At 4am as I walk down the same hallway that I have walked up and down thousands of time my mind's eye begins to think about the many events that had taken place in the different corners among the faces, nursing staff and patients.
Each place on the hall has an event that took place that reminded me of the good and the bad. The room that is rarely used any more called the "seclusion room" sits quickly with the door shut and locked. The bare mattress without a sheet or bed spread leans alone against the wall cold and uninviting. The mirror that hangs in the top corner of the room next to the ceiling no longer looks over someone standing on the inside peering out through the peep hole in the 4 inch thick wooden door. When I look at the door, I can hear voices of the past screaming, and cursing.The pounding sounds on the door screams of anger, and confusion, from the illness that captured the person.
The seclusion room …
The "back porch", known as the smoking area that is no longer used for smoking. The conversations that took place over morning coffee watching the sun rise for the day. The sliding of the iron chairs that screech across the concrete floor. Not every morning was quiet – not every cigarette smoked was enjoyed. The porch was a place where fights would begin for those that did not have cigarettes and wanted to smoke, but could not. The porch was a place people met to exchange sexual favors, pills not swallowed, and money for contraband items.
The porch ….
When I turned to go back down the hall passing the shower room reminded me of the many patients that used the private time not just to shower and refresh the soul but to place harm on themselves thinking, staff were not looking. The young lady who took the inside of an ink pen and began threading it under her skin, the young lady who ran a full tub of water in the claw feet shaped tub with plans to submerge herself to far. Once again staff watching over her removed her from the tub safely. The tubs are no longer used and the knobs that turn the water on have been removed for safety after one patient successful drown – whether she did it on her own or another patient did the deed for her…no one will ever know.
The shower room….
The recreation area or "the TV room" holds lots of laughter and smiles as we sang Christmas carols with churches that came to visit in the holiday season, laughter over the movies watched with popcorn and juices, a place to sit and fill the empty stomachs with three meals a day, a room to listen as the treatment team give their view on a patients treatment and when discharge from the hospital is possible ….or not.
The TV room…
When I stepped on these halls for the very first time I was 23 years old. I had my own issues of being freshly divorced, biter at the hand that life had handed me…or that I had dealt myself. Young and wet behind the ears as a nurse I walked like I was six foot tall, in reality only 5'7 (and 1/2 don't forget the half). I was body building at the time and thought physical strength was all that I needed to work in that environment. I learned so much from the mentally ill, and now I have more to offer the world than I ever would have without them. I healed along with them – I grew up – I became a nurse that listened with compassion and able to feel their pain and see the anger in their face.
Becoming a nurse…
The walls, that holds the memory for thousands of patients and past employees …if they could talk. What would they say? Would they laugh, cry; be angry for the things that happened inside their corners. The strength of the paint, which keeps the walls from talking and fills the cracks. The memories fade fast for some but not the ones that once walked under that roof.
The fear that fills the community with the words "mental illness" – what they do not know is part of their community that lives day to day with mental illness stands right next to them on their jobs, sits by them in churches and drives down the same highways as they do.
Oh yesteryear, where did you go? It seems like only yesterday.
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.