A Visit with a Friend on the Psych Ward

Many people, if hospitalized in order to get their bipolar disorder under control would move away from the spotlight. Not blogger Steven Schwartz. Rather than move away from the spotlight, Schwartz is shining the light clearly upon himself as he journeys with his mental illness. Now that he has checked himself into the hospital, Steven blogs daily about his situation.

I was at the hospital with a family member today and while he was getting his procedure done I had a chance to sit, sip coffee, and eat donuts with Steven. Steven is a fellow blogger and also a blogger fellow. We know each other through our blogs, online conversations and our Twitter activities. We have met once in person before. So for us to sit across a table from one another is a bit odd. And then consider our conversation.

I asked where in the hospital he is staying. With a wave of his hand he points and says, “The nut ward is over there.” This is a guy who is very comfortable with his mental illness. We talk about ass-less hospital gowns and paper slippers. Piss-proof pillows and hospital food and the dreaded Jello. We talk about doctors and their approaches to medicine. I forget to tell him my favourite doctor joke; you know the difference between God and a doctor? God doesn’t think he is a doctor. We talk about mental illness and about the shame attached to it and the work we do to break away from that shame. We talk about the fact that mental illness is an ILLNESS. Not a whole lot different than diabetes and heart disease in that they all have to be managed.

But then the shocker for me, excuse the pun, is that he says that next week he is going to begin ECT. I naively say, “what’s that?” Electroconvulsive therapy. Old school; electro-shock therapy. He adds that it is not so bad seeing as you are anesthetized during the procedure. I jokingly ask if he has considered just pissing off an RCMP dude and suggesting that when the cop goes to Taser him, ask to get the Taser in the head. We both laugh. It is comfortable being with my friend.

Soon my Dad’s procedure is complete and I have to get him in his wheelchair and back to the Handidart to take him back to his home. Steven and I shake hands as we part. We both smile. I feel the kindness in Steven’s hand and I say, “I will see you soon.” And I mean it.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this! Steven is one of my favourite folks I met via social media & I’ve been following his daily story since he went into hospital – and before too. Glad to hear of this visit!

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