I really don't mind working in mental health - I definitely have the personality for it. I can spend all weekend laughing and crying and listening with people who have never been in a more terrible state - and then go home Sunday night and not give it much more thought until Friday night. I care about the people while I am there, but I don't dwell on it when I am not. You can't. It would drive you crazy. Mentally unhealthy people are draining. Really draining. But really I don't mind. I know they're draining and I expect them to be just that when I walk through the door.
And the endurance of all people is different. I have seen some addicts come in bound and determined this will be their one and only attempt at detox, they give it all they've got, and they succeed. I like these people :) I've seen others fail a few times, but not give up, and end up being successful. And some people just don't get it before they give up. And sometimes the depression, the Bipolar, the Schizophrenia, the grief, the addiction, the loss - it's eventually too much.
I call these people ticking clocks. Those of you not dealing with the suicidal and desperate may not relate. I can see the same people over and over and over again, but sometimes, in some people something in their eyes change. I can't really describe it, but I just know and it gives me chills everytime. I've seen it happen too often - Oh, they go through the motions, but you can tell in their eyes they have a secret and the next chance they get, they're getting out of here. And at least 99% of the time, I see their obituary pop up in the newspaper within a week or 2. It's morbid - I know - but it has happened too often to not be true. And I dread it happening because as much as I believe and pray for a miracle in their life, usually this is the beginning of the end.
I saw it today in a woman who has seriously fought the good fight. I just saw her not too long ago, but today, again, her eyes were different. I even asked her if she had given up and she assured me she had not - lie. I just know. I don't know why. I just do. And even though I can see it coming from a mile away, it will still take my breath away if her name pops up in the newspaper in the next few weeks, but I'm telling you - it will.
I wish people came with a gage - a little monitor on the outside so that you would know exactly how much more they can handle before they totally lose it. I'm thankful that we have One who knows just how much we can take and promises not to overburden us if we give our burdens to him. The one who holds the future and reveals it as we are able to receive and understand is gracious and kind. People who are living without Him are spiritually miserable to start with and have nowhere to place the burdens of this world - I'm glad I can't imagine. I pray peace for them all the time and that in their journey of desperation they would find the burden bearer who is standing willing and able to take their load. I pray that tonight even for the woman who is in ICU fighting for a life she does not want anyway.