A True Account

My Inspiration to Inspire

I was in a adolescent psychiatric ward for almost a month. There was a 14 year old boy named Ty who had been there for a few months prior to my arrival and was still there when I left. Ty was African American, about 6'5", and had a mental disorder.

He did not say a word to me or anyone else my first day there. The only time he talked was when he got frustrated and Code Yellow'd (meaning he went out of control and the counselors had to hold him down and sedate him) and by talk I mean he screamed at the top of his lungs.

When Ty got confused about something, he wasn't able to explain himself for the counselors to understand. And it would frustrate him because he thought the counselors just weren't listening to him (and sometimes they weren't). When he got frustrated, he did one of two things: 1) He would simply freeze where he was standing and would not respond to anything the counselors did, or 2) He'd get extremely mad, yell, and try to throw anything he could.

On my second day, he sat at a table by himself with Monopoly. He wanted to play, but nobody wanted to play with him because he got confused really easily and the other kids expected him to get mad. I wasn't a big fan of Monopoly, but I decided to join him.

I introduced myself, and with nods and shakes he answered different questions, first about setting the game up, then questions about him. I just talked to him and cracked jokes while playing.

Admittedly, I'm not good at Monopoly, and this game was no different. I started making jokes about how poorly I was doing and he began smiling, and when I joked about how the only way I'd last another turn was to get thrown in jail he finally let out a laugh.

After that, he began talking to me. And joking back. Making me laugh.

He easily won and the game lasted only about 35 minutes.

After that night, Ty would talk to me and make jokes all the time. In a good way, he wouldn't shut up. When he got confused, he'd explain it to me and I somehow found a way to decipher what he meant every time. I would explain to the counselors what he meant to say and it made things much easier for everyone involved.

One day, near the end of my stay, I was walking down the hall from a meeting with the Doctor. I saw the Occupational Therapist down the hall (the only staff member Ty liked and respected) trying to get Ty to speak or simply move. He was angry and he wouldn't budge.

I thought that there might be a code yellow soon, so I just headed straight for my room. As I got to where the OT and Ty were, Ty smiled and raised his left hand and towards me.

When I passed he high fived me.

And suddenly returned to a happy state.

For the first time, I felt like I made a difference in someone's life. I like to think I did.

Short story by Paul Vermette
Read 695 times
Written on 2009-05-05 at 23:21

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text