Sunday, May 19, 2013

So this is Therapy

There are times at my job where I am confronted with such madness that everything I learned in school just seems totally irrelevant.

I had a family meeting the other afternoon (on Unit 3, which is always a red flag). Prior to the meeting, I asked the case manager, "Do you believe the patient is stable enough to participate meaningfully in the meeting?" She said, "Sure, he's good!"

Famous last words.

The patient (who I will call Pete) rolled into the meeting in a wheelchair, holding a Bible. I guess this should be a perplexing thing, since he isn't disabled at all. A couple hours ago, he was running all over the unit (you know, on his feet, which work quite well). I'm not even sure where he got the wheelchair. Anyway, Pete gave a cheerful "hello" to his family (who were already appearing confused about the wheelchair), and then started singing at the top of his lungs: "I fell into a burning ring of fire! I went down, down, down and the flames went HIGHER!" They looked totally stunned, and I was trying to hide my smile (I can't help it, but I REALLY like that song).

I asked Pete, "How are you doing? Are you feeling any better?"

He looked at me and loudly recited from the Bible:

"Put on the cooking pot; put it on and pour water into it.
Put into it the pieces of meat, all the choice pieces--the leg and the shoulder.
Fill it with the best of these bones; take the pick of the flock.
Pile wood beneath it for the bones; bring it to a boil
And cook the bones in it." was that a "yes" or a "no"????

I glanced at his family, and they stared back at me, wide-eyed. His father tried to ask Pete a simple question, and before he could finish, Pete interrupted loudly, "I FELL INTO A BURNING RING OF FIRE! DOWN DOWN DOWNNNN AND THE FLAMES WENT HIGHER!" His father, not to be deterred, continued to persist with his question, albeit louder this time. Pete's response became thunderous, "AND IT BURNS BURNS BUUUUURNS, THE RING OF FIRE, THE RIIIINNNNG OF FIIIRRRRE!!!"

The family looked at me, probably hoping for some kind of meaningful assessment of his behavior. You know, since I am the clinical therapist and stuff.

In that moment, the best I could come up with was, "Well, on the bright side, he really DOES sound like Johnny Cash..."

Not my most therapeutic moment.

I said to Pete, "I really want you to be able to participate in this meeting, so I want to give you one last chance-"


Pete's grandmother sweetly declared, "That Bible passage sounds like a recipe."

I replied, "You're right, it DOES...I'm waiting for the 'just add 2 pinches of salt' part." Then I kicked Pete out of the meeting.

The meeting was actually really productive after that. At some point, I unearthed my brain, and was able to educate the family about the onset of Schizophrenia and give them a little hope.

Changing the subject, Andrew has been bringing an umbrella every day to group lately. It started a couple weeks ago. I asked him, "Andrew, why are you bringing an umbrella?"

He looked at me like I was the biggest moron in the world, and flatly stated, "In case it rains." I walked over to the window, and peered out into the sunny, blue sky. There wasn't a single cloud.

Earlier this week, Thelma told me she had an iron marble lodged in her brain. I asked her why she thought that. She said, "I was taking my medication, and I accidentally swallowed the marble, and now it is in my brain."

I said, "Don't worry Thelma, since you didn't choke on the marble, that means it went in your digestive system, and you'll probably just poop it out."

"Really?" She asked, hopefully.

"Yep! In fact, you may have already flushed it down the toilet!" 

I'm telling y'all, it is such a good thing I went through all those years of school.  


  1. Am I the only one in the room who thinks these people are AWESOME?? Never a dull day in Unit 3!


  2. I LOVE them. :-)
    ~ Sho

  3. Every time I hear about your job, I sort of want your job. Of course, sometimes I think I might fit in with your patients, but only on the really rough days. They sound awesome!

    1. I think you, Jodi and I would all fit right in with the higher functioning patients...the ones on Unit 2a! I just don't write about them because it's more fun to write about the lower functioning patients. Since I have worked there though, I have often wondered if I am just one catastrophe away from being a patient there myself. I guess I DO question my own sanity...I do feel like I am walking a fine line at times. I think it's because I can relate to so many of the patients. Even Pete....cause COME ON, who wouldn't want to sing "Ring of Fire" as loud as humanly possible? LOL ~Shan

    2. I kind of envy Pete's freedom to do just that. It has to be a freeing experience to just sing at the top of your lungs and not worry about who might be listening and judging you. Being a mental patient would be awesome!

  4. I second that Kristyn! Reminds me of those old eccentric ladies who carry giant sparkly handbags and die their hair pink. I hope that's me someday.


    1. I hope so too, Jodi! I hope that, at some point, I stop giving a crap what other people think enough that I can be that comfortable in my own skin. As is, I only recently started wearing crops and dresses because, up until last year, they made me feel self-conscious. I'm to the point of saying "screw it" now. I hope that I can become more like that as I get older. :)

  5. Great post. Makes me think of good people (and music).


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