As I said yesterday, more to follow.
The first time I met this man I didn’t find it disturbing, unduly. He was on dinner duty and I realised he must be Richard, but for some reason I didn’t use his name. He started singing ‘Horse With No Name’ and I corrected the situation as quickly as possible. I thought he was making a point about me not having asked his name, so I decided it was right to give him what I thought he was asking for.
However, that is his usual behaviour, he can be heard from one end of the ward to the other, booming out, slurring his speech, looking rough, playing tag with my speech and maybe that of others. I’ve noticed that if he is around and I start to regain any feeling of speaking normally and sensibly, maybe making a decision on the spot as I was trying to yesterday, he will interject, follow and pick up the way I speak wherever it goes, loudly, obtrusively and slurring and in a way which causes me communicative and emotional distress because of the outrage and shock every time it happens, quite apart from what I believe is the unprofessionalism and the corporate denial among anyone I raise it with on the staff that it could conceivably be a problem to anyone.
My immediate concern for myself is that this kind of harassment could put me at risk of being put back on a section, since no protection from it or cessation is offered. He presents like a drunk at the moment, is totally defiant about it and I’m not sure how he s getting away with it. He often sings ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’, and given the situation I don’t find it funny. He sings it as if to himself while he is walking on the ward. Sometimes I tell myself I should have more of a sense of humour about it. It is what some people would expect of me.
I’m not sure what he is trying to communicate by this, but I believe he is doing it wrong and that he should stop or lose his position. He is routinely hurting people and he must know that. If he doesn’t know and won’t be told I think he is not fit for the job. Though that could be said of many.
Yesterday I had a review with Dr Khan. Dr Fahy was absent for reasons I couldn’t ascertain. I asked if what was described as an ‘off’ day was bad off or planned off, and he said he didn’t know, or words to that effect.
We chatted quite happily about things I can’t much remember, until we got to the issue of my room. I said that, at home, something doesn’t happen at 10 and at 2 to force me out of my home environment into another I don’t want to be in, or haven’t chosen to be in, unless it is an act of harassment and violence. He said did I experience it as harassment and I said yes. I can’t remember if I pointed out, yet again, that I am 9 months homeless and counting and that people need a sense of home. I think I did.
He started to present a picture to me which is, I think, given that they know my position on the issue, insulting and unhelpful. I am as intellectually able as them and it seems to me that presenting a factual requirement as a picture is an invasion of my right to be separate. I’m not sure if he thought I couldn’t or wouldn’t understand without a picture or not.
The picture was that the government requires everyone to pay income tax. I contradicted him straight away and said it doesn’t require me to pay income tax because I am on benefits, and I said his illustration had broken down already because the basis of it was incorrect. We were arguing and he was saying I wouldn’t let him finish. If I want a 69 to Bulwell I don’t get on a 28 to Bilborough. My analytical skills, and also my basic respect for people, is obviously better than his. I left the room while he was still objecting, and I answered that he was pig headed and opinionated.
I got into a conversation with a nurse about it, she had been in the room at my request. I asked her what he meant, eventually, and she said she didn’t know and I finished the sentence for her in a way I felt appropriate, that it was because she wasn’t party to the situation. She said no, because I didn’t let him finish, and that I often finish sentences for her and I am wrong. But at the time she seemed to be agreeing. If she had said I was wrong at the time I would have asked her what she had actually meant.
Long and short, I realised he might have been going on to say that the government requires everyone to pay tax but there are exceptions. That was the only understanding with which I could justify what he had said. I saw him in the corridor and said sorry, did I misunderstand what you were saying, and he said yes, but don’t take it personally. He didn’t take that opportunity to have a further conversation or to communicate the fact behind his illustration. Consequently, because of that and because of the inconsistency of application of the policy anyway, I realised today that I am afraid of just about everything I am doing and everything I am not doing.
This morning Sharon and Sonia came to my room, and I said that I thought Alison was OK with me staying in my room, because last week I had referred someone back to Alison, who knows my personal reasons for me wanting control of my space, and she didn’t come back. I had said that I assumed that if she didn’t come back then the situation was OK. But Sharon insisted and said that that was what the doctor had said yesterday. That psychologically stopped me dead. She said that the only reason people are allowed to stay in their rooms was if they were physically ill. I had started off talking with my toothbrush still going in my mouth and when I stopped she moaned (that is a description of the way she spoke) that I hadn’t objected before to speaking with my toothbrush in my mouth, and she kept me going until I closed the shower and toilet door on her. She said she wasn’t going to argue with me and I said that was exactly what she was doing. She seemed satisfied to walk away when I was in full flow emotionally. I said she was bullying me, and when she contradicted me I called her an un-self-aware bully and closed the door. She later came back with a letter I haven’t opened yet and told me she was leaving it on my bed. I think it is from Nottingham City Homes and I hope it is written notification of their decision not to house me because I didn’t give information of a close enough connection to Nottingham. If it is that I can begin to appeal.
But I’ve been thinking today. I believe the law recognises a right to privacy, and that the doctor isn’t above the law. If the law recognises a right to privacy on my own terms I don’t believe I lose that right just because I am in hospital. Outside we have a right not to be in a situation or an environment we don’t want to be. We have the right, even if most of us don’t have the monetary power to back up that right. We have a right to leave a bad situation. The only ability some people have on the ward to exercise that right is to be able to access their room when they want to, and not to be dragged out of it in the name of ward policy. There is no supervision of those out of room times and anyone can pick on people or be picked.
Also, medical care is supposed to be patient centred. We are on a ward because we are supposed to be ill, albeit mentally. Some of that mental illness has come about in the first place because people’s rights haven’t been respected and observed. People know when they need to rest or want privacy. We are the best judges of our own needs. People shouldn’t be shunted out of their rooms against their wishes, en masse, like a herd of cattle. Most people on the ward, in my opinion, are wondering around disturbed or disturbing people exactly because we are being treated like that. People come out when they want to, when it comes to private space. Rather than respecting it, they have turned it into a war zone subject to random attacks. I think the policy is wrong, not just the inconsistency of its application. That is why I am against it. You don’t force people out of their private space, physically or any other way, unless you want disturbed people. That is common sense and common sense is good, because that is about our being, not separate from it.
Dr Fahy asked me to do her a favour and not name people. But when you are subject to abuse or in fear of future abuse that is your only protection. People don’t listen if you keep it internal. Alison said I could talk to her. Even the inconsistency of approach is not consistent to good mental health. If Alison is OK with me being in my room then I need the raids to stop when they do happen. It is like an act of war. I’m so upset about my space I don’t get other things done. If Alison is supposed to be the last word on the ward and she is OK with me keeping my space, no one should be overriding that. Maybe there is a power struggle going on on the ward. If so, it shouldn’t be played out on the patients. I knocked on her door twice today and no one answered. When the door was opened there was a room full of people. I felt I needed to apologise for not realising there was a handover or something. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was a group of people unhappy with my blog entry yesterday.
I asked for some complaint forms today as well, but it appeared that in the office they didn’t have any. First they didn’t seem to know where to look, then they offered me a plain piece of paper, which could easily be misplaced after being given in.
I thought about the rights and powers, and the fact that most people can’t afford to avail themselves of their right to determine their own lives and leave bad situations or places of work. “If you don’ t like your job find another”. Yeah, right. If a person’s job was bad for their well-being, if they were being bullied and having lots of time off sick because of it, could they leave and not forfeit benefits by leaving themselves if they couldn’t walk straight into another job? Could they resign on a principle and be respected for doing so by the benefits agencies? I think it was six weeks benefit you forfeited if you left a job of your own accord without another one to go to, when I was in my 20s. For most people acts of principle are a luxury. I was thinking about Tony Blair, who could step down from his position and never work again without loss to the essentials of daily life. Yet he chooses to work. People on lecture tours, special representatives of this and that. The populace needs more confidence and interest to do the job without specials. I was thinking that Tony Blair is a special peace envoy, rightly or wrongly, when the way to not have war is obvious – don’t start one. A special representative is just a media figure, isn’t it?
I was thinking about people with all those privileges and all those properties and all that money calling people who can barely make ends meet, in real terms, in terms of real independence, scroungers. Mocking us by saying we have rights without ensuring our power to avail ourselves of them.
I was thinking the other day that the mental health services are just a way of controlling people who start to feel their power and express it legally. A way of controlling the emerging classes’. Is that SWP/Marxist thinking? Whatever the thought and words, the reality is the same. They call it delusions of grandeur when you try to empower yourself against what is happening to you, and until the birth of the bloggosphere it has gone largely unchallenged by people in the thick of it, in any public way. Demonstrations can’t happen every day.
It was said a few years ago on the radio that there is enough land in our country for every single person to have 7 acres to themselves.
Something else I was thinking about today was the verse in Proverbs where it says that someone who involves themselves in someone else’s argument is like a man who grasps a dog by the ears. I was thinking of that in relation to Premier Radio and the Church. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth. I would not have been hurt so much or have lost so much important in my life if various spiritual authorities had not used their platforms to chase me down, and if secular authorities had done their job with equal regard to anti-discrimination and anti-prejudice laws.
I’ve got an interview with people to help with housing tomorrow on the ward. I hope that goes well. It has been organised for me and I was told it might take 2 weeks from referral to meeting,but it is less than one week. So that is a good thing, I hope.
I was just talking and thinking about the perversity of my situation, that after clearing my flat on Friday I was released from my section on the Monday, so now I can take off all the time I want in one day I have been told that if I went overnight I would lose my room because of high demand. I’ve got an idea. Respect people and treat them well all the time and they might never need to come back! If we weren’t put in the loony bin in the first place instead of receiving proper communication and acknowledgment that would be better.