For the next few months, all my patients will be over 18. I haven’t even started this new job and already I miss the people I usually see: my exasperating, infuriating, inspiring and exhilarating teenage patients.
I miss watching the shows they love with them, eating popcorn, playing pool and baking cookies. I miss the looks on their faces when I try something that they think is inadvisable for “a person who is older and in a skirt”.
“You know, Dr. Beck, it scares people when you do that. Do you think it’s reasonable to go around scaring people?”
I miss answering: “There’s a question we all need to ask ourselves at times…”
I really miss the look I get in return for answering people back with their own words.
The inpatient unit where I usually work is being prepared for another purpose and the beautiful artwork and poetry has been removed from the walls and the bulletin boards. Nothing captures the idealism of youth like poetry and artwork. Nothing captures the despair of youth like artwork and poetry.
I will miss the poetry and artwork.
The best thing about being a psychiatrist for youth is that many of my patients have grown up happy and successful. They’ve become nurses and lawyers and writers and doctors. Some of them are now parents. They are the people they promised to be in their poems and artwork.
I know how hard each of my patients has worked to be well. I have been the person who held open the doors they had to walk through to reach their lives.
For the next few months, however, I look forward to meeting older people.
I hope some of them like popcorn and pool and cookies.
(This is the new corridor – no artwork and no poetry…for now..)