Things my psych patients have taught me

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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19 thoughts on “Things my psych patients have taught me”

  1. Angela, you'd be crazy to not dislike those things.(that makes me smile to say…)  I'm so glad you are there with these people – the people you see as individuals, the people you are helping. Not just "taking care of" or medicating or handling. You SEE each one.

  2. Carol Douthitt

    I love how you demonstrate that Everyone Has Value by trying to get to know the person behind the chart.  You are a very talented, gifted and caring nurse and I'm sure deep down your clients sense they are safe with you.

  3. This post makes me think of all the parents who start out prepared to "teach" their children about life only to find their biggest lessons come from their children! Great post as always! Thanks for being YOU!

  4. You probably have one of the most difficult jobs there is; my sister has been in and out of the mental hospital….very, very difficult…..Thanks for all the insight!!

  5. Love you Angela, you are a wonderful nurse for looking at your patients as persons, wanting to reach and understand them, and not just what the chart says. That is a difficult job, and I applaud you for expressing your feelings here. Hugs

  6. Really interesting article, Angela. 'Seek first to understand and then be understood' is a quote that springs to mind when reading your article.

  7. Angela, great post and I feel like I am getting the "scoop" behind the scenes.  Love the realness–only way to be!

  8. Angela, I so appreciate your approach that addresses the whole person and not just the part of them that needs medical attention.  That holistic approach as a health care provider not only shows the patients you care for much more dignity and respect but will absolutely help them to heal.  Great post!

  9. Pingback: The Royal Wedding Captures the Attention of a Nurse

  10. Great perspective. This is why when I’m asked; how I’m doing? I respond; “I would have to make something up to complain. No matter how bad my day is, I know someone is having a tougher day than me. Over 35 years responding to 911 calls taught me this.

    May God Bless, Guide & Protect You,

  11. All of us Psych Nurses have the sames concerns and more, although few of us put them so well.  I’ve got another one: folks who work in Psych with little apparent interest or motivation for it.  We all have bad days, but I’ve known some staff members at various facilities over the years who abuse the system worse than any patient: they hide in the office and avoid work whenever possible, day after day, year after year, positively hostile to Psych except as a source of steady easy income. 

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