There are some clients in my professional life that are unforgettable. The lessons that I've learned in my clinical years continue to serve me well as I teach nursing's young students about Behavioral Health nursing, my passion of the last 30-years...or so.
In nursing training, there is a text book and there are the people we encounter to serve in times of physical and emotional distress. To me, the people...that is, our clients... will teach us the essence of the text.
As a nursing student, I studied schizophrenia and the issue of suicide. It was not until I worked with *Angela that I grasped the hopelessness, powerlessness and torture that someone can feel with command hallucinations.
I was inspired to write this story about what *Angela might have experienced in her final hours. I will be forever grateful of the lessons I am able to now share with my students because of brave and decent people like her.
This short story is dedicated to those who continue to suffer the nightmare of psychosis.
ON SCHIZOPHRENIA: ANGELA'S STORY
Angela found herself abruptly awake and reeling from the bickering voices inside her head. Ears ringing with raucous laughter and taunting from crowds of men and women, her eyes shot open.
She panted as though she would pass out from exertion. Perspiration oozed from her armpits. Her body shook in convulsions. Oh God, not again!
Angela, the Asinine.
Who were you expecting - Miss Universe?
Listen, it could be worse. She could look like you!
Shut up! Hey, did ya hear about her job interview?
Working in a Nursing Home! Like that might happen.
She'll screw that up.
She always does.
My money says she'll use dope.
I don't know, what about getting liquored up?
Either way, what a waste.
What's the use?
Not caring about the job interview, Angela reached for her bedside medicine. Hands still shaking, she uncapped smudged brown plastic vials of Seroquel and Ativan. She suspected these pills did nothing as prescribed but wondered what would happen if she finished them off with a nice cold bottle of beer.
As a child, she had watched her Momma drown her sorrows on more than one occasion. And Pop had never been right since Vietnam. His death had been an accident. He would never have tried to kill himself. Oh, won't these horrid people get out of my head? Mmmm... Angela stumbled to the kitchen in search of that beer.
Jeez, all those pills?
Thatsa lotta crap for any of us normal folks.
Yeah, right! Make that a double.
99 bottles of beer on the wall...
Oh stop singing!
I'm just sayin... more where that came from!
Well, she's not going to that stupid interview anyway.
Guess another few won't hurt her crazy ass.
Like you get a vote!
Chug a lug...
The one thing Angela couldn't say no to was a second, well, better make that a third beer. The voices were mumbling now, with seductive, hypnotic warnings. Was she imagining the smell of vanilla? She could almost taste the burnt sugar cookies Mom had made in this very kitchen.
She sat alone at the table surrounded by a growing mound of empty beer bottles. What the hell was she thinking? At last her breathing slowed and warm blood felt like it was creeping to the surface from her dulled, throbbing arteries.
It sure gets the blood flowin, doesn't it?
A few drinks never hurt nobody.
You have been through hell.
You really don't have a whole bunch goin' for ya.
No one would blame you.
We totally understand.
Yeah, you know it girl.
Do what you gotta do.
I never told Angela I loved her. Funny, I was her brother for 25 years and never found the time. What I did find that morning, after coming home from night shift was her dead body. Oh, I called 911 on the spot, but it was way too late. She was long gone.
Angela's body had slumped to the floor, dragging broken beer bottles along with her. My broken sister was surrounded by broken glass. Could she have a smile on her face?
Her wrists, both of them, had been slashed over and over with broken bottle shards. Her beautiful face was gashed beyond recognition.
I never cried in my life, but I sure did at the sight of my big sister. She used to tell me about these voices, around the clock, through her head, like a shrieking television that she was unable to turn off. God only knows what drove her to the blood bath that will forever swim in the horrors of my mind.
Do it tonight, Angela.
All alone now. Robby won't be home until morning.
He may not even miss you. Take a chance...
Feel alive for once in your useless life.
Go on coward. Pick up that glass.
Come on silly. Just one gash.
A little blood never hurt anyone.
There! Good for you, pretty!
Now, how about evening those wrists out?
Whoa, now you're getting the hang of it!
Ouch, your face? Whatever, this is your party, Miss!
U H U H O H O H.............
We're losing contact, Houston!
Oh boy, can't win em all.......................
Please take good care of yourself and those you love - until next week, mar
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