Posts Tagged ‘butterfly’

The Grapes of…Whatever

August 1, 2014


Catching Up

January 30, 2014


The Magic Mountain

January 17, 2013


When I was in hospital I was befriended by Michael, an ex squaddie who had left the army after a nervous breakdown. He had been homeless ever since. drifting from bedsit to shelter and back again. His chaotic lifestyle was punctuated by visits to the psychiatric hospital.

The army was his reason for living and, in his view, someone had stolen that away from him. Now he had nothing. Just a lifetime of desolate acute wards and endless corridors. This was when I realized that the longer I remained on this hospital ward the harder it would be to leave. And that terrified me. Becoming like Michael terrified me. ‘This is like being a prisoner of war,’ he told me. ‘Worse probably. At least they have the Geneva Convention.’

Michael was a mountain of a man. He did not join the other patients waiting calmly, obediently in line for their medication. He rejected the powerful neuroleptic they offered him. I once overheard a nurse saying to him: ‘You really have no idea how ill you are, do you?’ He had a reputation for being ‘non-compliant’.

Nursespeak, my mother had once told me, for ‘awkward old git.’ He viewed the staff with open hostility and they viewed him as a problem to be solved. But he also had a generosity of spirit that was rare in these parts.

This was a side of him that the staff chose not to see. All they saw was an obstreperous, middle-aged, red-faced man standing before them. The one that, no matter what they tried, refused to take the medication prescribed to him by his all-knowing consultant. So every night he was forcibly medicated. It was quite a spectacle.

Michael would wedge himself into the easy chair nearest the television. ‘Are you ready for your meds, Michael’. This question would be repeated three times and would elicit no response. The staff nurse would then call in the charge nurse who, in turn, called in his minions – male auxiliary nurses from the intensive care unit. The biggest, beefiest men they could find. Men who were only here, according to Aaron (the pretentious overgrown public school boy) because they enjoyed roughing people up.

The patients in the dayroom looked up from their books and boardgames. They turned their heads away from the television. They snapped out of their collective stupor. Then they arrived – six burly men with heavy, clumping boots. They did not try to argue with Michael, they did not ask him to come quietly. Moving in tandem they seized him and pulled him out of his chair. But he did not give in without a struggle. He kicked out with his feet and struck out with his fists as they dragged him out of the room and walked him down the corridor. It was not a fair fight.

‘See what they’re doing, ‘ he shouted. ‘They’re oppressors. Government oppressors. They are an army of pawns.’ They were followed by an elfin female nurse with a needle in her hand. The doctor who had authorised this procedure watched from a distance.

‘I’d love to shove a needle up his arse,’ said Aurora (the ward’s beautiful but rather vulgar narcissist) who was no stranger to forcible medication.

I am not sure…

March 14, 2009


I am not sure how long I shall remain here. I have been reading about the plight of transsexuals – they are people who believe that they have been born into the wrong body. As far as I am aware it is a disorder that primarily affects men – sufferers believe that they are really women. I wonder if there are people who have been born into the wrong time.

I cannot deny that you have probably helped many. You have, however, had a hand in destroying my life and for that I hate you beyond measure. You despised me because I was born into the wrong socio-economic circumstances.  You despised me because I am physically grotesque. You despised me because of factors beyond my control. You failed to act when I was sexually harassed by over-sexed male patients while being imprisoned as a result of a section 3 that you ratified.  You failed to act when I was physically attacked by a male patient who had a long history of such behaviour. You failed to address the sexual abuse or domestic violence I had experienced as a child. When I was in your care I was forcibly medicated, often by male members of staff. I was told that I was worthless, an attention seeker, not really ill. I was told that nobody would really care if I committed suicide. You were slowly and systematically destroying me. My mother managed to wrest me away from you. A humble nurse triumphed over a learned psychiatrist. How that must have stung! When I graduated from college I was still under your jurisdiction. I was in the care of a CPN and a social worker. It was then that you exacted your revenge. You withdrew all support. I was left to rot in a council flat. At the time I had a friend. I will refer to her as L. She insisted on telling me how wonderful you were, how you went out of your way to help her, how much you respected her. The contrast was striking. She was pure and good and came from a middle class background. She was also, unlike me, physically attractive.  Another difference was that I had managed to graduate and she didn’t – that must have infuriated you – it is a violation of the natural order of things.

There is a voice in my head – it is one of the demons. Because you, devout Catholic that you are, always knew that I was demonically possessed.  I asked you to approach a priest on my behalf.  You refused.  So the demons they have multiplied. They are imprisoned inside. And no one will help me get rid of them. You think I deserve my suffering because, at the age of seven, I permitted a neighbour to shove his fingers up my vagina and I told no one. I should have fought him. Even if it meant my own death. You are trying to rid the planet of my evil presence. You are trying to make me commit suicide. I will do as you wish but the world will know what you have done.

The voice says: ‘Keep looking over your shoulder.  Because you should never feel safe – as long as I am alive.’

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