Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sometimes it just isn't funny.

There are just some nights in the crisis unit that make me want to shower.

A lot of our clients live what could be considered scummy lives. They are homeless. They don't bathe or care for themselves. They just don't have the means or ability to improve their situation.

Most of them, however, try to live decent lives. They aren't criminals. They are just suffering from an illness that prevents them from functioning at a level that society deems 'normal'.

We help them with that.

I like that part of my job. I like those clients. They are the reason I love what I do.

However, there are some clients who are just not living decent lives. They are criminals. They do scummy things.

Really scummy things.

We have to put that aside though and treat them with dignity and respect.

No matter what names they call us. No matter what they threaten to do to us. No matter how disgusted we may be with the scummy things they choose to do.

Sometimes it is really hard to put judgement aside and be objective. Sometimes my skin crawls. Sometimes my stomach turns. Sometimes I get scared. Sometimes I feel threatened. Sometimes I just want to scream. Sometimes I just want to cry.

Most of the time, all I can do is try and laugh.

It may sound callous. It may sound cold.

It is just survival.

When you do what I do, you have to find a way to do it that won't kill you. You have to find a way to cope so you can put the scummy stuff behind you and move on to the next client in need.

If you can't do that, you won't make it.

You just won't.

I've learned that the hard way.

I have learned to find the humor in those imaginary butterflies that are telling one client to shave her head. Or the little old lady who propositions the cute male nurse. Or the delusional client who is convinced that you are trying to steal her underwear.

Finding a way to laugh about these things makes it that much easier to deal with the scummy things.

Tonight, I'm having trouble finding the humor in the scummy things I've had to deal with over the past two shifts.

That's why it's 1am and I'm watching Bravo. I'm trying to immerse myself in juicy reality television so I don't have to go to bed with visions of scummy stuff dancing through my head.

This job is rarely ever easy. Sometimes it's downright grueling.

I just Thank God for giving me the patience, courage and understanding to be able to do it. Even on the hardest days, I know I'm doing what I was meant to do.

That gets me through the rough days. And the sleepless nights.

That and mindless television in the wee hours of the morning.


  1. You are definitely blessed with more patience than most. Everyone can't compartmentalize the bad stuff. Everyone can't set aside judgement. Everyone can't treat those who break the laws we value with respect and dignity. Everyone can't hide the repulsion on their face and in their hearts. But, YOU CAN.

    Thank you for being that person. Mental illness affects so many, and they are often forgotten.

  2. A serious post? I never thought I would see tha day!

    I give you so much credit for doing what you do - I don't think it's something I could do.

    There's not much I can say to make you feel better because I don't know what it's like - I think I'm acutally speechless (take a picture because this NEVER happens).

    Well all I can say is thanks for being there for me through my dark month of september - I'm back and feeling good about the rest of the year. Thank you.

  3. I always worry about how mental health workers protect their own mental health.

    I'm glad that you're able to do the work you do and have been able to compartmentalize (though someone somewhere will say that it's unhealthy). I think everyone in the medical field learns to do that on some level.

  4. You are amazing. I hope you know that. <3

  5. I'm glad you get to see the good as well as the bad, it would be easy to become so cynical about those don't even try. I applaud you, my cycnicism would get the best of me.-Mismaelstrom


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