In The Lakes I was put on anti-psychotic medicine by Dr Agharwal, the consultant psychiatrist who wore a good suit and drove a BMW. What happened was, every Friday morning he’d come and the patients would see him and about 4 or 5 others. We’d each get an allotted 10 minutes.
Showers were a problem. I couldn’t get in and out of a bath without my bath bench, and – shit happens – the disabled shower was blocked. I could shower for about 2 minutes before it flooded. I tried so say this to the mental health nurses, and they said I could have some help showering. But the way they said it, I worried it would be Frances Farmer-being-hosed-down time: the cliche of a mental ward.
So on Friday I thought I’d speak to the psychiatrist about it – the top man. I said I hadn’t been able to wash properly for weeks and was worried that I smelt. He looked at me (long greasy hair) and by reflex referred to his interior list – delusion that he smells bad: tick. And so he just prescribed the antipsychotic medicine. Next please…
Even then, I knew that wasn’t what I needed. I needed a bath, for Christ’s sake! But at that stage I just gave up again and took the medicine.
Mercifully, he wasn’t there next week and his deputy, a Chinese-origin man who at least LISTENED, thought better of it and dropped the antipsychotic. I remember telling M (a friend who’s also a psychotherapist) about it when he came to visit and he knew I wasn’t psychotic. Just deeply, deeply depressed.
Other psychiatrists mentions the various stresses that contribute to psychosis. The Lakes COULD be a good thing for patients who just wanted a holiday. I’ve heard about alcoholics who’d go in there just because the abstinence thing is taken care of. They no longer have to DECIDE not to drink.
But for me, The Lakes was not good. It was set up for mentally challenged but physically able people, but it wasn’t AT ALL set up for the physically challenged. Take the kitchen: I could get in there and make a cup of tea, just about. But I couldn’t get out! I’d have my left hand holding the cup and the walking stick, my useless right hand in my pocket – and no hand to pull the door open; it only opened INWARDS. I’d have to wait until someone came in the other way. So I’d have my cup of tea and would just stand there indefinitely, sipping the tea and burning my mouth, because what else was I going to do?
I was there for 2 months.