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So here I am working my seventh day in a row again. Something funny happens to the human brain when it is over-tired and over-worked. Especially since it is 12:30 in the morning (the beginning of my 8 hour shift) and I just worked 8 hours ago. I woke up believing it was a completely different day… but no…The days just keep drawing on… the last no different than the next.
However, working a residential shift at a house for older individuals with severe mental illness IS completely different than my usual day shift at a community mental health center. I no longer have the “happy,” bouncy co-workers to fill the quietness that is deafening after leaving a stressful appointment with a suicidal, always-in-crises-mode client. I am completely staff-less. I am now with 12 people, living in THEIR home, controlling access to THEIR “let’s–hope-I-can-be-normal-for-a-few-hours” meds, and dealing with THEIR crises…alone.
Between making breakfast (and we all know there is no way 12 people will agree on the same meal), handing out meds in 12 different rooms from 12 different lock-boxes, and mediating some crazy fight that happened between a resident and their voices, it is safe to say that I am pretty well worn.
During the short hours of sleep I managed to squeeze in between shifts, I had a dream. Once again, I dreamed I MYSELF was developing schizophrenia. The odd thing is, unlike the majority of people, I am always aware that I am going crazy. I KNOW that my feet producing balls of paper in my sock is not normal. I KNOW that a TV is not talking to me when it is off (although I swear that was not a dream), and the scariest realization of all is that I KNOW I am going crazy. I wake up with relief that none of these things are true. But then- something happens… my over-tired and over-worked brain starts to think of how nice it would be if I had a counselor come to my house and relieve my worries. How nice it would be if someone did the grocery shopping for me. How nice it would be if the State paid (what little they pay) for me to live off of. And how nice it would be if I had someone to cook, clean, and take me out on weekly events.
Then it hits me- there is something wrong with MY brain if I am wishing to be in this position that my very own clients are in. I have truly and utterly lost my mind if I am wishing to be in their shoes…
…so let’s just hope I can make it through the night without losing any more of my sanity…
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is all said in humours, yet very true, compassion. I love my clients and I love my job)