I have spent four weeks in this rotation, three weeks in this one particular psychiatric facility, and everything I have learned so far can be condensed into this one sentence:
Every person has a unique experience.
We learn about a number of conditions but we see more of schizophrenic and bipolar patients in the wards. I have interviewed 5 or 6 patients by now and they all come with more or less the same complaints, but their stories are vastly different. There was a female patient who cried and scolded us because she felt we weren’t doing enough to understand her, there was a male patient who was very open and shared with us the details of his hallucinations. Again, we selfishly want the ‘easy’ patients, those who are willing to talk because we have assignments to do, logbooks to fill up. But we forget that unlike more usual illnesses, psychiatric ones are far more complex, the people are far more damaged. While we get hurt by the way they glare at us, or we feel threatened by their stares, we almost forget that they are human, that they are hurt, sometimes beyond repair.
I listened in class two days ago about the DSM-5 criterias for mood disorders: manic, depressive, bipolar and the more specific ones (ie: dysthimic or cyclothymic disorders). I recognise my own symptoms, I recognise the ones I see in my the people I care for the most. I wondered if I should see a tutor and talk things over. My dear friend from a place far away recently checked herself into a facility because her world was crumbling. I don’t know if I have the option to do that. No, no, right at this moment, things are still.. handle-able? cope-able? But there have been days lately where everything comes to a screeching halt and I become paralysed, giving into the darkness of my mind. This is nothing new, it’s part of who I am now.
If I struggle this hard, it must be terrible for those who are in hospital for the illnesses of their mind. It must be scary to hear voices, to feel compelled to hurt yourself or to hurt others.
May I never forget that.