“I have been WiFi’d,” she told me with a straight face.
I waited a minute, not sure what kind of followup question this revelation required. Sometimes it’s best just to sit there and say nothing and let the situation play out as it will.
“I think the FBI is behind it, of course, but it could be somebody else. I don’t know. All I know is that they have WiFi’d these animals into my brain.”
She pronounced it “Wee-Fied”, which for some reason sounded so extremely silly to my geeky brain that I almost laughed out loud. Of course, I maintained decorum. I am a trained professional, people.
“I see them. Sometimes they touch me. I don’t think you can see them, because, you know, the Creator doesn’t want just anybody to be able to do this!”
I knew where I stood at that point. No doubt at all.
Delusions are funny things.
I think that they have changed some over the years I’ve been in practice, influenced by external events, the economy or the general social fabric I guess.
Used to be, people had the old run of the mill thoughts that they were loved by famous people, that the government was watching them (we certainly have to take that one off the books now, don’t we?!) or that they had been abducted by aliens. In 1947, that made perfect sense, since every weird and wonderful wacko on the streets of Roswell, New Mexico, was wearing a tin foil hat and preparing us for the imminent invasion that never came.
More recently, the delusions seem to have morphed with the times, involving implanted computer chips, WiFi, cell phone towers and control by flying government drones.
There are still the timeless delusions that one is the lover of a famous movie star, that one is rich beyond all imagining, or that one is Jesus Christ. I always worried about that last one. What if Jesus decided to come back as a mental health patient and he revealed Himself to me and I didn’t believe Him? Meredith Gould, if you are reading this post, can you weigh in on this one for me? I’m not entirely kidding here…
Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, lest those of you who are often angered by my writing get even more so after this post.
Mental illness is not funny. It’s real. It injures and harms people. It impairs their ability to live, to work and to love. Freud was right about that, among other things.
However, I would not be able to do this hard work, this very draining, very emotionally gut-wrenching work, if were not for my love of my patients and the little things they say to me each day, the things they teach me, the things they do (consciously or not) that make me laugh.
Sometimes, psychiatric symptoms are terribly serious and very severe.
Sometimes they are, in spite of the gravity of the situation and the illness being examined, simply amusing.
I take my vocational calling very seriously.
I am learning to take myself less so.