Several years ago, I worked at a psychiatric hospital. That was the most entertaining job I've ever had. I remember a lot of funny stories from that place and some not so funny ones. Sometimes I am out in public and I recognize a patient, but I never let on that I remember unless they do, and then I don't mention their hospitalization at all. It has to be up to them, whether or not to acknowledge their psychiatric history.
Once, we had a patient who was a young, pretty, normal looking girl who had just flipped out after seeing a hog slaughtered in an agriculture class. She had a complete break with reality and insisted she wanted to be a pig. She accused the doctors of holding out on her, saying that she knew they had the technology to surgically change her into a pig, but they were refusing her out of meanness. When asked why she wanted to be a pig, she said "pigs are beautiful animals". She kept taking her clothes off and trying to escape... pigs don't wear clothing, dontcha know.
After a few weeks of medication and inpatient therapy, girlfriend realized that she was a people and she was going to stay a people. She normalized completely and was released. A few months later, I saw her in a local restaurant with some of her friends. She started to come towards me with a very open and happy smile, and then I saw it register on her face where she knew me from. I waved and walked on by, because she looked absolutely terrified that I would walk up and say something about where we knew each other from.
One patient was a little old black lady who was described as "thin and frail, with a wig that she wears atop her head like an ill fitting hat". She was paranoid delusional, and every night they would find her under her bed in the fetal position because she was convinced a big white man was going to come into her room to cut her head off. They had to reel her back into reality. That one was sad, because she really felt like she was in danger.
There was one woman who reported that she was possessed by a spirit named "Fluffy Wuffy" At the end of her psychiatric evaluation, she told the doctor "Fluffy wuffy would like to thank you. Woof. Woof." This old dignified doctor repeated that, word for word in his dictation. I typed it and laughed so hard because he sounded so funny with his dignified voice saying all that funny stuff.
As a part of the psychiatric evaluations, the interviewer describes the patient. They make note of unusual things, lapses in judgement, such as wearing a bikini in winter or bundling up in summer. One patient was described this way: "The patient apparently is very fond of the color orange. She is wearing an orange knitted cap, and she has put orange lipstick around her mouth, eyes, brows, and cheeks." This lady had orange lipstick all the way around her mouth. She didn't even think about staying in the lines. She pretty much took the orange lipstick and used it like a crayon all over her mug.
We had several paranoids who did things like disappear from home and tear up a hotel room, looking for a bugging device. One guy flipped out on a hunting trip, because hunters were shooting and a bullet whizzed by his head. All of a sudden he was back in Vietnam. Several patients were convinced that the television or radio were speaking to them directly, or monitoring their actions. That is a common thing that paranoids believe.
One lady decided she was going to get Satan out of her house and she opened all the doors and windows of her house and turned the water on full blast from all the faucets, and started laying her hands on things and praying very loudly for God to cast out the devils. She was a nurse and she had started acting strangely at work, laying her hands on patients and praying to get satan out of them. I've worked with that same nurse twice *after* she had her flip-out. You never know about the people you are dealing with...
There is a man who is free to roam the streets locally and "the voices" tell him to hurt women. He doesn't want to, but the damn voices won't leave him alone. I hate when that happens. He blew up his house by setting off fireworks in the attic. He attacked one of our nurses. This guy is an enormous, physically powerful man and he has a crazy look about him. Most women would be afraid to go near him anyway. He's pretty scary.
We had a 6 year old girl that was suicidal because she was afraid of Freddy Krueger. Her mother should have been horse-whipped for letting her watch all that crap. The kid was afraid to fall asleep.
The children were the ones that were sad. They were getting help though. The kids were given paper and encouraged to write to their loved ones and draw pictures and one little girl wrote this to someone she apparently loved a lot: "If I went to heaven and you were not there, I'd drop my wings and go down into hell." That struck me as a pretty profound thing to say.
Another little kid wrote "I love to hold the letters written by your tender hand". You just have to wonder where a kid comes up with someting like that.
People used to ask me how I could stand to work in a psych facility, because it seemed depressing. I don't find it to be depressing. The good thing about inpatient psychiatric care is that a person can come in, not even realizing they are a human being, and after a few weeks of monitored medication and therapy, they normalize. You can see the results in a short time. Most psychiatric illnesses can be managed. A good number of them are situational and once they are dealt with, the person can go on and lead a normal life.
Fluffy Wuffy wants me to stop writing now.