Dug This Up

(from my last admission in my baby black notebook. Don’t expect coherence.)

Extract from Hospital Diary

In hospital. Feels like a prison. The staff do their best but with very limited resources. They work long shifts: twelve hours. This is why I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Much of what happens is beyond their control. Everything, it seems, is in the hands of the bean counters.

When I was in hospital a few years ago I was on a brand new, plush ward. They even had duvets. This was a state of the art ward. A model on which all other wards should be based. They spent millions of pounds on this ward only to close it down a couple of years later. That leaves two acute psychiatric ward to cover an entire city and its surrounding areas.

This feels punitive: something they are prone to do to people even suspected of self harming. Yet they never seem to adopt this attitude to those who harm others. It seems that people who harm others are feared and respected by the staff and patients alike. Those who harm themselves are despised and rejected. They are accused of being manipulative attention seekers. These labels never seem to be attached to those who harm others. Funny that because there’s nothing more ‘manipulative and attention seeking’ than punching someone in the mouth. So, as always, the bullies emerge triumphant.

And in the long term pampering those who harm others doesn’t just make life difficult for their fellow patients; it also makes life difficult for the staff because it encourages others to emulate them, elbowing their way to the front, at the expense of other less volatile but more vulnerable patients. And one day they may turn on the staff themselves.

The system is set up to reward bullying just as it is school and in other institutions. The timid are given little time or acknowledged. Just like the outside world. And my anger is not directed at the staff. They are foot soldiers. It is the Generals who issue the orders.

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