In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mental Illness is like a Magnet in reverse

Magnets attract things. But it seems like mental illness has the opposite effect.

I've even experienced the distancing effect when in the past people have asked me what my job was and I've said that I was running a secured psychiatric facility. My next door neighbor who works as a quality assurance nurse for an insurance company, demonstrated a total lack of interest for my vocation when we first met and I was employed in mental health. But one day when she was over at my house for a neighborhood BBQ, and something came up and it came out that my actual license was as a Nursing Home Administrator (the long term care psychiatric facilities in California are licensed as skilled nursing facilities), it was as if I went up ten notches in her estimation. She even asked if she could ever have me consult on situations relating to geriatric care and regulations and standards, should the need arise. Currently, I'm unemployed; just a couple of days ago I told a friend that I've decided to venture out into the geriatric field. When I told my friend this, right away she gave me lots of positive input. She finished her praise and encouragement of this idea by saying that she always thought my work was just so filled with difficult people and hard situations!

In California the homeless population is large in urban areas and typically is comprised of three main groups: Mentally ill individuals, chemically dependent individuals, and normal people who have just had serious bad luck and are in a bad situation. I never cease to be amazed when I observe how people act as if the homeless folks they walk by do not even exist. A favorite author of mine, Brennan Manning, is an alcoholic. In his book "The Ragamuffin Gospel", Manning tells about a time when he was actively drinking and living on the street like a bum. He tells about one day when a little girl came up to him and seemed interested in him. When her mother saw that the girl was talking to him, she came over and pulled the child away whilst viciously kicking him; the result of which was broken ribs for Manning.

What about you, what have been your experiences with mentally ill people? Have you been drawn to, or repelled by, them?

8 comments:

RCUBEs said...

Honestly, I was scared at the beginning during my Psych rotation during my nursing school years. But that fear was replaced with compassion as I started seeing that they were in dire need of understanding, love and acceptance. In the jail, I don't like to work in UB part of it, not because I don't like them but because I've been an Ortho nurse for years and just don't have enough experience to handle any psych-related problems should it arise. This field is not easy but if you are knowledgeable, then, that's a different story. It sure does help when you talk about it here sometimes. Blessings to you sister.

Mike said...

I always have to fight avoiding people with mental disorders. I used to fear them, but as I meet more people I recognize their need for human interaction as well. I simply have to learn not to expect them to converse at my level...I have to step into their world and meet them on their level.

Thank God for people like you who have the ability and patience to do this kind of work.

jenny said...

although i shouldn't be frightened by them, i really do.:( some of wants to throw stones on people ..i ended up screaming:(

Being Me said...

You have a gift dealing with 'the difficult'. You always sound positive despite seeing what you have seen. You are strong, Tracy

Peace be with you.

BM

Tracy said...

Rcube - I'm so grateful that there are people like you who love God and are good nurses in the prison system. I have no doubt you have mentally ill people there who refuse their medication and you can't force them to take them so they end up being difficult for everyone (staff & inmates alike) to deal with.

Mike - You make a really good point about not expecting some people not to converse at your level, but needing to meet them where they are at.
It was really cool where I used to work because I connected with a hostage negotiation team from a couple of different Police districts and had them come out to our facility. The professional staff (psychologist, director of nursing, program director, myself) talked with them and I got a few patients to volunteer to talk with them. They said it really increased their understanding and gave them some insights into how to deal with mentally ill folks.

Jenny - it just goes to show what dark humor I have because I laughed when I read this. From your pictures and what I've read, you're such a sweetheart; and to think of someone throwing rocks at you - no wonder you were afraid!

Being Me - thanks for the kind remarks

Inge' said...

I don't think that I am afraid of mentally ill people. I am more afraid of saying or doing something that will trigger a "spell" as we used to call it down here in the south.

I am so bad to speak first, think later that I would never forgive myself if I caused emotional pain to someone that I knew was already in a fragile state of mind. Not to say that I would do it on purpose in the first place but I can be more blunt with those that I know can handle it.

photogr said...

I just have compassion for them but I don't have a clue how to help them so I usually am just pleasant to them.

Considering some of the nut cases we have loose on the streets today, we have to be careful in dealing with this group.

Deborah Ann said...

I have a great curiosity for all of God's creatures - especially the mentally ill. Because of some of my own situations, I go out of my way to love these people, because for the most part, they can't help the way they are, but they still deserve our love as much as the next guy!

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