March 26, 2012

On registering for classes and mental illness

Yesterday, I tried to register for the next two classes in the RN-BSN program...and was unable to. So I wrote my advisor for help. Of course, my advisor being my advisor...she doesn't write back.

Today, I tried to register for the next two classes and find I could only register for the nursing one; I can't register for any of the history classes until the next semester registration session opens up. But I could register for two nursing classes at the same time...except I'm not sure if I want to take two nursing classes at the same time. Then again, being that I'm a per-diem, this would be the best time to be doubling up on classes.

Hmm.

So I registered for one nursing class, and depending on how the finances go--and how many hours I can pick up next month--I'll register for the second and give it a go.

My sister and I were driving around town. With the weather being nicer (read: the rain stopped), the homeless are out in full force. We see one young girl--I've seen her out a few times before--standing on the traffic island with her "please help" sign.

"Sometimes it just gets to me, seeing the really young people out begging," she said. "It's like, why can't you get a fucking job?"

"I used to think that too," I reply. "And then I started working in psych."

She was silent for a few seconds, and then said, "You're right, I didn't even think about that."

"I mean, there's definitely the lazy, those who just want to sponge off society and not look for work," I conceded. "And there's the addicts that just want the money to get high, which was about every other homeless person in New York," (we knew this because they'd flat out tell you why they were panhandling). "Then there are those who aren't working because the squirrels tell them not to," I say in all seriousness. And she must really be thinking about it because she didn't laugh at the squirrel remark.

I suspect that she--like a lot of people--think of mental illness in terms of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" or "A Clockwork Orange." So I told her about my patient populations and the outpatient programs (she was curious as to why some were offered at night..."because some patients do work," I told her). I told her what it was really like to work inpatient ("I feel the ER is far more dangerous, even though some of my patients do try to kill me"). And I tell her that sometimes mental illness is detected early in life but a lot of time it's discovered later: it's not always clear in childhood.

That led to talking about child psych and how difficult that is to work in, because in addition to having psych illnesses, these patients are also having growing pains...and that these patients REALLY like to act out. She was fascinated a bit unnerved...she has a two year old and will have another son in two months, and I know she was thinking, "what if my son..."

So I left her a little more enlightened than I found her.

And I sometimes wonder "what if my son..." too.

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