Is there even a funny side to being a psychiatric nurse?
It was an accident. I never planned it to work out this way. It wasn’t exactly a mistake, but one minute I’m redundant and deemed too old and expensive for the Tech Industry, the next minute I’m a mature student at university. Three years later I graduated as a psychiatric nurse.
You Lot Are Crazy!
Upon qualification, I was dropped in amongst a collection of misfits. A veritable motley crew of socially ostracized and stigmatised individuals. All of them, as mad as a box of frogs. We went on to grow into an amazing team.
Through our work, we shared each other’s lives. We bared our soles to one another. Let me tell you, you can tell a lot about a person’s character by the way they treat those who have nothing to give back.
There is a plethora of online content claiming to know the secret to effective leadership, team-building, productivity etc. But the reality is that the shared experience of life, in all its beauty and heartbreak, is what builds a formidable team, not a training course.
Diversity is the Spice of Life
Our management team claims they value diversity. To be fair, they do promote those that are homophobic, racist or sexist.
In our team, we have a Welsh physiotherapist. Her 36DDs get her lots of attention. She does have a ridiculously long name.
She used to sleep with one of the doctors, but he dumped her because he couldn’t spell her name. She claimed he was dyslexic. She also tried putting a positive spin on things. She would say, “when life gives you melons, make melonade.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her she was the dyslexic one. She still stays in touch with the doctor though, she can’t seem to let go. He emails her pictures every day, but she can never open them. According to rumours she’s always had trouble with emotional attachments.
Our psychologist is a bit of an odd character. His ex broke up with him because she said he was too reliant on logic, and that he refused to acknowledge her emotions. Apparently, he told her correlation is not causation. I told him that maybe he has difficulty in vocalizing his emotions. I’ve heard, he can’t say he’s surprised.
He tells lots of psychology jokes, but I don’t get them. I’ve never understood psychology. I had to cheat on my psychology exams. Don’t know what that says about me. I do regret cheating though. I’ve come to learn regret is a useless emotion. I wish I’d known that a long time ago.
We also have an ill-tempered Irish nurse. He’d heard that you should write angry emails in capitals. Last time I heard, he was waiting for a return flight from Paris.
We once had a manager who said he would not stand for violence against staff. I remember thinking, “good luck with that. You got both your legs broken yesterday.”
Oh My God! Really?
When people discover what I do for a living, they say things like, “you must be brave and dedicated despite the generally low opinion of such an occupation.” I tell them, “I’m not just a writer. I’m also a psychiatric nurse.” Then they ask odd questions. Questions like, “so you work with violent people? Are they dangerous?” I tell them, “no, the people in my team are not like that at all. It’s the managers that are the douchebags.”
The same people tend to tell you all about their problems, just because you are a psychiatric nurse. As if you have some kind of magic wand. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love helping others. But sometimes, I just feel like telling people, “stop surrounding yourself with arseholes and then we’ll talk.”
Being a psychiatric nurse comes with its risks. I’ve been threatened, attacked and had false allegations made against me. Even attempts to ruin my career. But hey, as I said, our managers are douchebags. I quickly came to the conclusion that there is a huge difference between leadership and management.
So, Am I Crazy?
Being a psychiatric nurse has changed my life. It has changed the everyday language I use. For example, only the other day a patient who claims he’s a pathological liar, informed me of the unit used to measure emotions; the sentimentre. You learn something new every day.
I’ve witnessed death, rebirth, recovery and relapse. Such scenarios have challenged and ultimately changed my worldview. It has opened my eyes to social injustices I never knew existed. Above all, it has made me a better human being. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Originally published in Medium publication The Haven, 27th October 2019.