I spend my days with Psychiatrists and psychiatric patients. There are many things I love about the psychiatric specialty, I shall share some of my favorites with you
1. Psychiatry is a pretty good fit for me as I am a self diagnosed hypochondriac and learning about psychiatric illnesses has allowed me the ability to self diagnose a vast array of illnesses in not only myself, but others. No longer do I have to search for small physical ailments to manifest into major illnesses. I can wash my hands and think OCD, choose to stay in my jammies all weekend with an episode of depression, look back on my college years and justify actions with a diagnosis of borderline personality, procrastinate on chores because of my adult ADHD! This awareness of mental illness has opened many doors to brush off responsibility for my actions. After all, I'm practically a doctor!
2. Many people with severe psychiatric illness have lost their ability to censor or edit things they say. It's common place to be shouted at across a crowded waiting room, "pretty lady" or "nice legs". Now, I understand you may think I'm a bit "off" for appreciating men who have forgone bathing to shout such things at me. But I like to think that because these nice people don't have the ability to censor, that everyone is thinking this about me, they just know they shouldn't shout it out.
3. The patients tell interesting stories.
Sometimes the stories aren't real. My favorite patient for the past 2 years is a man named "John", at least thats what I thought. "John" spends quite a bit of time in the community mental health drop in center ( a place people can spend time in getting training, meals, counseling services). But he always is courteous, opens the door for me, asks me how I'm doing. I feel like we have developed a friendship over the past 2 years. Well, for about a month I hadn't seen "John" so I asked the clinic where he was. They case manager looked at me very puzzled, so I said "You know, longish brown hair, always wears a yellow wind breaker." At this point it was explained to me that "John" has religious delusions, his name is actually Bill, but he changes his name regularly to that of someone from the bible..... obviously! :-)
Sometimes the stories are very real, and they can be sad. Mental illness often hits people right as they are beginning their adult lives. It is very common to hear stories of men who were first diagnosed in college with illnesses like schizophrenia and how their lives change from planning for a future with a wife or making plans to get a job to struggling to fit in at all and often times without support or housing. When I hear these stories I feel so thankful for my mental health and for that of my family.
4. Okay, back to light, that got a little heavy for a second.... The Psychs are often as crazy as patients! You have, of course, heard of the plumber whose pipes are leaking. Well psychiatrists, in general, are no different!
Just yesterday I was conversing with a Dr. who interrupted me, "Excuse me, I need to use the head" he proceeded to get up from his desk and go around the corner, to what I hope was a restroom, and urinate. All the while he continued to talk to me. Odd.
Another psych, who was sticking his tongue out like a lizard for the 20 minutes we spoke, took my bag from me, stared at as if he had never seen a lady's bag, and then began removing its contents. Out came my sunglasses which he seemed puzzled by. Then my wallet. Then a box of samples. Then one bottle of pills,
he commented "hmmm I need these. These (the pill bottle) are little ones."
I said he could have them.
"Just one box?" he replied.
I said, "yes, there are 6 patient starters in there."
He looked back and said, "6? good. 6 is what I needed."
It seemed as if this entire encounter was going completely unregistered to my sweet, bag riffling, lizard licking psychiatrist. And you may be asking yourself, "why didn't she confiscate her bag from this man?" In all honesty, I don't know. I was just so curious that this man would take my personal belongings and begin shuffling through them as if he had every right to examine the contents.
All in all, I love the specialty of the physicians I work with. Sometimes strange, sometimes touching, sometimes comical. But I think I am a very lucky girl to have this job that brings me to this always entertaining group!