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To the Nurse Who Let Me Cry When I Needed It Most

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I have been struggling with depression and bipolar disorder for most of my life. I have been hospitalized more times than I’d like to remember, and there is really only one hospital to which I would ever go.

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The reason is because my favorite nurse works there and she always talks with me and treats me with respect. Her name is Martina and she has helped me through so much in the times that I’ve been to “her” hospital.

The first time I was hospitalized there in 2001, I just remember that it was one of the worst times in my life, and she just listened. She really heard what I was saying and didn’t give advice unless I wanted her advice.

I have since been to “her” hospital many times and usually she is my nurse. (I haven’t been hospitalized in almost five years.) I love to see her smile and I get happy when I know she is coming on shift and will be my nurse.

There was the time that I told her that I thought I was gay and was so scared about what she would say. She just said “Okay” like it was no big deal and told me that she would talk with one of the social workers (who was gay) and ask him about support groups and such. Next thing I knew, she came to me with lots of information and said that if I needed more, she would help me any way she could.

She told me that it was okay to be gay and that she really didn’t think that God had a problem with it (I was afraid that God wouldn’t love me anymore). She reassured me and said that she would be there if I needed anything.

Then there was the time in 2006 when I had tried to end my life and was living in a group home. I had been in the ICU and then was sent to the psych unit at her hospital. I was miserable, even though a very healing thing happened to me there. I was going to have a meeting with the director of my group home and I knew that they were going to tell me things I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t know exactly what they were going to say, but I talked with Martina about it. She told me to just sit there and listen and accept whatever they were telling me.

Then I went into the meeting and it was bad. They told me that I couldn’t have my car. I was going to be moved to a very restrictive house. Someone would be give me my medications. Basically, all my perceived freedoms were being taken away and I felt like I was being punished for attempting to end my life. (Although now I know that it was for my safety.)

After the meeting, I sat and ate my lunch and, through sobs of tears, talked with Martina about it. I’ll never forget this: she sat with me and let me cry, but she also was steadfast in her responses to my thinking that now my life was REALLY over. She said that it was okay to cry now, but that I needed to be strong and get through the next few months if I really wanted to get out of the group home. She told me to just do what I had to do (do whatever they said) and get things in order so I could leave the home for good.

She said that she believed in me and she knew that I would do it in a few months because it’s really what I wanted to do. She let me cry, but she also gave me the support and love that I so desperately needed at the time.

A few days later, I gave her a hug as I left the hospital and told her that I wouldn’t be back. The only time I ever went back was in 2010 for a brief “tune-up” and I haven’t been back since then.

She has always been there for me, though. She was the first person I called when my wife and I got engaged, and she was the most treasured guest at our wedding. These moments that she and I have shared have kept me on the straight and narrow for a long time and I’m so grateful for her support.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention LifelineHead here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Originally published: March 31, 2015
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