Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Feeling Decidedly Uncomfortable

I don’'t like St Clements.

We could see our breath as we walked through the grounds. Our steps echoed. Tired Victorianesque buildings seemed to question our imposition. With each step I could feel myself feeling a little more anxious. I 'don'’t do' secure mental hospitals that well. I was with Bramwell who works with us - we were on our way to see James. [More on James here and here.]

We found the ward and buzzed. We explain we were here to see James. That morning his girlfriend had rung to say James had been admitted a couple of days previously and had run out of clothes – she was away could we help? Now we wait as one of the psychiatric team look for him.

Bram was at home!! Before becoming a SA officer he was a psychiatric associate consultant. I was a researcher with a geography degree. Bram seemed at ease. I - decidedly uncomfortable. I smile hopefully as different characters with empty eyes on the ward sidle and edge along the wall silently towards us and away again... silently towards us and away again... silently towards us and away again.

Yep decidedly uncomfortable!

James arrives. He tells us how close he’d been to committing suicide. How the police arrived with an ambulance. How the psychiatric doctor in casualty recognised his need for help and sectioned him for his own safety.

His house key was arranged, we leave to get him a change of clothes and his personal effects.

Later as I sit in the car park – “- "you go Bram I'’ll wait in the car!"” - waiting for Bramwell to return from dropping the bag of clothes off I feel sad. But I'm not sure who I feel sad for - is it for James locked away until he is safe again? Or is the sadness for me -disappointment at allowing myself to be affected by a silly fear brought on by the stigmatism of society?

I'm working on it - I'm going back tomorrow......... on my own!


Carl makes some interesting insights and challenging points regarding the stigma that surrounds this issue mental health and church community
A dream - "I want to be able to walk into a pub and say 'I have been mentally ill', and for them to say 'That's interesting, what did you learn?'". (A 'survivor' of the system)


Listeningear said...

Unfortunately Mental Illness is becoming a very real part of life and ministry. It does challenge us, it also sometimes makes us feel helpless as we see the mass of empty eyes staring into space and we are the people who carry the light. I used to be quite afraid going into the Psych Unit but have gotten used to it. The Salvo uniform however is like a magnet and I generally never rush as people always want to talk to the Salvo Lady.

But as you say Gordon, our own feelings need to be dealt with and we need to measure why we feel the way we do. I had a similar battle with a Transvesite who is a regular visitor to our centre... Question my own feelings etc.

Good luck with the visit tommorrow Gordon - it is good that you are questioning yourself, some of us just refuse to deal with people or issues that make us feel uncomfortable.


Lucy said...

How did you cope with your second step inside the secure unit?

Gordon said...

A lot more positive thanks. I can't say I am comfortable with the lock in vibe but I felt much better. The look on James' face was as good an incentive as he wasn't expecting me. I'll be there again this week!