Close to heart

Three weeks of psychiatry and I've had enough. The conditions are interesting and I wouldn't mind talking to more of the patients (consumers?) myself, but sitting in with psychiatrists during those long interviews I've come close to nodding off to sleep so many times. Which always makes me laugh because it reminds me of the referral letter I read about a patient having issues with his previous psychologist who often fell sleep through therapy.

Sometimes I go through a psych lecture thinking, I don't want to be reminded. We had the talk about suicide. Oh... is it unusual to be preoccupied with thoughts of death, and plan how you might go about it? If society made it easier to access easy, painless, non-gruesome, high "success" methods, I would be long gone. Is a risk assessment forming in your mind now? I've learnt to throw out those thoughts into oblivion whenever they appear. And walking with God these years, there isn't the thoughts of everything being empty, meaningless, weary - that is the most life draining thought of them all.

Still, when my mood and sadness overwhelms me sometimes I wonder why I have to be stuck in this world I don't feel like I can live in. It seems that small things can tip me into a dark place with this drowning sorrow and thoughts that's painful and hard to shake off. It makes me wonder how I will deal with the bigger issues in life - if I have problems with marriage, if someone close dies, if I get a serious illness. At these times I wonder, why am I going to be a doctor (or, why am I talking to psychiatric patients) when I can't deal with my issues. Physician heal thyself.

Maybe the plus side of all this is that I'm constantly conscious aware of promoting my mental health. Often reflecting to understand why I feel and respond the way I do, consider how I can interact better with other people, talking to a good listener (friend, not a psychiatrist yet), praying and fellowship, getting out of the room even when I don't feel like it, caring about other people even when I don't particularly want to care, write or draw to deal with my feelings, make sure I get enough sleep, have a regular schedule, eat something nice when the appetite comes back, don't try to use alcohol to deal with mood problems.

I recognise that they are people loved by God, they often had a tumultuous upbringing, and well, they have an illness. But I find it seriously hard to respond with compassion and patience at angry, threatening, accusatory patients. Just you wait. I'm going to kill you. I don't know how psychiatrists take it.

I can't make my mind whether I really hate Psych, or if I can grow to love Pysch. I'll have a good think about Psych's effects on my psyche at the end of the rotation.

Psych is following me around. Personification, paranoid delusions. Today's topic at Christian medical fellowship was on psychiatry. Part one covers secular and Christian models for mental illness, and part two covers psychiatric therapies from a Christian perspectives, whether voices are demonic. Part two also briefly touches the question "are Christians delusional?"


Ziph said...

I think after going into psych wards you should be able to see a clear difference between yourself, a normal person who experiences a range of emotions and a psych patient with severe major depression, schizophrenia or mania. The most obvious differences being that you lead a normal life, control when and who you show your emotions to and can think coherently.

Facing such patients day in/out would be very hard. But as a psychiatrist that's not the only thing you see, I guess you follow up patients longitudinally and hopefully are able to see them improve. The only problem is it takes a long time at least a month too see progress. So as students we rarely see the positive aspects of psychiatry.

On the note of looking after your mental health. Things like talking to people, praying and having a regular schedule are essentially forms of psychotherapy. CBT involves discussion with therapist, coming up with relaxational techniques (I guess in your case praying, is somewhat of a relaxational technique) and activity scheduling is also a part of the treatment of mild depression. However, CBT is much more structured and focussed.

Winnie said...

Lol thanks, I do realise that I don't belong in a psych ward. Yeah it must be rewarding to see people get better or improve their quality of life over time.

James and I did discuss how some forms of psychotherapy is essentially what we'd do anyway when we have a problem. Except maybe some people don't have people to talk to, and there is some value in having a trained person who isn't part of your life.


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