Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Last Week of Mental Health

Well, the last clinical day of mental health has come and gone.  It was a relatively quiet day, made more somber because we watched a video clip of Amanda Todd.

My teacher wanted to talk with us about how we felt about the video.  He talked with us about how suicide is not so much a choice as an illness.  Sometimes people with seemingly perfect lives will still commit suicide.  Of course in Amanda's case, that was not true, but he wanted us to understand that there was a lot going on when someone takes their life and that it's a tragedy.  We debriefed about the video and how felt like we, as part of the system, had failed her.  Some of my classmates cried.

It was nice to be able to talk as a group about the video because it's all over the Internet.  The video stirs up a lot of strong feelings.  Since we are working in mental health, it gave us some perspective on what could happen to some of our clients when they leave.  It's very sad.
A Heavy Burden to Carry
I went back to the ward feeling a bit low.  When I sat down with one of the patients and he told me he was there because he tried to commit suicide, I felt a bit frustrated.  I wished that I could possibly instill some hope in him so that he wouldn't follow through later on.  I feel like the nurses on a mental health ward have a heavy burden to carry.  I know it's not their fault when a patient commits suicide later on, but you can't help but feel that it's somehow your fault too.  It just hurts inside.

The Pros and Cons of Mental Health
My favourite part of mental health is that there is a lot of time to talk with the patients.  You have time to hear their stories, and you have time to build a bond.  It's a nice change from other wards like Medicine or Surgery where you're bustling around non-stop.

The downside of mental health is that you get close enough to the clients to feel their pain.  If you don't take good care of yourself, you'll start to hurt too.  I think it's something about being a nurse and putting ourselves into their shoes in order to understand them better.  Sometimes you put their shoes on and you walk out of the hospital still wearing them.
Pediatrics Next
Next rotation is pediatrics.  I'm looking forward to working with kids, but boy am I going to ache when the little ones don't do well!  Somehow though, it's seems easier to cope with medical illness than mental illness. There's less stigma, less fear of the patients, and wounds are visible.
Mental Illness is Everywhere
One thing that I'll always have to remember though is that mental health patients are everywhere. Just because someone is on another ward doesn't mean that they are psychologically okay.  I will still encounter depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, suicidal patients, and other mental illnesses.  They get sick too.

I guess the good thing is that I have more understanding and compassion for these patients now.  I'm not as scared of them anymore, and I know that a little talking and caring can go a long way to helping them heal inside and out.

I wonder if I'll ever work in mental health one day?  I guess I wouldn't rule it out.  Despite it all, I still do carry some satisfaction in some of the interactions and conversations I had on the mental health ward.  Who knows what good we can do when we put a little effort and love into it?  The least we can do is try.

Have a fantastic weekend!

P.S. - Those are some new dog paintings that I made when I was taking breaks!  It's my first time painting dogs, but definitely not my last!
My Nursing School Diary

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