Behind the mirror

Today I had my first experience with child psychiatry, and with ‘the mirror’. We all know the mirrored window room in movies where suspects get interviewed and where the fellow detectives are observing behind a window. Well, when I first heard about the mirror room from colleagues, I imagined a setting quite like that, with an empty white room and sitting in the darkness yourself, maybe even with the patient looking at the mirror, only centimeters away from your face. But this couldn’t have been further from reality…

It might be different because it was on the child psychiatry ward, but I have the feeling the only difference between adult rooms was in the toys. The rooms were quite large, and there were many chairs, positioned in a circle so that people could have a chat together. There was a desk, and a cupboard with toys and such. It was not all white. The patient knew we were sitting behind the window, and could hear everything that was being said in the room. Although we were sitting in the dark, it was not quite as dark as in the detective setting.

At first the sound system didn’t work. Although it was a shame we missed the first bit of the conversation, I didn’t mind that much as it was much easier to focus on the boy’s locomotion. It was a young boy with both autism and schizophrenia (which is rare in children). It was a good experience to see a psychiatric disorder in a child (we’ve had had no experiences with that so far); the way he behaved, and also the way he was coping with his symptoms. I felt a lot of respect for this boy, as it is quite something when you hear about 200 negative voices in your head all day, ever since you can remember. He was also dealing with his autism quite well, although his mannerisms were specifically taught of course. I just hope his doctor can find him a medicine that helps him and doesn’t do much harm (as many do unfortunately…).



  1. aww, the mirror! I have experiences with the mirror… When I was a kid they once tested me like that. I don’t know why, but I decided it was more interesting to just sit and stare at the mirror than to play or have conversation xD
    I hope they find medication that helps for the boy… I have recently developed a strange spasm in my leg from mine, I can imagine in a little kid the side effects can be much worse…

    1. Haha can imagine watching the mirror is more interesting πŸ˜‰ I guess for this boy it was better for his concentration to be with his mom, doctor, and one student than to be with 10 people watching him..
      Oof, that’s uncool you got a spasm.. I’m actually quite against medication in young children as they can have serious side-effects but hey, I can also imagine you prefer a dyskinesia over voices in your head.. Are there other therapy options for you that have less side-effects?

      1. yeah, you already feel over-crowded without having a group of people around you…
        I have, apart from the spasm, also noticed I lose a lot of hair and I get tired very easily. There are different cocktails of medication possible that might (or not) have lesser side effects. Only I am finally adjusted to the stuff I’m taking now and I can easily live with the side effects.
        Talk therapy might not do anything structural, but I do feel better when I can speak it all out from time to time, and that relieves the stress a bit. My hallucinating is strongly connected to stress so in a way you can say it’s helping too πŸ™‚

      2. Ohw that doesn’t sound very nice.. But if you can live with it.. then maybe it’s the better option as other stuff may have other side-effects. And I can imagine it’s not very helpful for you to have a changed regime all the time. Guess your blog also helps in speaking it out? πŸ˜‰

      3. very much actually, it’s very nice to have a place to speak my mind without having to think of all the people in my real life environment I must be considerate with…

      4. Well that’s great you have found something that helps ease the mind then! πŸ™‚ What other things do you do?
        I must admit I haven’t read much of your blog the past weeks (but I have also not read other blogs, nor followed the news, etc) as I’ve been superbusy, but as tonight’s my sort-of-last exam, I’ll catch up in the next couple of days!

      5. I cook. I know it sounds totally odd, but the past few days I have been in a crazy baking spree.
        I had told my aunt (she shares the disease…) that I had found myself on the ground of my room frantically writing the letter a backwards with my left hand on a piece of paper, and she advised me to cook. And so far it seems to work; the house is slowly being filled up with cookies, cakes, pies, cupcakes,… at least my housemates appreciate it xD
        I have been out for a few days too, another “algebra attack” had struck me and I was simply not lucid enough to type.
        I hope your exams are going well! Good luck for tonight!

      6. No it doesn’t sound odd at all, it sounds great! Can imagine your housemates appreciate it πŸ˜‰ I know I would!
        What do you mean by algebra attack? What happens to you then?
        And thanks!

      7. An Algebra Attack is a hole in my memory to me, but to others it is a zombified version of me reciting proofs and algebraic expressions, frantically writing those on walls, paper, myself and virtually every other thing I can lay hands on, eventually ending up either crying or passing out.
        (I once posted the “results” of such an attack…

      8. Oh wow.. intense… Saw your post about it.. Must be quite freaky to not be able to remember anything of such an episode?

      9. Very… You’d think you get used to it, but every time it happens it’s as freaky as the first time. Lucky for me, I’m usually not very clear-headed when I have just woken up, so I never really get straight on confronted with the mess I made. The right strategy is having someone close who can put me in bed and clean up before I wake…

      10. How often does that happen to you?

      11. approximately every week, but not always as bad. Sometimes they just find me staring empty, mumbling algebra, and then they put me in bed and I sleep through it. Other times it’s really violent and I go scribbling on everything and yelling proofs and expressions and stuff.

      12. That’s intense… Nothing that can be done about it? Have you had this for a long time already?

      13. Not that I know… They have no clue what is causing it. The only time I didn’t have them was when they gave me a rather strong sedative, but that also made me like the most lethargic and apathetic person ever, so I decided to quit taking it.

      14. Yea that’s not the solution.. Is this a phase maybe or have you always had these episodes?

      15. They started when I stopped going to the Algebra lectures because I was scared and exhausted… I would scratch my nails in the walls until they bled, crying I was so sorry, so sorry I wasn’t working hard enough.
        They kind of came up together with the “full outbreak” of my schizophrenic identity disorder (or whatever name they came up with)…

      16. Hm.. And how long ago is that? (Asking all these questions just out of curiosity and interest, not because I have a clue otherwise..) How do you feel inbetween the attacks?

      17. The whole started somewhere in november last year, but in december I really got sick and I had my first attack, and then by 10 january I was completely psychotic.
        Inbetween the attacks I also hear/see stuff, but far from as much as when I wasn’t getting medication. It really depends if you catch me on a good or a bad day. On bad days I am very disconnected from reality, on good days most people don’t even notice something’s wrong.

      18. Oh wow so all this is all pretty recent! To what extent can you (or have already) ‘go back’ to your old life, so to say?

      19. I’m afraid that isn’t possible… It is partly genetic (schizophrenia and schizoid disorders are in the family) and my old life revolved around physics, which is exactly the thing I’ve lost in the disease…

      20. That sucks. What’s your future perspective?

      21. ah well, probably a life of medication… I am fairly capable of surviving on my own, and I’m also very loyal in the taking of my pills… so I guess I won’t have to live at home forever xD

      22. Yeah I guess you’re right. As long as you take your medication and be strong, you’ll find some place and occupation of your own πŸ™‚

      23. I hope I will πŸ™‚

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