Working in a behavioral facility can be challenging and fun. As soon as I turn the key to open the last door to the Nurses's Station in our locked facility, I always look forward to be part of an interesting story yet to unfold. With my very first step on the unit, I give out a sunny smile to all my patients and greet them with my cheeriest good morning greetings.
I love working with adolescent patients. Somehow, I see myself in several of them, being rebellious because mom won't allow me to sleep over at a friend's house, or being depressed for low grades. They all have different reasons and stories to tell, all of which we intently listen to and try to make them comfortable and feel at home as soon as they come in, after all, they will have to stay for at least 72 hours.
There was this very intersting young lad, Adam, who was having a little too many issues, from a recent breakup with his girlfriend of 6 days, to problems with his parents' divorce, to some degree of identity crisis, among others. He was very quiet when he first came in, except for his unusual craving for apples. The kitchen staff would bring in sliced apples with some packets of salt and pepper and sugar, as requested. He would mix them altogether and dip the apples in it. I've never tried it but I can tell he loves his apples like that, and he would ask at least five times a day.
He was having a pretty bad day after a couple of days since admission. He said he missed his friends, especially his online buddies. Apparently, he was working on his personal website and is in front of the computer for the most part of the day. His mom would blame his being into computers a lot for his unsatisfactory grades. He was acting out and tried to escape, but still trying to give him a chance before we call a code and give him a shot, I went to his room and talked to him. He then requested for, you guessed it, apples, and a couple of white paper and his box pastel crayons. He is a pretty good artist. So given his requests, he calmed down. He was quiet for a while and then he looked at me. He began telling ugly things about his mother, like how strict she is, how she only cares about his grades and every little thing he complains about her. I felt relaxed talking to him. I've seen patients who had gone really wild but my convincing skills reigned supreme. Adam was just so and so.... That's what I thought.
While we were talking, he was drawing apples in very dark red color almost like blood, too hard that his pastel crayon quickly become much shorter than it was. And then he grabbed the black crayon and drew a face in the apples... angry faces... and he looked very, very angry. Curious, I asked him about his drawings. His answer was a stare straight into my eyes. His fingers held his black crayon even tighter and ran it through his paper in an angle until he got it sharpened. He looked at it and tapped his index finger on the newly-sharpened tip, as if testing how sharp it was. He stared at me one more time, and with a very angry face he said, "You know what? You look just like my mom! I'm thinking you are my mom and the voices are telling me to kill you." As soon as I noticed him getting off his bed, I hurried to the door and left.
For the first time in my life, I got scared of a thirteen-year-old. As soon as I got seated at the Nurses' Station, I asked for a cold cup of water. Everybody was asking me what happened. As I was sharing them what has become one of my most unforgettable clinical experiences, the kitchen staff came and brought in a couple servings more of apples with the requested packets of condiments because the cafeteria is closing in a few minutes. We ended up laughing altogether even if my heart was still pounding. You should have seen that look on his face while he was planning on attacking me! (Anyway, as soon as we saw him walk out of his room, we called a code and ended up giving him a shot.)
I'm not sure it that is funny enough for you (it may sound freaky), but they still make fun of me each time somebody remembers that thirteen-year old.