Bethlem Royal Hospital in London is apparently one of the foremost psychiatric hospitals in Europe. Unfortunately, because of its long and sometimes inhumane history, and because it gave us the word bedlam, it will forever be associated with the very worst type of lunatic asylum – as Wikipedia says, “the epitome of what the term “madhouse” connotes to the modern reader”.
I’m sure every city has its equivalent. In Dublin it’s St John of God Hospital. While it does wonderful work in the field of mental health, anyone who ever grew up in Dublin shudders when they hear the words, and can still hear elderly aunts and grannies speaking of some unfortunate and saying “and the poor divil ended up in the John O’ Gods”.
I mention this because, as I wrote last week, I’ve decided to take further steps to try & rid myself of the depersonalised feeling which has dogged me for the last two years. My wonderful GP has referred me to a psychiatrist, and, because I work in the city centre, recommended me one in Exchequer Street. When I rang, though, his secretary said that he was quite heavily booked in that clinic at the moment, but that I could have an appointment next Wednesday in his other clinic.
Guess where that is. My aunts and grannies would be quite proud.
Since I’m just interested in getting better, I don’t care in the least. I actually think it’s quite funny, though Mrs Tin is a bit concerned about one thing. She knows well that I still refer to 2001, when I had a breakdown caused by stress and depression, as “the year I went mad”. One of my oldest friends is having his 50th birthday party tomorrow, and a lot of people we haven’t seen for years will be there (some of them haven’t heard the whole Tinman/blackouts/pacemaker saga yet. They have no idea of the treat they have in store). Anyway, she has forbidden me from saying, when asked what I’m up to these days, that “I’m a mental patient in John O’Gods”.
So I won’t. Probably.