"I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen." John Steinbeck
A quote I found today that really hit me. I think sometimes we in psychiatry especially need to remember this. The nature of the symptoms affect what the patient says and does, so thus how they are perceived. It can sometimes be hard to separate the person from their illness.
I spent 8 hours yesterday 1:1 with a patient. Agitated, grandiose, labile,.. One of the worst manic episodes I've seen in awhile. By the time I left I was frustrated and completely drained.
On the drive home I was thinking about my difficult day and came to some realizations. First of all my day wasn't nearly as bad as his. He never asked for or wanted to be bipolar. He takes his medication and sees his psychiatrist regularly, yet this still happened.
In our time together I could see glimpses of how he must be when stable. He is intelligent and funny. He loves to see people smile and laugh. At one point in life he was a very successful business man. He knows a lot about animals and nature. I can imagine he is like a giant teddy bear when his symptoms are under control.
Good reminder to always see the person behind the illness. The symptoms of illness are not what defines the individual.