man. today i shadowed in the psych ward for the first time, and man, it was so crazy. one woman’s story was just heartbreaking – she had been repeatedly sexually traumatized: molested at 5, made to give oral at 7 for candy, was pregnant at 12/13 and then raped by her own brother when she was 7 months pregnant, and just a whole bunch of other things that got her to where she was today. and she has never talked to anyone about some of these things, and she’s never been to a therapist for all the mental abuse and other things she’s had on top of it. and she still was crying because of all her pent up rage that causes her to want to hurt people because she doesn’t want to hurt people – she’d rather kill herself. but she also was taught to only rely on herself so it was hard for her to seek help. i teared up quite a bit during her talk as well, it was so clear how much she was suffering. i really wanted to tell her it’s ok. your rage is understandable. don’t keep beating yourself down. you need someone to help you through this. and i wanted to be able to recommend a therapist for her, but I didn’t know of any. And it also wasn’t my place because I was just a visiting/shadowing medical student and it was at a table with a lot of other people. Don’t get me wrong, the attending did a good job overall, but it just sounds like the medical system isn’t set up right to take care of these kinds of people. I asked later whether there were services or people available to talk with her, and was told there wasn’t really anything like that in the hospital setting – just group talks that may help a little. And that they can recommend a therapist after discharge, but after that it’s up to the patient. But that’s not what someone like this needs though. It was so obvious she needed someone to talk through all her trauma and help her through that as the main thing. All the meds and whatnot are just secondary. Same w/ a couple of the other patients. Also found out that apparently you can’t check someone in to substance abuse clinics if they don’t want to, even if they’re self-harming in an effort to get more pain meds! What the heck?? You can commit someone for suicidal tendencies but not someone who has a history of self-harm for pain med seeking behavior?? *sigh*. One day observing and I already see things that I would want to change in the system lol.
On another note, at least I was interested enough to stay awake while shadowing for once, so maybe this IS the service I should go into. Throughout my time there, I did actually consider both sides – one, that I would probably want more long-term follow-up than it seems like they get here… in-patient service seems to be just acute, and then discharge or refer. Though I could also see it draining on me a LOT if I actually became the one taking care of these patients as a therapist – I would probably definitely be the type to bring work home and it would affect my life. I’d see a lot of the darkness of the human heart through this type of work. And I wonder if I would be more compassionate but broken myself through the despair, or if I would become like the psychiatrists who say, ok, 1 hour is up, and we’re done. Neither seem like a good option.
One other thing this made clear though, is why we need God. I so wanted to help introduce some of these people to God – the ones who couldn’t see the way out of their suffering and where it has just been darkness throughout their lives. Instead, since I only had limited time today, I just prayed for them. May God have mercy on them and help them find peace in Him.