It’s OK To NOT be OK.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a generous person. A nice girl. Someone you’d bring home to your parents. A fucking doormat.

It took me A LONG time to grasp the concept of “It’s OK to not be OK.”. Attempting to deal with depression on your own in a futile attempt to “fix” yourself will do that to you. Sometimes you’re NOT ok. Whether you’re depressed or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

I was inspired to blog this in the middle of watching Just Shoot Me (David Spade is awesome, yes?!!) because I came across a wicked blog posted on Facebook by my cousin who is a paramedic. The blogger, also a paramedic, posted her own post on this topic, detailing what they DON’T teach you in school and the emotional toll a job like that can have on you.

I could somewhat relate as a PSW.

Going back to that whole nice thing, I still have trouble being ok with not being ok in regards to what I deal with at work. Yes, I have to act professional. But when I come home I expect all of that to go away and not affect me.

I get called names. I get threatened. I get pinched and purposely urinated on. Sometimes I CAN’T do anything and that bothers me even more.

Last week I had to make a 911 call. I was making a house call and upon arrival I found my client lying on the floor. Apparently it had JUST happened and according to her, her legs just gave out. She was concious and able to tell me what happened. I was weirdly calm when calling the paramedics because THANKFULLY I had never had to make that call before. They were very nice & extremely good with her.

Two days later she died in hospital.

….. Uhm. Ok..? I had no idea what to do with that information. All the “what-ifs” that could possibly go through my head did so at warp speed. What if I wasn’t there?! How long would she have been laying there? What if she had hurt more than her leg? WHAT IF I COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING!

I’m ok. And sometimes I’m NOT and you know what, that’s OK too.

Check out http://chickyparamedic.wordpress.com to see her story.

WSAD & Happy Anniversary to ME!

2 years ago today I decided to start apswlife and 2 years on I am extremely happy and grateful that I have the opportunity to share these stories with you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the kind words. It means more than words can describe that I can discuss my life as a PSW in the working world. To get out there the trials and tribulations that people in this career face. I will continue to do this for as long as my fingers can type. And when that stops, I will recite words to someone who will then type for me. Yes, this blog isn’t going ANYWHERE.

Moving on.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I want to talk about this for 2 reasons. 1) I know all too well the feelings of wanting to die and 2) I want to talk about Depression and the Elderly.

Unfortunately, there are far too many individuals who do not know the true meaning of depression. Thankfully, one reason is because they’ve never gone through it. Secondly, there is a HUGE stigma around it and it’s other ugly cousins in the large family of mental illness. Well, as you may or may not know I am not one to keep quiet. Depression is more than a sadness. It’s more than crying. It’s more than an Emo 16 year old sitting up in his bedroom listening to Cradle of Filth at full volume. Depression is the ongoing feeling of numbness. Of constantly feeling & believing that there is no end in sight. Waking up after a night’s sleep is a nightmare. Feeling alone in a room full of family and friends is one of the most awful feelings in the world. And you know what? Seniors get it to.

Depression has many route causes. Sometimes it is a chemical imbalance. Other times it is the result of a sudden change in life or a loss.  Often times, seniors in long term care get misdiagnosed with other ailments because they have the same symptoms as depression. If someone with dementia starts lashing out verbally and physically, would you consider this to be a symptom of depression? It could be. If this person is generally a gentle, quiet soul and they randomly start acting out, that could be a sign. People with dementia do not know how to show their feelings in an appropriate manner. Men specifically tend to show their emotion with anger as talking about it was never an option in their day and age.

It is important to look at the over all picture before properly diagnosing someone. In some cases, medicinal use may not even be needed. Getting individuals more involved in activities and with other residences have huge happy factors.

It is our job as a PSW to pay attention to the OVER ALL picture of our resident and to report any sort of change in behaviour to the appropriate person. Most importantly, don’t forget to take time to talk to your residents. If they’re sad, and are able and willing to talk, stay and listen.

I’d also like to say a little farewell to a resident who passed away recently. Their passing wasn’t a complete shock to me but none the less, when I heard of their death my heart sank like a stone in water. I’ll miss your dry sense of humour and how you always made fun of my hair and nail polish choices. I love you always MK.

What Once Was.

Walking into the lobby, I wasn’t sure what to expect once I asked where abouts my aunt was. She’s been living here since October and it’s only now – 8 months later in July – that I am coming to visit her. I don’t like this place. It’s not nearly as warm an inviting as the home I work in. It has a very hospital-like atmosphere with 2 person rooms, privacy provided by nothing but a curtain and medicine carts scattered in the halls. The walls are white and the stench of urine is prominent. This isn’t the first class in nursing home facilities but it’ll do. I’m not even sure if she knows the difference. I have no idea if she’ll even recognize me.

When I reach the second floor I ask for her room and I walk towards it not sure what to expect. I feel nervous, sad and a touch of guilt taps lightly on my shoulder.

She isn’t there. Huh.

I wish these rooms were more personalized. I wish there was more than a puke-yellow curtain separating the beds. I wish she wasn’t here.

She sits in the living room, surrounded by other residents waiting for some sort of recreation activity to occur. I don’t recognize this woman. This strong, beautiful, old-school Italian woman who used to shove baked goods down my throat at any chance. Her hair is graying, but a hint of strawberry blond still remains. She’s a lot thinner, and sitting in a wheel chair looking out in this room and I wonder if she has any idea where she is. There isn’t plastic covering the furniture. Clearly not an Italian living room.

Oddly enough upon approaching her I find myself speaking in Italian to her. Simple phrases, but enough that it gets through and I’m fairly certain that she recognizes me. I tell her my name, who my father and grandmother are and she smiles. Her voice is quiet so I lean to hear and she asks how my Nonna is. Tutto è buono, Nonna è buono. Weird, I can actually speak this language.

I tell her I’ll come to visit her again and as I wait for the elevator I blow her a kiss and she reaches out to catch it.

Yes, I work in a nursing home and yes, I see residents of this magnitude all the time. But they aren’t my mom, my sister, my aunt or my grandma. I only know these people as Jane who has dementia. Tom who suffers from Alzheimer’s and Bipolar Disorder.

I never knew these people prior to them coming in. When you know someone, and know how they once were, seeing them in this completely different life is difficult. I fully understand why some family members don’t come to see their loved ones. It’s not because they’re evil, it’s because they’re scared. They’re guilty. They’re sad. My sympathies are with everyone who’s ever had to admit someone into a nursing home. They’re not selfish. They’re courageous.

28 Tattoos Inspired by Depression

28 Tattoos Inspired by Depression

This isn’t PSW related but it is ME related which is why I am sharing.
I am number 5 on this list and I feel very privileged to be able to share my story with others. There was a time in my life, not so long a go, where I didn’t think I’d be alive today. I honestly thought and felt so worthless, so useless and so…. sad, that I thought my only option was suicide.
Depression is real. It’s frightening, it’s crazy, it’s debilitating and it’s an illness.
There is help. And if my story and the story of many other survivors helps one lonely soul then it was worth it.

Side note: They spelled my name wrong and believe you me I could write an entire update about how much that bugs me. Not to worry, they’ve been notified.

Not Everyone Is Happy.

I woke up again. Why. Why didn’t I fall asleep into an endless slumber where no hurt, pain or fear could haunt me again? I don’t want to be here and I don’t know why. It hurts to breath. Food disgusts me. My friends have lost interest in seeing me because I never return their phone calls. Why should I return their phone calls, I am of no use to anybody. I’m a mistake. My parents love me – or so they say – but would I really be missed if I ended it now? God, I wish I had the strength and courage to do just that. But I’m a pussy, a scared little coward who can’t even  end her own life. And who am I to even comprehend the thought that I would be missed? Why am I so damn special? I’m not. I’m broken and I can’t be fixed. I cry without reason. I hurt without physical injury. My whole life is a fuck-up and the world would be a better place without me.

….

That was me 5 years ago.

Scary, isn’t it?

Unless you’ve been through the hell that is depression, you don’t know the meaning of hell. Words can’t describe the true horror that goes through the head of a depressed individual.

I bring this up for several reasons: 1) I am no longer afraid, 2) This IS a big deal and needs to be discussed at length & 3) This affects EVERYONE.

Yep, seniors too.

She wanders the hall looking for her room not realizing that it’s 2 doors down from where she just looked. “I feel like an idiot, I can never remember where I live”. The tears stain her beautiful complexion and I hand her a tissue. “I wish I wasn’t here. I don’t want to live.” This saddens me as I know all too well the feelings she is expressing. A hug comforts her and she softly sobs into my shoulder. “I know how you feel” I whisper in her ear. She looks at me confused, puzzled, as if she thinks I am lying. I don’t blame her, when you feel like this you don’t think anyone understands. “But I do,” I say softly, and something changes in her face. Her eyes are brighter and if I’m not mistaken I think I see a slight smile forming. She knows I’m not lying.

Everyone’s pain is different. When you’re old, everyone you know is dead and you’re not in your own home anymore the fear must skyrocket through the roof. I can’t make it go away, but I can assure you the one thing everyone in this mess wants to be reminded of: You’re not alone.

Sometimes that’s all that matters.