In the early 2000s, I went back to the ward where I had involuntariy been, in 1994. It was still on the first floor of the hospital. Later moved upstairs, for reasons I don’t understand. I became aware of the move, through visiting clients there. All that is left on the first floor is an emergency psychiatric holding facility, where those in crisis wait for a bed upstairs. I don’t recall any emergency holding facility in 1994. Direct line. Maybe in some corner of the emergency department, if no direct line. I have no memory of interims, other than a brief wakeup to be certified, before going back down. Way downtown.
Wanted to give back. Wanted to volunteer in the psychiatric ward that had been the beginning of my own recovery. Bought a number of teddy bears, for their softness. Memories of everything being hard and cold. Thought something soft would be a positive. Maybe saw this on television; can’t remember.
Went to the ward, with bears, early in the evening. Things different now. Now in part a warehouse for the elderly, in various stages of dementia, waiting for somewhere else to go. Elderly woman in the wheelchair near the entrance, after being buzzed in (security hadn’t changed), staring at nothing. Where were those who once cared about her…
Went to the nursing station. Gave the bears, with the explanation as to softness. Mentioned that I had been in the ward and wanted to give back. Mentioned how time there had been the beginning of some major positive changes.
Nurse looked at me, with slightly bemused eyes.
“How to you feel?”
“I think I’m doing fine.”
Major pause, plus a slight smile from her.
“Are you sure?”