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May 3, 2010


I have tried several times to write about my experience on Psych but am struggling for several reasons.

First, I am having trouble writing about my patients while maintaining their privacy. These people are so vulnerable to everything that I would not dare to jeopardize the one thing that still protects them.

Second, the stories I do have are pretty mundane, save one which will definitely not be told in this context but TRUST ME it is a doozy, because I spend most of my time hiding from the patients. I am ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. I talk to them as much as I can, but I really dislike most of them and they make me so uncomfortable and I don’t know what to say or how to act or how to sit or anything. And so I sit in the nurses’ station feigning note writing. Or I roam the hospital, trying to look busy. Or I will occasionally just pull the old classic and hide in the bathroom. I’m not even worried about getting caught, either. I just don’t want to sit in that depressing room with patients all around me rocking and moaning and being tortured by their demons that no one else can see. I don’t want to pretend to talk to people that I know cannot talk back. I don’t want to be faced with the kind of abject and total despair, the complete hopelessness, that I see in these people’s eyes. I can’t take it.

Patrick and I watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” on Friday in honor of this rotation. As part of my month, I have to observe electroconvulsive therapy, mostly to dispel the false drama seen in the scene of “One Flew” where this therapy is administered and it is horrifying. I thought it should be just as important to see the scene in question, as well as the rest of the movie.

God, what a horrible idea.

While it was a fantastic movie – a “how have I not seen this before” kind of film – it was not the kind of thing that inspired me to go back to work today. In fact, it was just the opposite. It made me even more terrified of these people. I have one patient in particular who reminded me so much of Mack that it made me nauseous. I kept a reasonable distance from that patient today, just to be safe.

In all honesty and without exaggeration, my friends, I hate admitting this to you. I hate admitting that these poor people are real, that they are frightening to me, to each other, to themselves, and that they are not really getting better. I hate admitting that their actions, regardless of how mentally fit they were at the time, influence my feelings about them. I have learned more on this rotation by watching with big, wide eyes than on any other. One thing I learned right off: I’m not going to be a psychiatrist when I grow up.

1 Readers rock!:

tracy said...

It is sad that you have to see the very most ill mental patients while you are on this rotation. Sad for all of you.
As well you probably don't get to see what the majority of Psychiatrists do...even in the hospital with the "less ill" patients. Although, in reality, it is the psych techs who are a patient's best friend....