Unit 6

Unit 6

Status: In Progress

Genre: Literary Fiction


Status: In Progress

Genre: Literary Fiction


Dr. DeLuca is a young doctor, starting as a primary psychologist on Unit 6; the locked adolescent psychiatric ward. After a disaster left her shaken, does she have what it takes to prove herself?


Dr. DeLuca is a young doctor, starting as a primary psychologist on Unit 6; the locked adolescent psychiatric ward. After a disaster left her shaken, does she have what it takes to prove herself?

Chapter1 (v.1) - O N E

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: October 24, 2016

Reads: 968

Comments: 2

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: October 24, 2016



O N E:






“You seem a little quiet today.”

His eyes still didn’t meet mine. I watched as he bit his lip and shifted his shoes for a moment, but nothing more. He halfway shrugged. I repositioned the clipboard on my lap and pretended that I let the silence stretch on purpose. Honestly, I just didn’t know what to say. Working with these kids never got any easier, and I still have to grapple with the overwhelming feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing, and that I’m not helping him.

“Just having a bad day?”

“I guess.” He muttered. Then again, considering he’s on an inpatient unit, I couldn’t imagine any day would be a good day. But even this behavior was out of character for Matt. Out of all of the kids on Unit 6, or at least the ones in my DBT group that I run alongside individual therapy for these kids, Matt is my leader.

“Come on guys!” Matt would tell the others cheerily. “If we go to group, we get to go play kickball outside!” The rest of the kids would all look about as apathetic as they felt, but Matt was always one of the ones to bring a positive energy to our sessions. Today, though…

Today he just seems off. My old supervisor would encourage me to use a more clinical interpretation of that. But that’s the only word I could use to describe him at this moment; off.

“Sometimes we have bad days.” I normalized. “Is it something you might want to talk about?”

Matt shrugged again. “Nothing happened.”

I nodded thoughtfully, even though he was still staring down at his shoes. I checked the clock on the wall. We had been sitting here for 40 minutes. I sighed. Finally, Matt looked up at me. His eyes looked distant and far away, like he wasn’t really here at all. I had pushed him earlier in the session to talk about how he was feeling, and he couldn’t come up with anything. Out of frustration, and seeing him start to put walls up, I backed down and we talked about nothing instead.

“Well,” I finally said, uncrossing my legs and clicking my pen shut. “Why don’t we call it a day for our session, then?”

Another half-shrug, but Matt stood up.

“I’ll see you tomorrow for group, okay?” I held the door open for him. He exited without saying anything. Matt went down one hallway, and I went towards my office in the opposite direction. He was probably heading back to his room. Given that he was my last client of the day, second shift was just coming on. I had five progress notes to write, and rounds. I wasn’t going to get out of here for a while.

Maybe that’s how the kids felt.

I sat at my desk and logged into the counseling software, pulling up a patient’s file. Carly Nichols. Bipolar I. Fifteen. Past suicide attempt when she was put on Prozac last year, which activated her bipolar disorder—previously thought of as major depression. She’s been here for three months, and is showing some improvement. I’m not mostly responsible for that, though. Ever since we put her on Abilify, she’s gotten better.

When I tried to think back to my individual session with her early in the day, I could barely remember a thing except the way her eyes always flicked to the clock, as if she had somewhere else to be. They never have anywhere else to be. Unit 6 is the locked adolescent ward. They’re stuck here until further notice. And usually, that doesn’t end with just my blessing.

A headache was forming behind my eyes, and I found myself opening Matt’s file instead. Matt Donahue. Fourteen. Dysthymia, ADHD, and generalized anxiety disorder. One of the usual combinations of comorbidity. This was a case I inherited from my old supervisor before he retired. I’m not sure about his diagnosis, but as a brand new doctor, I still wasn’t sure how far I could challenge my superiors. I thought about his behavior earlier. He wasn’t anxious. He wasn’t hyperactive. In fact, the opposite. Was this a fault of his new meds? Did they have to be adjusted again? I leafed through his file until I found the note from his psychiatrist, Dr. Adams.

Discontinue Zoloft, prescribe Celexa, follow-up in two weeks.

And then, my thought why was Zoloft discontinued? I had thought Matt showed improvement. And Dr. Adams had never consulted with me about this. I wish I could say this was the first time this happened.

The noise outside my door told me that the second shift had finally arrived. But then there was something that was out of the ordinary.

“Code blue, code blue!” I heard a man screaming down the hallway. My attention snapped to my office door and I gripped my armrests, half standing. A split second later, the alarm sounded, and a woman screamed. My heart sank. Code blue, life or death.

I was up and running down the hallway towards the sounds. Some of the kids were coming out of their rooms, perplexed looks on their faces. “Get back in your rooms!” I shouted as I broke into a sprint. Some of the nurses and psych techs were yelling the same thing as me, all of our voices drowned with the sound of the alarm. I watched as they made a physical barrier in front of the kids. Whatever was happening, they didn’t need to see it.

The commotion was coming on from a room on the left hand side. The door was open, and I heard people shouting from inside. I watched as Dr. Adams and Dr. Sinclair ran one after the other into the room, watched as two nurses followed.

It was like I was running in slow motion. When I turned to look inside the room, I saw the psych tech that had called the alarm, a big man named Damon who was at least 50, and always greeted me with a bright smile and a “Good morning, Dr. DeLuca!” in the mornings.  Dr. Adams was shouting something to one of the nurses, who was responding. A crash cart was pulled into the room, but the only sound I heard was the same one-tone note of my own heartbeat in my ears. In Damon’s arms was Matt, pale, limp, and with his belt tight around his neck.

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