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This is a Article on Mental-illness, Nursing & Me in General Articles About Nursing, part of General Nursing ... I have been an LPN for a year now. I've never been diagnosed with a mental illness; however, I...by sunflowerross Jan 4, '11I have been an LPN for a year now. I've never been diagnosed with a mental illness; however, I know there is something wrong with me. I'm one of the most 'normal' in my family so I've never felt the need to get help with my issues up until now.
"What is normal anyway--right!!!"
I come from a severely paranoid schizophrenic mother; as well, my sister has the same diagnosis. My grandfather, aunt, uncle as well as cousins have mental illnesses; such as: anxiety, depression, hoarding, bipolar, etc. I have anxiety, obsessive tendencies and problems focusing and organizing my time and staying on task. My mind wanders, I have to read things out-loud or I won't be able to comprehend what I read. I have to talk out-loud and write everything down on my 'brains-sheet' to even get through my day. I have to stand sometimes when I work cause I get too antsy when doing my paperwork. My mind feels like it's moving too fast and I just can't stay focused.
I've been on-call at work since I started and have worked quite a-bit considering. I recently accepted a scheduled position - I am terrified. I start Thursday.
I'm regretting accepting this position--I want to back-out and stay on-call. I always said 'yes' when they asked; however, I like the control of being able to say 'yes' or 'no' about working. Now I will have a set schedule and I feel so anxious about it.
I want to be happy with being a nurse, I don't want to feel anxious about it. I feel it would be best for me to stay on-call. I shouldn't have accepted the day position--I have regrets. My husband, I feel would prefer me be on a set schedule for guaranteed hours--now I feel anxious about THAT!
When growing up, I was in 'special' classes for slow kids. Such classes my son was in when he was younger. My son now 16 was 'diagnosed' with ADHD when he was in kindergarten. I was watching Good Morning America the other day, they were talking about Adult ADD--a light bulb when on. I don't know if that is what I have, but the program made me wake-up to the idea. Hmmmm I thought.
Life in nursing school was hard, exams were the worse; NCLEX was a NIGHTMARE!!! I finally had to take meds on my third try--finally passed!
I have a lot of passion for mental illness and those who live with it everyday. I want to learn more about it. I want to learn more about my own. I need to.
I could write a book on my life from my growing up years to now -- that could be a therapy in itself! Below is a short story I wrote in nursing school about growing up with my mentally-ill mother.
<3 Nurse Sunflower!
Living With A Mentally-ill Mother
by Sunflower Ross
Signs of mental illness started around the age of 20 for my mother. Now the age of 60, my mother lives in a group home with twelve other mentally-ill adults.
Growing up, my mother was a gifted musician with 'perfect-pitch'; which was a rarity. At an early age her mother taught her to play piano--she was a natural. As she went through school, she accompanied many concerts and joined the orchestra as a violinist. Sometimes after school, she would walk to the local music store to play the grand piano on display; they always encouraged her to play anytime.
In 1967, she graduated from high school with honors. Jennie displayed her outstanding musical talent when auditioning for college. She earned their most prestigious award that provided her with an excellent scholarship.
The unusual behaviors started soon after college. Life at college only lasted about a year and a half. She met a few 'hippie's' that encouraged her to leave college and hitch-hike to San Francisco, California. After experimenting with drugs, dancing, playing music, and wearing flowers in her hair--she hitch-hiked back home in 1971.
She took up residence in a tent outside of a small town where she lived with other hippies. She gave birth to her first daughter, (me) in July 1973. Unfortunately she lost custody of her daughter after she abandoned her at someone’s home at the age of 3 months. Fortunately the baby's grandmother received custody of the baby at 9 months.
After years of unusual behaviors and living on the streets she was admitted to a state mental hospital, asylum, and educational center. Doctors diagnosed her as being schizophrenic--of course she didn't believe there was anything wrong with her.
After 4 years, my mother appeared at my grandmother's door-step to claim me, her daughter. The state did nothing to stop it from happening.
When I met my mother at the age of 4, she insisted on taking me to live with her. My grandmother rented a studio apartment downtown since my mother had nowhere to live--her way of keeping an eye on us.
My mom had delusions often; I remember one time she went wild when she thought someone had been in our apartment. Black mascara running down her face; panic-stricken, destroying everything in the room while I stood there quiet, curious and scared. She would write all over the walls in our apartment then later think that someone else did it. There was always someone chasing us--she thought. I later learned that when people have delusions, they believe their experience to be real; they misinterpret experiences and are unable to understand if someone tries to explain reason.
A handful of times we would stay in shelters downtown because my mom was so terrified that someone was after us. I remember sleeping in doorways of businesses and standing in lines for warm meals.
Although her illness made it hard to function in a normal world, she continued to play her violin. I remember sitting next to her on the side-street downtown while she played the violin for change.
It was February 1979 when my sister was born. I became a "mother" at age 6 to my baby sister. My mother was unable to function as a normal adult. We lived in a filthy house with chickens wondering around like it was a barn. She would send me to school with lice in my hair and peed-in clothes. My mother actually took me to the doctor once insisting that I was pregnant at age 7--she was sure of it. :'( I remember one day my mother came home with red gauze in her mouth--she had every last one of her teeth pulled out--she thought it would be easier than brushing.
When I was 8 years old, my mom took my sister and me to a local hospital. She told us to wait for her in the waiting room--she'd be right back. It felt like hours as my sister sat on my lap. Soon a woman came up with two police officers, asked us questions then took us to a shelter home. My mother had abandoned me once again--this time with my 3 year old baby sister.
It wasn't until I was a little older that I got to see my mother. She was at the state mental hospital once again. I got to see the ward she lived in--she had a cot and a blanket in a small room. It was very sad to see her there. She had sores all over her shaven head--she had been pulling out her hair; the staff shaved her head to keep her from pulling out the rest of her hair. I thought to myself that she looked like one of the bums I'd seen near the Burnside Bridge before. Later I saw this film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. If you saw, it would describe the ward perfectly. The movie was filmed at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, OR.
My sister and I were adopted in 1985 by our mom's sister, our aunt. We got to see our mom sporadically throughout the years. She was finally stable enough to move into a group home in 1987. And for the past 15 years has resided in a wonderful group home near by.
I visit occasionally--short visits. She is very paranoid and thinks that someone is going to capture me and take me on their spaceship--she truly believes it. It's very sad but you have to laugh when she tells you some of the stories that are so real to her. Every time I talk to her on the phone, the police have been chasing her all around town or someone has been trying to capture her. Once she saved her town from blowing up--or so she believes.
She walks around town with garbage bags of stuff from her room so no one will steal them. The neighbors of her town refer her to "the bag lady"--you'd think she was homeless by the way she looks. Nevertheless, the neighborhood treats her well, they know about her mental illness; people look after her when strangers don't understand what she's about.
The group home she lives in makes sure she has her medicine, food and she has her own room. She gets to help with meals and chores if she wants to. She still plays the piano and thank goodness someone donated one to the group home.
I called my mom today--she was so happy to hear from me. She reminds me of a child the way she talks, "I'm alive--isn't that neat!" she gleamed over the phone to me. She has her good and bad days--today was good!Last edit by sunflowerross on Jan 4, '11 : Reason: repeated word correction
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sunflowerross. (Jan 4, '11). Mental-illness, Nursing & Me. Retrieved Thursday, May 23, 2013, from http://allnurses.com/showthread.php?t=524446
- Jan 5, '11 by Jules AWow. As a psychiatric nurse I loved your story, have seen it in many of my most beloved patients and am amazed at how well you have fared despite your chaotic upbringing. Please explore counseling to better understand yourself, your mother and your child. Wishing you a bright and peaceful future.
- Jan 8, '11 by sunflowerrossThanks Jules. My oldest daughter is named Jules as well!
I appreciate your post--thanks for taking time out to write me. My husband and I are both going to seek counseling--together & for myself. It not only affects my work but my home life as well. It will be very healthy for us.
I wrote that short story for my psychology class. I would like to write a memoir in more detail someday. My grandmother wants to write about my mother's early days. It would be quite a book!
Don't know if you've read the book The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. After reading that book (the only book I've ever read), it inspired to write about my own life growing up. We'll see what happens.
The last few days of work was NUTS!!! What was suppose to be two 8 hr days turned into two 12 hour days! Hospice pts' actively dying on me, injury-fall, new admits, pt hoarding secret drugs, one needing a blood transfusion NOW, CMA not following a STAT order and making a med-error, last minute call-in both days, crazy family members claiming to be nurses telling you how to do your job--SHEESH, thankfully I have this weekend off. I'm scared to death to go back on Monday!!! Everything always happens at once and I'm the ONLY nurse on the floor--they all think I can do everything at once--I wanted to go hide in the med-room!
LOL! Anyway, the DNS told me to laugh all the way home. I was like, "yes--I will, like a crazy person cause that's what I feel like right now!!"
- Jan 8, '11 by abbnurseQuote from Jules AI couldn't agree more!Wow. As a psychiatric nurse I loved your story, have seen it in many of my most beloved patients and am amazed at how well you have fared despite your chaotic upbringing. Please explore counseling to better understand yourself, your mother and your child. Wishing you a bright and peaceful future.
You are a great writer and I loved reading your story. What you have endured is enough to break a lot of people, and not only are you not broken, you have a very challenging career and are searching for ways to better your life. Good luck to you, and I hope you find serenity and peace.
By the way, another book you might like is Swallow the Ocean, by Laura Flynn. She is another amazing woman who has written about growing up with a mentally ill parent.
- Jan 9, '11 by Liddle NoodnikWow, I think you have found some great coping skills and I absolutely love your writing! I think counseling is a great idea, not because there is anything "wrong" - but just to make sure your life is as rich and full as you'd like it to be and as is possible. Thanks!
- Jan 9, '11 by Leelee2Thanks so much for sharing your story, you write really well, and should consider writing a book!!
The symptoms you mention having do sound a whole lot like Adult ADHD. I have it, and have felt that exact way. I got diagnosed at 40, and now take medication for the ADHD, which certainly does help. Take care of yourself, consider going in to be tested and evaluated for ADHD, doing so changed my life in a positive way and my only regret is that I didn't go in for evaluation sooner. Best of luck to you, and thanks again for sharing your short story, you truely are a survivor!!
- Jan 13, '11 by sunflowerrossthank you so much to all of you who responded to my post.
i really appreciate your words. it's always comforting receiving positive responses from other nurses that have an understanding of mental illness. i recently met another nurse at my work who shares a lot of my feelings about things. i've found someone to talk to that i feel i can trust--an amazing feeling!
i am going to look into getting a diagnosis. i'm nervous about it; however, it's necessary if i'm going to be the best nurse i can be. i need to over-come my fears.
thank you again for your encouragement.
<3 nurse sunflower
- Jan 13, '11 by jahraQuote from sunflowerross
I am going to look into getting a diagnosis. I'm nervous about it; however, it's necessary if I'm going to be the best nurse I can be. I need to over-come my fears.
<3 Nurse Sunflower
Thank you for sharing your story, very moving. You have inner strength from such a young age to manage all of the things you needed to.
Wishing you good luck with your health evaluation.
You have a lot to offer patients with your life experience and your continued growth
in nursing field. Best wishes to you!
- Jan 15, '11 by NCRN2010I love the story you posted about your mother. My mother is very similar to what you have described. It is very hard to deal with having your mother, the one that is supposed to teach you to become a woman, be so delusional and paranoid. My mother and I are estranged at this point in my life. It is healthier for me not to have her in my life. I do grieve the loss of her, and not having had a "normal" childhood. Being a nurse, makes it even harder for me. I am full of guilt taking care of other people's loved ones, and I can not do anything for my mother. I wish you good luck in your job. Take one day at a time. Allow yourself time to breath. And know that you are a much stronger person than you give yourself credit for.
- Jan 16, '11 by Liddle NoodnikQuote from NCRN2010I love the story you posted about your mother. My mother is very similar to what you have described. It is very hard to deal with having your mother, the one that is supposed to teach you to become a woman, be so delusional and paranoid. My mother and I are estranged at this point in my life. It is healthier for me not to have her in my life. I do grieve the loss of her, and not having had a "normal" childhood. Being a nurse, makes it even harder for me. I am full of guilt taking care of other people's loved ones, and I can not do anything for my mother. I wish you good luck in your job. Take one day at a time. Allow yourself time to breath. And know that you are a much stronger person than you give yourself credit for.
It IS hard. But I have found that my history, my upbringing, my experiences, so often get used in helping that
next person trying to heal from it!!!!!
It's all worth it. It really ROTS sometimes! but it is worth it
xo you guys!