Things my psych patients have taught me

by Angela Brooks

A Nurse Confessions: There is no way to work on a psych ward of a mental hospital and not learn something about life. I have met some of the strangest and most original individuals.  When people find out where I work and have worked for almost 22 years, their mouth hangs open in awe. Most of the time the phrase, "I don't know how you do it." is mentioned as they shake their head.

I confess, there are things about mental health that I do not like. There are things that I have to bite my tongue and keep my lips glued together because it agitates me so. I thought I would list them out and explain later. *deep breath* here I go.


1. I dislike someone that comes into the hospital just so they can get a check (AKA crazy check) when they are clearly healthy, but truly too damn lazy to work.

2. I dislike when someone is pure and simply just mean spirited and blame the diagnose someone gave them to cling to – of being mentally ill.

3. I dislike when prisoners comes in breaks furniture, hurts the staff, shares his/her rude and unintelligent slurs to the staff and demeans them, because they have nothing to lose and will be going back to jail.

4. I dislike a addicted individual who tries to use his mental illness to be prescribed benzo to feed his habit – and becomes demanding when they are told no.

5. I dislike restraining someone in the bed. It makes my heart hurt to see someone or have to place someone in that situation. Even though I know at the time it has to be done – everything else has been exhausted. To protect the staff and the patient, sometimes it is just necessary.

6. I truly dislike calling a doctor who blows off the fact that nursing staff have already tried the least measures before calling him in the middle of the night for more help and he refuse because he doesn't think it is needed. However, neither does he feel like he should have to come to the unit to observe what is going on, leaving the staff in harm's way.

7. I dislike a doctor who comes to the unit during a high risk situation and hides behind the female staff for protection. I am not a shield – I am a nurse with a family just like he has.

8. I dislike staff who forget how blessed they are, and have a home to go home too, when a patient is crying because they are home sick and cannot return to their home.

9. I dislike not being able to help a patient understand what he/she is seeing climbing the walls is part of their illness and not real – when they clearly can see it on the wall.

10. I dislike looking into someone's eyes and seeing pain, hurt, lonely, lost, souls that I cannot help. I really dislike that feeling.

When I meet someone new, I like to learn about who they are. Not who the chart says they are. I want to know where they used to work, where they went to school, how many brothers and sisters they have, are they married are have children. I have found that when I approach a patient as a person and not as a patient they open up and let down the walls that they come in with. I get to peep inside of their life for just a moment. I dislike when staff forget that the people we serve had a life before they arrived on our unit. They attended school, had some kind of home, they have a mother, father, wife, husbands, children.  We have all made some really crappy choices in life – we may not have landed in jail or in a mental hospital but there were choices made along our path.

I confess – my psych patients have taught me a lot about life. I have not always liked working in ciaos and in hazardous and dangerous situations, but I have always liked talking to the ones I get to meet. They have showed me that we are all one step away from the admission office when life hands us more than we can bare. They have taught me that just because I cannot see delusions and hallucinations don't mean they are not real. They have taught me the feelings of real compassion for another human when they cannot help themselves.  They have taught me that family is not always the safest people for them to live with or to trust. At times families hurt family members deeper than a stranger does.

I confess – my life has been changed by a mental insane person. Just think it could be you.

Angela Brooks is a leading distributor of Young Living Essential Oils. Dedicated to natural health solutions, Brooks provides people with healing alternatives without harsh side effects. Additionally, Brooks is a mental health nurse committed to bringing mental happiness to the nursing profession by motivating and supporting nurses around the country. 




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