How has it gone so far?
Poggles, My Coping Mechanism
I posted a picture of Poggy's fat bum because he's one of the main things keeping me sane lately. Fortunate for me, he has been especially friendly. He seems to be slowly warming up to gentle touches under his chin and occasionally letting me pet his back. These little successes give me joy.
Falling Behind, Feeling Inept
Meanwhile, in school I feel overwhelmed.
There is so much to read that I'm already behind, and I feel completely inept in dealing with this semester's focus which is on mental health. I feel like I don't know anything about how to care for people with mental health issues, and I'm scared that I'll do something wrong or say something wrong and hurt someone. Also, I'm filled with media and movie portrayals of crazy people killing other people so I'm actually scared of being in danger while I'm in clinical.
Am I in Danger?
I have been reassured that the patients are more in danger of being hurt by us than of harming us, but all the precautions seem to say otherwise. For instance, we are given personal protective alarms so that we can call for help and be easily located in case of an emergency on the ward, I was encouraged to spend time with the patient in the common areas instead of in the patient room because it is safer, and we have to make sure not to wear anything that could possibly be used as a weapon against us (ex. strings on a hoodie could be used to choke us).
Despite my anxiety at being in such a "scary" place with "scary" people, I actually enjoyed my first day on the psych ward. I met many patients and I got to listen to their stories, or spend time with them chatting and joking about normal things. It really surprised me. I expected to see something like out of the movies with people behaving erratically or dancing around in tutus (I'm exaggerating, but they did portray that in Ace Ventura), but I met real people instead that were just like me.
I don't want to sound pretentious or anything, but they told me stories that would make one's heart ache. Just when I thought their present life situation sounded pretty bad, I would read about their history and discover a lifetime of loss, loneliness, and traumatic events. I felt like there was so much heaviness in their stories. If I had to go through what they went through I don't know if I could have handled it either.
I have a lot to learn this semester. This is new territory for me and I know that I have a lot of misconceptions and naivety to push through. I wish and hope to do good, but at very least I wish to do no harm. I want so very much to help these people, but this seems very different from giving someone medication for high blood pressure or pain.
Have you ever cared for someone with mental illness? Do you have any tips for me?
I hope you have a good week!