Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life With The Crazies

I know that's super un-pc, but what can I say? Political correctness is just not my thing. So... I started a new job! I'm sure I mentioned something about it in earlier posts, but I'm too lazy to go back and see what I said. :) So if you already read some of this or I've already told you about it, feel free to skim. The job is at a group home, which I'm not going to name just in case. It's a locked down residential facility for mentally ill children and adolescents. Look at it like this: remember the kids I worked with in SLO? If they couldn't cut it in the programs at FCNI, they would have to go to a place like this one. So it's a little wild. However, given that I knew what I was getting into, the first couple days were surprisingly mellow. (I'm not even going to bother knocking on wood, because there are going to be crazy days when I want to pull my hair out regardless.) There are 4 units on the premises, one has 5-11 year olds, one 7-13, and two have 13-18 year olds. Of the teenage units, they have "internal behaviors" (self harm, suicidal ideation, etc.) and on the other they have "external behaviors" (physically aggressive, etc.) The 7-13 year old unit actually have the most severe behaviors. There are 12 beds in each unit, and they are almost always full. Got all that? There's a quiz later.

So, my first two days, as I said, were pretty easy. Except for the fact that the shifts are 10 hours long. After working at Family Care, where we rarely spent more than 5 hours in a row with one client, it feels a little insane to spend 10 hours in a row with 12 clients, on a regular basis. Wow. But other than that it was good. A little overwhelming meeting so many clients and so many staff members, but still good. I worked on one of the teenage units yesterday, and the other one today. Tomorrow I'll be with the little ones, so that's sure to be chaotic. The teens are pretty predictable though. A little bit of attitude, a lot of moodiness, various attempts to manipulate me, some flirtation from a couple audacious boys, and a couple girls who are already my best friend.

There was, of course, a little excitement. Yesterday one kid tried to run during lunch, and escaped from the cafeteria, but not the campus. At dinner tonight three of the kids got into a fight, about five staff jumped into action within three seconds, restraining all three kids, (one to the ground) but not before one boy got punched. By a girl. It was a whirlwind. The restraining thing will be a little hard for me to get used to, because it's basically never done at FCNI (even though we were trained to do it) but sometimes it's necessary when you have 30 mentally ill children in one room. Or even 12 kids. I hope they don't overdo it though, because it's kind of traumatizing for everyone involved when people get restrained (in my opinion). Anyhow, outside of those events the kids were fairly calm throughout the day. On my unit, anyway.

Anyway, that's my news. I'm sure I will have plenty of stories to share in the future. (Disclaimer - it's sort of unethical to be writing about the clients, but I will never use names or identifying characteristics about any client. Just general stories.) I have a lot to learn about the organization, but being with the kids is kind of like coming home. I missed them. It's hard to explain if you haven't worked with this demographic before, but when you have, they stick with you. At some point, in some post, maybe I will be able to articulate why, but for now that's all I'll say. It's good to be back.

Before I go, I have a video, and one more little tidbit: it's supposed to SNOW in Portland this weekend! Woo hoo! I'm soo excited!!

I meant to post this video awhile ago, but I never got around to it. Some of you may have seen it already. If you don't have sound on your computer, you can still watch it. Just hum "Carol of the Bells" to yourself, and ignore the dirty looks from your co-workers. Enjoy!


Linda Z said...

Wow, Colleen! My world is expanded by peering into yours. I will keep you in my prayers as you are ministering to the hearts of these children and teens. Are you allowed to share your faith at all? I think I would have such a hard time if I couldn't share the hope that is within me... the hope that is found in Jesus! I will pray that He will comfort your heart and be your peace in the midst of chaos.

P.S. I like your Christmas playlist!! I'm going to have to do that! :)

Rochelle said...

true dat on the video.