I’ve always thought that I had a lot of compassion inside of me. I always thought that I was quick to be understanding, always considering that the person ( whoever they are) has had hardships in their life that made them who they are today. I actually had thought that maybe I was too understanding where I would go as far as make excuses for someone, thus allowing them to hurt me continually. I had never had someone test my compassion or my patience as much as this person. I will call her Bailey, a person who has become someone I will most likely never forget, someone who has made a very great impact on me as a person.
The first time I saw Bailey she was asleep on the couch in the day room of the adult high acuity unit. She wasn’t even an adult, she was only 17 years old but the adolescent unit was having so much trouble with her that the CEO decided it would be better if she were put onto the unit with the most difficult patients, the psychotic patients, the homicidal patients, in hopes of scaring her. I was told in report that day that she could get violent, kicking, punching, spitting ext. Then her mom called and they asked me to go wake her up to see if she would take the call. This day was over 2 months ago, she goes down in history at our hospital as one of our few longest patient stays. Why has she been with us for so long? Because nobody wants her. Not her adoptive mother, no other facility, the state hospital, group homes, no one.
I started off having a really good rapport with Bailey. I was proud of myself, I thought I had figured out how to handle her. I thought that I had found a good balance of discipline and giving her freedom at the same time. I thought that I had figured out how to de-escalate her before she had a freak-out. I had clumped her in with another 17 year old girl that I had once worked with, thinking she thought the same way. Weeks went by where she respected me, but would freak-out and attack other staff members. I remember thinking…oh she would NEVER attack me, we have a rapport.
Then one day I was working her unit, it was a busy night, it was phone time and so the phones were ringing off the hook. I was handling the phones for two units, running back and forth managing everyone’s phone calls. Bailey walked up to the glass window and stood there giving me this pouty face that she usually does. Bailey is short in stature, a little pudgy with brown hair that lays on her shoulders. She just stared at me wanting me to give her attention, talk to her. As I am on the phone I mouth to her, “I can’t right now.” I was annoyed. Why did she think everyone should stop what there doing whenever she wanted something? About 10 minutes later when I was done with phone time I stepped outside of the nursing station and asked her what was up. She just stared at me with that look on her face and shoved my shoulder. I couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked. I said, ” Did you just push me?!” She replied, ” Do you want me to really hit you?” She then shoved me again. I then yelled over the glass to my co-worker. She came over and as she was coming up behind her Bailey finished off by kicking me in the leg. My co-worker grabbed her arms behind her back and I went and opened the seclusion room door. We put her in there but before we could close the door she turned around and spit in my co-workers face, twice. This type of behavior began happening routinely. Like everyday. There was another time when I was at the end of the hall doing my rounds on the patients and another patient walked up to me and quietly said, ” Watch out, Bailey just told me she’s going to attack someone and she doesn’t care who it is.” As soon as she was done telling me, I looked up to see Bailey walking towards with me a truly evil look in her eyes. She simply walked up to me and began to try to hit me and kick me in a very fast manner. My instinct was to block her hits and kicks with my clipboard. She didn’t actually get me once haha! I surprised myself later thinking back on it because when she was trying to hit me and couldn’t, I began taunting her . I was saying, ” What are you bored? Is that why your doing this? Did you not get enough attention? I was smiling too and it made her smile and then I said, ” Oh this is fun for you isn’t ” This all happened in a 30 second period. By then my co-worker walked down the hall and she stopped. I walked back to the nurses station and I watched Bailey push my co-worker as she turned her back for a second. She ended up spitting on her too. She went into seclusion this time for a few hours, where she sits on a cold floor and the walls are cement and we stare at her through a tiny square window.
After this second time I began to hate her. I actually had hate in my heart for her. I cringed every time she said my name or wanted my attention. I was cold to her now. I worked the connecting unit for weeks afterwards to get away from her. She still had freak-outs and I would help but at least I didn’t have to communicate with her or have to look her in the eyes. I hated that I felt this way. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help it. I guess I just felt like I couldn’t figure her out. I couldn’t figure out what triggered her or why she acted the way she did. She didn’t seem low-functioning to me, she didn’t seem depressed. It just seemed that she wanted attention or was bored and so she would act out. Also everyone else in the shopital felt the same way. Everyone had this hate for her when normally my co-workers were very understanding. To make matters worse she wasn’t leaving anytime soon. The attacks were becoming so often and more frequent that our managers were telling us to file a police report against her each time it happened. They thought it would help get rid of her faster. I myself filed twice on her. The police would come right to the hospital and we would file it right then and there.
So this went on for weeks, my anger towards , her continual outbreaks and everyone trying to get rid of her. Then one day I came across an evaluation that what been recently done on her. You see up until this point we didn’t know that much about her. And so I found some things out… She had been severely neglected from birth until age 5. She was sexually abused by her father. She was then put with her grandmother, then her aunt and then into foster care. Someone in foster care sexually abused her. Then at age 13 she was adopted and her adoptive mothers husband sexually abused her. The doctor who evaluated her diagnosed her with PTSD, ODD ( Oppositional Defiance Disorder ) ,RAD ( Reactive Attachment Disorder ) and ADHD. I suddenly understood her so much more. I had more compassion and my heart softened towards her.
The next time I worked with her I was more kind and loving and not as cold as I had been for so long. I didn’t expect her to change just because I viewed her differently but I had changed in my thoughts and feelings towards her.
One night she was on the verge of a freak-out and somehow she didn’t, oh it was because we threatened seclusion, which she had begun to hate. And she asked me if I would take her to the gym to get her energy out. I ended up taking her and we played around for a little bit. After we were done she asked if we could go to the cafeteria. We got some drinks and I asked her if she wanted to sit down for a little. I could tell she was a little shocked that I didn’t say “Ok lets go back now.” We began talking. I began asking her questions and she responded like an adult, we had an adult conversation and I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening. I couldn’t believe that I felt safe enough to be alone with her off the unit, totally secluded at 11:00 at night. When we went back that to the unit she asked me if I would tuck her in. The next time I worked we did the same routine. I could tell it meant a lot to her, she told me that she felt like everyone hated her here and how she just wanted to go home to her mom and that she didn’t know why she freaked out all the time. She also said that her biggest reason for wanting to die was so that she wouldn’t have to be sexually abused ever again.
I found myself wondering how could I have ever been so hateful towards someone who have been given one of the crappiest set of cards in life ever… but I hadn’t known that before I guess. So anyways it has been a crazy last 2 and a half months and the end is unknown still. How will things end for her… I wish I knew. Will she be ok? I have no idea. But what I do know is that I could do better to not judge so quickly, to not hate so quickly, to understand what being in somebody else’s shoes is really like. And love really goes a long way.