"You worked in a PSYCH WARD!? What's the scariest story you got?"
June 29, 2018
About two years ago, I left my position as a Security Supervisor at a short-term inpatient psych unit. I worked there for about two and a half years.
When I mention that I worked in a psychiatric center, people almost always say something like, "Boy, I bet you got some stories!"
I'll reply back with: "Yeah. Lots," and my mind will go completely blank.
A lot of the stories blend together and the ones I do quickly remember are probably too inappropriate to share. Despite keeping patient names out of the stories, it doesn't sit right with me to talk about a rough day I had with someone who was going through one of the worst moments in their life.
If I confess that I can't think of a story, the person usually jumps to: "Well, what's the craziest or scariest story you have??"
For the scariest stories, what comes to my mind instantly are the times where someone's life (or my own) was in jeopardy. I've seen plexiglass and pencils used as weapons; I've seen people that have thrown themselves out of double-paned glass windows; and I've had guys three times my size charge me in an empty hall.
But, I always forget about the scarier stories that I can't explain.
I wouldn't go as far to say they're completely supernatural. I've never seen a spirit or any type of visual phenomenon, but there are quite a few happenings and bizarre coincidences that I simply can't explain.
Like hearing a cabinet door shut in an empty patient room or finding a hand print on the outside of a window on the second floor.
I tried my best to rationalize or explain what we were hearing or experiencing, but staff would immediately jump to the conclusion the building was haunted. Most of them were more superstitious than I was and had been on the unit long enough to remember the history of the building before the current company took control.
The building has always been a medical treatment facility of some kind. Before the building switched to psychiatric care unit, it was a cardiac treatment center. I don't know much about the history before that switch --but I do know the new psych facility experienced a few client deaths before the current company took over operations.
I was told there was one was a suicide on the 2nd floor (which is no longer being used for patient rooms) and there was a heart attack death in Room 1.
The patient that died from the heart attack had brother who also suffered from mental health problems. This patient [we'll call him Teddy] was frequently admitted to our facility. He would either voluntarily admit himself or be committed on a 72-hour court hold at least once every three months.
Teddy was a pretty independent patient, and I never had to focus on him as danger to staff or other patients. We'd talk hockey or what we'd rather eat than the food that was being served that day. I can't recall a single issue I had with Teddy that involved myself stepping in to de-escalate the situation.
He would vent his frustrations sometime, maybe swear at us directly. The most startling thing I can think of was when he charged into the front door (though he claimed he only did that because the Blackhawks won the western conference). All around he was an easy going patient that never sought out attention and only wanted to be stable enough to return to his life.
An eerie pattern we would frequently see with Teddy was that he would always end up in the same room where his brother had died. It was never intentional, nor did we ever tell him what had happened in there. It just continually worked out that way due to availability.
One night Teddy was admitted on a 72-hour court hold. He was found wandering near some train tracks in a daze and was sent in for an evaluation. I must have seen him 6-7 times at the facility by that point, but this was the first time where I could see that he definitely wasn't himself. He was spaced out and couldn't focus back on what we were saying or asking him; even when I brought up his favorite topics like hockey or his least favorite foods.
The intake questions were slow going and the nurses decided to let him go to bed for the night in Room 1 --the only available room again of course. But, at least this time he had it to himself.
An hour or so later on my room checks, I heard Teddy's voice coming from his room. It was like he was talking to another patient. There were pauses after he spoke as if someone was responding to what he said.
"No. No, I don't want to play that game." He'd pause then continue, "Stop. I never liked it."
I double checked the room chart at the nursing station to make sure he didn't have a roommate and grabbed a nurse go into Teddy's room with me. By the time we got back to the door, Teddy was being more forceful with his words.
"NO! I said I don't want to play! NOW GO AWAY!"
We opened the door slowly and left the lights off to not startle him. Teddy sat by himself in the dark on the edge of his bed. He was staring straight forward at the wall in front of him.
"Teddy? Teddy you okay?" The nurse asked softly.
He slowly swiveled his head toward us and realized we were there.
"Oh. Yeah. I'm okay," he said. "We heard you talking in here. Was there someone you were talking to?" "I was talking to my brother. I didn't want to play the game with him"
Like I said before, we never told Teddy that his brother had died in that room. We both tried our best to downplay how creeped out we were and reassured Teddy that no one else was there with him. She settled him down, and he did eventually drift off to sleep.
That alone would have easily cracked my top three creepy moments at this job, but that night was only getting started.
Teddy's room was quiet for most of the night. I could listen in and hear that he was finally getting some well-rested sleep. There was the same rate of soft snoring until about 3 AM.
On my 3 AM check, I didn't hear anything at first. I stood by the door and listened closer. There was a few breaths but they were labored and delayed after deep gasping inhales. I opened the door to take a look a Teddy.
I couldn't see him in the dark, but I could hear the same rate of breathing. It sounded like "guppy breathing"-- like how a fish out of water would mouth for air. I've been trained that this normally happens right before a person with respiratory issues dies...
After calling out to Teddy with no response, I flipped the lights on and saw Teddy in the bed on his back. His eyes were bulging out of their sockets; stretched far past where his eyelids could cover them. They were hazed with pink irritation and dark red veins from not being able to blink. His mouth gaped, and he continued to do the guppying breaths.
I called out for the nurses, and they rushed in for aid. He was completely unresponsive and his protruding eyes began to roll back into his head to the point where we could only see the pink haze.
The nurses ordered an assistant to call for 911 and they continued to try to snap him out of it.
"Teddy! Teddy, wake up!" They yelled in his face.
After a pretty strong shake from one of the nurses, Teddy started to come back to us. His eyes rolled back and he focused on everyone who was in the room after a few quick blinks. His normal rate of breathing returned and once enough breath was caught up, he asked if he could sit up.
The nurses tried to piece together what could have happened to him. They asked him if he felt anything before it happened or if it he felt something different before he came on the unit.
He just shook his head and stared at the floor. When he was ready to speak, all he told us was: "I told my brother I didn't want to play that game...He didn't listen to me."
The paramedics came and took Teddy to be evaluated at the nearest ER. He returned early that afternoon. The only thing that was reported back was that he had "flu-like symptoms."
Teddy was discharged a few days later and would still come back every three or four months. Since that night we'd do everything possible to keep him out of Room 1, but he'd still usually end up there. Just a strange luck of draw that would continually and only happen for him; like that room always wanted him there.
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