Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When Pain Has Stained a Peaceful Heart by Ann Henry

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This is a first-person accounting of what it's like to be a mentally ill person that has been put into 'they system.'

Ann gave nearly a year of her life in an attempt to regain her sanity, though most of that time wasn't freely given.  Ann was institutionalized.  As her confusion and fear grew, she began to lash out, causing her to be moved from place to place.

Having seen the caregiver side of this equation, it was fascinating and heart-wrenching to see Ann's side.  When someone with mental issues is in your care, your number one priority is their physical safety.  Your second priority is their mental safety.  I've gone through the stages of having to force unwanted medication and restrain.  However, Ann's perspective doesn't see the necessity.  Not only is she battling her mind and hallucinations, but she's also having to battle against a horde of people that she just doesn't understand.  They cause her mental distress and physical pain, all in the name of trying to keep her safe.

This short book has been written in the form of poetry, because that's the easiest way for Ann to talk about the trauma she endured as a mental patient.  Talking about trauma and attempting to get past it is incredibly difficult and I applaud Ann in her efforts.

What she has accomplished here is the necessity for empathy in the caregiver system.  I've seen several nurses and doctors that have it in spades, but I've also seen the opposite.  In a career where you're dealing with violent and loud, confused people on a day to day basis, it's important that you find healthy ways of coping.  Too often it leads to an immunity and we no longer see what we're doing from the other person's point of view.

This is a quick and important read.  If mental illness has touched your or anyone you know, or if you deal in any way with the care of someone with mental illness, you'll find a fresh new look at things that can be integral in your relationships.

Keep in mind, because this is a first-person accounting, we only see one side of the story, Ann's.  This is not an attempt to discredit mental institutions or cast blame, but rather an attempt to get people to take a closer look at what's going on.  It's also Ann's way to try to make sense of this period in her life and heal and grow.

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