What Happens When You Lose Your Mind?

I know I haven’t written for a minute, but holy shit is life busy. Between work, schoolwork (which is lagging hardcore right now and I SERIOUSLY have got to get my shit together), and having a social life…

So I started working as a psychiatric technician in a local emergency department, and let me tell you…those 12-hour shifts are killer, but also go by pretty fast with all the excitement.

People often ask me what kind of patients do I see. Well, mostly suicidal, homicidal, and psychotic. Their stories are either terrifying, heart-breaking, or frustrating as fuck. Some of the psychotic patients break my heart more than any of the others-because one day they were living a “normal” life…for instance, there was a lady who came in who was at one point in her life a nurse. She’s a mother-a wife-now a widow. Somehow-one day-her mind snapped. She found herself sitting in our waiting room-calling ME a hallucination. She was screaming at a co-worker, “SHE ISN’T REAL!” pointing at me. She had no idea what was real and what was not at this point. She was scared. She knew what it was like to be “normal.” I took her into our triage room and was checking her vital signs-all the while wondering if she was going to suddenly freak out on me because maybe her mind would tell her that I wasn’t real again. Didn’t happen, though…we ended up talking about when she was previously a nurse and she ended up helping me to figure out why the damn machine was screwing up and we were suddenly laughing together…mostly at me…but as long as we’re laughing-I’m okay with it.

These are the people who make me wonder-what happened and why? What set this off? Why was this woman-this mother-this wife-this nurse…suddenly incapable of taking care of herself and her family?

So what happens when you lose your mind? Because it can happen to any of us, ya know? Do you turn to drugs like some of my patients who can’t seem to fight their substance abuse disorders?…do you suddenly become so consumed by your problems that you want to end it all and attempt to kill yourself?…do you get so consumed by your anger towards another person that you suddenly become homicidal?…do you suddenly become psychotic-seeing things-hearing things-having delusional thoughts and feelings?..You could be the next patient sitting in the waiting room of an Emergency Department. That could be me one day.

It’s so important to remember that people dealing with mental disorders/issues are people, too. They have people who love them. They have families who are in tears asking, “is my baby going to be okay? Please tell me (s)he is going to be ok.” They have jobs and have to ask for doctor’s notes in order to return to work. They are people. Just like you. Just like me. Some of them have master’s degrees. Some of them were nurses-government workers-you name it. They aren’t all homeless people looking for a place to stay and food, and/or people who turned to drugs/are unwilling to work.

Most are not, actually.

Have compassion for all of your brothers and sisters. Know that these people need love and deserve to be taken care of just as much as you, or I do. Even the homeless people looking for a place to stay and food, and/or people who turned to drugs/are unwilling to work.

Typically, we know who the patients are who are simply stating they want help, but really they’re just “playing the system”. Or whatever…but we give them a bed, let them sleep, give them one of our box lunches and ginger ale and then give them information for homeless shelters and community service boards who work with those who do not have insurance/need financial assistance…because that’s what we do. We have hope. Hope that every person may actually want and receive help. 

Well…that’s about it for now. Gotta finish a little bit of homework before I have to rush off to work. I have SO much else going on in my life that I would love to share…but for now…I just felt an urge to put this post out there.

Love people where they are. See them. Look them in the eyes. Know that they could be you. They could be your family member sitting there feeling hopeless-scared-angry.

You just never know what your mind will do when you lose it.


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