Monday, June 18, 2007

Loss of hope.. an epidemic

This past weekend, there was a theme at work. It seems that too many people are depressed and have lost hope. I was paged for a 93 year old woman who kept asking why can't I help her die. She had lost her family members and friends had died as well. She saw nothing worth living for.
Then as I was leaving the building for the day. I was paged twice for 2 other depressed patients in various parts of the building. So I went to talk to the first person I was paged for. It was urgent. This was a man who was also depressed. His story told me of a lot of losses in his life -- relationships, faith community, declining health.

There are a lot of people whom I hear about that are depressed and have lost hope. Often at work, there are referrals to psychiatry and then the person is given anti-depressants. I believe that these are valid, but often I find the depression is related to a grief reaction. As per the common understanding of grief, written by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, depression is a stage/reaction of grief. It is one of my frustrations that my profession is forgotten when it comes to issues like loss of hope, or wanting to die. Regardless of how much we educate, obviously there is still more work to be done.

So the 93 year old was most difficult. She was saying that I should "push the red button", bring her the gun and she would do it... "I will". It was hard to know what to say. The nursing staff and I weren't giving her the answers that she wanted... in the end, she was appeased by a peanut butter sandwich. This distracted her for about 20 minutes..

It makes me wonder though. What is it that causes people to give up? To lose hope and to want to die. Often there is something missing in life, and sometimes it relates to an ideal not reached..
makes me wonder.

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