The past couple weeks have been a mixture of redundancy and loneliness, and if I could, I would jump into the middle of rush hour traffic without my clothes just to change things up a bit. But then they would send me to the place I have spent the last two weekends, and instead of being a student nurse, I would be the one in the sixteen layers of clothing – undergarments on the outside – asking the gentleman sitting next to me to watch over my eggs so that the government didn’t eat them. Because I don’t know about the government where you live, but here they like scrambled eggs that have been sitting in a 65 degree room for at least forty-five minutes.
The psychiatric unit is everything you would expect it to be and nothing like what you might expect. It depends on the moment and how many photocopies of Elvis Presley you have so that *Lennie’s obsession can be satisfied for five minutes. The unit we are working on is an outpatient unit, so patients revolve in and out and in again, and at some point during their stay they might even learn something about their disease and how to cope with it. It’s a complicated world that I am only beginning to understand, and the complexities of the inner workings are baffling.
I have no desire to be a mental health nurse, nor do I have a desire to return to the psych ward this weekend or the next. But I don’t have a choice, and so I will go, and I will make conversation with the schizophrenic patients who tell me that cats are crawling out of their legs and “do you see them? Can you make them stop?”, and then I will return home and instinctively walk through doorways sideways to make sure that no one escapes through the exit/entrance with me. It is clear to me now why mental health professionals more often than not, seem to be a little off. They spend most of their time in an alternate reality…a reality where Elvis and Jesus are sitting at the table next to them working out their differing opinions on which instrument “wins”…guitar or drums…when playing Rock Band.
*Name changed to protect patient privacy