A disturbing interview with a patient at the psychiatric hospital I worked for.
I’ve never submitted anything to this site before, and I’m using someone’s account in order to do so here. I considered writing it for my regular medical blog, but somehow this doesn’t ‘fit’ on there. Firstly because I’m not supposed to post personal casework on it and secondly, it just doesn’t seem like something that would be appropriate purely from a medical standpoint.
OK, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the point, so here goes.
I’m a psychiatric doctor, and I always wanted to study human behaviour ever since I was a little girl. Most other girls my age were into make up, Barbie dolls and fashion. I was always more fascinated by studying the darker side of human nature, with documentaries, books and as many medical journals as I could get my young hands on. I was different. It was kind of fate that I’d end up in this profession.
After many years spent at medical school, I wanted to specialise in mental health and the many disorders that we know about (and some that have only recently been discovered, even though they’ve always been around).
One of my many training experiences was to sit in on interviews with people having mental episodes or who had been flagged up as having possible MH issues. These were useful and illuminating. I see a lot written down and broadcast on television shows that really hurt the plight of people suffering with mental disorders. Words like ‘psycho’, or ‘whack job’ really make me cringe. As do portrayals of people with things like multiple personality disorder being serial killers. It’s a complete false depiction, and the facts show that the overwhelming number of people with such afflictions are not violent. Anyway, I digress.
I graduated, I got all my qualifications and I began work as a psychiatric specialist 8 years ago. I had to put up with some sexism to get to the top, but I did it. I take pride that I managed to shove a whole load of misogyny up its own toxic asshole. I take even more pride, though, that I have managed to help dozens of people suffering from the worst kind of mental issues. Unfortunately, we can’t help all people and some, tragically, are beyond any help and have to be committed for the rest of their lives. Thankfully that’s not too many these days. We’ve come a long way with respecting people with mental health problems, and we have better ways of treating people and managing conditions than ever before. It is my belief that we will continue to progress in this area.
Back to the subject matter of this post, a lot of my work involves building up relationships with people who are proving difficult to diagnose or to communicate with. This can take years, sometimes. The longest such case took me five years. This case involved a man in his late 20s who had killed his infant son before being sent to psychiatric care after being found unfit to stand trial. He believed he had been possessed by a demon who had haunted him since he played with an ouija board in high school. He said he had managed to resist doing the more harmful stuff this demon was telling him to do for a few years, but when he got married and had a child he said he’d have periods where he would black out and the demon would take over.
This is an absolute no-no, but I’m going to use the power of anonymity to publish a little excerpt from one of our 1-1s, after I reviewed the tapes I still have.
Me: Good morning XXXXXX. How are you feeling today?
Patient: Not good. I’ll never feel good again. If I could I’d have offed myself ages ago. But you guys won’t let me.
Me: We don’t want you to harm yourself. We’re here to help.
Patient: Will your help bring back my boy?
Me: Sadly, no.
Patient: Well then.
Me: But neither would killing yourself.
Patient: It’d stop me feeling like shit every waking second of my life. Those people out there… The ones demanding I get tortured and the death penalty, and every other horror you could think of… I’m on their fucking side, you know? I want anyone who did that to a little boy strung up, and taken out. That would be justice, right?
Me: Would it? I’m against the death penalty…
Patient: And YOU obviously don’t have kids.
Me: No. I don’t, you’re right.
Patient: If you did, you’d know.
Me: It took you years to even acknowledge that your boy was gone. We’re making progress, even if it doesn’t feel like that to you. Your anger, your hatred of yourself, that’s natural. You didn’t always have that. You weren’t always acting natural.
Patient: You’re right. It doesn’t feel like progress.
Me: I don’t expect it to. With what’s happened in your life, you can’t expect to have a couple of therapy sessions then life can go back to normal. I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way.
Patient: Therapy? That’s what you call this. I call it making me relive the worst day of my fucking life over and over again, so you and your doctor friends can get your kicks and maybe some kind of award from your medical friends at Nutjob Monthly.
Me: Now XXXXX that’s not very fair.
Patient: Life isn’t fair. Tell my son that. (patient starts weeping).
Me: You don’t have to talk. We can end this session now. Would you like me to call the orderly?
Patient: I’m still going to feel shit whether I’m behind this desk or locked in my cell. I may as well play along. Fuck it.
Me: OK. But only if you’re comfortable with going ahead?
Me: OK. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the most, how bad have your encounters with it been this last month?
Patient: It? You mean that satanic fucker that’s haunted me most of my life?
Patient: 1. Actually I’d say zero.
Me: So you’ve had no visions, no voices, no black outs?
Patient: No. They got less and less frequent after the death of my son.
Me: I know this is a sensitive subject, and tell me if you’re not comfortable continuing at any point. Would you say that your son was a focal point of it’s activity?
Patient: I would. When I was a teenager, it was just appearing in the corner of my eye or making me think about cutting myself, things of that nature.
Me: Did it ever speak to you directly. Like we’re doing right now?
Patient: I know you think I’m a psycho. Right?
Me: I think you’re a troubled man, XXXXX. I’m just trying to help us both understand more what lies behind that trouble.
Patient: Trouble? You make it sound like a debt I can’t pay, or a flat tyre when I need to start a journey.
Me: I don’t mean to trivialise things.
Patient: Despite all the pills, the doctors, the hospitals, the tests, I KNOW something real was going on. Something big, something fucked up.
Me: You must have been terrified?
Patient: At some points I was. It went from mischievous thoughts, to thoughts of harming myself, to thoughts of hurting others. It seemed so appealing when she talked to me.
Patient: I’ve probably said too much.
Me: You’re in total control here XXXXX, you can’t say too much or too little.
Patient: Well, I’ve gone this far. Yes, SHE. The demon thing was definitely female.
Me: Did she have a face?
Patient: Not always. Like, to begin with it was a voice in my ear when no-one else was around. Sometimes it wouldn’t be a voice it’d be a thought that I’d never ever think of by myself. Then later on, I’d be in a place or doing something that I couldn’t remember actually setting up.
Me: So it was a female voice? Was it always the same voice?
Patient: Oh yes. That same gentle voice. Like a young woman.
Me: And when you did see her, did she look like a young woman?
Patient: Yea. A young face, anyway.
Me: You just used to see her face.
Patient: This is fucked up.
Me: What is?
Patient: She appeared as a nun.
Me: OK. Did you have an aversion to nuns at the time?
Patient: A what?
Me: I mean, did you have a fear of nuns, or anti-religious feelings?
Patient: Not really. I didn’t give a shit about religious things in general. Still don’t.
Me: So this wasn’t like a subconscious thing that your mind had latched onto?
Patient: No. She was just there. She was real, dammit!
Me: OK. I’m just trying to go through all possibilities.
Patient: You can go through whatever psych mumbo jumbo you want, lady, this bitch was real. She killed my son.
Me: How often would she appear to you?
Patient: First few years, not much. When I got married she was in the back of my mind more often. When my son was born she was constantly there. To the point I couldn’t ignore her like I’d been doing.
Me: When did she first appear to you?
Patient: First time I messed with one of those ouija boards.
Me: That same night?
Me: Was she always evil?
Patient: At first she was just there. Like in the corner of a room, or when I looked in a mirror. When I started ignoring her, that’s when the whispering in my ear would happen. That was harder to ignore.
Me: She was persistent?
Patient: Very. Used to make me feel worthless or like I’d need to acknowledge her or something bad would happen.
Me: And something bad did happen.
Patient: Yea. (Weeping again.)
Me: What kind of things did she ask you to do?
Patient: She didn’t really ask me, she would whisper things like to set something on fire, or take vengeance on someone who’d wronged me. She had a real thing on vengeance and justice.
Me: But you never acted on her words?
Patient: No. Sometimes I’d light fires in woods when I found myself in them. She liked fires. But I’d never harm someone. Even when I felt I’d die if I didn’t do what she wanted. She used to get angry with me. That’s when I’d hurt myself. I could be in real pain but I’d have to do it. It was only way I could ignore it.
Me: Was there anyone you could talk to about her?
Patient: If it was happening to you, would you want to tell anyone?
Me: You’d be surprised at how many doctors and therapists would listen.
Patient: I’d still be called a psycho case. Just you guys do it in your notes, behind my back.
Me: I have never used that term about you or anyone I’ve worked with.
Me: It’s true. So, back to my question, you didn’t have anyone you could talk to?
Me: What about the people you did the ouija board with? Did anything weird happen with any of them?
Patient: No. They have pretty normal lives. I guess I was the chosen one, huh?
Me: Did she ever call you that?
Patient: No. She never actually called me anything. She was just in my mind. Slowly controlling me.
Me: It got progressively worse?
Patient: Over time. She was pure evil. I’m glad I never see her anymore.
Me: I’ll say.
Patient: Do you believe me?
Me: I’m not dismissing anything, no.
Patient: I guess that’s as good as I’ll get from anyone in this place. But she’s real. She ain’t finished yet. I just know it. If not with me, she’ll get someone else.
Me: Was she haunting anyone else before you?
Patient: I don’t know. She had a list of victims that she said she needed to bring justice to. Always with the religious words, too. Had a thing for blood sacrifice, repentance and confession. All that shit.
Me: Was the list of victims all people you knew?
Patient: How the fuck do I know who was on her list?
Me: So it wasn’t a physical list or something she told you about?
Patient: No. She just told me about it. Said a couple of names I knew were on it, but I don’t know. Do otherworldly beings have pens and paper?
Me: I guess not. But they may have nun’s outfits.
Patient: Don’t be fucking funny! This shit is real. I lost my son, my mind, my life to this bitch. If you mock her, maybe she’ll get you. Then you’ll be the one sitting in a crazy house answering stupid fucking questions.
Me: Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound flippant. I was just wondering out loud why a demon would have use for a human form, especially one in a religious dress.
Patient: She also had a thing for respect, too. She wouldn’t like it when I called her a demon or when I told her constantly to fuck off.
Me: Did you have a certain name to call her?
Patient: (Looked really worried at this point) Don’t make me say it.
Me: Her name?
Patient: Oh no. Please don’t. Not now.
Me: OK, we won’t go there. You say she had certain rituals?
Patient: (Crying) She made me put this old leather book under people’s beds.
Me: What old book was it?
Patient: Some confession book or whatever.
Me: Was it your own book?
Patient: No. Fuck no. I woke up in this old church building one day. Must have been after one of my blackouts. She was in my head telling me to take the book from the altar. Anything to shut her up.
Me: And where did you keep this book?
Patient: That’s just it. I didn’t keep it. I’d have blackouts and wake up in people’s houses with her telling me to place it under their beds. It was fucked up, sure, but if I did it she’d leave me alone for a while.
Me: And you have no memory of getting into those houses? Or taking the book back?
Patient: No. I was just there. You know I used to blackout. It must be in your notes.
Me: Yes, we know you used to blackout. Tell me XXXXX, do you know where that book is now?
Patient: I… I never tell my secrets.
Me: You don’t?
Patient: You think you’re a good person, don’t you?
Me: I’m not the judge of that.
Patient: Only he knows who’s soul is ready.
Me: He? OK. Who am I talking with right now?
Patient: You don’t know, do you?
Me (pressing the panic button under the table for help) No. Please tell me.
Patient: (laughing) You aren’t ready for me, Doctor. Not yet. But soon, you’ll be ready for SHEEBA
The patient lunged at me across the table, screaming while trying to strangle me, just as the help came through the door dragging the patient off me. Interview was suspended.
Unfortunately, that particular patient couldn’t be helped any further and regressed to a shell of a man, refusing to eat and rocking on the floor in his room.
Now, after reading through that transcript, you may have been under the impression that was the disturbing interview I mentioned in the title. It wasn’t. The most disturbing one I had came six months after that incident. It involved a 10 year old girl who’s parents had died in a house fire that police had determined was started by the little girl. She was brought under our care as a possible mental health case after police reports and many psychiatric evaluations.
Me: Hi, XXXXX
Her: Hello, Miss. I remember you!
Me: That’s right. We’ve spoken several times haven’t we?
Her: Yea. You’re nice. You get me orange juice and candy.
Me: Guess what?
Me: I’ve sneaked in some candy right now.
Her: Oh thank you. Thank you so much!
Me: That’s OK, sweetheart. Now I was wondering if you had some time to talk to me or do any more drawings?
Her: I like drawing.
Me: What’s your favourite thing to draw?
Her: The sea. And ponies. I like ponies.
Me: Do you want to draw me one now?
Her: Can I draw something different?
Me: Of course. Anything you want.
Her: (pausing) Anything?
Her: I don’t want to draw that.
Me: Draw what?
Her: She says I have to draw my mummy and daddy. But they aren’t here anymore because of the fire (she starts sobbing).
Me: Who is saying that, sweetie?
Her: The lady in black. She always stands in the corner of the rooms here. (She whispers to me)- I didn’t used to like her. But I think she’s nice. She’s told me she’s left a gift for you. At your home.
Me: Can you draw her.
Her: You said I could draw anything?
Me: Yes, of course you can.
Her: I want to draw a pony.
Me: OK. Draw a pony. Draw a pony at the seaside.
I thought nothing more about the mysterious lady the girl mentioned. Until I got home. At night I headed upstairs to go to sleep. My cats, as usual, were taking up the bed. I shooed them off so I could get into bed after a long day. In moving the covers, I knocked my glasses from the bedside table to the floor. I bent down to pick them up. That’s when I noticed the object under my bed. It was an old, black, leather bound book with a golden cross embossed on the front. Underneath that, there was a child’s drawing of a pony at the seaside.