Lets liven it up a little bit! I hope everyone knows that not all delusions are scary and sad. There are some people who live in a fantasy world of unicorns and rainbows. Not a lot…but some! This specific patient believed that she had already passed over to the other side. I guess that would make me an angel right? I will call her Catherine. Catherine was a larger women in her late 20’s. She was the sweetest woman I had ever met. She would call me Honey all the time. When I first met her she was sitting at the table in the dayroom browsing through 4th of July ads planning her 4th of July party. She wanted to have a carnival and lots of food! Throughout the shift Catherine would preach to the other patients telling them to repent and return to their Heavenly families, but not in a tyrant, angry way!. Later when It was time for bed she came up to me and my co-worker and said , ” I’m afraid to go to sleep.” We said, ” Why, whats wrong?” She said, ” Well the thing is, I don’t want to go anywhere, I want to stay here tonight, I don’t want to go up in a spaceship or cross over to the other side just yet.” I took her to her room and reassured her over and over that I would not let anything or anyone take her away and that she would definitely stay here all night. She wanted me to sit by her bed all night just to make sure, but when I told her I couldn’t she quickly understood. As it neared the early morning, she suddenly awoke and came out to the hallway where I was and said very urgently, ” When will I see John?” I replied in a very confused manner, ” John who??” She said with almost an annoyance that I didn’t know who she was referring to, ” John the Beloved!” I stood there shocked and simply said, ” In a few hours.” She nodded and said, ” Ok.” and went back to bed. I guess she thought she had crossed over anyways.
It’s not as scary as it sounds, I promise. I will call this patient Matt. Matt was a 27 year old schizophrenic with curly hair down to his shoulders who had done a lot of drugs to cope with the voices. Matt at first glance seemed like someone to fear, but quite the contrary. He would sit in a chair in his room and not sleep or eat for days. He wouldn’t do anything at all, just sit and stare and think I guess? Once he got bored of that he would come to the nurses station and park himself there. Although Matt wasn’t a physical threat, he was a sexual predator. You had to be careful of getting too close to him because he was known to grab at you whether you were male or female. I just made sure to never get too close and I was fine. He was also extremely paranoid. One time specific time was extremely interesting and luckily my co-worker was there to save the day. Matt said to us, ” Come on, we have to go.” My co-worker said, ” Why what’s going on?” ” Well the voices say that 1 person has to die everyday so I have to go do it.” I was new and could not think of ANYTHING to say to this. But thankfully my co-worker was quick on his feet and said, ” Oh, well there was a landslide in Chili today, killed 2000 peoples so your good for awhile.” Matt looked at him and said, ” Oh ok good then.” It is amazing the power the voices can have someone. He would also be watching T.V and In his mind believe that he saw his mother on the T.V say that she’s going to kill him. It must be such a scary, sad world to live in. I always leave work thinking, Gosh I am so blessed.
Can you imagine living in a world where somebody out there, someone you didn’t know had the power to kill you simply by the press of a button. I imagine that would be very stressful to believe and very scary. I tried to understand this lady and it was very difficult but once I put myself in her shoes I felt extremely overwhelmed. This lady, I will call her Rose. Rose was in her early 50’s with almost all gray hair and when I first saw her she reminded me of someone I would see at church on Sunday or working behind a desk somewhere. She had on a plaid business skirt, a very nice blouse and black heels. Rose was extremely paranoid, she would come up to me constantly asking me about the “people” and where they were. She believed they were in the hospital and coming to kill her. I was busy and would try to tell her something to calm her but everytime I would pass her door she would yell my name. This time I knew I would have to come up with something good or else she would continue to be in fear all night. I first listened to her fears and realized that she had feared this for possibly years. She believed that they had always been pushing the button. So I said to her, ” Well, if you think about it, maybe the button doesn’t really work.” She said, ” well why do you think?” and I said, ” Well if they have been pushing the button all this time and your still alive, so maybe you’ve beat the button?” She looked at me as though she had just had an epiphany and said, ” Well, I had never thought it that way before.” I smiled said, ” Well good you should start!” I then ran off to stop a 6″5′, 250 pound man from throwing himself as hard as he could into a door because he thought his friend was behind it. All in a days work!
“You must all Repent!” Its interesting, a lot of people who suffer from Schizophrenia become obsessed with 3 things, Politics, Religion and Sex. They will rant and rave about these 3 topics. A lot. This particular patient would rant and rave about religion. I will call her Cindy. Cindy was in her early 50’s, a small lady with long red hair. She had been found riding her bike without any shoes on, having gone for miles. When she came to us her feet had fractures and were so swollen that we gave her a wheelchair to ride around in. She was very psychotic and wouldn’t use it and instead would run up and down the hall for hours yelling. Luckily not very loud. But still yelling. We would ask her whats wrong, but of course.. she wouldn’t tell us. This hurt her feet even more and instead of using her wheel chair she decided to crawl everywhere. One night after everyone had gone to bed I turned to go down the long dark hallway to check on everyone and when I turned my heart skipped a beat and I let out a squeal. There was Cindy on all fours crawling towards me with her long hair in front of her face. A little scary…She was a nice lady though. Being obsessed with religion, one day she asked me for some paper and I gave her some not thinking anything. Awhile later she came back with a letter and asked me if I could mail the letter for her. I said, ” Well who is it to?” She replied, ” The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” She let me read it, it simply said,” I forgive you for not letting me speak in General Conference this year.” And I said, ” I’ll get that in the mail right away.”
This patient was so interesting. Why? Because it was the only patient that ever wanted to stay with us, permanently. Like he didn’t want to leave. Ever. I will call him Javier. Javier was from Venezuela and somehow ended up in Utah. It was actually a mystery to all of us. I think he came to be with us because he was found walking around in traffic naked. When he was admitted he pretended that he couldn’t speak a lot of English. He somehow managed to tell us that he saw demons, so naked in traffic plus demons is an admission. Once Javier was admitted he did only 1 thing. Sleep. All day, everyday. I am not exaggerating, he would sleep 22 hours almost everyday. The doctors started giving him Adderall just to keep him awake, and we would lock his door to keep him out of his room. His next favorite thing was being naked. He would sleep naked, come out into the hall naked. He was always naked. He would also come out to the nurses station and say , ” Peanuts, Peanuts.” He would just repeat it over and over until you gave him some peanuts, He never smiled or talked other than that. The most excited we ever saw him was when he found baby powder and ran around in circles laughing putting it everywhere. He put it all over his bed, the floor in strange circles, his desk, all the doorknobs. As I chased him trying to get him to stop he just laughed hysterically.
After about 2 months, which is a very long time to be with us, a co-worker who speaks fluent Spanish went in and talked to him and he surprisingly talked back. He apparently knew fluent English and he knew exactly how he had gotten here and he had family back in Venezuela, he just didn’t want to go back to his family. When my co-worker asked him where he did want to go, he said, ” Here, I want to stay here. This is my home.” After that he would jump with joy when he saw his favorite co-workers. He would tell me I was his sister. He never wanted to leave. He even admitted that he didn’t see demons, but that he had said that so he could stay here. He was officially the ONLY patient that jumped for joy when they were told, ” You’re getting admitted for 6 months.” To each their own I guess.
Working on the adolescent unit can be very heartbreaking. The reason for that is because they were simply handed bad cards. They are the children who have been expected to handle adult responsibility or have been taken advantage of, their innocence taken away, never to be returned again. These kids are screaming for attention and I don’t mean that metaphorically, I mean literally screaming for attention. All they wanted was to be taken care of, loved and instead they were ignored, abandoned, physically and sexually abused by the very people that should have protected them from harm. I am not excusing them from their behavior, but only trying to understand their viewpoint. It can be very hard to feel sympathy for them when they are acting out. I feel annoyed and angry sometimes. It does bother me but then I realize that it has absolutely nothing to do with me or anyone else for that matter. The issue is from the past and deep inside them that is being projected onto me or whoever else happens to cross their path.
This particular adolescent had come to us maybe 3 times. I will call her Tiffany. She was 15 years old, of Hispanic descent and lived with her grandmother. Her parents weren’t even in the picture anymore. Tiffany would come to us each time after having tried to commit suicide, I believe by overdosing. She had suffered a lot of physical and sexual abuse as a child and had a lot of anger and depression in result. When she came to us she spent most of her days in anger, trying to jump over the nurses station, finding something to cut herself with, banging her head against the wall and trying to bite herself. She was of course “angry” but a lot of it was purely for attention. She was just aching for attention as is most of the patients at our facility are. It seemed that she would act out so that we would be forced to stop her and she would let it go on for hours.
One specific time we took her in the seclusion room because she was trying to hurt herself. We ALWAYS try deescalating the patient verbally first but sometimes there is no way around it. They want to act out. Anyways, we took her into the seclusion room and our goal was to keep her from hurting herself. She was struggling to get out of our grip, thrashing around, trying to spit on us and bite us. One of the nurses had to switch out to go get a shot prepared and so a male nurse took her place. The second Tiffany saw him she exploded, “Get away from me! You did this to me!” She kept repeating this over and over, from the bottom of her throat. This was another scream that I don’t EVER want to hear again. Once we realized it was a real trigger and not for attention, he left the room quickly and someone else replaced him. It was extremely sad. I remember thinking afterwards that I can never judge because even though she began acting out for attention, it ended truly by a trigger. She had been traumatized and treated so terribly. It gave me so much compassion for her and reminded myself that we can NEVER judge others because we never know the pain they have been through.
Oh…Princess Diana.. now this patient did not like me. Her name was not Diana, not anything even close. But she believed it was to the core! I will call her Nicole. Nicole would not respond to her real name, only to Princess Diana or Diana. Nicole believed that it was the year 1988. She also called me a b*** everyday when she first saw me. Without fail. One day I asked her why and she said a matter of factly, ” because you have been having an affair with my husband Shawn!” Keep in mind that Nicole is not married nor has she ever been married. She also believed that she had 9 children. When I asked her what their names are she responded with a confused look on her face, “Um…Give me a second, I’ll have to think about that.”
Nicole also loved to be naked. She would walk out into the halls naked, sit in her room naked and sleep naked. She absolutely loved it! One time when I was doing my rounds I peeked into her room to find her naked sitting in her chair with her feet up on the desk enjoying a magazine. Nicole also loved using lotion. Every night before bed she would soak her hair with lotion and put 4 dots of lotion on her face, one on her chin, both cheeks and the middle of her forehead. Every night. She was a patient I will never forget, she always kept us on our toes!