Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Body Language (11/25/10)
By Danielle King
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I don’t know why. She was ok when I interviewed her. In fact I found her rather endearing. Obviously nervous, shoulders back and hands clasped tightly on lap. Her effort to maintain eye contact sealed an image of one pristine, beautifully manicured young lady so rigid with tension that she was about to snap!
It was clear that she’d read up on our policies and anticipated my questions. Her enthusiasm was refreshing and her understanding of and willingness to participate in team work promising. I was impressed!
She wanted this job badly!
“I’d like to welcome Samantha our new clinical psychologist to the team.” I told the ward meeting. “And thank goodness she has experience of the likes of us and our clients!”
“Hi everyone. Please call me Sam.”
Sam’s three month probationary period ended and she had proved to be true to her word.
But she’s beginning to bug me!
JoJo’s been banging on my office door again this morning. Bless her, no middle man, straight to the top.
“Does that plaque say Ward Manager?” She points to my door as I attempt to direct her toward the ward.
“I’m sick of that lot thinking they know my head better than I do,” she’s saying, tapping her forehead with a middle finger. “Sort ‘em out. They’re dangerous!”
I suppress a smile. A long term patient in the Regional Secure Unit, sectioned under the Mental Health Act, telling me that my staff are dangerous? I just love these amazing characters!
“What’s happening with JoJo’s treatment?” I ask at the ward round. “She seems to be quite agitated lately.”
“Yes I’m concerned about the regression too,” says Nurse Judy. “She’d stayed well for months. How do you find her Sam? You’ve been seeing a lot of her lately.”
Sam appears detached!
“SAM! Late night again?” laughs Judy. “What are your thoughts on JoJo’s mental state?”
“I suspect she’s attention seeking!” Sam isn’t engaging and her manner is curt and sharp.
“Are you ok Sam?”
Sam picks her fingers and forces a smile.
“Oh I’m sorry, she says. Her eyes dart from Judy to me and then around the room. “That wasn’t very professional was it!”
“But is that how you view JoJo’s present behaviour Sam?
My hackles begin to rise. She’s obliged to share her professional opinion, indeed we’re obliged to take account of and be guided by it.
But it doesn’t sit right!
I decide to have a private chat with Judy. JoJo beat Judy to my office.
“Not now JoJo,” I explain. “I have a meeting in 10 minutes.” She begins to sob uncontrollably. I pull her inside and close the door. “JoJo I want you to tell me what’s going on in your head. You were doing so well until recently.”
“It’s the babies Boss. The babies I burned in the fire. I hear them screaming. Day after day they return to torment me.”
“JoJo, there were no babies! The tragic fire involving the children was totally separate to the one you started. You suffered a severe mental breakdown.”
“But I had to do it Boss. The voices controlled my thoughts. They told me they wouldn’t leave until I burned the house down.”
“JoJo, I think we need to review your medication. And we’ll get Sam involved with counselling and more therapy.”
JoJo began to hyperventilate.
“No Boss. No! No therapy! She makes me relax my muscles until the tension flows out and my thoughts slow.... and that’s when the voices whisper in my ear, reminding me of what I did. And then the babies begin to cry.”
Judy bursts into my office looking harassed. She hands me a newspaper clipping. It’s dated November 1999. The headlines read,
‘Search on for mother of 4 after children perish in house fire!’
‘A 21 year old mother of four disappears after denying involvement in the horrific blaze that swept through the family home last week, claiming it must be the work of some mad woman....’
‘It was reported by neighbours that the woman and her partner had been overheard having a heated argument shortly before the blaze broke out.’
“She’s cleared her desk. Gone!” says Julie. “It was screwed up in the rubbish bin and then I found this.” She passes me a disc!
“Judy please take JoJo to the ward.”
I lock the door behind them and slip the disc into my computer. I steel myself against what I’m about to hear!
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