i walked into this term feeling pretty confident. after all, i have been a child advocate for two years, had numerous years of nanny experience, and a minor in psychology. i figured it would be a breeze to do mental health assessments with adolescents and children this term.
i was wrong.
my first day, dressed in sharp professional dress and heels, i was working in the nurse's office, doing informal counseling and nursing care for the children who were in and out through the day. my very first patient was a young lady with long, brown hair. she was at the awkward stage; not quite used to the growth and acne that middle school brings on. she came into the office in tears, having just slammed her fist into a wall in anger. as i iced and medicated her, the story came tumbling out, in gulping sobs and tears. she was depressed, lonely, and had just been "dumped" by a fellow 6th grader. but it was when i lifted her sleeve to bandage her wounds that i truly saw just how lonely she was. her wrists were covered in raised scars, bearing testament to a life no one quite understood. her mom was a single mom, working three jobs, and she simply had nowhere to go. violence was normal in the family, and she had trouble making friends. "i eat lunch in the bathroom", she confided softly, "that way no one notices i sit alone." my heart broke as her story just kept spilling out, bits and pieces emerging as i sat with her. when she left, i realized i had been wrong. this would be no easy job, no task where i would be rewarded with smiling, perfect kids who would throw their arms around me and go home to perfect families.
they are broken hearts with broken families.
kids who bear the labels of "stupid" and "retarded".
girls who think they are ugly because thats all they have been told.
boys who dont know how to treat women because they watched their dad break their mom's ribs.
children so hungry for attention, they cling to anyone who gives it to them.
the young lady i am writing a paper about is a tiny, pixie-like brunette. she has a smattering of freckles that dance across her little face, with eyes that tell a painful story beyond her age. she is doing school work of a second grader. we struggle through math and reading, and i work with her on telling time with a big plastic clock.
she is in seventh grade.
and yes, i read her chart. i read about her past abuse. i read her psychiatric evaluations, of her falling more and more behind each year in school. i saw her test scores and her rankings.
i saw her history of oppositional disorder, of emotional disturbance...
but then i watch as she is ignored in the halls, as she struggles to read music in band class, and i walk with her back to the classroom as whispers of her grade-mates follow us. what they dont see is what i see. she is funny, desperately funny. she draws, she plays the flute. she has a quick smile, and a ready laugh. under the diagnosis, she is a little girl.
broken hearts, broken people.
Jesus lets me be His hands and His feet these clinical days.
what a privilege.
"When the art of medicine is loved, so also is humanity"-Hippocrates