Tales from the Psych Ward or…The Summer Camp Experience I Never Had

Another old essay…

A scene at work today sparked a memory in my brain of the week I spent in South Oaks. My LI friends will know South Oaks as that hospital in Amityville…

One day in group therapy…(all good stories start with that line, don’t they?) we had to pass these pieces of paper around the room. You wrote your name at the top of yours and then something nice about yourself that started with an “A” and then gave it to the patient to your right so that they can write something nice about you starting with a “B” while simultaneously accepting the paper coming from your left. The coordination of all the paper passing should have in and of itself earned us all a smoke break. Nonetheless, I participated, holding my breath to see what the patient 6 seats down, whom I had know for 2 days, would say about me starting with a “G”. After all, my sense of self and well-being depended on this…

I had had enough of a patient named…um…Typhani. Typhani had Borderline Personality Disorder and had really been pissing me off for 2 days straight. She talked and talked about herself – cutting off everyone else, being louder and more obnoxious than all the other mentally ill folks, trying to be the best of the best, goals are important in recovery.

OK, so I’m annoyed at Typhani, I was hungry and bored and passing papers around that, I swear, had the alphabet written across the top in case you forgot

I received Typhani’s paper on letter “G” and decided to be wicked. I wrote “Garrulous” on her paper. And she was too, but I was smug and confident she wouldn’t know what it meant. 

And she didn’t because when she got her paper back she stood up and started ranting “Gorilla! Who called me a gorilla?” She yelled for a bit, threatening all sorts of things. There was no way I was going to cop to it (because I am a coward and couldn’t remember what drugs she was on). The poor girl had to be led out of the room…

Vivian, the therapist, later pulled me aside for a chat about being passive-agressive and hindering others’ progess in therapy. I was secretly proud that she knew it was me but in retrospect I bet she just counted backwards alphabetically.

And I wonder why Robbie can be a real dick sometimes. 


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