Hello beautiful people,
October is Mental Health Month.
On a professional level, as a nurse, to me this means promoting good mental health, making sure people take the time out to let go of stress, relax, unwind, clear your thoughts and enjoy life for a moment. Reflect on where you are in life and whether or not you are in fact happy and experiencing good mental health. Mental Health Month also means promoting understanding and awareness for those in the community that live daily with Mental Illness.
The emergency department is often a place where those who are experiencing a mental health breakdown will present for treatment. Often these patients present scared, paranoid even, delusional, timid, aggressive, intoxicated and possibly even physically injured through self harm or assault. Plain as day these patients present in an incredibly vulnerable state!! I would like now to be a timely reminder to health-care workers to self reflect and remember your commitment to provide non-judgemental, compassionate, professional care!! And if you feel you are burnt out and cannot cope with a patient that is experiencing a mental health breakdown, then for your own mental healths sake, step aside and let one of your colleagues take over!! I feel disheartened when a patient with a mental illness who has self harmed or is paranoid and non-compliant is being judged by health care workers!! If you cant provide holistic care then don’t be there!! A person may appear to you as someone aggressive and yes you need to protect yourself however imagine how terrified they must be feeling to be reacting in such an inappropriate way. Mental Illness is just that, its an illness, they are sick and need help they do not choose to have these feelings, thoughts or behaviours, they are not well!! Its pretty rare that someone would consciously make the decision to behave in a paranoid, inappropriate way or self harm.
Anyway I’m no mental health expert, in fact I must confess that I find it confronting too at times, however more so because I feel sad at my lack of understanding of mental illness. There is just so much to know and sometimes the person that knows the most is the person that has been living with it for years.
Today I was invited to the premiere of a community film called ‘Voices Speak, Lives Change’ it was the project of a group called ‘Working from the ground up’ initiative of Sydney University and University of New South Wales in a collaborative effort with various other groups. The film was shown at the Ritz cinema in Randwick.
The motivation behind the film was to promote, raise awareness and (hopefully) to initiate action/change in the challenges faced by people with Mental Health Issues living in Social Housing in the Eastern Suburbs. The movie interviewed and touched on the lives of thirty four volunteers/participants willing to share their lives and stories in a very personal way.
On a professional level I can distance myself from the emotional roller-coaster that may try and drag you into its thrilling ride of highs and lows, professionally I can resist the temptation.
On a personal level I will always love someone with Bi-polar………..
Mental Illness is like a cancer that wont go away, it can be treated but its laying dormant there under the skin, buried beneath the haze of medications, therapy and sometimes drugs and alcohol. Its not my area of expertise because I never wanted it to be.
I only want to know the person I love for who they are and not what their diagnosis is.
I know you and that is all I need to know, I know the highly intelligent, very artistic loving creative woman. I know the great cook, patient mother, loving, giving, self sacrificing soul. I know the poet, the song writer, the singer, the digital media producer, the ever creative being. I know you have Bi-polar and you don’t mind talking about it and of course neither do I, however you are so much more than just your diagnosis.
The movie was great and heart breaking at the same time, people in the community with mental illness who at times have felt vulnerable and powerless were given a voice!! They spoke of feeling lucky to live in such a nice area with beautiful beaches, they also spoke of feeling targeted and unsafe at times. This made me feel sad that people felt unsafe in their own homes because they are misunderstood. They requested community awareness about how their behaviour is sometimes out of their control and at times like this they need help not judgement.
Mental Health Month is not just about asking someone if they are okay or assessing them for a diagnosis, its about really reaching out to each other. To ensure you achieve good mental health yourself and to help others feel good and achieve and maintain good mental health too!!
For all that you do in our community as a volunteer to help others despite knowing at times you may need help yourself, for all your courage in promoting Mental Health Awareness, I will always be in awe of you!!
For all that you’ve been through and continue to go through, despite how weak you feel at times, you will always be one of the strongest people I know!!
People remember this, the neighbour crying out for help, the person on the bus next to you or the patient you are treating is someones family member. A grandparent, mother, father, sibling, aunt, uncle or cousin, someone somewhere loves them and though their behaviour may be challenging they should be treated with respect and afforded the same sense of self dignity as you and me. Please people remember don’t antagonise someone who is already mentally vulnerable.
Mental Health Month is about everybody being allowed to feel safe and happy in their own lives!!
For you sissy, love you dearly, remember when you use to sing this to me xoxoxox
Peace, Love and Happiness 🙂 xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox