Sunday, May 20, 2007

No One Died On My Watch...That I Know Of...

It was an extremely busy evening at my work today as you can probably tell by the hour of this posting (2:30AM)...I am just getting home after about 10 hours of "helping" people. At least I'd like to think I helped SOMEONE today anyway...

So much of the work that I do is surrounded in secrecy, privacy law, and simple social taboo...I work with mentally ill folks, after all. And even though the days of "lunatics" (mental illness was thought to be brought on by the full moon or lunar cycles) and the "ship of fools" (when the mentally ill used to be cast out on a ship to sea and simply forgotten) are only read about in Psych 101 text books as history, there is STILL so much mystery, apprehension, and even FEAR regarding the mentally ill. Mostly because I believe we do not understand and cannot comprehend or rationalize mental illness in simple terms...and many fear at any moment they could be afflicted with it...it is human nature to fear that which we do not understand.


In July of this year, I will have worked in the mental health field for 21 years...it seems like such a very long time, and yet, there is still so much I do not know and have yet to learn about my practice and my patients. I have no simple understanding of mental illness to impart upon anyone...and yet, I feel I have learned to "understand" mental illness in terms most would never comprehend.


For instance, it is NOT the mentally ill that I personally fear...but instead, I have great apprehension about those who think of themselves as "normal" because there is NO such thing when it comes to the mind and human nature. We tend to live by social "norms", but even these preset societal beliefs change and become outdated or "abnormal". All one needs to do to witness this fact first hand is to turn on your TV and watch a program from the 1970's and then catch a clip of a show airing or filmed in 2007...1970 appears very "not the norm" to our world/society today.


I often wonder (and have even written about it in the past here) how my life, my mind, my beliefs, my socialization might have been different had I chosen a DIFFERENT line of work or profession? Had I become a traditional house wife or computer programmer or school teacher...what would my world view be today had I NOT seen the side of mental illness and human nature that I view on a daily basis? I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on this issue, but it does lend me pause at times to "wonder"...


I believe in a very simplistic, dualistic manner of thinking flowers DO grow out of s#!+ (fertilizer) and I have seen a LOT of "fertilizer" in my job. Because I am often placed in the center of this "fertilizer" pile, I believe I have grown a greater appreciation for the "flowers" of the world...sometimes I have to search for them, but the "flowers" are always there somewhere...pushing up out of the s#!+, budding, and blooming.


I don't know why there is mental illness in our world...I don't know why many of the tragedies and sorrows exist. But I DO know why I am here and why I have BEEN here today...after 10, long and fairly difficult hours, dealing with a variety of "events" in others lives, I have been here to bear witness to someone's story...to be present in another person's life...to accept them, to care for them briefly, and to let them go. Believing that I have somehow made a difference and taken notice of a tiny "flower" covered in fertilizer...


And so it goes...I promise when I am less tired tomorrow, I will return to my ever-sarcastic and violently humorous self...really...seriously...LOL

11 comments:

Steve said...

I worked as an SSI case manager for a few years. Dealing with mental illness daily, I can appreciate your thoughts. I've always admired anyone working in the medical field. You do something I couldn't and I admire you for it.

As a veteran, I worry about the men and women returning from Iraq. We're letting them down as a nation as we see so many returning who will never be the same physically or mentally. We're underfunding the VA, crippling it's ability to help these people. It's easy to feel empathy for the one's who have lost an arm or a leg, or have bled. But thousands and thousands are returning with wounds that aren't immediately visible.

BRAINCHEESE said...

STEVE:

"We" as a nation haven't even begun to take care of VIETNAM Vets mental health crisis, let alone those who served in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq I, OR Iraq II!!!

There is an estimated 100+ Veterans living in the WOODS on south I-5, homeless, and without their basic needs being met...many have PTSD or other mental illnesses. I cannot even begin to fathom the numbers of Vets coming home from Iraq NOW who will be faced with having given, not only BODY PARTS for this war, but their own mental health in trade of "service to their country".

Thank YOU for serving in the capacity you have...and thank YOU for being concerned about this crisis.

LD

Have myelin? said...

My hubby's a Vet. I want to SCREAM at those who don't want to support our troops, mentally, physically and emotionally. But that's another topic.

Linda, do you have folks that are mentally ill from thyroid disorders? Reason I ask is my Dr. told me she's had patients committed because of thyroidcrazoiditis. LOL! I've come close.. ARGH. I'm now returning to some sense of normalcy for once.

I think...heh.

BRAINCHEESE said...

HAVE MYELIN:

We see every aspect of mental illness...from "pure" brain disorder to drug-induced and biochemical imbalances. Thyroid can be tricky, but most ER's/doctors are capable of running a thyroid panel to rule it out first...often there are many other symptoms of hyper/hypo thyroid besides the "crazies". And unfortunately, we DO have to commit people who are medically ill as the cause of their psychiatric problems because they have lost all rational judgment to get the help they need themselves...because of their medical disorder.

Glad you are doing/feeling better...heh? LOL

LD

harkoo said...

Master Medical Person--i have noticed in reading the blogs of people with MS that alot of us seem to have throid problems. My nursing years were long ago-so could you explain the medical connection if there is one? Certainly both conditions create emotional changes and i have had some crazy times!

adina said...

hehehe!! crazy times ?? i call it Monday, Tuesday , Wednesday....LOL

Have myelin? said...

harkoo, my Neuro told me one out of six folks with MS have thyroid issues.

Of COURSE I'm one of the six.

I wonder where all the nutty thyroid patients go to "flake out". LOL. I hope I never get that close to going crazy again.

harkoo said...

Linda, more of your expertise: I have have thyroid problems as well as the MS. Are the thyroid illnesses autoimmune also? Do these types of illnesses cluster together in a pattern? Do you know if women have more thyroid problems than men with ms? Another hormone connection? Certainly they have investigated that link?

BRAINCHEESE said...

HARKOO/JOYCE:

I'll try, my dear...and what I don't know, I'll just make up! How's that sound?!? LOL

LD

BRAINCHEESE said...

ADINA:

Just another day in "paradise", eh?!?

LD

BRAINCHEESE said...

HAVE MYELIN/SHERRY:

Well, I hear that people with thyroid disease who get the "crazies" go to a much nicer "nut house" than the general population...that's just the rumor on the streets though. LOL

Seriously...most thyroid disorders are fairly easily diagnosed and VERY treatable. But if you feel like you need a "nut house", you can come stay with me for awhile until the "roid" stabilizes...I DO need a cat wrangler these days. LMAO

LD