Saturday, 13 July 2013

Bedlam Begins

Dean at the Psychiatric Hospital: Act I Scene 1
A few days ago, I was on my way to meet Dean at his residence in order to accompany him to the psychiatric hospital, from which he was released a few months ago after being sectioned, yet again.  Dean has issues with everyone in the mental health system: his doctor, those who did his assessments, his care co-ordinator, his advocate, and even the solicitor who represented him in a tribunal case against the system. I smile; I had better gird my loins then.

            Dean says he does not necessarily want me to resolve his problems with the mental health system; he wants a witness to observe his treatment, to see that he is not as paranoid as he is labelled. Dean has been embattled, and on his own within the system for several years. It’s fair to say he is quite angry.

            Today, we are going to meet the advocacy support person; Dean also wants me to be present when he has his monthly anti-psychotic medication via injection.  No big deal, that’s pretty straightforward. I have approached the day as if it is ordinary and have not anticipated the chaos about to rain down on me. Today is a day for madness, and as it starts to unfold, I feel calm and oddly detached.

            The first thing that goes wrong is the oft maligned Central line. We have been holed up in a tunnel for 15 minutes because of a breakdown further down the line. Halfway between Liverpool Street and Bank we reverse back into the station because the train I’m on had also developed some fault, and everyone is turfed out. The next train is rammed, there is no way I can board, and time is leaving me behind.

            Ok I say to Life, is this what the day is going to be about, reversal and delay?
I head out of the station; at street level I call Dean. We now arrange to meet at a specific point at Victoria Station. The first appointment is at noon; its now 1105, plenty of time. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to get on a bus. Except for rare pockets, traffic in central London is log-jammed, as if in constant rush hour mode; and what happened to bus lanes.

            Arriving at Victoria, I call Dean, who says he is on a bus at Hyde Park. Ok, here we go again. Its now 1140 and the bus will take at least another 30 minutes to reach Victoria. Dean lives about 10 minutes away from Victoria via underground, what is he doing on a bus? Dean says his train line is having problems. I tell him to text his advocacy person about late arrival; in the meantime I’ll head to the hospital to hold the fort. 

            Thinking I was meeting Dean, I omitted to check the exact location of the hospital. Of course, no one in the vicinity – not even the information desk at the station – knew the hospital; and none had heard of that street name. I ring a friend, thank god for Google maps; the hospital is less than 10 minutes walk away from where I am.

            At the hospital Dean’s advocacy person, to whom I’ve spoken on the phone a couple of times already, is missing. I’d already labelled him as a bit of a flake. He has not been seen at the office today, and his phone goes to voice mail. When he eventually turns up Advocate says he was stuck on the underground, and anyway he has the appointment down for 1230 not 1200. It’s now 1250, and I left my home just after 1000 this morning.

            Advocate is attentive and reasonably helpful in the meeting, and turns out not to be as flaky as I had assumed. I suspect he is just a tad unmotivated by his job. In the middle of a sentence, Dean’s voice begins to falter, his eyes closes and in no time he begins to snore gently.

            Well, we’re half way through the day, and we’ve had the delay, I’m waiting for the reversal….

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