Sometimes we get a psych patient with real medical issues, and sometimes we get a medical patient with background psych issues. Either way, they're a challenge to take care of. The psych aspect to the care means that the medical stuff is harder to do - the patient is often either unable or unwilling to comprehend why certain care is being given, and it can make for a very difficult time. Mostly it's just a sad feeling to be taking care of someone who got dealt such a shitty hand in life.
Sometimes though, the psych issues and the medical issues join forces in a glorious display of hilarity. Like, for example, the sweet guy I took care of the other day. He was withdrawing from alcohol, which is awful, and also had a myriad of mental health problems. One result of his psych background was a deep abiding love for Jimmy Buffett. It was such a deep love that he was convinced he was actually Jimmy himself...and sang, at the top of his lungs, Son of a son of a Sailor. For a good twenty minutes. Remarkably in key, too.
That song happens to be one of my favorites which meant I essentially had a personal mini concert from JB. His singing was enough to draw a crowd of security guards, other nurses, and the doctor. By the end of the extended song, he got a round of applause from the crowd and serious props from me. I guess the joy from singing worked wonders, because after the concert he was the best patient ever.
He even said thank you for making the tremors stop, and was generally the most cooperative hallucinating withdrawal patient I've ever had. And the best part? He proclaimed that my reward is lifetime tickets to every one of his concerts and a free meal at Margaritaville.
Mental illness is hard. But sometimes, just sometimes, there's a bit of joy to be found in it.