barely able to face working at all. Nevertheless, I found myself refusing the medication my Doctor offered me. I didn’t believe medication was the answer.

I had no idea what was. My distress was obvious I think, and my manager offered help through the Service’.


There’s always another option

In desperation, I finally approached the person they said worked with emergency services personnel. I had no knowledge, or faith, in the strange techniques she was using and was incredulous that she insisted I took time off work.

But the impact on me, of some of the work she did during our 4 sessions, stunned me.  I had to learn more and do more.

When I did return to work, I found I no longer fitted the box.

It seemed to me that many of my patients, who didn’t need my paramedic skills, could really benefit from the new techniques I had learned. Especially some of those patients that fell into the grey areas.

Parts of what I’d learned did transfer to my paramedic role, but much did not.

So after 31 years it was quite a surprise to find myself deciding that it was time to move on. Now, as The Stress Medic’, I work differently with people but it is just as rewarding as my work as a Paramedic.

Two boxes that overlap..

If you are experiencing a difficult situation, and it seems you aren’t getting the type of help you need, my advice is to look outside of the box.

Be open to different ways you could find support.

My experience of this has been life changing, and is included in some of the group talks I regularly deliver to WI and friendship groups. You can view the full list here.

I wish you luck on your journey.