In Which My Sister Thinks That I Am Too Cranky To Be In Psychiatry!

“Hang ni garang gila. Macam singa. Entah-entah patient-patient lepas balik jumpa hang, lagi depa stressed.” Said my younger sister in one of our nowadays-rare-altercation. Yes, sisters show they love each other by insulting each other and having frequent verbal fights. That’s why women always win in verbal arguments. We practiced well, growing up. We don’t resort to physical fights like the boys. 

I laughed.

“Awat? Hang ingat semua psychiatrist kat dunia ni lemah lembut ke? Pfft…jauh panggang dari api!Ada yang langsung tak dengar patient nak cakap apa. Ada yang suka block apa yang patient cakap, main potong ja. Aku pula, kalau aku nak marah patient pun, aku kena dengar dulu apa dia nak kata. Sebab aku nak kena guna apa yang dia kata untuk generate my own rebuttal. Tu kalau aku nak marah balik la. Tapi kalau mood aku sabar hari tu, aku mendengar dengan tujuan untuk respond balik. So hang tak payah risau. Patient aku okey ja.”

To me, having proper interaction with patients is akin to being in a debate. Everyone must have their own turn to speak up. Systematic. Otherwise, siapa nak dengar, siapa nak jawab? And while listening to what the patient is saying, our mind must constantly analyze on what she is saying. Active listening! And when we reply to her later, we have to show her that we have listened and we have analyzed what she had said by using proper interviewing techniques. (Listen, analyze, respond/rebut. Just like in a debate)

We take our cues from patients. We used what patients say to respond to them. We reflect. We summarize. We paraphrase. We clarify. We confront. All these techniques are needed to discipline our mind to listen or at least to appear to be listening. Kalau kita tak dengar betul-betul, then apa kita nak cakap as a response kan?  Macam mana nak reflect? Macam mana nak paraphrase? Macam mana nak summarize…kalau kita tak dengar betul-betul. Macam mana nak bagi suggestion?Macam mana nak tanya follow-up question kalau kita tak dengar?Kalau kita just go through the motion without really analyzing what the patient is really saying,(passive listening) kita cuma boleh respond ala kadar sajalah. Tak jitu dan tak tepat. (Dan pesakit boleh sense benda ni. Diorang boleh sense bila kita distracted dan tak dengar betul-betul. Sebab kita punya respond tu macam tak betul-betul address what they have just talked about.)

And of course bila ada pesakit atau PAP yang tak reasonable, aku nak kena dengar juga apa depa cakap supaya aku boleh balas balik and show to them that they are being unreasonable. Lepas tu aku nak kena dokumen apa depa cakap dan kenapa aku reject apa yang depa nak. So really, there is a lot of benefits that come from being a good listener.

Above any other interviewing techniques, I think developing the ability to listen and to listen well is the most important of all. Because if you can’t do this, then the rest of the other techniques don’t matter anymore. You won’t be able to use them effectively if you don’t listen. 

So I told my sister, “Don’t worry, all my patients get what they deserve with me – incuding my garang-ness. I have listened to them. I have analyzed what they said. I gave them my replies according to what I believe they need. Whether or not they end up being more stressed….well, only God knows.”

“Look at you. They must be stressed,” My sister reiterated.

“I think you should worry more about your students. Hang pun garang juga. Kalau ada anak murid hang mai kat aku for school refusal, I know their fear is warranted.”

“Eh, budak-budak suka kat Teacher Alida, okay,” (Yeah, she is so ‘perasan’. I don’t know which part of my parents’ gene she inherits.)

“Ceh! No big deal. Patients pun suka kat aku juga!” (Yeah….forgive my conceit and my own ‘perasan-ness’. I couldn’t possibly let her win. Hahah)Aku ni…. garang dengan hangpa ja. Dengan hangpa, tak kuasa aku nak control-control.” I added.

Because no matter how annoying I am, my sisters have no choice but to love me anyway. So with them, I have the freedom to unleash all that pent-up emotions in all its terrifying glory. Blood is thicker than water and all that. Hahah. And just like they tolerate my annoying habits, I also have had to tolerate their annoying habits, okay? All of us at least have the comfort of behaving exactly as we are, without bothering to cover up our less than attractive attributes, because we know at the end of the day our siblings have no choice but to keep their affection for us intact. 

Of course I will vomit first before I ever admit that love has anything to do with it. Siblings argue. That’s what we do. Don’t destroy that beautiful relationship by mentioning anything as ordinary and mundane as love. 


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