Thursday, September 11, 2008

A memo from God

I'm doing a rotation with mentally ill patients - basically I'm working at a Psych Hospital. Keep in mind, its not just any psych hospital, its one of the worst hospitals out there. I have a wide variety of patients the majority are either Schizophrenic or Bipolar. At first, I was scared of them - almost terrified - until I heard their stories, but now, I cry almost everyday when I come home. I work with a population that isn't represented by society, a population that is practically swept under the rug - out of sight, out of mind. These patients live behind the locked doors of the facility and while they are aloud outside, they are never allowed off grounds unless they are on good behavior. Some of these patients have never seen their families or have had their families check out. A lot of them come from abusive families who's torment caused them to turn out the way they are. I used to laugh at statements like "I hear voices" but now realize how horrifying it could be to have multiple voices in your head telling you to do things like hurt yourself or others, or telling you that you are worthless.

I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of the patients on my floor and to here their stories, and while I try very hard to hold my composure, I can't tell you how much I just want to break down and cry. One of my patients has been in the mental health system since she was just a child, she's in her late 20's now. She tells me about how both her mother and father live in states miles and miles away from the Hospital. She tells me how neither of them call her, write her, visit her, how she doesn't have anyone to talk to and how she's all alone. I can't imagine how any mother could turn her back on her child and completely abandon her simply because she is sick. How do you just erase that part of your life? This particular patient of mine is getting much better, but is lately starting to deliberately exhibit signs of aggression and agitation because here, she has family - one nurse is her play mom, the other is her sister, and so forth. She doesn't have a family, so she creates one - and she doesn't want to leave them, even though it means finally getting a chance to live in a less crazy place.

I was looking through another patients chart earlier today and her marital status is labeled as married. It seems like a stupid comment to make but she is one of my patients who is tormented by her hallucinations. She makes absolutely no sense when she speaks and often times words are not decipherable when they come out of her mouth except when she says things like "wedding dress, chapel, I'm getting married, dress with lace." I wish I could speak to her more, but it seems as though her illness struck her sometime during her wedding or when she got married.

I have one patient who has been an alcoholic since he was 13! Yes, 13. He started drinking when his father died and it as he said "made me go crazy, and now I see demons." He see's demons - I can't image how terrifying that might be.

I can go on and on, but I don't know if anyone would understand me if they haven't been there, perhaps I just needed to share. But the reason I wrote this is because I attended one of the wellness classes my patients participate in and one of them handed me this piece of paper (I've seen it before in an email Forward) titled "A memo from God." I read it and told her how amazing I thought it was and she told me, you know...that right there is how I get by every day in this looney bin.

Here it is:

To: You
Date: Today
From: The Boss
Subject: Yourself
Reference: Life

I am God. Today I will be handling your problems. Please remember I do not need your help.
If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. It will be addressed in My time, not yours. Once the matter is place into the box, do not hold on to it.
If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is not a privilege.
Should you have a bad day at work, think of the man who has been out of work for years.
Should you despair over a relationship gone bad, think of the person who has never known what its like to love and be loved in return.
Shoudl you grieve the passing of another weekend, think of the women in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.
Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance, think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.
Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror, think of the cancer patient in Chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.
Should you find yourself t a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to get this opportunity.
Should you find yourself being the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities, remember, things could be worse. YOU COULD BE THEM!!!!

Ok this wasn't really a Ramadan Post, but I thought it was worth it. Besides, Ramadan is about being Greatful! A friend of mine was just diagnosed with stage 3 cancer (I don't know what kind yet) please, please, please keep her in your dua's. Subhan'Allah life is so unpredictable. I hope that you are all in the best of health insha'Allah.

Have a good one.


Mad Muslima said...

wow... mashallah, thank you so much for that post. i cannot say i fully understand the shaking you received from those experiences, but empathizing is not a difficult task.
sometimes, we need reminders of how blessed we are, even if something goes wrong.

i am very proud of your strength and effort you give at such a difficult place... but i believe this is your form of dawah and your form of increasing your hassanat.

inshallah your having a great ramadan and this only keeps you moving forward and praising allah for the blessings he has given us today.

Jasmine said...

Salaam sister, This post really touched me. I am very very familiar with mental illness and cancer as well, and watching these things is indeed difficult.
I'm right there with you,

Amaat al Kareem said...

SubhanAllah, that was an amazing article you wrote and posted up (the letter)

About the one who sees demons ... perhaps he is seeing jinns? SubhanAllah your field of work is something that is needed amongst the Ummah, regardless of whether its a Ramadan post or not. It is knowledge and its needed to educate the ummah about. Nothing stops because Ramadan is here - so I appreciate that you wrote this to give us all insight. Barak Allahu feeki! said...

Wa alaikum salam.

I personally - in my non-medically educated mind - believe that his demons are jinns. Masha'Allah he is the sweetest man ever, always smiling and always saying nice things except when his "demons" tell him to do things to others. I often look at these patients in their insanity as they talk to their hallucinations and think that perhaps they are possessed by jinn or communicating with them, but only Allah knows. I know for a fact that a CT scan of a schizophrenic patient looks different than in a person who is healthy. Subhan'Allah its a very devastating illness.

On the up side however, one of my patients is no longer on conservatorship which means that she is practically free to walk out of the hospital if she wishes. So I am glad to say that people do get better....Alhamdulilah.

Amaat al Kareem said...

Very true SubhanAllah!
Jazaki Allahu khayr for sharing :)