Dr. Q delivered the statistics...."1 in 5 people suffer from depression." She counts the room, "1, 2, 3, 4, depressed. 1, 2, 3, 4, depression." She continued, "Put all of the depressed people in a room, and look around. 1 in 15 of those suffering from depression will go on to commit suicide." It's dramatic. The room was silent. It usually is. I am not comfortable with the topic anymore than I was the first time, but I am getting used to hearing the same phrases, the same statistics, and responding to the same questions from the audience. I am now familiar with the language of mental illness.
Last Friday, as I stood in the middle of the PACU, our eyes met. It felt intense. it was an emergency, and an emergency in behavioral health means...
Then I heard Michael Buffer, the master of ceremonies, in my head. He introduced the statistic to the ring. Dramatic music played, and before I had the chance to raise my gloves, the statistic nailed me...First with a left hook, then went below the belt. I was knocked out. Speechless with my face in my hands. Gloves were off.
Your patient committed suicide.
No amount of training prepares you. No power point presentation. No book. No doctor.
I never even imagined how I would handle the news. I was weak in the knees and shook.
The patient was starting electroconvulsive therapy in 3 days. The patient had just called me. The patient denied any suicidal thoughts. The patient.......It doesn't stop.
The gravity of what I do hit me. It hit me hard.
As I drove home I thought, "Have I entered a losing battle? I've wanted to be a nurse to comfort people, advocate for them, care for them, and try to help improve their quality of life if possible." If possible are the key words.
Am I okay with, "We did everything we could. Stop. Time of death...."
My question to you: "Do you find gratification with the result or with the process?"
You think you know the answer...until you're in the ring.