Early summer 2015
I had found a sympathetic psychiatrist.
The momentousness of this statement may be lost on those fortunate among you who have never needed one. It may even be lost if you live with a loving psychiatrist. (It’s possible Henry VIII’s hangman had a “My Best Dad” mug in his kitchen, for ought I know.) Or are one.
This wonderful woman had put me in touch with a colleague, who worked at The Springfield Hospital in South London, and should in theory be able to treat Bink.
Who, meanwhile, was at home and slowly improving all the time.
I have one particularly precious memory.
We had, at the time, someone else living with us who was not at all well. I have loved Bink all her life and I assume always will... but even I know the strain that sharing space with someone as ill as Bink can be.
Two such is, I hope, more than most humans are asked to bear.
Unless paid to, in Bedlam, perhaps.
And yet this, at the time, was our lot.
On one particularly tough afternoon, when I had been subjected to more than the usual amount of earache and grief, I went out into the garden to release some of the pressure of steam building up under my lid... and there sat with Bink, in the sun, for a quiet half-hour or more while she threw light on the incident I was escaping from.
And explained it to me.
And reassured me it was not normal.
A memory I had reason to cherish not long afterwards, when she flew back to Gatsby.
Why, Bink? Why?
Who knows why an addict returns to her fix. An alcoholic to the bottle. Or a dog to its vomit.
Soon afterwards, I fled the house too.
There was simply too much going on under our roof.
Fleur has often joked that if she ever ran away from home she would never be able to hide because her husband and sons would find her immediately... in ours.
So that was where I went.
Fleur looked after me. I sat in their quiet house, smelling their roses, enjoying Fleur’s cooking, avoiding writing.
Midweek, my cousin – Fleur’s husband – was in charge of the barbecue for supper.
I offered to make the guacamole.
Except that was the day Bink had the appointment in Fulbourn Hospital, with the shrink I’d been in touch with on a number of occasions, in order for her to be referred on to the Springfield for treatment.
Here’s a curious thing I’ve found about mental health professionals. If you want to read a far more eloquent account than mine, please refer to my friend Alison Whale’s excellent and inspiring blog about her illness.
You’d think, if you hadn’t had much dealings with them, that those who work in mental health must be around the most sympathetic people on the planet, right?
I had made contact with the shrink at Fulbourn a good few times. From memory, she responded once, when I had information useful to her. But I may have recalled that through rose-tinted cataracts and it was actually fewer than that.
Apart from that, she completely ignored me. Totally. Utterly.
Not even, sorry I can’t say much because of patient confidentiality. Not even, of course it would be very helpful to have you at the meeting, if my patient is happy with that. Not so much as, I very much regret I can’t tell you when... or whether... or anything at all.
Far less, I do realise what an anxious time this must be for you. Or, thank you for all the time you’ve taken to fill me in. Or, I’m a mother myself so I do appreciate…
How much would one kind sentence cost?
How much more it would be worth!
Gatsby took Bink to the meeting.
He had the grace to tell me the outcome: a lot more kindness than the psychiatrist. An outcome which, I was very confident indeed, would have been very different indeed if I had accompanied her.
Bink and the shrink decided between them that she didn’t need any treatment.
I’ve never been allowed to forget that guacamole.
I put in a bulb of raw garlic. Between the three of us.