Originally Posted 05/03/16
Keep Smiling. Don’t ever stop smiling. Take that smile up into your eyes and keep smiling. I don’t mean a smug smile but more of a friendly “I am here if you need me” smile.
Whilst I was in hospital I watched the mad rush of over-tired, over-worked maternity staff. I heard the conversations about how they had had to send a midwife over to the Delivery or Maternity Assessment Units because those units were understaffed. I saw as they tried hard to deal with the Mothers-To-Be and the newborn babies and new mums and I felt “in the way”.
I was an enigma. I was neither in labour nor with a newborn. My emergency was in my head and the grey fog was getting darker and darker as I fumbled my way through the mire and the staff didn’t quite know how to deal with me. They did their clinical duty by carrying out my, normally on time, 4 hourly observations (albeit sometimes with an excuse of how busy they had been which is why they were late), and some would say hello if they saw me on the way up to the day room but they didn’t quite know what else to do with me.
The students, on the other hand, had more time. They could come and talk to me – partly, I think, because I was a mental health case so was different to their “norm” and I was prepared to talk to them about how I was feeling. They asked me how they could help someone in my situation, they listened and they smiled.
They smiled because it hadn’t been ground down by the relentlessness of the job. They smiled because they were training to do something they wanted to do. Most importantly though they smiled at me. They didn’t make me feel like a bed-blocker.
I asked them never to stop smiling because that smile helped me, because I didn’t want to disturb the stupidly busy trained midwives for something as trivial as a little human interaction and, believe me, when you are surrounded on three sides by curtain and a wall on the fourth human interaction is a necessity to stop the fear-filled mind from imaginings of even greater terror. I didn’t – correction I couldn’t – interrupt them yet I was so desperate for someone to see me, to listen to me and to hear me. Those students smiling at me and taking time to talk to me (even if they couldn’t action any of the things I needed actioning) made me feel like I mattered and I was okay.
Those smiling eyes when they stood next to a Consultant or Doctor who was drilling the worse case scenario of an emergency hysterectomy should my induction go wrong (yes – extreme I know!) helped keep me grounded because I felt I had someone who cared in the curtained bay as the other people in the ward listened in. That doesn’t mean the rest of the staff didn’t care but they dealt with the clinical and it seemed very few people knew how to deal with the mental effectively.
So to any medical staff who may one day read this blog……I ask you……KEEP SMILING – please don’t stop because that smile might be the one thing that prevents someone totally crashing or that keeps that mental enigma grounded. It helped me feel like I mattered when I was near my lowest so don’t ever stop – even if you are having the worst day ever I, or someone like me, might just need to see that smile to stop me free-falling.