Sunday, October 4, 2015

Life as a medical student #15 Hello, Psychiatry

I am not sure about my interest in Psychiatry, but I have always find myself having a tremendous curiosity and genuine interest in people. People, and all their complexities, are fascinating to me. The what, why and how behind people's action. The connection between the brain and behaviour. The very subtle things about human characters. So when I first started my Psychiatry posting, I was intrigued by it.

Before I actually go to the wards, I must admit that I was nervous. When most people picture a Psychiatric ward, they envision a dark and dreary place filled with severely incapacitated people. So do I. But the truth is, it is totally the opposite. The Psychiatric wards are very calm and peaceful. Most of the patients are not bed-ridden like in medical or surgical wards. They walk around, smile to you and talk to you. They are friendly and interact in the same way as the average person on the street. The atmosphere is just too normal that it becomes.....a little odd. This is because the environment only becomes intense and intimidating when patients are in their psychotic states. They shout, they threaten, they hit. They cannot handle their inner emotions, they lost their minds, they will erupt at anytime - like a volcano. They are unpredictable.

Violence is a risk that we deal with. But I believe when I mean no harm, I will never be hurt by them. I remind myself that we are all born kind. They act that way because they are ill. They have come forward to us for treatment, so we must not afraid of them. We must not give up on them.

Maybe, Psychiatry is my cup of tea. Along with learning about a patient, I learned more about myself. I find enjoyment when the patients are willing to open up to me and share with me their inner feelings. It wasn't that scary if we can relate to one another to some degree. As humans, we all experience fear, anger, hurt and pain. Psychiatric patients experience just the same, maybe to greater depths, plus a bit of interruptions of the neurotransmitter in their brains. And thus they are ill. If we can all put ourselves in their shoes, they would be treated differently. Some people wonder how I can listen to patients' problems and so many sad stories and not let it take away my own happiness and joy.

But I say being part of a patient's progress is the joy.


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