So Psych is over. I really, really liked it, and found the patients fascinating–how someone seemingly “normal” can become psychotic, hearing voices, believing strange things–and not even understand that the things they hear or believe are abnormal–is surreal, frightening, and incredibly terrible. I’ve also known people that think mental illness (especially depression) is a bunch of crap, that people should just suck it up–and these are clearly the people that have never seen depression. They’ve seen sadness.
Interesting cultural-cum-insurance caveat (how often do you find those!?): the psych service sees a good number of Stanford undergrads (at least 1 per week) in the locked unit for mania, psychosis, etc. One of the major problems is insurance, as some programs have terrible mental health coverage and won’t pay for hospital stays or outpatient programs. Notoriously difficult are students from Asia with insurance from their home country; there’s a pretty strong disbelief in the notion of “mental illness” in many Asian countries, so often these students have absolutely NO mental health coverage whatsoever. Disaster.
I will miss my team, as psychiatrists tend to have just the right amount of quirk for my tastes, and I will definitely not forget Gertrude walking down the halls screaming the most random of things, “These are the poisonous snowflakes of Santa Claus!” “I need a silver bullet… because I have acne! Zits! Pus! Pustules!” I would seriously just lose it in the halls. It was kind of bad. She later grew fond of me, “Hello gorgeous, you’re quite a ticket!”
Psych is great, but I always had something of a hard time with treating the black box that is the human mind. I’m sure it’s the art of the practice, but I’m so used to having more data, I guess. I also felt a little weird using my own life or experiences as the norm by which to judge a patient’s thoughts, actions, behaviors. I may pull off normal well, but I’ve had my share of issues and poor coping mechanisms, not to mention my, uh, “unique” personality traits and general dorkiness.
I’ve found that I really enjoy the psychosocial of medicine–it’s why I liked psych so much, it’s why I really enjoyed adolescent medicine. And I think it’s what draws me to the ED (Emergency Department, the correct way to refer to the “ER” now), too. I love the idea that you can walk in and see anyone, with anything, speaking any language. It’s a real cultural mashup.
This is also the reason that I’m nervous tonight about my first shift, tomorrow afternoon. I could see anything walk in the door. And it’s been a couple months since I’ve been on adult medicine. Granted stuff usually comes back pretty quick for me, but the idea that I could be seeing just about anything scares the hell out of me. (I of course assume I will only see very scary, serious things, no colds or chronic lower back pain.)
So there we are. The ED tomorrow, working my butt off. Back to studying for now.