A friend of mine admitted herself to the psychiatric ward of a local hospital.

She is severely depressed over a recent breakup and was afraid that she would attempt to harm herself; she has a history of attempted suicide. We visited her about 12 hours after she was admitted, and she seems to be doing much better. I am very, very glad that she took this step, and I know it was a scary thing for her to do. It's all too easy to collapse into yourself when you're in the grips of serious depression. It's like mental hydrophobia -- the things that will help you are the last things you're inclined to do; the most harmful actions seem most appealing.

My housemate /jen works at the hospital where the friend was admitted. She later told me of a related incident. A man came into the hospital and approached the information desk; he said something like "Can you tell me where the psych ward is? I need to check myself in." The on-duty nurse politely directed him up to the third floor. But while the man and his companions were waiting at the elevator, a nurses assistant, who was on break nearby, openly mocked him to her friends: "Hi! I've gone crazy, and I need to go to the nuthouse!"

The guy wasn't even close to being out of earshot. /jen said one of the nurses called the assistant on the carpet for her utterly callous and totally inappropriate comments ... but damn. What kind of a jackass do you have to be to think that mocking anyone's condition is an appropriate way for a caregiver to behave in his or her workplace? How is ridicule supposed to encourage people to seek treatment?

It makes me sad that hospitals are so hard up for nursing help that disrespectful, irresponsible, uncaring people like that can still keep their jobs ... while meanwhile far more competent, humane folks in other sectors remain unemployed in this frigid job market.

On a probably-unrelated note, Braunbeck shaved off all his hair right down to the scalp today.

This is much cause for household astonishment, because he's had long, curly hair for over 20 years and until now has steadfastly refused to even get it cut short. Also, it's very, very cold out, and not exactly baldness weather.

I think he was concerned about having anything but a long, shaggy 'do because he was in a pretty bad automobile wreck when he was a teenager and received head lacerations. He was afraid he had a lumpy, misshapen skull or lots of scars.

As it turns out, his skull is nicely shaped and quite symmetrical, and the only scar he's got left was already visible on his forehead.

So, if you see him, be sure to openly admire the curve of his cranium, the gleam of his scalp. Bald men are teh sexxxy, and he needs to be reminded of this ....