If I was scared, there was a reason .. ward no.13. Not that I believed in all that, but ward no. 13 meant psychiatry department. Today was the 1st day of my psychiatry posting. And as an intern if something was more scary then being late to the hospital was the psychiatry department.
A deep breath to boost my courage and I walked inside.A few steps into the ward, when a sudden noise drew my attention. As I moved my head, my eyes came to watch a scene that would change my life, my perception and my motivation in the field of medicine. I saw a 30yr old young man battling 3 people. Scared like a 7yr old 1st visit to the dentist. Trying to run away, pleading for help to an unknown figure from his imagination, pointing at stethoscope and medications as magical instruments and blaming those around him for ploting his murder.
In middle of this mayhem, like a knight in shinning armour, a lean man in a doctors clothes walked towards him. Like an experienced salesman at work, A few minutes of well framed sentences to gain his confidence, and another few to administer him with a shot of some medication, the angry young man was now peacefully lying on the bed.
During all this, The background action, by a staff of nurses and ward boys, making all arrangements to shift him towards the in-patient department, made it look like a well-oiled machine working at perfection
I later learnt,the young man was Kiran. A case of paranoid schizophrenia, possibly drug induced, as his past histroy included cocaine addiction. And his symptomology included classical auditory hallucinations with paranoid delusions. In the next 15 days that I followed him, I not only noticed how he improved and changed but also a change in my attitude towards psychiatry and psychiatric patients.
It was the 1st time I came to understand the power of the brain. How dearrangement of a few chemicals leads to disturbed behaviour. How critical and effective is psychiatric intervention in helping these patients revert to normalcy.
Above all I also learnt, that we all are compasionate towards physical abnormalities because we can see them. But are judgemental and detrimental towards mental health illness because we cannt see them. Because we are ignorant about them.
The next few weeks, where very productive and enlightening. I learned to value the efforts of psychiatrists, the importance of psychiatry and how relevant it was in all walks of life.
Today I find myself equipped with better knowledge, motivation and above all empathy for handling, guiding and helping patients of mental health illness. And I always keep the lines of my then psychiatry HOD in my heart:
“We don’t need to discriminate them, we need be empathetic and help them.”