Don't call me NUTS!
Over the course of the last 20 years as a mental health nurse I have seen a lot of true mental illness issues. The staff on board, the public and even the doctors at one time or another has called some clients nuts.
Mental Illness has a very long history of a hidden and shameful illness that has been around since the times the bible was written. It is the most stigma illness in the medical field. It is an illness that no one really wants to talk about.
It is a sad to see someone come into the hospital that is so sick they can not even keep their own body clean, take care of daily functions or have someone to call on the phone to listen – even when they are in control. The families of the mentally ill persons are tired and sometimes just do not bother to call or come visit because they do not know how to handle the behavior.
When someone goes into the hospital for open heart surgery, has a stroke, is involved in a car wreck, has a brain injury that persons name will be placed on the prayer list at churchs. They will get cards, flowers, phone calls and many visits that sometimes wears the patient out.
When a person is newly diagnosed with bipolar, depression or schizophrenia there are very few flowers a very few cards or even phone calls. The community does not understand the hundreds of years old disease so they do nothing. The person with the mental illness now feels even more confused and more alone.
Now let me make myself clear. I have seen many clients that pluck my last nerve after working a 13 hour shift and I totally understand that families and friends are sometimes at their wits end with this person. However, as they get better and are under better control of their illness whether by using prescription medications or a natural vitamin mixture the mentally ill will heal better if they have a support system to lean on once in a while. If they do not – they do not have the motivation to get better because no one cares. Then the illness really takes over.
Mental health is at the beginning of a new era. Mental illness is being seen as a medical condition like any other condition. The idea that the family or the individual is to blame for mental illness is slowly fading. We are at the stage where people with mental illness can get the same kind of respect, care, and services as other people who have a disability. Training the people who receive care and the people who work in the mental health system about what prejudice is and how to cope with the stigma of mental illness is important.
You know someone who has mental illness. Take the time to learn more about the disease. Instead of reacting in fear get educated and understand more. If you can't stand the thought of seeing them in person – send a card.
This article can also be found on Scrubs Magazine
Angela Brooks has worked in a state-funded psychiatric hospital in Kentucky for 21 years as a nurse, assisting sometimes-dangerous patients who come in shackled and cuffed. At AngelaBrook.com, she offers stories of life on the inside of a psychiatric ward, and the site, as well as her company, offers support for nurses in the mental health field and helps them bring passion into their role at work.
On her BlogTalkRadio show, Mental Happiness with Angela Brooks, she shares some of her experiences “learning to love those others have forsaken” and gives tips on how to bring peace to your own life.
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* Please note: I am not here to CURE, DIAGNOSE, Treat or suggest replacements for what a doctor prescribes. The names used in this post are not the real names of the people being mentioned – I am sharing my nursing adventures with you.
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