I have been perplexed about something I witnessed today and feel as though I did not do my due diligence.
I had a work conference in the middle of downtown, right by a local ferry terminal. I was driving home from the conference, kinda on what would be considered “skid row” in this area. I looked over to my right as I drive past this condensed, small, somewhat sketchy area. I observed a man with long blonde, matted hair, wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt in the middle of summer. He was wearing a pair of socks; no shoes.
I recognized him as being a former patient of my work place, the adult inpatient unit. My gut feeling was to pull over and buy him food or at least offer him a ride to his destination. I recall him being a very kind and patient individual. Very polite when he requested food or drinks at my workplace. Was troubled by his demons; often muttering conversations under his breath that he had with them as he paced the unit. I was always very sincere and light when I spoke with him because he seemed to be intimidated by nearly everyone despite him being much larger than I. He grew to the point where he would come up to me to request certain items rather than other staff. I often looked at his face with empathy when we interacted. I think he grew fond of me.
Next shift I worked, he had been discharged and to my knowledge, had somewhere to go. That was three weeks ago.
My assumption is that he was walking to the nearby shelter, or at least, that is what I hoped for him. Who knows what his discharge plan entailed considering he was on the streets wearing unit clothing and possessed no shoes or carried anything else on his person.
I should have gone back, I should have turned around.
I would have lost my job had I helped him though but this feeling, I feel now, is worse than termination ever could be for doing the right thing. Here we are, at a mental facility, supposedly helping people and rehabilitating them. These folks have nothing when they come in or when they come out. They are left with the clothes on their backs and a discharge notice and hopefully a prescription for their new or adjusted medications. Essentially we are a pit stop; we are the ones to take in the most emotionally neglected and vulnerable population, yet we are leaving some of these folks worse off than where they began at.
That doesn’t sit well with me.
The lack of empathy and lack of personal accountability that possesses some of my colleagues truly does appall me. “Oh, well he/she’s not my client, I can’t help them!” “They are just psychotic or abuse substances, there is no help for them….” We are supposedly this multi faceted team with skills, traits, and abilities to empathize with these populations yet our rhetoric, our conceitedness, our lack of giving a shit about the long term effects of our “treatment” does the exact opposite of rehabilitating these clients. But most say, “Oh, they aren’t my/our problem anymore…onto the next one!”
We have not only a legal obligation to detain clients when they are a danger to self or others, but an ethical and moral obligation to provide the resources for our clients to succeed. Sure, a certain individual’s acuity can decrease over the course of their inpatient stay, get on some meds, and pray for the best. But that doesn’t provide them stable housing, food, water, utilities, employment, relationships, a sense of independence and freedom; our God given rights as human beings! Some of these clients are thrown out on the streets as we, as clinicians, hope for the best that they acquire the resources that they need.
I have worked over 70 working hours over the course of seven days between my two jobs. The exhaustion is getting to me. Not to mention university online starts in about a week and a half. My interstitial cystitis is either flaring terribly, or I have a kidney infection. It took everything in my power not to go to the ER due to pain. I now have my urology appointment early Wednesday morning to assess the situation. This flank, back, kidney, pelvic, and abdominal pain occurred suddenly Sunday night while I was at work. When I clocked off, I immediately paced to my car to sob my eyes out because I was in so much pain I could hardly move. Tuesday will end my 70+ hour work week and thank goodness I am not doing anything too strenuous because I have such strong urgency, pain, and discomfort.
I think my bipolar disorder is getting bad again. I can’t stop thinking about how I deserve to be in the pain I am in. I feel those destructive tendencies bubbling up inside of me. I am trying to disassociate and detach from my feelings and myself but it’s almost like asking for a piece of you to leave your body; it can’t be done.
I think that’s enough fo tonight’s post. Stay tuned for more updates and up and coming blog posts.