Early summer 2015
Early summer 2015.
Living with mental illness in a Welfare State is to find yourself suddenly orphaned... when all your life you have grown up with the expectation that your parents will always be there for you.
Over and over again I found myself, that year and the next (and quite often before and afterwards) thinking: there must be someone who can help us.
There simply MUST.
Bink was so ill...
How could we be so alone in such despair? We have an NHS. A system of welfare and care. Help for those teetering on the edge.
You are not supposed to starve, in modern Britain: for lack of food; or medical care; or anything else.
You are not supposed to be too ill to get treatment.
Fool that I am...
We lived fourteen years in an inner city vicarage. How could I not have known how low humanity can sink, and nobody help?
In theory I did. But by definition, of course, by the time someone was ringing our vicarage doorbell, he had found help.
If only for an evening...
By dint of absolutely refusing to give up, I had found a psychiatrist in London, willing to listen if nothing else. She couldn’t put Bink on her own programme but she had suggested a colleague.
I had also found a worker from the charity Mind, a brief walk from our house, which had a programme to help those with mental ill-health apply for work for the first time.
And I had contacted Fulbourn Hospital, on the outskirts of Cambridge, supposedly responsible for Bink’s ongoing treatment, to liaise with the psychiatrist there.
But Bink was now gone... on holiday with Gatsby. Having asked us to keep her room, and not let it out to lodgers.
Perhaps, she said, she would yoyo between him and home for the foreseeable future.
I’m glad she warned me.
I managed to have a telephone conversation with her.
Given Gatsby’s recent email, if we believed she or Gatsby to be is at risk, I said, we would have to inform the police.
She reminded me of the broken flowerpot. She hadn’t been stable at home.
But there is a crucial difference, I said. Gatsby is frightened.
Not frightened of my illness?
No, Lara. I’m not frightened. I am very, very sad.
And very concerned indeed that you are going back into a situation so destructive for both of you.
But I’m never frightened, no.
I suppose because, beneath all your obvious vulnerability, I believe you to be a fighter.
And a lot stronger than Gatsby.
That’s very offensive towards him.
It’s a recognition that you are the dominant person in the relationship. Perhaps, I said, the reason you go back is because it’s one situation you can control...
In a life of turmoil and emotions in an endless vortex, perhaps that was the one frayed and tattered end of the only rope Bink had hold of.