“Crazy All the Time” was the title of a book I read a long time ago. It was about the psych ward at Bellvue State Hospital in New York. It’s been so long that I don’t remember anything about it, but I still love the title.
A couple of days ago* I was on the psych unit at my hospital (I think of it that way, as my hospital) when a long-time schizophrenic came up to the nurse’s station. This woman is as sweet as she can be, and she’s got tardive dyskenesia thanks to a lifetime of drugs to treat her socially-unaccepted behavior. She can be annoying at times.
Anyway, she looked at the nurse and said, “I been eatin’ chicken feathers. You see me eat all them chicken feathers?”
The nurse heard her but didn’t say anything, as she had her conscious mind on another task.
“I been eatin’ chicken feathers,” she said again.
I said, without really looking at her, “What does it mean that you eat chicken feathers?”
“Oh,” she said, “I just been gettin’ tickled at everything. Just laughin’ at everything.” (Note that “gettin’ tickled” is an idiom around here meaning “finding things extremely amusing”.) Then she walked away.
The nurse looked at me and grinned a little. “It was a metaphor,” she said, with that “Now I get it” look in her eye.
*Originally posted in Usenet on March 3, 2001
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