There are certain things one has to remember when being in the Psych ward, such as: number one, sharpen your peripheral vision- you never know whether your once-calm patient would suddenly have the irresistible urge to pull your hair or perhaps throw feces at you (excuse me for those eating at the moment). Number two, treat your patients with respect you would give to a fellow human being- so when someone bites you don't bite back (kidding), just maintain control and restrain your patient. You are the sane one, remember? Number three, stay calm. When chaos erupts don't run for the nearest exit, it's your job to make sure patients don't hurt others- or themselves.
With these in mind, around fifty of us tiptoed through the double-locked (from the inside and from the outside) iron gate to finally meet with our patients for the first time. Being fidgety amateurs must give off some kind of potent pheromones because even catatonic patients rolled their eyes, as if they could sense the fear permeating from our pristine white uniforms.
Though I cannot divulge certain information or descriptions, I can say as much that I'm thankful my patient was neither too unruly nor violent. But of course, either due to fear, inexperience, or the language barrier (my first language is Waray, while patients are Cebuano- and though we tried to improve our Cebuano speak the past months, it was simply impossible to be fluent in a short period of time), blunders are unavoidable. For example:
Female Psych Patient: "Gwapo, hampa hampa ta!" ("Handsome, let's f*ck")
Granting that I knew only a few Cebuano words, I uttered the first Cebuano word that flew to my mind: "Unya, unya!" (Later, later!)
I was supposed to say "Dili pwede" (No, that's forbidden!)
I kept scribbling on my little notebook (praying I'd be able to decipher my notes later) during the history-taking and kept jumbling names calling one patient "Sheena" when her name was Shiela, or "Myra" when her name was Myrna. No wonder they all had puzzled looks on their faces. I must have confused them further.
Towards the end of the shift, I somehow found myself with my back against the steel gate. My only task was to open and close the gate for the food and medication deliveries. Temporarily, I suppose, with the few minutes of little to no interaction with the patients, I found myself more useful than a nuissance.
Another day approaches, with the hope that I get to be more efficient than a human padlock.