The Psychiatric Unit. It’s rather like a bus stop in the middle of nowhere, except you don’t need a Red Rover or Weekly ticket for the ride! We don’t really know each other here on the ward, but we’ve all shared the common experience of being treated for mental health conditions under intense emotional and vulnerable circumstances. We are all here waiting for our bus home, some in here might even be contemplating a different route back, a place where life is much different to their old one. It has poured down whilst I’ve been here – others have experienced less harsh weather and found themselves on their way home after a brief sun shower/drizzle. Whatever our situation, we get through it together and continue to wait for our bus to turn up.
It’s the waiting that gets to us – the waiting along side each other for our turn to leave. There are people from all walks of life here and it’s safe to say that while we sit and wait there are no discussion topics off limit amongst friends. We’ve probably discussed everything from the strange and epic shortage of knickers on ward (that keep getting lost – does the dryer have some strange affinity for them, we shall never know!?) to discussions about new moisturisers, vapors, and/or how to deal with the worst of distress/pain when we’re eaten up by deep depression. Here, we take the good and the bad together and support each other in every way we can, without breaking ourselves. We share observations about the funniest of things, whilst concurrently trying to work the out the complexities of our individual differing mental health conditions and how best to cope with them.
Seeing a friend smile after weeks of having to go through deep depression is immensely gratifying. Who ever thought I’d be able to feel so much for a person I’ve only known a couple of weeks? I’ve become quite a master (a rather cheeky self-confessing one) at hugging and holding hands, such small things, but things that can make quite a difference. As far as I can see, we all have one thing in common in here and that’s not where we are going, or how many stops we need to take to get there, it’s our humanity and compassion – because we all know what suffering is in here and loathe seeing friends struggle too.
Seeing a friend go when their number drives up will be difficult, knowing that I can’t go that way too. I’ll be glad for her, don’t get me wrong, but the straightforward truth is that the space where we both stood together and occupied for a while will be forever changed upon her discharge. She’ll go back to her life as she must and wants, as I will in in time, to my own. After all, none of us actually chose to be here together, we just came to a point (or Bus Stop) where we all had to be – in order to be able to keep on going.
These places (hospital) that we all hate at first become different places in the end. Places where experiences and interactions become meaningful. Places where people, their kindness and compassion manage to mask the harsh hospital walls. I’ll stop short of saying that I’ll feel sad when special friends leave the unit. I’d rather state heartfelt gratitude for the chance that fate threw our way – the wonderful opportunity to cross paths with such special people.