The Crash (Part 3)
Posted by jackmarsden
18th Dec 2017

Oh Jesus. An institution.

All I saw at the end of our 240 mile journey to the other end of the country, was a long anonymous grey block of concrete, low level buildings. The Priory, it certainly wasn't.

“This is not going to work,” I thought, as i waited patiently with my son and daughter in the reception area, all too tired to speak.

After my attempted suicide, I had been found this place, 240 miles from home.

We listened mutely as a departing member of staff chatted away in pidgin English at a receptionist framed behind a glass panel.

We could have been extra-terrestrials for all the notice that was being taken.

A man in white overalls finally came to meet us, with a beaming smile. Even in my insanity, it struck me as incongruous in the extreme. Not appropriate, mate. Nothing to grin about.

He unlocked heavy, secure doors with a fistful of keys and led us down a brightly lit corridor, and into a waiting room, with huge windows, motioning us to sit down.

We found ourselves sitting inside a giant goldfish bowl.

Then it began.

He went out and came back in again, wordlessly.

He went out and came back in again, pulling on surgical gloves as he did so.

By this stage, I think we were all absolutely terrified.

“Can you come over here to be weighed” he instructed, adding “please”, almost as an afterthought.

Shades of a 21st Century ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. This was a male nurse Ratched.

“What’s next, the ECG machine?” I asked. More dark humour.

He asked me to take off my belt. Then my shoelaces. Then to empty my pockets on the table.

I had only ever seen this in films. In a prison.

Another male nurse came in and sat down. We all strained to understand him. His English was not good.

The upshot, it seemed, was that no forms had come through from my local CCG, back up in the North East, to guarantee funding for my place here.

“But you’re here now…” he shrugged, sitting down at a desk in front of us.

My son, daughter and me audibly gasped in unison.

Then the nurse with the keys, started to go through my thrown-together bags, reading out loud each item he discovered.

“Five pairs of boxers, seven pairs of socks”. He emphasised.

It felt like I was being strip searched.

Invasive. Brutal. Or perhaps this was reasonable and I was just being ‘hyper sensitive’, as the medical assessment report had described me.

It went on and on and on. Item by item by item. We sat there, listening silently to his inventory of my pathetic possessions.

He was frequently forced to repeat simple words – ‘T shirt blue; Jeans blue; books two’ as his colleague repeatedly demanded ‘whaaat?’

Then it came to my diabetes stuff - insulin pens and blood testing equipment. As a Type 1 diabetic, my blood glucose had been wildly out of control for months with the stress caused as I fought for my job with my employer (Woman No 2).

"You can't have these," nurse Ratched, intoned, firmly.

He was taking away my lifeline.

I stammered something incoherent. Then my son intervened: "He needs to keep those so he can monitor his blood sugar levels. It's been out of control."

Nurse Ratched hesitated, then placed the insulin pens and monitoring equipment to one side - "We'll ask the doctor, when he comes," he concluded.

By 10pm, the inventory and the inevitable, incessant form-filling was finally concluded.

Two hours of process, but still no help for me.

We had been going for nine hours now and still not seen anyone who could help me with my mental health. Or lack of it.

The doctor was still on his way, apparently.

My son had rung ahead before our arrival informing the hospital that we would arrive at 8, that I was diabetic and might need to eat something.

But it didn’t seem to have made any difference. I swallowed Lucozade instead.

By now, we were all totally exhausted, traumatised by our reception and treatment. Fearful of what lay in store.

I took a picture on my phone of my two children. I thought that, one way or another, this was going to be the last time I would ever see them again.

I asked my son if he would go and look at the room which had been assigned to me and then perhaps I could just go to sleep and my two children could go back home to London.

My son returned, tears welling in his eyes.

“You’re not staying here, dad”, he said. “We're not going to leave you here. This is just going to make you even worse.”

The room was not ready, a tap was gushing. I wouldn’t be able to sleep with it. They were trying to ready another room. He couldn’t speak of the men he had seen loitering in the corridor outside.

We waited again. Alone. Still no doctor. And then a final, collective decision. We were going back to my daughter’s flat in London.

That was Sunday night. It would be another three days before a place was finally found for me, nearer home.

The state of the mental health service in England - one of the most civilised countries in the world

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