Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Of Voices and Visitors

We sit in an exam room as I prefill her med box, our new Wednesday ritual at 11am.

"There are alot of people in my apartment lately," she says.

"Oh, do you have visitors?" I drop meds into the box's compartments---click, click, click.

"No. I see my parents, my grandparents, my dead sister, and some people I don't even know. They just walk through the living room and bedroom."

"Do they scare you?" I continue to drop the meds in the box.

"Not really, but I also hear voices. They call my name and say hi."

"Do the voices ever tell you to do bad things, to harm yourself?" I finish the meds and bring my chair close so that our knees are almost touching.

"I don't think so, but sometimes I go in the kitchen and look at all the knives."

"Does that scare you?"

"No. I never want to actually do anything. I just look at the knives. But then, sometimes all of a sudden I find myself standing facing a wall in my apartment with my nose about this far from the wall." She measures an inch with her thumb and index finger in the air in front of her face. "Then," she continues, " I realize I'm against the wall and have no idea how I got there or how long I've been there. So I look at my hands and feet, and remind myself that I'm in my body. And at other times, I can see my body across the room. I like that feeling."

"Have you told anyone else about these experiences?" I place my hand on the back of her left hand which is resting on her knee.

"Well, it's different now. I'll tell my therapist about it next month."

"Do you mind if I call your therapist to tell her what's going on?"

"I would appreciate that alot. Thanks." She signs the consent form that I offer her.

"Is there anything else?"

"Just that sometimes I forget who I am. It takes me time to remember my name and where my apartment is. Is that bad?"

I put my arm around her as we walk down the hall towards the waiting room. She has convinced me that she's safe, that she has no thoughts of self-harm, and that the voices and visitors are not causing her undue distress.

"I'll see you next Wednesday at 11. Promise to call me if you feel bad?"

"Oh, yes, of course! Thanks so much."

She exits the clinic into the sunny world outside. I walk back to the office to place the call to her therapist.

Just another day........
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