When people ask me what I do, if I reply with “I’m a mental health nurse”, they often say something like “that must be hard”, “that must be difficult”, “that must be rewarding” or “that must be interesting”. My response is generally along the lines of “yes it can be, sometimes”.
Above all, and mainly because I approach it in a solution focused way, it’s like this:
The clock ticks…
“It’s the little things, like the way I’d be looking across the room”.
I sit captivated, aware of the growing tightness in my chest, not daring to breath just yet in case I introduce distracting eddies, unwelcome turbulence in the atmosphere that surrounds us both and fills the room.
I notice a collared dove on the wall outside the window. It seems to wink at me and place a helpful reminder amongst my racing thoughts; “ask the next question”.
The little things
“That, moment… In that moment…”
The next question
“What would be different about that – the way you’d be looking across the room?”
A blank stare, then a shift. Their gaze changing, as if seeing through dissipating fog, focused on a hazy, distant form becoming clearer and closer. Arriving finally in front of them, greeted by a tearful welcoming smile. The smile of someone arriving in themselves, in their future as it converges with their past. The points of contact being those moments, like the moment they are describing.
“It would be that look… I don’t know how to put it into words… It’s just like, it’s ok, it’s like I can deal with this room now. I can do this little thing now and my whole day can go alright”
The tightness melts away as I breathe freely again; “Cool!”
“…What have you noticed yourself doing already, in the last few days perhaps, that’s anything remotely like a step towards what you’ve just described?”
This time without hesitation, eyes beaming, voice steady and proud; “oh I did that yesterday!… Not so much this morning, but still… I’ve done other things today… I do think I’m on track actually!”
No need. Another reply:
“I can do this. This is who I am. Funny how you can forget isn’t it? Anyway, yeah, I’ve got this!”
Just enough, no more
“Ok, well I’m about out of questions, and we’re also almost out of time”
“Yes, fine. Thanks. This has been really helpful. Thanks!”
“A pleasure! Genuinely! Thank you too!”
“Enjoy the rest of your day!”
They stride confidently up the corridor. Into their unfolding, unpredictable and recognisable future.
A nod back at the dove, now casing the tip of an emerging daffodil.
“Thanks fella! I love it when a plan comes together!”