Is it really spring?

The calendar says that spring started a couple of days ago. I am not convinced. My emotions are just a dreary as the the long, cold, bitter winter we experienced this year.

I am not even sure where I want to head with this post. I’ve been trying to write for the past few days and just haven’t been able to do so.

I started therapy. I had my first “real” session this week and my assignment is to ponder my relationships – if I want more or have I settled for how things are? This stems from my statement that I do not think that I will ever get married and that I will likely be alone/lonely after my last child leaves the house (he’s 9 and 1/2 now). Yes, I technically have people in my life that I would consider friends, but none of them are really “deep” relationships. We hangout out and have a good time, they celebrate my joyous moments and encourage me, but I don’t trust them to be there when I need them.

For example, I’m have a really difficult time right now emotionally and mentally (after something I saw on freaking Facebook, ugh). I attempted to call one person, they didn’t answer, so I have turned my phone off, making myself unavailable. Is that fair? Probably not, but at this point I don’t want to be bothered. I have someone else I could call but they don’t/won’t understand so I don’t feel like being patronized or told to “get over it.” But enough about that.

I FINALLY purchased my books to begin studying for the certified diabetes educator exam. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I know that it will benefit me and the work I am striving to do within my community, I just do not do well on big exams (and it costs a nice piece of change).

I am excited that I get to start teaching another diabetes prevention cohort on April 1st. I have to travel about 30 miniutes to Jefferson City, but I am willing to go where the need is. I have also made some wonderful connections that will help my non-profit expand its reach in the community.

So why am I a total emotional wreck? I once again feel like I’m not good enough.

My birthday is in two days. I don’t even want to be around any one on my birthday. I have zero excitement about my birthday this year. I need to shake off this funk and focus on the positive things going on in my life. (If only it were that easy.) C’est la vie.

Mid-March Update

March has been a very unusual month for me and we are only halfway through it.

I have only worked ONE day since February 17th. One week was for a scheduled staycation. The remainder of time has been due to what started as a lower back injury due to rearranging my house, which later changed to sacroiliac joint (i.e. hip) pain. Due to the nature of my work (a bedside nurse), I have been restricted from working. Thankfully, I will get a needed injection next week and will hopefully be able to return to work without restrictions. I sure miss my coworkers and the patients that I have the privilege to care for.

In the meantime, I have been keeping myself busy with ways to make my nonprofit successful. I have a few (more) potential partnerships in the works. I had lunch with a wonderful member of the community who understands the trials of having a small non-profit organization and was given some tips on ways to raise funds. I have been preparing for a college health fair next week where we will have a booth to provide information about our programs. I was interviewed by a journalism student to discuss the work that I do with my nonprofit. I am excited that the name of the organization is starting to be mentioned in our community a little more. We are working hard on brand awareness.

I have also started classes in my new degree program, public health. I am enjoying the content of the class thus far, although I despise having a group project.

I have continued working with my life coach. I think I have cried at least once in each of the sessions. After a couple of very stressful situations trying to find a therapist, I had my first appointment with a psychiatrist today. It wasn’t too heavy since it was more focused on what I want to gain from my therapy sessions. I have my first “real” session next week, so I will definitely share my thoughts afterwards. I have continued working on one of my bad habits/obsessions and happy that I am slowly making progress.

I have enjoyed the amount of time that I have been able to spend with my 9 year old son. I have missed our mother-son dates. He may be getting tired of seeing me every day, but I am loving it. I feel comfortable with some of the changes that I have made because I know that I am providing a better life for the both of us. I still have a lot of work to do and progress to make, but I am going to enjoy each and every day and quit taking things for granted.

Movie date with my son

Mental Health & Our Youth

I volunteered to pick up a shift as a sitter for the pediatric unit over the weekend.  Usually when I sit, it’s for a suicide attempt and/or overdose patient.  Sadly, I am no longer shocked by the number of patients we would see in a week for this.  However, the patient that I was sitting with was in for seizure monitoring.  To make this story short, the patient needed more assistance than seizure monitoring.  After the parent’s not liking the information that the doctor’s gave them, they decided they wanted to leave AMA (against medical advice).  Which I thought was weird because they had just agreed to the treatment plan.  So then things got really awkward because the patient is mouthing “Help me” and “this is what I deal with everyday” while the mom is on a rant.  I asked to be relieved so I could relay this information to the doctors and nurse caring for the patient.  Luckily, they eventually agreed to having the patient evaluated by a psychologist, but it took some work to get to that point.

The point of that story was to provide some insight into the challenges that health care providers face when it comes to getting assistance for our youth.  I was able to talk to the patient while the parents were out of the room and some of the things that were shared broke my heart and I wanted to do all that I could to make sure they obtained the assistance needed.  Psychiatric issues run on both sides of the family but the family was more concerned with being able to get back home than getting their child the care that was needed.

This isn’t the first time I have witnessed a family not willing to acknowledge that there is a potential for psychiatric reasons for the behavior or they are in denial.  I have witnessed a mother and daughter joking about the daughter’s admission for cutting herself again.  I did not see what was funny about the situation.  We have had to prevent family members from visiting patients because they would get the patient upset because they did not want to accept a diagnosis.  I have had patients tell me that they will attempt suicide again if they have to go back home with their family.  I literally cried when I walked out of that room because I knew it was an unsafe environment and I feared that one of her attempts would be eventually be successful.

Being a child is so much harder it seems than when I was growing up.  While there is more awareness about mental health, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.  There are so many children who are attempting to kill themselves and it is often chalked up to “attention seeking”.  Which in some cases that may be true, but there are may children out there who genuinely want to die for a multitude of reasons and often their home life is the reason but they have no one they can confide in or who believes them when they try to explain the way that they feel and the thoughts they are having.

I used to want to be a social worker but quickly realized that was not the field for me because I would have a hard time taking work home with me.  I want to save as many children as I can but unfortunately I would not be able to and would have to send kids back to places that I knew were not safe for them.  Not to say that being a nurse is any easier.  There have been many parents I have wanted to shake some sense into but cannot or prevent them from being able to take their child home because they were too selfish to really see what was going on with their child.

Ignoring the symptoms and behaviors of mental illness is not going to make the issue go away.  Pretending that it doesn’t exist does not mean that it will go away.  Ignoring only leads to finding ways to self-medicate which often is unsafe for the person and possibly for those around them.  More needs to be done to treat mental illness and it should be taking place at as early an age as possible.

Mental Health Problem? Yeah, right.

As a nurse, while I work on a primarily medical-surgical unit, I still have to deal with patients who have mental health issues, because as you can guess, one cannot separate themselves at will from their mental health issues.  One of the problems with mental health is there are typically no outside signs of the disease because it’s primarily internal.  I am by no means a psych expert and am trying to learn more about this area.

I have struggled with anxiety and depression for over 10 years.  This post was triggered by an episode I had over the weekend.  It took me by surprise because it should have been a happy time in my life.  My son’s football banquet was on Sunday and he earned a varsity letter and I was ecstatic.  We got news that he got accepted to one of the colleges that he applied to.  Again, I was happy (despite that not being my first choice of colleges for him).  But I got home and had that gnawing sharp pain in my chest that I am all too familiar with – I was having an anxiety attack.  But why?  That’s what I seem to ask myself most of the time because I genuinely do not know what I am subconsciously stressing about.  There are high stress times that I have my anxiety attacks and I can usually get out of it a lot faster.  When I don’t know the cause, like this past weekend, it lasts a day or so dealing with breath-taking intense chest pain, fear of going to sleep, and praying it doesn’t turn into a migraine.  Then I’m completely drained for a few days afterwards.

Here’s my back story.  A year or so after I had my first child, I kept feeling like I was having a hard attack, which then made me paranoid to fall asleep, thinking I might die in my sleep and my son would be all alone.  After several trips to the emergency room and have EKGs and stress test done and being treating for heartburn, it was determined that I was experiencing panic/anxiety attacks.  The solution – anxiety meds.  So, fast forward to the present, I still struggle with my anxiety and depression.  Add in there a component of OCD – I get fixated on things and it is a struggle to force my brain to quit thinking about it, which adds to my frustration.

Over all the years I have dealt with this, not once has a doctor suggested a psychiatrist or psychologist.  I have met with counselors in the past that I have found to be ineffective or a waste of my time, but I probably really do need to talk to someone.  I’ve been on and off meds over the years, currently off them, as I feel like I don’t need them all the time.  Writing is a healthy/safe outlet for me, as I can share exactly how I am feeling and not be judged for the way I feel or perceive things.  I am often obsessed with what others think of me. Since I was a little girl, I have always felt unloved/unlovable, never felt like I was good enough, and wishing I had never been born.  While I have never attempted suicide, I sure have felt like it was the best option as I felt like my children would be better off without me and that no one would even notice I was gone.  While I know that is not true, it doesn’t stop the thoughts.

I have posted all of this because no matter how hard I try to keep it together, I don’t have it all together.  As a nurse, I always encourage my patients to seek the help they need, which at times is difficult because when there are budget cuts, mental health services are often the first to get cut.  I wish there was a magic pill that would cure mental health diseases but unfortunately, that will likely never happen.  In the meantime, I just hope that society would be more understanding that people who have mental health issues are not attention seeking and that they can’t always put a smile on their face and act like everything is okay.  Some days it is a chore to get out of the bed and try to function as a “normal” person.  I hope that we can quit being so quick to judge.  Even if you don’t understand what someone is experiencing, being available to listen sometimes makes a world of difference.