Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: See (07/22/10)
By Emily Gibson
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During a one-on-one session, he looked at me briefly, but his attention continued to be diverted, first watching an invisible something or someone enter the room, move from the door to the middle of the room, until finally, his eyes locked on an empty chair to my left. He smiled at whoever he saw next to me, nodded and appeared almost blissful. I asked him what he saw next to me.
“Jesus wants you to know He loves you.”
It took all my will power not to turn to look at the empty chair. I longed to.
As we worked together to ease his psychosis, I found trying to follow this patient’s line of thinking was often challenging, as he usually preferred to speak to persons unseen, at times lapsing into a “word salad” of nonsensical sentences. Instead of improving, he retreated more into his head and the world he saw inside, showing increasing anxiety symptoms despite medication, began to cry often, frequently mumbling and murmuring.
On a particular morning, all the patients on the ward became more edgy than usual, pacing and wringing their hands as the light outdoors slowly faded, with noon being transformed to an oddly shadowy dusk. The street lights turned on automatically and cars drove with headlights shining. We, patients and staff alike, stood at the windows in the hospital, watching the city become dark as night in the middle of the day. The most unstable patients became convinced the world was ending and extra doses of medication were dispensed as needed while the light slowly returned to the streets outside. Within an hour the sunlight was back, and many patients were oblivious, napping soundly.
My young patient had silently slipped away from the others, as if called, and using strips of carefully braided bed sheet wrapped around his neck, had hung himself from a door knob in his room. We found him minutes too late, his body still warm, his eyes no longer seeing us or the world within.
The light had left. He didn’t understand that it would, it always would, return.
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