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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why I love what I do!

Now, that we all know how I got started in the Mental Health field, let me talk about why I love what I do and why I keep coming back to this field.

Not every day is easy working with Mentally Handicapped adults, but this does not stop me from doing what I love to do.

Do the residents get violent?  Hell yes they do!  Do they argue and pick fights?  Absolutely!  Are they kind and the sweetest people ever?  You bet your ass they are!

I can't imagine never working in this field.  It's what I was born to do!

I've dealt with more violence than I have ever wanted to deal with in my life, but that doesn't stop me from coming into work each day with a smile on my face and greeting them like nothing ever happened.  The previous home I worked at had way more violence than the one I'm running.  The last place I worked at had someone "acting" out almost every day.  They had residents hitting, kicking, etc., a lot!  The home that I run, does not have much violence and we can go months without someone having physical aggression, but that doesn't mean they won't act out.  Adults with mentally disabilities are unpredictable.  One minute you could be having an awesome conversation with them and be laughing and the next minute they could be hitting you.  It's not their fault.  Most of them don't understand what they are doing and they feel remorse and are so upset after they realize what they have done.  Some of them do it because they want attention and even attention from their negative behavior is better than no attention at all.  I've dealt with my fair share of going to the walk in clinic because I've have hot coffee thrown on me, I was pushed up against a wall, I was hit, etc.  But that doesn't stop me from being there for them when they need it the most.

I love seeing their faces light up when they color you a picture and give it to you, I love
watching someone that has a disability learn something new; it's one of the most amazing things in the world!  Watching how excited they get for the smallest things, makes me appreciate everything I have and all the small things in the world.  These guys don't want much, they hardly ever ask for something and when they get something, it's seriously like they have just won the lottery! I have had residents ask for underwear for Christmas or hygiene products, and it kind of makes you realize how much we take for granted and always want, want, want and all they want is to get a new toothbrush for a Christmas present.  Hearing them tell me that they love me 40 thousand times a day is the BEST thing ever! Having them come up to you and asking for a small hug is literally the sweetest thing ever!  The majority of mentally handicapped adults have no family or their family wants nothing to do with them.  You become their family and they depend on you for everything.  You are the person they come to when they need to talk, when they have problems, and when they just want someone to be there for them.

The main reason I keep coming back is because they make me a better person!  They have shown me how to love unconditionally, how to love people no matter who they are, they have taught me how to not judge someone.  Does this mean that I am perfect?  No, this means I'm learning everyday how to continue to be a better person.  I will never be perfect and don't ever want to be perfect.  I just want to be the best that I can be and working with Mentally Handicapped adults helps me do this!  Working in this field in NOT for everyone.  I've seen my fair share of people that should never work in this field.  You need to have patience, you need to have an open mind, you need to be forgiving, and most of all, you need to understand that their disabilities are NOT their fault.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How I got started in the Mental Health field!

I'm always interested in how people get started in the careers they have chosen, so I thought I would write my own reason of how I got started with working in the Mental Health field. (If you aren't in the mood for a long story or a story that goes off topic a little, don't read this ;-))

In my senior year of high school, seniors could go to something called the Career Tech center.  This was to help figure out what you wanted to do in life and "help" you find the perfect career.  I was in the Early Childhood Education class (why, because my sister took it while she was in school and it was an easy A!  Yes, I took the easy way out... It was my senior year; I hated school, and just wanted to pass!)  I didn't want to do anything with children when I got older; it was just an easy class.  At this point, I didn't want to go to college; I wasn't sure what I even wanted to do after I graduated.  The Career center also had the Adult Work Center attached to it.  This was a program for adults that were mentally handicapped.  One day one of the guys came to our classroom for something and I immediately fell in love with talking to them and interacting with them.  I believe this guy was Autistic.  Right then and there, I knew I wanted to do something with adults with mental illnesses.  It was fun!  I think it was the last semester when you were able to go to a job location and work (for free, but for the experience) a couple days a week and then you would have to go to class the other days.  With the Early childhood class, you would think I would have to go to something that related to children, imagine how happy I was when they said it was OK to work in the Adult Work Center!  I started out with being a teacher’s assistant in a math class they had there.  I LOVED it!  I didn't really do anything other than sit there and watch them learn and interact with them every now and then, but who cares, I was hanging out with them!  I eventually moved to a program they had in the AWC that was called Paperworks, I LOVED this even more!  What they did there was make specialty paper.  Paper for weddings and special events.  If you have never seen paper made, look it up, it was so fun! HERE is a link to a video that is very similar to what they did, but their operation was larger.  They would add flowers, glitter, etc.  I loved watching them get excited when they made stuff, loved watching them so happy that they were "working".  I worked there part time in the summer after I graduated and just knew that I had to keep working with mentally handicapped adults.

When I turned 18, my Aunt asked me to come work at the "old folks" home with her.  I started working there and it definitely wasn't what I wanted to do, but I absolutely LOVED working with the "old folks".  I don't care how many times I heard the same story, if it made them happy to tell me it 100 times, I was happy to hear it again.  I was working with a client that was on hospice :-(  I hated that he was dying, but he was so fun.  I grew attached to him.  He died on Christmas Eve the year that I started working there, so I wasn't with him for very long.  After he passed away, I continued to work there, but hated it.  I was a server, room cleaner, doing nurse work, etc.   I even started doing bingo with them (have you ever done bingo with old people?  That is some serious shit!)  To work here, you had to be CPR certified.  The day that I went and took the class, there was a lady there that worked at and AFC home working with mentally handicapped adults....she had mentioned to the instructor that she was hiring!!  BINGO!!  I talked with her after class and right away went and applied for the job, I was hired on the spot!  This was a job I knew I was going to love and man was I right!  After working at the same job for almost 9 and half years, I quit and we moved to Lansing.  I hated that I had to leave my residents, but was happy to move.  I was happy to get out of that place.  It wasn't the job that I hated, it was the staff.  I always loved the residents.  If you have ever worked at an AFC home, you know the turnover rate it ridiculous and they hire some pretty ridiculous staff and I worked with some staff that was horrible to work with.

After we moved, I decided I wasn't going to work for a while (my god, was I bored as shit!).  I eventually found a job (or it found me, my friend worked there).  Let’s just say I hated it from the first day!  It was working at a hotel doing accounts payable and other office work.  I had NO clue what the hell I was doing!  I would eventually have to do this all on my own (the friend that was working there was going on maternity leave soon and I was taking over her responsibilities).  While she had the day off, I was in charge of paying the bills (I can't even pay my own damn bills, I'm not sure why the hell I would think I could pay their bills!), she returned a couple days later and come to find out I had paid a very large bill to THE WRONG COMPANY!  Needless to say, I bawled!  I was so upset!  I did a really shitty thing and quit without notice and through a Facebook message (yeah, I know it was an asshole thing for me to do.  Thankfully this friend and I still talk and she doesn't hate me!)  I knew this kind of work was not for me!  I didn't like it, I didn't know what the hell I was doing, and I didn't want to do it.  I went to work there because I was bored as shit and a friend offered me the job.

After about another month of being off work, I received a phone call saying that they found my resume off of indeed and would like to set up and interview.  I went in for the interview and was so excited for the position.  I then had a second interview which they told me they would call me in a week with an answer.  A few hours later, I received the call that I was hired!  I was going to be running an Adult Foster Care home!  I was beyond excited.  This is something that I have always wanted to do!

I honestly feel like this is my calling.  I love being the person they depend on for simple needs, I love being the person there when they need someone to brighten their day.  It’s not an easy job some times, but the rewards of helping someone out are worth every minute of it!  This is why I keep coming back to this field!
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