The Life of Cathy Ulrickson: Part One

Hey everyone! Antoria here. I’m pretty sure some of you were wondering where I’ve been. No I’m not dead, and I most definitely did not quit blogging. That’s never going to happen. Ever. But surely, in another blog post, that would be addressed. This blog post isn’t about me, however. I have been given the absolute privilege to share my platform with a wonderful woman I’ve met on Twitter by the name of Cathy Ulrickson. You can follow her here on Twitter and here on WordPress. Do enjoy and again, thank you for sharing your story with me Cathy!

I was asked to write a blog post on mental illness for a fellow blogger, and I must be honest and say, I have struggled with it. I have sat down at this laptop quite a few times wondering where to start, what to write about and from what viewpoint, and each time, I erased it all, unsatisfied with what was written before me.

I decided I was trying too hard. So I started again; with the decision that I would just write from my heart.

Professionally, I am a Family Nurse Practitioner, treating patients during long hours, and many with mental illness. Personally, I am a single mother of four (now young adult children), whose youngest son broke and begun his own personal journey of mental illness. This first offering to those of you who have taken your time to read, will be the professional side.




In the U.S., a Family Nurse Practitioner is a Health Care Provider who has had a career in Nursing beforehand. We are trained and licensed to diagnose, treat and prescribe just as a physician does. I have seen my fair share of patient cases with mental illness. Anything from Depression to Anxiety Disorder. Bipolar to Schizophrenia. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Hoarding Disorder. It is disturbing at just how many every day people suffer with this sometimes silent struggles that are misunderstood, and very stigmatized.

As a Nurse, working in Intensive Care Units, I took care of patients throughout the years who had attempted suicide and who had mental illnesses of some sort. Each time I discharged one and walked them toward the exit, I wondered what would happen to them. It never seemed right that they just “went home” and frequently felt that they weren’t really healed; just made well enough to function until the next time.

The resources for those who suffer with mental illnesses are scarce, overburdened, and oftentimes not available to the poor and under or uninsured. So when you have a patient who has somehow gathered the courage and actually presented themselves physically to an appointment, you realize you must do as much as you possibly can in the sometimes twenty minutes you are afforded. You truly do not know if this struggling human being will get any more help than what it is you can do for them in that short twenty minutes. It is by no means enough. In fact, it is barely enough time to even have a healthy start at uncovering the layers of issues that culminate into the present problem the patient so courageously found the strength to come in and sit down with a total stranger to begin with. It is very high pressure on the provider. It is a fragile time for the patient.

Some have no family support. Some have no money. Some do not even understand what is happening to them. Some get fired from their jobs, lose their partners. seclude themselves from society, or even worse, feel they must wear the plastic smile and nice outfit to mask the pain and confusion they simply do not understand so that no one will know.

It is heartbreaking.

You’d think that being a healthcare professional, one that has over thirty years of experience, and is committed other work and patients, who is well researched and does this with the majority of her time, would know the details and just exactly what to do. Correct?

This is what I believed. That is how I practiced medicine.

That is, until my son broke. I realized I knew a lot, but understood little.

That was the day my education truly begun.

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