Outside of yoga I am a Registered Nurse practicing at a pediatric clinic in Chicago, IL.
I triaged an 11y female patient; suicidal, with plan, Hx of violence towards herself and others. Her mother called the clinic seeking help, seeking guidance. The mother, a nurse herself, already knew the answer I was going to say, ‘Take her to the ED, immediately.’
“But . . .” she retorted with a list of excuses any parent who wants to protect their child would say.
My heart sinks.

I practice yoga so that I can be better at life, I practice Ashtanga yoga asana 6 days a week to create space so that an inner light can shine through my actions. Asana is more than a physical limit of what is capable, it is used for an outside perspective, outside of the limits of the mind.

The head spin –
Empathizing with this mother on the phone. Remaining firm and calm, directing her guiding her to acknowledge the situation. Her child has stated that she has an intention of causing harm to herself and has a plan that she is ready to enact. I know the psych ‘industry’ is pharmaceutically based and this girl will most likely end up another statistic in the machine because we demand immediate fixes, and a drug is immediate. I know that this child would benefit from addressing the root of the issue, Why? Why are they suicidal at 11? (we are instructed never to ask ‘why’ because it puts the Pt on the defensive) Where is the pressure coming from? What are some alternatives to suicide?
My hands are tied. I feel helpless and heavy. I am aware that the mother does too . . . ‘Take your child to the ED.’ She verbalizes understanding

The rub –
I am the 11 year old, wanting to commit suicide. I feel the pressure so real, so intense, I feel trapped. I can’t see the light at the end. I can’t see. And all that I can see are my two hands, only one way out boy. I see the only way I have control.
I am the mother, I want to protect my child. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, always hovering. I want my child to experience, to be free, learn from failure, get hurt, grow, and do it all over again, learning along the way that there is freedom outside of this thing called man. But I want this life to live. I want my child to know that they are safe and there are many ways to see a situation. I want this child to know that although the way looks grim,and hopeless, we are in this together, equal, occupying the same space. I want this child to let go of control, of a fixed idea of their future. and To guide this child . . . I must lead by example – relinquish control. This letting go is painful.
I am the third person offering perspective, taking in the big picture, the situation. Unbiasedly treating, empathetic to both. My back is up agains a brick wall and I have a MACK truck two inches from my face.


2 thoughts on “Triage”

  1. Beautiful, Morgan! You have so eloquently outlined the challenge we face as yogis, particularly in the “helping professions”. Your ability to empathize and see through the eyes of each person in this situation is most likely one of the things that makes you a great nurse. Thank you for sharing your writing.

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