Schizophrenia and its confusion

Schizophrenia…what a complex mental illness.. One of the aspects that I hate the most is the memory loss that comes along with it. The person has so much going on their head that they can’t focus on any particular thing. This in turn makes it very hard for them to remember things. This event took place the same day that I was taking on Sam  ( from my last post).

This female patient who I will call Sandy is in her early 50’s, she is a petite build with long brown hair and glasses. For the first few hours she was extremely nice, smiling, being extremely polite. I noticed that she kept asking me the same question over and over again though, ” When are we going outside for smoke break?” She must have asked me 6 or 7 times in one hour. At first I became irritated thinking she was simply being impatient until I realized that she just wasn’t aware that she had been asking me. Eventually we went outside and spent a good 20 minutes outside in the courtyard. When we were finished, I led everybody back inside and back onto the Unit. Almost immediately Sandy walked up to me and said, ” When are we going out to smoke break?” I responded, ” Um..We just went to smoke break.” Sandy responded, ” No, we didn’t!”

This conversation did not go or end well. She demanded evidence that we had just gone out. She thought I was lying to her and cheating her out of her smoke break. She escalated quickly, yelling and screaming at me, threatening to sue me. ( Like I haven’t heard that one a million times) She began slamming her hands on the nursing station door as she screamed at the top of her lungs things that didn’t make any sense at all. There was no talking sense into her. I grabbed the sheet of paper where we document where the patient has been all day. I circled the Unit Patio and showed her the time. She still didn’t believe me. I gave up trying to convince her and began to walk away. This made her very angry. She began walking towards cornering me against the wall. I began to get nervous at this point, convinced that she was going to attack me. Instead she randomly yelled, ” How would you like it if you had dentures?!” She then proceeded to reach into her mouth, take her dentures out of her mouth and throw them at me. Luckily they didn’t hit me and they fell to the ground. I then slipped back into the nurses station to get away from her. She then began to demand to speak to a supervisor. My co-worker who was standing next to me said, ” I’m the Supervisor.” Sandy replied, ” You can’t be the Supervisor, You’re wearing Red!”

At this point I had to turn around so that she couldn’t catch me laughing. The look on my co-workers face was too funny.

Sandy eventually calmed down and by the end of the night was smiling at me again being polite. I guess she had just forgotten again. What can you do?


8 thoughts on “Schizophrenia and its confusion

  1. As a schizophrenia patient, I can say I recognize the “you can’t be the supervisor, you’re wearing red” statement. Things like that make perfect sense when you’re thinking and saying them, while in fact it’s a completely random, most likely inexistent correlation. And then later, when the worst of it is over, you realize that and just feel stupid. And yet, it still somehow makes sense to you, though you can’t explain how.
    The thought of memory loss frightens me; I have blackouts, and during the worst of an episode I can’t concentrate whatsoever, but I haven’t lost my ability to learn, read, and remember (yet). I shiver thinking of what is still to come.
    It’s interesting to read what people on “the other side of the table” think of such behavior. I can imagine it’s pretty hilarious at times. Only it isn’t, not really. It’s kind of sad, isn’t it?

  2. I can’t really say too much, except for the fact that I totally envy you, I mean, in a good way. Right now I am just a psychology student planning to major and someday work in a field related to yours. I kind of understand the laughing mood, sometimes it’s difficult not to do so, but not to ill people. I mean, we shouldn’t get mad because people who don’t get us laugh at us (I myself have a sort of situation…) People in literature and usually smart persons tend to say that you should also laugh about yourself. Don’t think they are making fun of you, instead try to think they are making fun with you. If people at the other side don’t get it, well, then you also got to laugh of them because I am pretty sure there are lots of things you as a patient won’t also get from the ones at “the other side”

    • If I were to say that we on the staff members side never laugh I would be lying. We a lot of times say to eachother, ” If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry.” It is a lot of times OUR way of coping with the sadness that we see. It can be very emotionally and mentally draining, we take in all of the patients hardships, they hand everything over to us and its our job so we take it all in. It can be very overwhelming sometimes and so we become desensitized to a certain extent. We have to put up healthy boundaries for ourselves but at the same time be open and loving. it is a skill I had to learn while working here. So yes sometimes we laugh when something ridiculous happens but it is only because it gets us through the times when the patients are screaming, yelling, kicking, punching or having a traumatic flashback of being raped. So, the laughing at a funny comment gets us through. Would we ever laugh in their face, of course not. We respect them too much. I have so much love for people who suffer with schizophrenia. I have so much compassion for them. Society has no idea how much they suffer.

      • I’ve got to say that this is inspirational to me. I always asked myself what should I do in the future when I had to attend my patients, of course that’s a skill I’m sure I will develop over time, but I never thought I could see things that way. I mean, I’m very fragile and I know I would probably cry, as you said, whenever I had a tough case to treat. That’s right, indeed it surely is better to see things in the funny way.
        Besides, if you get to think about it, it is not that you are mocking mentally disabled people. In some way you are treating them as equals. “Normal” people joke and laugh at each other, even at themselves! And sometimes people with difficulties just want to be as everyone else and not being treated specially or the upset looks others give them.

      • I love that way of thinking 🙂 They are the normal average everyday person. They were your cashier at your grocery store, they are the homeless person, they are the Highschool math teacher. Society tries to act like they are inhuman or from another planet. They were simply just given an extra hard deck of cards and for that they should be commended not banished from society.

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