Christmas is almost upon us. Most of us are buying gifts for our loved ones, and trying to figure out how in the world we can afford it! We are looking through the sales papers and online trying to find the best deal for the things are loved ones want. We are cuddling up with our loved ones and watching TV Christmas movies, decorating our trees (or whatever decorations you put up during this time of year). There are so many traditions that people have that we couldn’t imagine spending it any other way.
Then there are other people who are not able to do these traditional things like we do. Some people don’t understand what those who suffer from mental illness go through, especially during this time.
Working on a locked psychiatric Unit where our patients can’t leave when they feel like, it gives me an insight into what they go through. I have some patients right now that I know will not be released before Christmas. Why? They’re not stable enough to leave. They have severe mental illness that isn’t responding to medications. Then, we have some who are homeless, and even though they’re mental illness is under control, they have no where to go. That’s what is sadder than anything.
First of all, the homeless population I see that are with us… majority are veterans. They have nowhere to go. They have no family willing to take them and they have no money to afford a place to stay. It is beyond heartbreaking. There’s nothing I can do, though, except take care of them during this time. I’d love to work at a VA hospital, but honestly, the VA is a flawed system. But that is a conversation for a different day.
My other patients who are actively psychotic, they’ll be with us through the holidays. Some have family who will come visit and bring them presents… They’re the lucky ones. Some will never realize it is anything except another day. I’d love to bring them presents, but I can’t afford gifts for that many people. (Contrary to popular belief, nurses are far from rich.)
These patients stay on my mind when I come home, when I’m spending time with my family. I can’t forget them; I can’t turn it off like a light switch.
For those with mental illness that are not in a facility, some may have a wonderful holiday season like the rest of us. Others, they may never realize it is anything else except another day. Some are one step away from being put in the hospital…
So, if you can afford it, donate to those this season who need help. If you see someone who looks like they need help, offer them a prayer, positive word, anything you feel led to do. But always, pray for them if that’s what you do, positive vibes, whatever you believe in to do. If you know anyone with a mental illness, visit them this holiday season. Give them a positive word. If you have a family member or friend who will be in the hospital this season, call or visit them. You’ll be surprised how much it’ll help them and cheer them up!