There’s a lot that I have on the back burner for the blog here.
One thing that’s really amazed me is that reading so many of your blogs, dear readers– is that the posts, and especially the comments– have inspired me to dig back into the archives. Posts that I once thought had little importance, little interest to anyone, are starting to have relevance.
One thing I’ve put off over and over again is Blogging for Mental Health 2014. It’s still not easy to write about. My treatment lasted over 25 years, and included referrals to psychologists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, and therapists.
But I am grateful to those I can trust, that draw it out little by little, in a space I feel safe. I’ve mentioned Aussa Lorens before, and that what drew me to her blog was her stories about working in a psych ward. The interesting thing, too, is that others reading and commenting contribute a lot of insights, too, even if they aren’t in the most ideal of circumstances. The following is a comment thread I participated in, on her post Tales From The Ward: Nurse Ratcheds:
[PurplesShade]: I dunno, think about the fact that when the nurses feel shitty they can take it out *on* the patients.
Nurses do tremendously hard work, but any nurse who treats a psychiatric patient like they are just being a misbehaving child, deserves zero pity and should loose her job.
To quote Aussa “you can’t chastise an illness.” and when someone thinks you can, it means they don’t really believe that person is ill, it means they think they are just choosing to act that way (which they aren’t) if someone thinks like that, they probably don’t have any respect for those people *as people*.
Now imagine, that most of the people around you (the nurses) treat you like you aren’t a person, and the rest of the people around you are deep in the throws of their own personal struggle so they probably don’t acknowledge you as an individual person either most of the time, and imagine that unlike the nurses, there is no “going home” at night.
This is your reality 24/7.
Please consider all the facts before you empathize with nurses over patients. Meds do not make everything okay for most of these people, if they did, they’d be at home and not in the hospital. People for whom the meds make things okay can have more normal life, which living in a pysch ward, isn’t.
Now, part of the comment has been a bit of miscommunication and misunderstanding, but I thought the comment was EXTREMELY valuable. So then I responded as follows:
Oh, I had a nurse treat me like a misbehaving child… in OUTPATIENT, about five years ago.
See, in our area, the local Catholic hospital network doesn’t have a ward per se, it has a building where both inpatient and outpatient services are offered. (I’ve been on both sides, but that’s another story.)
Because I admitted I wasn’t perfectly 100% compliant with my meds (I think she assumed worse), she shamed me: “I’ve got a drawer full of patients who want to get well”, and she double-teamed me on another visit with the psychiatrist, who wasn’t terribly gracious himself, either.
I got this vibe that some people working in my area in community mental health were biased and prejudiced of the patients– that they are poor, stupid, and must be treated like children. But I was smart; I knew the hospital’s mission statement, and I used that to my advantage. I had to play a little negotiation hardball with the nurse supervisor, but I finally got a med nurse that treated me with a lot more dignity, allowed me to strip away the meds I didn’t need, and didn’t push any more that didn’t work.
There are blog posts in connection with this story, which I immediately made sure were resorted in the proper blog categories so I could find them again. If you don’t mind my rambling (and colorful language), dear readers, they are as follows:
Dear Aussa– she had this to say in response:
That’s awful that she shamed you like that about your med compliance. That’s one of those situations where you want to grab her by the shoulders and be like “do you know where you work?!” and also– who is she to judge? No one takes care of themselves perfectly or makes the best decisions 100% of the time.
I’m glad that you were able to work with a med nurse who saw you as a person and helped you get your med regimen figured out to where it was right for you.
Things are much, much better now! Since that time, I stopped seeing a psychiatrist, and asked my physician to oversee my medications. I finally saw a counselor for about a year to work on PTSD (I would now say complex PTSD) issues. I can comfortably say now that my bipolar mood disorder is well managed, and the trauma issues are such that I am able to deal with and managed them mostly on my own. That doesn’t mean I don’t have mental health treatment anymore, but more of it is now addressed with chronic pain management. Things could change again– as much of that pain is nerve pain, I’d like to have the expertise of a neurologist, but we’ll see.
There will be a few more posts in this series of “Looking to the Journey Ahead”, of more things I’d like to write about. I’m also thinking that I may use them to comprise a blogging schedule. So stay tuned, dear readers!