I’m packing up my DSM 5-TR, lap top, notepad, perennial mug of tea and leaving community mental health in West Virginia. Working in the Appalachian mental health has been equal parts enlightening, startling, weird, and frustrating. Oh—and lest I forget—endlessly amusing. I was not raised in West Virginia and moved to work in community mental health from another state. Therefore, I had to adjust to some of the cultural differences I encountered living here including the terminology:
Papaw or Pap: I have learned this term is what people call their grandfathers or grandpas. The first time someone used this term around me, I thought they were joking. Then I realized they were not using the word ironically.
Mam or Mamaw: See above re: grandmother or grandmas
Buggy: Where I’m from, this is call a shopping cart or cart. I have since adopted this term. I refuse to call it anything else from now on.
Toboggan: Honestly, how do you West Virginian folks come up with this word as a term for winter cap or snow hat? When I think toboggan, I think of sleds.
Tudors: As in Tudor’s Biscuit World aka the best darn biscuits I have EVER eaten.
Other West Virginian related things I have discovered and come to love:
The topography. The trees and mountains are BEAUTIFUL!
Pepperoni Rolls (best if homemade but also best piping hot!)
French Fries on salads (I learned French Fries can be liberally added to salads like croutons. Yes!!)
Using my hand, middle finger proudly extended and thumb pointing out to point out where in the state I work/live. (Google search West Virginian Hand Map if You don’t know what I’m talking about.)
West Virginian’s abilities to do-it-themselves: They KNOW how to fix things! Do you need your vehicle’s oil changed or bumper repaired? Need to know how to prepare a holiday meal for 15 people on $25? How about patching up a deep cut on your finger WITHOUT wasting time at the local ER? Ask a West BY GOD Virginian—they will either a) know how to do or b) have a friend/neighbor who can do it.
The Ohio Valley/West Virginia has been a great area to grow and learn as a clinician as well. I have been challenged, learned a lot, and met some great people along the way. I hope my work in this community has been helpful and useful to my (soon to be) former clients and supervisees too.