Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 18 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Psych Nurses

I'm thinking about psych nurses today. They are a unique bunch. I have been very fortunate. I have been a patient of some of the best mental health nurses around. Whether inpatient or outpatient, psych nurses have special skills, and several have had a lasting impact on my life.

Vicky, my psychiatrist's primary nurse, is one nurse who has had a tremendous impact on the quality of my life. She is retiring this week. Her absence will be a huge loss to my doctor and her entire outpatient department, but I am dreading her departure. My psychiatrist has other nurses, and they are also very good, but when I struggle, when my depression has me flat on the couch contemplating life, it's Vicky with whom I want to connect. For 18 years, my entire illness, Vicky has been available and integral.

As everyone knows, outpatient nurses are gatekeepers for their docs, whether it's a psychiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon. And I'm sure that's how I initially connected with Vicky, as a gatekeeper, when what I really wanted was to speak to my psychiatrist. But Vicky has special skills. She's gone above and beyond the gatekeeper role throughout our interconnected time. Over the last 8-10 years, I've frequently called Vicky, not as a conduit to my psychiatrist, but as a trusted confidant and counselor.

I've called Vicky to talk to, well, Vicky. I've spoken to Vicky from my car, my couch, and my bed. I've reached out to Vicky while out on a run, while hiking in a state park, and even while trekking in the Himalayas. It hasn't mattered whether she was at her desk or not. I've called Vicky at all hours of the day and night. I've left lengthy, desperate messages on her voicemail because sometimes I just needed to talk. Even if she wasn't there, I found comfort speaking out loud to Vicky. And she always, always called me back.

The thing about Vicky is she never freaked out. Over the years we developed a trusting relationship. Besides my psychiatrist, Vicky was the only person I trusted with some of my darkest, scariest thoughts. She always listened without judgment. She wasn't afraid to ask direct questions, and she always made sure I was safe. Vicky knew when to offer support and let me be. But she also knew when more assessment and/or hospitalization was needed. She was a conduit to my doctor, but she was so much more than that.

I'm happy for Vicky. She deserves a most fulfilling, happy retirement. Selfishly, however, I wish Vicky wasn't retiring. I'm sure I'll notice her absence when I next visit my doctor, as Vicky and I typically shared a smile and a laugh. I'm worried about life without Vicky in my corner. I'm not sure how I'll handle it when/if I have a significant depression relapse in the future. It will be different. I will miss Vicky. I'm sure of that.

1 comment:

Julie Gathman said...

This is a very important tribute! People need to be recognized for their work. You did something good with this post. I am in awe of Vicky. Thank you, Vicky, wherever you are.