Fiona and I have a mutual friend. He's ill at the moment. His business and his marriage are both in dire straights and he had become severely depressed....it all got a bit much and he was admitted to Nether Edge hospital here in Sheffield. He's a lovely man - caring, gentle and kind, and it's sad that he's poorly.
We went to see him this afternoon. The place he is in is quite nice and clean - although the corridor smelt of wee - and fortunately he was in better shape than all the rest of the patients. It reminded me of the hospital in 'One flew over the Cuckoo's nest'...all it needed was Jack Nicholson causing trouble and Nurse Ratchett bullying everybody and you would have been there.
It's clear that our friend is suffering from some kind of psychotic episode or breakdown. He's nervous and twitchy - and couldn't get anything that has happened into any kind of proper perspective. However - with medication and treatment and counselling - he will get better. It will just take care and time.
Different story for Carol I'm afraid. Carol told us she was fifty years old. I would have said nearer to seventy. She had wrinkly craggy skin and a quite dramatic 'sucky' mouth. She smoked a cigarette and it almost disappeared. She reminded me of a pantomime wicked witch - but she was lovely - although clearly living on another planet. Probably hops about between other planets to be honest.
She made no real sense so we couldn't ask why she was in there - but I would imagine she was one of the long term sufferers of mental health problems.
We chatted to her for a while and she was very friendly and nice - but (and this is not politically correct in any way) completely barking. I cannot imagine what has happened to her in her life that she would end up that way. It was very sobering.
Our friend will be okay and in time will go home and probably make a full recovery - but Carol - and thousands like her - probably never will. That makes me very sad.
We worry about our lives, our finances, our relationships - all our 'shit' - but honestly - go and spend half a day in your local mental health ward and you'll see things differently.