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10 Disturbing, Real-Life Tales from Psych Wards

Unbelievable, but true first-hand accounts from dealings in psych wards across the country.

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For years, psych wards have sparked interest from the darkest parts of our curiosity. Stretching from stories of the deaths, illnesses and mistreatment of patients to paranormal phenomena which linger long after the wards have closed their doors, the stories that arise from these institutions are not for the light-hearted. They’re dark and twisted, and made famous with the help of fanatics who spread them to the furthest reaches of the Internet. It’s thanks to these people that we’ve been able to compile a list of the 8 most-disturbing and terrifying stories to emerge from psych wards. 

Patient Issues Disturbing Warning About Abduction

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I was working an overnight shift on an Alzheimer's ward at a nursing home. It was about 2:30 A.M., and I was making my rounds, peeking into the rooms to make sure the patients were where they should be.  

I went into one room, and this 83-year-old woman was sitting straight up in her bed, staring at the wall. I slowly walked into the room and calmly asked her if she wanted to lie back down. She turned her head slowly, looked me right in the eye, and said "They're coming for you, dear." Then she started laughing—I'm talking full-on hysterical, insane cackling. I almost pissed myself right there. She finally calmed down, and I got her to lie back down. When she was just about to go back to sleep, she looked at me again and said "I'm going to miss you when they take you," and went right back to sleep.

I was terrified the rest of the night. –Reddit 

Old Lady Speaks In Tongues

When I first started working in the hospital, I was sitting with this sweet little old woman. I had sat with her, talking about her family and such, for six hours. Towards the end of my shift (9:00 P.M.) they decided she didn't need to have a heart monitor, so they transferred her to a different unit.  

Once we got to the new room, she started acting differently—just generally angry, I would say. Then all of a sudden, she tried to jump out of the bed (a big no-no at hospitals), so I immediately got up to stop her. She started screaming bloody murder about how her house was on fire, and her family was inside and she needed to get them out. I tried to calm her down, but to no avail.  

She started yelling at me about how I'm going to rot in the flames of Hell because God told her so, and how I was responsible for her family's death. Staring deep into my eyes, she told me all about how I will burn in eternal flames, and that I am filled with evil. I thought, "Okay, at least she isn't worried about her family or trying to get out of bed."  

But then she started screaming at the top of her lungs in what I can only describe as Latin or maybe even gibberish. She then ripped out her dentures, threw them at me, and pulled all of the skin on her face back into this long, stretched-out, creepy smile. She let out a blood-curdling scream while her eyes rolled back into her head like some sort of possession scene in a movie. Just as she let up my relief came into the room. I wished her luck and booked it out of there.  

The second I got off the unit, I called my mom and cried for a good 15 minutes. I still think of her stretched-out face sometimes. –Reddit 

Related: 5 Insane Asylums You Never Want to Find Yourself Locked Up In 

My Right Eye Offendth Me

I'm an RN who worked both inpatient and outpatient. As I'm getting to this thread late, this will probably get buried. My bar for crazy was reset when I was called in by the night shift nurse who was three months out of school because a patient taught us what the definition of autoenucleation is. To save people time, that means to pull out one's own eyeball. And by pull out, I mean she separated the optic nerve and left her eyeball on the side of the bathtub. The voices, which in this instance had taken on the sound of the patient's mother, had been telling her she had "sneaky, snake eyes." She also had some hyperreligiousity, and there is a specific verse stating something about if your right eye offendth thee, pluck it out. There is surprising less blood than one would think. And, this woman's vitals never climbed out of normal range. She may as well have been reading the newspaper. –Reddit 

Stephen King Delusion Leads to Creepy Encounter

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Once, I was volunteering at a hospital, sitting with patients who might harm themselves while waiting for doctors or nurses to show up. I was sitting with one man (maybe mid-thirties) who thought he was in a Stephen King novel. At first he thought I was his psychologist, because I was holding a clipboard while talking to him, so he was telling me all about his thoughts, and would ask my opinion. Trying not to upset him and make him snap, I went along with it, nodding, and when he asked my opinion, I would turn the question around and ask him what he thought about it.  

This worked until the last hour of my shift. Then he looked at me and said, "You, you can be the next messiah. Come here and let me teach you." He patted the bed beside him. I politely declined to sit near him. He then went silent for a moment and said, "I see." With that, he started taking off his oxygen, his heart monitor, and his IV. I asked him why he was doing these things, and he looked at me and said, "I can go now. My task is complete. You will not accept my training, and now I can die in peace knowing I tried."  –Ranker 

Mean, Mean Animals

I work in an adult day health care program and we have a lot of registrants with severe mental illness that come to us for the day and we monitor and help with to help them stay living in the community. 

One morning, about a year into working there. It was about 8am and I realized, I was alone in a room with about 7 registrants with schizophrenia. I remember thinking how different each of them were affected by this illness. One gentleman, Richard, came in, he was almost 70 and had a small cut above his eye. I asked him, what happened and he sighed and said "Well, I'll tell ya, about 4 o'clock this morning, I got in a fight with a kangaroo."

I was too dumbfounded to speak, but at that instant another individual with "delusional disorder" wheels up to Richard and says, "Richard! That's ridiculous! Stop telling stories. You did NOT get in a fight with a kangaroo!" I thought to myself, "Wow that was bold but good job trying to keep him from telling tall tales". No sooner did I finish thinking that, she finishes her sentence..."you did NOT get in a fight with a kangaroo....because I've BEEN in a fight with a kangaroo and you get beat up worse than a cut on your eye. What color was the kangaroo that hit you?" He said "I don't know, I didn't get a good look at him.” –Reddit 

Related: 9 Psychological Thrillers That Will Make You Trust No One 

Pilot with Amnesia Could Be a Human Experiment

I work in an ER, and due to my country and state's poor mental health system, we see acute psychotic episodes daily. Over time, you get desensitized to it, but there is still one that turns my stomach. 

A guy was found in a burning abandoned building. He wasn't hurt, but was acting so strange the paramedics brought him in. He was homeless, had no ID, did not know his name, and had zero drugs in his system. Looking into his eyes, you could tell he wasn't seeing the same thing I was.  

So I'm trying to get his name or anything out of him, and he keeps telling me he was a pilot for the Air Force and flew experimental airplanes, because he could withstand the G-force and his blood was naturally thin. The blood tests that measure this actually were fairly higher than normal, but not elevated to the point he was on medication for it. So he was right on that account.  

I was at the desk telling a coworker about the stuff this guy was saying, when a resident overheard me. He was former Air Force as well, and looked like he had seen a ghost. As soon as I mentioned the name of the base, this doctor freaked out. He said that that city/base has no roads in or out and a lot of top secret testing goes down there. He said that you don't know about it unless you've been there. He told me not to talk about it or make a big deal.  

This gave me an even weirder vibe… –Reddit 

The Arm Eater

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So, so many unsettling things ... I work on a secure unit for women with personality disorders who have been sectioned for serious self harm and suicide attempts, it's adult services but a lot of our girls have just come from a children's unit, so they're still young…

The ways these girls will hurt themselves is unbelievable, ligatures, cutting, inserting, biting themselves, burning, hair pulling, head banging, the list is endless. I'll never forget a patient we had (she's actually been discharged now) who really suffered. She'd been in services since she was 8 years old, and she was at the time in her late 30s, anyway, Christmas time she has a few bad anniversaries (rape, friends deaths, etc) and she starts to struggle, but she likes to bite herself, and I don't mean just a wee little dig of the teeth, she would grab her arm with her teeth and TEAR the flesh away in huge chunks, and then she would chew it and swallow it, it was like she was possessed, well in a way she was as a voice used to tell her to self harm.

Then after she's ate a massive chunk of her arm or wherever she could reach, in would go the fingers, rummaging in her arm, ripping at tendons and veins, trying to inflict as much damage as possible. I think she was in a permanent restraint for about 3 weeks because she couldn't stop trying to kill herself. I'd only been working there a month! There's many more, but this one sticks with me. A lot of staff vomited after seeing what she'd done. –Reddit 

Sometimes It’s Scariest When They Make Sense

I had an hour-long conversation with a delusional guy who was confined to a mental health facility, and who was probably smarter than I am. Lots of these folks believe that somebody—often the CIA—is either beaming thoughts into their heads, or has implanted a microchip in their brains for this purpose. This guy was offering a very thoughtful argument as to why such claims should not be so quickly dismissed. 

"It's precisely because such delusions are so common that mental patients make the best test subjects," he said. There he was, confined and protected, constantly observed, his health and behavior documented, and there is zero chance that anyone would ever take his concerns seriously. How else would you test and improve such technology? Does the government not have a strong motivation and a plausible ability to create such a device?  

"You can see I'm not irrational," the man said. "I'm just straight-up telling you that they are doing this to me. I know just how unbelievable it sounds, and yet, here I am." –Reddit 

Related: 14 Haunting Ghost Movies That Will Send Chills Down Your Spine 

Sleepwalker Communes with the Dead

My clients have dementia, and there's one who creeps me out a lot. During the day, she's the sweetest old lady, but at night she sleep-talks.

And it's not normal sleep-talking. Her eyes are open, and sometimes she's sitting up. Sometimes it's impossible to tell when she has gone from sleeping to being awake, until she turns to you and asks if you've seen the little girl that was just here, the one she was talking to. She talks about people being there all the time, including a little boy that has died, and she wonders what we should do with the body. She mentions a little girl that sleeps with her, a man that orders her around, and her dead husband who is always looking for her.

I heard her talking once, and she was being very loud, but as I reached the open doorway, she said "Shhh. They're all sleeping. Better not talk about it now." And she promptly stopped talking and just lay there very still. –Reddit 

Mom Misses Her Daughter

Since the psych ward was out of rooms, I had to spend my last couple of days sleeping in the corridor. First, one of the patients from the so-called "screened" part of the ward barged into the corridor, grabbed one of the other corridor-patients, and began jabbering on about her parrot. She was taken back to her room, after the nurses finished their coffee. Then the screaming started.

In the room next to me, an elderly psychotic lady started, at first, talking to her dead daughter. Sometimes comforting her, telling her how much she loved her, and so on. After a while, though, she got angry and started blaming her dead daughter for everything, from burning the porridge to killing her. A lot of it was incoherent crying or babbling.  

After a while, I asked the orderlies to have my bed moved. –Reddit 

Featured photo: Brinks Alo / Flickr (CC); Additional photos: Erin / Flickr (CC); Armindo Dias / Flickr (CC); Porsche Brosseau / Flickr (CC)