I sat and watched them as they walked by; I paused eating my lunch, laid my fork on the plate. I watched as each person walked by in single file shuffling their feet in slip on house shoes and sweat pants that one size fit most style.
The faces were blank, shoulders slumped, and their eyes looked empty. A sole lived medicated inside the shell I could see.
My heart ached as I looked at the faces I have seen for so many years. Who were they really? What was their dream when they were 10 years old? Once upon a time they were cradled in a mother’s arms and sat on a daddy’s lap. What brought them to this place?
No matter how long I have worked in mental health I am still curious when you meet someone as to what events in their life brought them to the place they are in now.
I have seen people arrive in complete mania, fighting the staff, screaming, throwing things and they really don’t even know what makes them that angry. They are medicated to help settle them down to a more normal, or I should say cooperative state of mind.
After years of this type of behavior families get tired and don’t know what to do any more. They try to continue supporting the family member until they slowly stop coming to visit due to the out breaks of different moods, they call less and less, cards and special gifts stop coming arriving in the mail. The staff becomes the closest family they have.
The long single file line continues down the lane, no one talking, just shuffling along. I hear my name called and a man who I have worked with for 15 years flashed a smile and waved as he has always done.
I waved back and called his name “Hey!”. The exchange was short …less than a minute; he drops his head and keeps moving with the group. As if to drop back into his own thinking looking at the floor as he walked.
They are locked into their own mind, the life they chose to follow or the one that played out as it did lead them to this place. Where dreams go to sleep, daily task become a routine as a group, meals and snacks are only at certain times and sleep comes when the medication take over. It is sad.
As a nurse, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend I too had fallen into the routine of shuffling along in life living by a schedule someone else handed to me. I even ask permission to spend time away from the hospital. Time had slipped by so fast that I had not realized how many patients I had watched age over the years. They came in young and full of life and now they are shuffling along with a group as if their sole laid quietly inside with no voice to speak.
From the time we are very small we a voice that speaks inside that tells us to do things or to not do things but we tell it to hush…after spending a life time of hushing the dream it stops calling our name and we shuffle along with life.
When I stopped the shuffle and made a decision I wanted more, I wanted the dream, I wanted to stop asking permission and living on someone else’s schedule. Then and only then… did my dream start coming true. I want to see your dreams come true….do you? I would love to help you.
Angela Brooks is a mental health nurse educator who spent the last 22 years working in a state funded mental hospital. She is the author of “The Nurses Voice” who exposes raw truth as a nurse. She is transitioning from nursing to one of the top positions in a health company changing life’s one oil at a time.