Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Show Them Your Tears

My Facebook page is inundated with nursing posts.  It makes sense- I've been doing this long enough that the majority of my friends seem to be nurses, and it also seems nurses love to talk about being nurses.  I... don't? Except for here? Which, well, I guess I still don't these days.  Some of this stuff makes me laugh.  Occasionally I run across something that warms my icy heart.  Mostly these things make me roll my eyes.  Mostly because they come in the form of clickbait garbage; most recently, it's "five things nurses want you to know but can never tell." Number one on the list? We cry for you.

I'm sorry.  That's just bullshit. 

Not because I don't cry for you.  But because it isn't, and shouldn't be, a secret. 
Obviously, you should still have control of your faculties. I save my snotty nose crying for the house, because raccoon mascara eyes is not a cute look for your nurse. Obviously, not everyone is a crier. Not everyone is emotionally demonstrative.  And that's okay.  It doesn't make you less compassionate; people just handle their feelings differently.  I cry. And I won't hide it.

Personal loss changes your attitude about things so much.  Greif is a lot of times a weird, out of body experience; it's so isolating that it almost feels like you're not even there anymore.  I remember driving to both my grandparent's funerals and watching people on the street, going about their lives.  Feeling how weird it was that my entire world was caving in, and everyone else was just buying groceries and going out to eat.  It's not that you expect the world to stop, but you just feel so small and so utterly alone in your pain. I'm doing much better than I was a while back, but hard losses bore a hole in your heart. You're hardened yet softened, and you see your own pain in other people's.  And sometimes that's what other people need. 

I let the tears go with a family recently.  They were incredible people.  And their family member, by all accounts, was an incredible person.  Sadly, cancer cares about none of these things, and sometimes, it moves fast, overnight; even when you're expecting it, you're not expecting it.  It was awful, but serendipitous.  They had just had "the talk" a few days before- the "how far are we going to take this?" talk- she wasn't medically experienced, but she did manage to tell them " I don't want any tubes coming out of me."
They all came together, and they all respected her wishes. 

Sadly, even when everyone is on the same page, death doesn't happen like it does in the movies.  People don't peacefully fall asleep never to wake again.  In fact, sometimes the person you love most breathes like a fish out of water for hours. It's horrifying.  Why would we pretend it isn't? Why pretend our hearts aren't breaking if they are? I went back to the death of my own beloved and all the things I wish someone could or would have done.  I did just those things, and it hurt- some for me, but mostly for them.  I did everything I could, but I did it with tears in my eyes.  I didn't have anything else. 

In medicine, we're so guilty of trying to fix everything.  I've felt so powerless and guilty in bad situations sometimes knowing that nothing I did was going to make things better, and I couldn't take the pain away.  Maybe it's not about that though.  We can't change what happens, but we can make people feel less alone.  That the ripples of their grief don't stop with them, and that their pain is real. 

A few months after this happened, a coworker reached out and told me she was a friend of this family.  That this woman's son had told her that among the pain, he was grateful for everything, but didn't know how to express it.  She was getting choked up talking about it, as was I.  And as many tears as I continued to shed the rest of that day, that I continue to shed now, I'm so grateful to have been a part of this.  Not because I changed anything, but because I was able to be there, and the people who mattered knew that someone cared.  Not because I was able to buffer any of the pain, but that I could appease some of the loneliness.  Because I will always remember them, and they will remember me, and we'll be bound together in out pain in a way I can't quite describe.

It's not the tears that matter, really. It's letting the humanity spill out of you, even when it hurts so much more than holding back.  Not because it's good for you, but because it helps someone else.  And sometimes, that's the least you can do.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Better Late Than Never

Welp. What can I say. I just logged in and realized I ain't even been on blogger since 2015. And I have to say it feels pretty great. So why even do this now? Honestly I let my blog float out into the ocean because I didn't feel like I had anything to say anymore, but now I kind of do. I looked back through a bunch of my own posts a while back and felt like I needed to say sorry. Sorry for being such a dick sometimes. Sorry for sometimes crossing the line from being funny and real to just being petty as hell and hateful. Sorry for sometimes handling constructive criticism really, really immaturely when there were very legitimate criticisms to be had.
I'm not saying everything was crap or that I regret starting this blog, because I met some amazing internet friends and another internet turned IRL friend who is about to become part of my family soon, and it was absolutely great. It was a way for me to connect with a lot of other people in a job where I at first felt very, very alone. For the longest while, it was very therapeutic, probably to an unhealthy degree, in that I probably should have been getting ACTUAL therapy instead of just putting all my business all over the Internet.
Which brings me to the other actual point. From one human to my other fellow humans- deal with your problems. Like as they're occurring. And don't keep telling yourself that if you can function and put stuff all off that it means you're fine. Depression manifests itself in very weird ways, and I think some of my worst moments came from not dealing with things that were actually really awful for me at work and just having no tolerance for anything.
I don't want to blame any of my own shortcomings on this, but it's only in retrospect that I look back at a lot of stuff and realize I was not in a good place. And I say this on the heels of being in a much worse place but having actually FINALLY had the courage to make a phone call and go do something about it. I say this because I had the same opportunity before, wrote down the number about 5 times, and never called. Don't be like me.
If you're in a tough place at work- our jobs are really, really tough, so it happens- most places have an employee assistance program. I can honestly say it was a godsend and I wish I could go back and get all the sessions I didn't use, because it's amazing. Just call them. For real.
I won't get into the nitty gritty, but after personal loss tragedy fest 2k14, I had literally the most traumatic and horrifying patient situation at work, started taking on even more responsibility with school, and I literally just never dealt with anything I was going through, until I started crying all the time for no reason and I had to really psych myself up hard to even get out of bed in the morning. Just counseling allowed me to kind of get to the root of my problems and even though I'm still neurotic as hell, I at least recognize when I'm going down a shitty rabbit hole that's only going  to end in sad feels.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a miracle. I'm in a better head space than I have been since maybe forever. I'm only able to see some things for what they were much, much later. So sorry to anyone who got  caught up in my bullshit at the time. I still feel like I'm making a lot of excuses, so sorry for that too, but I think we all want understanding in those times we're at our worst. So that being said, I'm not mad at those of you still commenting on old posts that I am/was a bitch. Even though it's rude, you may have been right, and maybe you're going through some hard times yourself. Take care.