Today I spent the morning in another hospital for tutorials on psychiatry. When I returned to the Mason clinic where I am based, I saw one of the patients there leaving, surrounded by police. I waved and said hi to him as I usually do. He smiled back at me. I wondered where he was going and resolved to ask him later. I assumed he was leaving to a court hearing.
Later while I was updating myself on the patient’s notes, I found that the patient (Mr. PH) had been discharged from the Mason clinic back to prison.
I was shocked and upset.
Mr. PH was the first patient I had met in the Mason clinic. He introduced himself to me on the first day when I seemed a bit clueless and told me that I would learn a lot there. He was the first patient I had taken a psychiatric history from. He knew it was my first history taking session and was patient and cooperative throughout the 1h it took me to take the entire history. Mr. PH shared many of his life stories and we found we had a few things in common.
From then on he had always greeted me and asked how I was. He offered to teach me how to play jazz style on the guitar and wanted to have a jam session together.
Mr. PH has bipolar disorder and had committed a theft during one of his manic episodes. He was facing 7 years in prison. He told me of how scared he was of returning to prison and his worries that he may not get the bail he was moving towards. I had tried to encourage him to keep positive.
He was a really sweet person who I became quite fond of. So much so that seeing him around everyday was almost comforting. I had no idea he would be sent back to prison so quickly. Apparently, neither did he. He was the reason I first realised how vulnerable patients at the Mason clinic were. Sure, they were big scary criminals to the outside world, but this was mostly due to their mental illness. When treated, they were all just very simple, regular people who had talents and hopes for the future.
If I had known I had been walking past Mr. PH as he was leaving, I probably would have said goodbye or wished him all the best. I am sad that I wasn’t able to do this.
Every so often, you’ll lose contact with someone you know abruptly. And when that happens, you’ll feel a pang of loss. And a regret. That you didn’t get a chance to tell them you’re grateful to have known them, and for all they had taught you and that you’ll miss them. Well, that’s how I feel anyway.
I didn’t get a chance to say thanks and goodbye to Mr. PH and I didn’t get to have a guitar jam with him. Both of which I’m deeply upset about. I wish Mr. PH all the best. I hope he gets bail. I hope his life is happier from now on. And I’ll miss seeing him around.