I know how to care for my seriously mentally ill patients, while shielding myself from the pain of this work–how to let the ache go and not bring it home. But I’ve been away for a while, my guard has dropped, and there is no Star-Trek–like force field to keep my heart safe today.
My job as a psychiatrist in a large county jail provides some protections; cell doors and corrections officers guard my body. And unlike the young man I’m meeting with today, I started life in relative safety. I was not born with a congenital brain malformation giving me a speech impediment, an awkward gait, and a lowered IQ. I was not born with a predilection for schizophrenia, not adopted into a family overwhelmed by too many adoptees to be able to provide for a child with special needs.