Another Hero

Today’s blog is dedicated to another woman I sincerely admire, and appreciate.
I’ve been living in this city for two and a half years. If you work hard, and don’t have much time for socializing, that’s enough time to make many acquaintances, but few friends.
When I went into hospital for the first of three admissions earlier this year, there were five women in this city I reached out to. I emailed them, explaining where I was and why I was there. I asked whether they might perhaps be able to come and visit me. I knew I would be “in” for some weeks, including the upcoming school holidays.
Two of those women said outrightly that no, they would not be visiting me. That stung. (What did they think would happen?)
One woman said she would, but never quite got around to it. That still hurts, though I can understand how busy life can be.
Two women said they would come, and carried through on their promise …
… and one of those women visited me once a week, for each week of that admission.
Psych wards can be confronting if you’re new to that end of the bell curve. Depending on who’s “in”, there may be a smaller or larger percentage of patients presenting with confronting symptoms – expressions of extreme emotion, hallucinations, tics, and so forth. But my friend was cool with it. She seemed curious about the clinic but also open to sit with whatever it – or I! – might present her with.
We drank hot chocolate in the dining room and chatted. Well, at first, I let her do the talking. It was wonderful to hear about the changes which were taking place in her career, her upcoming travel plans, and how some creative projects she was working on were developing. It seemed like news from another planet, a place where people still had order in their lives, dreams, hopes and ambitions. It was just so restful, so normal, so nice.
That’s why, my anonymous friend (you know who you are) I appreciate you. Thank you for your kindness and understanding, and for patiently continuing to be my friend through this difficult time, despite cancelled coffee dates when I couldn’t get out the door and times when my conversation may not quite have hung together as coherently as usual.
And to others who may be reading this: I know it can be scary, committing to visit a friend in a psychiatric hospital or clinic. But if you find yourself in that situation, if you are asked, please consider going.
Your visit will mean so much more than simply saying “I am thinking of you.” It will mean things like: “You are still a human being.” “Your illness does not overshadow my friendship of you.” “Your illness does not make you bad or untouchable.”
These are things which patients on psych wards need to hear, need to feel, need to understand.
Don’t forget – the word “angel” is derived from the ancient greek αγγελος, or “messenger”. You could deliver these messages which psych patients so desperately need to hear. You could become someone’s angel of hope.

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