The title of my entry will most likely be a line from whatever song I’m listening to. I can’t seem to write unless I have my headphones on, having no sense of what’s going on around me seems to keep me calm and focused.
I’ve never exactly been able to explain my job to anyone I know, some of the crazy shit I see day after day. All the times I come home stressed, I want to get all of it off my chest. But the thing is, everyone has a different job and unless we have the same job, we don’t know what that person goes through everyday. We don’t know what they have to deal with, or how stressful their job is.
Most of the patients that get admitted are there for psychological reasons and the other ones are there to detox (usually from heroin or alcohol). There is a constant tug-of-war that goes on in the addiction world. Part of the problem is that addiction is not easily categorized. It has biological, psychological, social, behavioral and even spiritual implications caused by people feeling deficient in one area or another. Personally, I have never gone through any kind of withdrawal, so when I have a patient that is detoxing it is very difficult for me to relate to them. I try to understand the pain they’re going through, but it’s just not the same and we just have to let them go through it.
I had this patient, we’ll call him John (for HIPPA purposes), I will never ever forget this kid. I don’t think I was working the day he got admitted, but the day I met him, he seemed like a nice guy who was just depressed and detoxing, feeling hopeless. As his stay grew longer, he became worse. Actually, now that I’m typing this, I don’t even remember if he was detoxing from anything, so that kind of defeats the purpose of telling this story but I’ll continue anyways. He became vulgar and inconsiderate of his surroundings, including the staff. In this hospital, we do safety checks, considering on the patients safety, they are placed on either 5 or 15 minutes safety checks. Part of my role as an MHS is to carry a clipboard with safety check sheets, going into the patients rooms to check on them during these times. John was on 5 minute checks, due to a history of multiple suicide attempts. I walked into his room and he was lying on the bed with his hand on his chest. I asked “are you okay?” he nodded his head yes and something seemed off. I asked him “what’s on your chest?” he replied, “my hand”. I started to walk out of his room but something told me to stop and check on him again because I just wasn’t convinced that he was okay by the way he sounded. I went back to his bed and asked him to remove his hand from his chest and he refused. I got close enough to see that he had ripped off a piece of his t-shirt and had it tied around his neck. The closer I got, the tighter he pulled the t-shirt. The look he had in his eyes, I’ll never forget; I’ve never seen someone so determined to take their own life. We always carry walkie talkies on our person, in case things like this happen, and this time I didn’t have one with me. I’m standing next to his bed trying to get my fingers in between the t-shirt and his neck, I couldn’t believe this was happening. I’m screaming at the top of my lungs for help, I run out of his room and finally get another MHS to help me. One of the nurses ran in with a pair of scissors and I was able to cut the t-shirt off his neck. He was blue. He started searching for anything else he could use. The nurses and the doctor kept saying “you don’t want to do this, you don’t want to end your life”. In a split second, he whipped out of his bed and started throwing things in his room and punching walls. He started to attack the staff. I’m still in shock from what had just happened, I’m standing outside his room watching all of this happen and it just felt like an outer body experience. I felt like I wasn’t even there, I could see what was happening but I couldn’t bring myself to move.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget about this incident, or the way he looked at me.
Please: if you’re reading this and if you are at all thinking about hurting yourself or having any kind of suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s 24/7, free and confidential. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
You need to hear that people do get through this – even people who feel as badly as you are feeling now. Statistically, there is a very good chance that you are going to live. I hope that this information gives you some sense of hope. People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain. Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it. You will not feel the relief you so desperately seek, if you are dead.
“If you’ve ever doubted yourself, walk deep into any forest. Notice how the trees still stand even thought they are given no recognition. Walk along any stream. The water still flows, though no one stops to praise it. Watch the stars late at night; they shine without acknowledgment. Humans are just the same. We are made out of the same elements as these beautiful wonders. Always remember your beauty and self worth.”