The hospital

I never spoke about the hospital I go to for my appointments with the psychiatrist. It is well known here as the “mental” hospital, and has even been colloquially termed “The Mental”. Of course it has all of the typical stigma attached to an institution associated with mental health.  I have told hardly anyone in my real life that I go there for appointments. I am afraid people will talk about me behind my back. Say “she must be bad if she has to go THERE.” So I absorb the fear and stigma and keep it to myself.

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There is something inherently creepy about a building that was erected in 1855. I can’t help but get the creeps. I was very nervous the first time I went there.

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Even though the grounds are actually quite pretty and it is next to a huge part of land in the city that was owned by the Bowrings and is now called Bowring Park. This is the entrance to the hospital.

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Getting back to the creepiness of the hospital, I was wandering around inside and found one of the staircases that had protective steel guards encasing the empty space between the stairs. My guess is that this prevents patients from jumping or hanging themselves.

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I may not be doing a good job here of decreasing the stigma. My doctor’s office is a very typical office, on the first floor. It looks like any regular hospital office inside.

But if you wander the North ward you may see a locked steel door like this.

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It is a bit unnerving. My mind races with media images that propagate the “escaped lunatic.” But fear is unwarranted most of the time. The only people who have ever spoken to me in the hospital are one guy who wanted to know if I had a smoke, and another who asked if I had spare change for a pepsi. Nothing scary. 

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There is a common area/field outside for sports, but I’ve never seen it being used. 😦 The intimidating fence and barred windows don’t help.

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I think some of the images I’ve presented of the hospital look intimidating, but it looks that way, in part, because of the age of the hospital. It is in serious need of a makeover.

What you don’t see is the faces of the people.  Friendly staff and other patients JUST LIKE ME. I wasn’t comfortable taking any pictures of people there. But, the people who work there really do seem nice, approachable, and non-judgmental. That’s really reassuring to see.

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I think stigma needs to be challenged about mental institutions. But I have no idea how to do it.  Certainly, the look of hospitals such as this one doesn’t help. But we have to get a dialogue going. We need more bequeathments and monetary donations to mental health and mental hospitals. We need to continue to give the very best care that we can to patients. An old hospital building is nice, as a historical artifact, but a new building would sure be nice.

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