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Every day, as I ramble about the psych ward from room to room, the goal is to help, to do no damage. Working in a psychiatric hospital is an awesome responsibility because we have peoples’ lives in our hands. We need to listen, truly listen, to do the best we can to put ourselves in our patients’ shoes and mindsets.

We try our best to give words of counsel and, when necessary, to medicate judiciously.

Most of our patients are receptive to our efforts, and get profound relief from dark palpable depressions, intense manic episodes, excruciating panic attacks, and paranoid delusions.

But sometimes we psychiatrists are in the awkward position of needing to force treatment to those who are aggressive or floridly psychotic. In this way, hospital psychiatry can be an ugly job. Those patients, in their deep frustration, threaten us, make verbal and physical gestures of violence. It is up to us to keep our cool. We have to be aware that they are in pain, pain that expresses itself in all sorts of way.

Psychiatric work in a hospital can be an amazing opportunity to turn a person’s life around. Watershed moments. I have seen so much suffering over the years: orphans, widows, poverty stricken. People whose DNA destined them for psychosis, mania, addictions. People who simply never learned , were never taught, how to push the pause button, never conditioned about self control. People who suffered horrific abuse, who didn’t have good parenting, or no parenting at all.

People who are utterly alone. Think Eleanor Rigby. People who are the forgotten of the world.

The world of hospital psychiatry is a universe unto itself. Spend one day and night there and it will change your life. Every day I am witness to life’s journey in its rawest of forms. A challenge and an honor to see each person’s dignity, to try the best I can to never diminish their passion or spirit.

I am blessed to have been touched by so many.

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1 Comment

Natalie Duran
Natalie Duran
Feb 07, 2023

So why don't you actually listen to your patients instead of walking off when someone is mid sentence? I hope you do better.

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