Working on the adolescent unit can be very heartbreaking. The reason for that is because they were simply handed bad cards. They are the children who have been expected to handle adult responsibility or have been taken advantage of, their innocence taken away, never to be returned again. These kids are screaming for attention and I don’t mean that metaphorically, I mean literally screaming for attention. All they wanted was to be taken care of, loved and instead they were ignored, abandoned, physically and sexually abused by the very people that should have protected them from harm. I am not excusing them from their behavior, but only trying to understand their viewpoint. It can be very hard to feel sympathy for them when they are acting out. I feel annoyed and angry sometimes. It does bother me but then I realize that it has absolutely nothing to do with me or anyone else for that matter. The issue is from the past and deep inside them that is being projected onto me or whoever else happens to cross their path.
This particular adolescent had come to us maybe 3 times. I will call her Tiffany. She was 15 years old, of Hispanic descent and lived with her grandmother. Her parents weren’t even in the picture anymore. Tiffany would come to us each time after having tried to commit suicide, I believe by overdosing. She had suffered a lot of physical and sexual abuse as a child and had a lot of anger and depression in result. When she came to us she spent most of her days in anger, trying to jump over the nurses station, finding something to cut herself with, banging her head against the wall and trying to bite herself. She was of course “angry” but a lot of it was purely for attention. She was just aching for attention as is most of the patients at our facility are. It seemed that she would act out so that we would be forced to stop her and she would let it go on for hours.
One specific time we took her in the seclusion room because she was trying to hurt herself. We ALWAYS try deescalating the patient verbally first but sometimes there is no way around it. They want to act out. Anyways, we took her into the seclusion room and our goal was to keep her from hurting herself. She was struggling to get out of our grip, thrashing around, trying to spit on us and bite us. One of the nurses had to switch out to go get a shot prepared and so a male nurse took her place. The second Tiffany saw him she exploded, “Get away from me! You did this to me!” She kept repeating this over and over, from the bottom of her throat. This was another scream that I don’t EVER want to hear again. Once we realized it was a real trigger and not for attention, he left the room quickly and someone else replaced him. It was extremely sad. I remember thinking afterwards that I can never judge because even though she began acting out for attention, it ended truly by a trigger. She had been traumatized and treated so terribly. It gave me so much compassion for her and reminded myself that we can NEVER judge others because we never know the pain they have been through.
- Sexual abuse linked to obesity in children, teens with mental illnesses. (zedie.wordpress.com)
- Effects Of Child Sexual Abuse: Depression And Other Mental Health Conditions (medicaldaily.com)
- Sexual abuse is a “gateway experience” that often leads to drug addiction later in life (bangordailynews.com)
- Complex Post Traumatic Stress (walkingnarcissists.wordpress.com)