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The Power of Positivity: Lifesaving Perspective

The Power of Positivity: Lifesaving Perspective
Constance Noll DNP, MA, CRNP, PMHNP-BC

March 2023

The below story is written by APNA Recovery Council Chair Constance Noll, DNP, MA, PMHNP-BC, CRNP. Research by the APNA Recovery Council noted that positive stories are beneficial to all who share in writing and reading them. Consider giving a boost to your fellow PMH nurses and submit your story here for inclusion in an upcoming APNA News Power of Positivity installment.

We all benefit from the time we spend reflecting on good things. By evoking gratitude and filling our cups with positive energy, the happy life stories we tell ourselves enhance our well-being. To that end, I’d like to share a story of mine.

Earlier in my career, I was doing some disaster mental health work. I had listened to a first responder unburden himself with his account of a gut-wrenching recovery scene from which he had life-questioning residuals and vivid memories of a disturbing image.

Later I reviewed this interaction with my supervisor, feeling as though I had done little and was now dealing with the image myself. He looked at me intently, called me by name, saying “Connie you saved that man’s life.” I looked at him in astonishment and disbelief and had no idea why he would say that.

He named the components of the therapeutic process that I had demonstrated; authentic presence, listening, kindness, concern, compassion, genuineness. He reinforced what I had educated the individual about, emotional response to disaster and catastrophic situations, normal emotions in an abnormal situation, self-care, re-connecting and connecting with supports. I remember I had to let his words sink in. It was perhaps the first time I had thought of myself as a psych nurse who saved a life.

In reflecting on the survival, thriving, and recovery we have all experienced over these last few years, I was recently reminded of this memory. As psychiatric-mental health nurses, have you thought of how many lives you likely influenced for the better over these tumultuous pandemic years? Indeed, how many lives you might have saved through your example, your knowledge, your encouragement, and your skills as a psychiatric nurse? Have you allowed yourself to think of successes— your own as well as others?

It isn’t easy to think of our successes. We often don’t see the results of our interventions, and it’s hard to stay positive when bombarded by multiple stressors. But when we take the time to reflect on our stories, the evidence is clear. There is no doubt that as PMH nurses we absolutely Save Lives Every Day.

Constance Noll
Chair, APNA Recovery Council

The Power of Positivity – continued. Your colleagues would like to hear from you: your stories of what has influenced your practice, inspired you, changed you, challenged you, and sharpened your skills as a psychiatric-mental health nurse. What might have changed your thinking or altered your philosophy? Have you resolved personal or professional issues that facilitated your growth as a professional? What keeps you going? What gives you a feeling of meaningfulness about your work? What story do you have that others would benefit from, be reassured by, or inspired by? Tell us, please. Your story may appear in an upcoming APNA newsletter.