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May 12, 2010


Psychiatry has offered a good many “war stories” for the time I’ve spent there, but I find that I don’t want to tell any of them. I have graduated from hiding from the patients to merely hiding from responsibility, as any self-respecting third year medical student does, but it is no less traumatic to walk onto the ward every day and see the haunted faces, the blank, empty eyes. I hate this rotation and I hate what it has done to me.

My sleep has been a disaster; I’ve slipped back into my night owl ways, which never bodes well for mental or physical well-being. I am almost always irritated about something. I watch the clock all day long to get home and all night long as I beg my brain to sleep, but instead stare into the darkness. My mind makes people out of the laundry piles, people whose eyes don’t see because the voices are too loud and whose brains are wired up all wrong.

I can sit and talk to the patients all day at work without any problem. I like most of them, even, and think that they like talking to me. But they follow me home, floating just behind my car, hanging in my wake as I move around my house, hovering over my bed at night. They haunt me from afar, though I barely know them and am just there to learn. I don’t think they want anything from me, but I can’t be sure. I think I am bringing them home by accident, without meaning to, and then they are stuck here with me, hovering over me, waiting.

There are those who share our world who are broken, who will never be right. Some people are beyond repair and cannot be helped. Some people are slaves to their minds, under such bombardment from their own thoughts that they are unable to respond to anything else. Can you imagine what that would be like? Seeing that vacant look in the mirror, unable to tell reality from the manifestations of your mind, losing every dignity inherent in being human and not even noticing?

The idea is so foreign and unbelievable to me that it seems impossible, and yet here they are. These patients, these people live in spite of their minds. The treatment teams add meds and change meds and monitor and record and question and worry, but improvement or recovery is a rarity, a myth once you have reached that point. They are broken. And I am breaking with them.

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