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What I Want My Future Suicidal Patient to Know as a Student Nurse

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

To my suicidal patient, from your student nurse,

I don’t know your name or who you are. I don’t know your past or even your full medical history. I don’t know when I’ll meet you or what unit I’ll care for you in. I don’t know why you’re going to be in my care — perhaps I’ll humbly care for you while you’re recovering from a suicide attempt, or perhaps I’ll be your nurse after gallbladder surgery. I don’t know when you first started feeling suicidal or anything else about your story.

There is so much I don’t know, but there are some things I do know.

I know that, in one week from today, I will be caring for my very first patient. I cannot express to you how much joy I have in just anticipating what it’ll be like. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, and I’m thrilled to begin caring for people. But, I also know there have been so many days I’ve been ready to quit. Nursing school is hard, and, despite the fact this has been a lifelong dream for me, I’ve come very close to switching my major countless times.

I know in the moments I’ve been ready to give up, you have kept me going.

I take a step back from the stress and the pressure of school, and I remind myself that one day, someone is going to need me. Someone is going to need a reason to keep going. I desperately want to be there and keep you going, just as you have kept me going so many times. I want to care for you. I want you to live.

I know it’s hard to tell people you’re suicidal. There is a stigma that comes attached to suicidal thoughts that is difficult to bear. I know people look at you differently. I know that’s terrifying. And I know that sometimes, it can be even more terrifying to tell a healthcare professional that you’re suicidal.

I want you to know a few things while you’re in my care. I want you to know that right now, you are safe. I want you to know you are valued and you are cherished. I want you to know I love you with the deepest sacrificial love I could possibly give. And finally, I want you to know that right now, you only have one job. The only thing you’re responsible for is staying alive for the next 60 seconds. That’s all you have to do. When the sixty seconds are up, your job becomes staying alive for the next sixty seconds. That is all I want you to focus on or worry about, and I wholeheartedly believe you can do it.

While you’re doing your job, I’ll be doing mine by holistically and passionately caring for you.

I will be pouring my heart and soul into your recovery and well-being. Not because I’m being paid to, but because I love you.

And what you don’t know, is that I know you. I know where you are right now. I know how much pain you’re in. I know the feeling of suddenly having the rug pulled out from underneath you.

I know because I, too, am suicidal.

I know the battle is hard. I know there are days when living just does not seem worth the effort. I know there are times where I physically feel like I can’t even breathe — those terrifying moments when I feel like I’m suffocating, all too often followed by the harrowing realization I really don’t care if I am.

I know what it’s like to be completely apathetic towards life.

But right now, you only have one job. The only thing you’re responsible for is staying alive for the next 60 seconds.

Perhaps, what you don’t know right now, is that you’ve kept me going in more ways than just one. Yes, there have been countless times I’ve stayed in nursing school for you, but more importantly than that, there have been countless times I’ve stayed alive because of you.

I know I owe you my life, and one day, perhaps you’ll owe me yours. That is the beauty of community. I’m alive because of you, and you’re alive because of me. Together, we will get through this. Together, we will one day cross over to the other side, where we don’t constantly live in fear of not being here next year, next month, or even tomorrow.

I am your student nurse, and I will help you fight this fight. I will fight for you, with you and because of you.

I have one last thing to tell you, and it’s this: despite all the pain and hardship we face in this life, there are still magnificent moments to come. I know there will be moments when your heart overflows with joy, moments when you can catch a small glimpse of all the beauty in this world. With every fiber of my being, I can promise you that those moments make everything worth it. You will be so, so, happy to simply be alive, and you’ll be so proud of yourself for not giving up. Even more, I know you’ll see the magnificence in a way others just can’t because you understand the ugliness in a way they never will.

Wait for those moments, and when they arrive, march through them with your head held high. Enjoy every second of your triumph. You deserve it.

I know you can do this. I know you can make it. I believe in you. I promise.

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Originally published: November 15, 2018
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