Those of you who have been with us a while will know the Sunday rules:
(And that it’s not always possible to have all three.)
We have got good, current, Bink news today. Very good.
But not exclusively so…
Unfortunately, after her first week in which she was extremely enthusiastic about her new environment, she had a weekend with not enough structure or company and her mood dipped.
When Bink’s mood dips it can be quite frightening. The first few times. Even for professionals.
She can scream non-stop for several hours, audible half a street away. That’s just for starters. She can curl into a ball under a table and not speak or move at all, except perhaps rocking slightly, also for an impressively long time. She can set fire to things or barricade things or go completely rigid or mute or smash a whole pile of twenty plates, one by one, slowly, at three in the morning.
Not at our house, this latter, because it’s very much against the rules. Destroying things. But if you haven’t thought to put the rules in place.
Serena is used to it. And yet the last time Serena came home and Bink had that kind of mood swing, she went back to her own house exhausted for half a week, just listening to it. And trying to protect her baby from the emotional fall-out of hearing it.
Bink hadn’t been specifically warned not to express herself quite so freely in Rhodes Recovery. And when she hit a low after that first weekend she also happened to use the word, “suicidal”.
She is adamant that she didn’t say she was suicidal, merely that she felt suicidal, but it triggered an immediate response and she was sent straight back to the North London Priory the very same day, on the grounds that Rhodes hasn’t got the resources to care for patients who are at risk.
(Well, neither have we. But God never gave her family an Acute Referral option.)
At this point one could have a debate about mental health professionals knowing the difference between suicidal feelings and suicidal intentions.
On the other hand, I don’t suppose it’s done Bink any harm at all to learn that expressing her panic and stress in certain ways spreads a lot of panic and stress to others around her without necessarily reducing the panic and stress she herself is feeling.
(I wish I’d thought to communicate that to her myself, years ago, as emphatically as Rhodes Recovery has. But see above, re Domestic Backstops, lack of.)
It has taken her since well before Christmas until now to persuade them that, however alarming she might have sounded, this was just her way of telling them she wasn’t feeling great and it didn’t mean she was at risk at all.
So the very good news, today, now, as of two days ago, is that Rhodes Recovery has at last agreed to give her another chance.
On condition that she doesn’t curl into a ball, scream the place down, or – specifically – bandy the word suicidal around the place.
They haven’t put it quite like that, I don’t suppose. But that’s what it amounts to.
“If you are suicidal,” I explained to her as clearly as I knew how, “then yes, you must say so. Scream so. Pull out all all the loudest Principal stops, so. Ambulances will come hallooing and swerving and bash down anything in the way, there will be a huge noise and fuss and flashing of blue wailing banshees and you will be slung out of Rhodes for ever. But you will be alive. So please do this, if you really are suicidal, Bink.
“However, if you are merely trying to convey how distressed you are, please simply express yourself, specifically and clearly. Such as, ‘I’m feeling very distressed’.”
I believe she’ll stay.
Bink has never lacked grey matter. Or motivation.
She just needed to know the rules.
That is the good news.
The bad – and very sad – news is that I can totally see it from their point of view. Having just heard other news too, two days ago.
Serena rang Bink and she told her.
I only know what Serena told me.
Bink was admitted to hospital (doesn’t matter where or when: she has been hospitalised a number of times) with someone I’ll call Tom.
Serena met Tom. He was: “a very sweet grown man,” (I had confused him with a teenager of the same name) “who was outside talking to her in the garden when we visited, so lonely he then ‘happened’ to bump into us when we were in the playground and café with Bink.”
Bink talked about him a lot. To Serena. (Not to me.)
She was worried. Said he shouldn’t be discharged. Would be at risk.
“Bink,” Serena assured her, “you can surely leave this to the professionals. They’ll know if he isn’t safe. It’s not your responsibility.”
He shouldn’t be discharged, Bink said.
I’ve often thought Bink quite exceptionally perceptive. When she’s not completely nuts, that is. (Quite often, when she is.) She also cares. A lot.
Perhaps she cares too much…? Perhaps that’s partly what makes her nuts…
The brutal and economic truth is that, because Tom was discharged, no one will be held responsible. I’m not saying I want anyone to be held responsible. Legally. I doubt it helps anyone.
When Bink had to leave Rhodes before, Serena sounded pretty upset. Suppose she kills herself in a few months’ time, because she didn’t have the secondary care? (She won’t, because Bink doesn’t go around killing herself. But if she were genuinely at risk…?) Would that make it all right, because she’s not their responsibility?
Tom’s tragedy may presumably have happened precisely because he was discharged.
The irony being that what clears such a decision legally, may be exactly what implicates it morally.