To my surprise, he called my name and asked to talk with me.
I didn’t bring up the incident that had occurred the last time we spoke: He got upset because he believed that I had put voices into his head. I wanted him to associate me with attributes other than hallucinations. There was no way I could help him if he believed that I was doing things against his wishes.
“So, hey,” he volunteered after we had spoken for a few minutes, “I’m sorry for yelling at you the other day. I was already thinking about robots and when you asked me about them, I freaked out. I’m sorry.” A sheepish smile bloomed on his face, but his eye contact did not waver. He looked and sounded sincere.
“It’s okay,” I replied. “This is a stressful situation and sometimes we all get upset over things that we feel like we can’t control.”
He nodded. We talked about the voices—they were still talking to him, but they were quieter now—and what other things he could do so they wouldn’t bother him as much.
Even though I’ve been doing this work for years now, there are still moments when I am astonished with the effectiveness of medications for symptoms of psychosis. I already knew they can save lives. I already knew they can transform lives. And yet!
“I am going to ask the nurses to offer you medicine,” I said the last time we met while he was yelling at me. “You don’t have to take it, but I think it will help.”
And, for whatever personal reasons he had, he took it. (The manner and skills of the nurses undoubtedly helped with this, though it appears that persuasion of any form was unnecessary.)
“Do you have any other questions for me before I go?” I asked. Last time, I simply told him that I was leaving. First, do no harm.
“No,” he said, smiling. “Thank you for talking with me. I hope you have a nice day.” He waved.
“Thank you,” I said, waving back.