September 14, 2019

I want to die with Dignity - in my own bed at my own time!!

I am a member of Dying with Dignity - Received this information from them last week. I am sending them $50.00 this week. 
Betty --
We have big news: our movement just won a massive victory that could reshape the future of assisted dying in Canada.
Yesterday, a Quebec judge ruled that parts of both the federal and Quebec assisted dying laws are too restrictive and violate people’s rights. Specifically, Quebec Superior Court Justice Christine Baudouin struck down the controversial “reasonably foreseeable” rule in Canada’s federal assisted dying law, as well as the “end of life” clause in Quebec’s own law.
That means that, unless the decision is appealed, these problematic restrictions will no longer be in effect as of March 11, 2020.
The historic decision came after two Montrealers with severe, chronic illnesses challenged both laws for infringing upon their right to access assisted dying. Both had been told that they did not qualify for medical assistance in dying because their natural deaths were not “reasonably foreseeable.”
As an official intervenor in the case, Dying With Dignity Canada argued in court that this requirement imposes additional, unnecessary hardship on suffering patients and unfairly discriminates against them on the basis of their medical conditions. The judge agreed with us.
Intervening in landmark legal challenges is just one way we’re fighting to fix the flaws in Canada’s assisted dying rules. While we are still working to understand the implications of this news, we also know that we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. How we respond now will influence whether or not “reasonably foreseeable” will finally be struck from the law.
Because of your generosity, Dying With Dignity Canada is empowered to:
  • Push federal and provincial politicians to support assisted dying rules that respect the Charter;
  • Inform and educate our ever-growing clinician network so they know what this victory could mean for their practice;
  • Spread the word to people across Canada who are concerned about the future of their rights;
  • Continue to provide personal support to sick and suffering people who are waiting to learn whether this decision will stand.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking a stand for fair choice. This week's decision is another example of what we can accomplish when we work together to put the rights of suffering people first. 
Many thanks,
Cory
DWDC Communications Officer Cory Ruf
Cory Ruf
Advocacy and Media Engagement Officer, Dying With Dignity Canada
http://www.dyingwithdignity.ca/

September 13, 2019

The nightmare of 911 ...

Was it only 18 years ago that I woke up to the nightmare of falling bodies in New York City? Only 18 or so years since I took my granddaughter to lower Manhattan to see the horrible hole in the city.  She was a University of Toronto student at the time and, although she is white, she had her hair in some sort of dreadlocks. You can't imagine the filthy looks I got in New York. I was obviously the grandma who allowed her grandchild to wear her hair in dreadlocks! Lots of racism in New York City 15 years ago. I had lived in New York in my thirties so wasn't surprised. Most of all I remember the fireman standing in front of a hotel with all his gear beside him. He seemed to be waiting for his ride to pick him up an take him home. He didn't look like a New Yorker. My guess is he came to New York to help just the way Americans would. He looked so sad - as if he had seen thousands of  dead bodies or a thousand ghosts and his life would never be the same again.

August 31, 2019

Labour Day and summer is over my dear!

It is the end of summer and a long weekend. At one time I rather dreaded long weekends - so easy to imagine everyone but me out there having fun. Now I am not so sure. Over half of us live alone and many in my apartment building live alone which doesn't make for happy long weekends. 
Now I look at these 3 days as a great uninterrupted time to catch up on all my chores. The world has come to a stop. So today I have made a great long list of all the things I may or may not do in the next few months. Cleaning up my computer notes I see I have copied this from  somewhere ..... you might like it.... 

Resolve to be thyself: and know, that he who finds himself, loses his misery.
Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) British poet and cultural critic.
Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.
Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.

As for old age, embrace and love it. It abounds with pleasure if you know how to use it. The gradually declining years are among the sweetest in a man's life, and I maintain that, even when they have reached the extreme limit, they have their pleasure still.
Seneca (4 BC-65) Roman philosopher and playwright.

 Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light. Above all things reverence thyself.
Pythagoras (BC 582-BC 507) Greek philosopher and mathematician.


August 25, 2019

I am out of words this morning ....

I couldn’t think of anything to write this morning so I was reading Craigslist’s “Best of Craigslist Posts”. It is kind of long but it reminds me of a lovely man I met many many years ago. I was in the  process of leaving my husband who had been unfaithful [I didn’t, even then, see being unfaithful as a huge sin compared to the sin of choosing to sit on the side of our bed and tell me how he had been seduced!].
In the following weeks I met a lovely man and we parked in a park and necked for a bit -He made it plain he wanted me - I made it plain he could have me... he said “thanks but no thanks, you have been hurt and you just want revenge”. Instead he pushed me on a swing and then drove me home. Thanks so much Bill! Such a decent person!

To quote the writer below ... wherever you've been, wherever you are, and wherever you're going, know this: you're with me still.

Originally Posted: 2015-09-24 14:27
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I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972 - m4w

I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972, the same day I resolved to kill myself.

One week prior, at the behest of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I'd flown four B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-eight bombs. How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I'll never know. But in the eyes of my superiors, I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction.

And so on the morning of that New Year's Eve, I found myself in a barren studio apartment on Beacon and Hereford with a fifth of Tennessee rye and the pang of shame permeating the recesses of my soul. When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the discharge I deserved.

I walked for hours. I looped around the Fenway before snaking back past Symphony Hall and up to Trinity Church. Then I roamed through the Common, scaled the hill with its golden dome, and meandered into that charming labyrinth divided by Hanover Street. By the time I reached the waterfront, a charcoal sky had opened and a drizzle became a shower. That shower soon gave way to a deluge. While the other pedestrians darted for awnings and lobbies, I trudged into the rain. I suppose I thought, or rather hoped, that it might wash away the patina of guilt that had coagulated around my heart. It didn't, of course, so I started back to the apartment.

And then I saw you.

You'd taken shelter under the balcony of the Old State House. You were wearing a teal ball gown, which appeared to me both regal and ridiculous. Your brown hair was matted to the right side of your face, and a galaxy of freckles dusted your shoulders. I'd never seen anything so beautiful.

When I joined you under the balcony, you looked at me with your big green eyes, and I could tell that you'd been crying. I asked if you were okay. You said you'd been better. I asked if you'd like to have a cup of coffee. You said only if I would join you. Before I could smile, you snatched my hand and led me on a dash through Downtown Crossing and into Neisner's.

We sat at the counter of that five and dime and talked like old friends. We laughed as easily as we lamented, and you confessed over pecan pie that you were engaged to a man you didn't love, a banker from some line of Boston nobility. A Cabot, or maybe a Chaffee. Either way, his parents were hosting a soirée to ring in the New Year, hence the dress.

For my part, I shared more of myself than I could have imagined possible at that time. I didn't mention Vietnam, but I got the sense that you could see there was a war waging inside me. Still, your eyes offered no pity, and I loved you for it.

After an hour or so, I excused myself to use the restroom. I remember consulting my reflection in the mirror. Wondering if I should kiss you, if I should tell you what I'd done from the cockpit of that bomber a week before, if I should return to the Smith & Wesson that waited for me. I decided, ultimately, that I was unworthy of the resuscitation this stranger in the teal ball gown had given me, and to turn my back on such sweet serendipity would be the real disgrace.

On the way back to the counter, my heart thumped in my chest like an angry judge's gavel, and a future -- our future -- flickered in my mind. But when I reached the stools, you were gone. No phone number. No note. Nothing.

As strangely as our union had begun, so too had it ended. I was devastated. I went back to Neisner's every day for a year, but I never saw you again. Ironically, the torture of your abandonment seemed to swallow my self-loathing, and the prospect of suicide was suddenly less appealing than the prospect of discovering what had happened in that restaurant. The truth is I never really stopped wondering.

I'm an old man now, and only recently did I recount this story to someone for the first time, a friend from the VFW. He suggested I look for you on Facebook. I told him I didn't know anything about Facebook, and all I knew about you was your first name and that you had lived in Boston once. And even if by some miracle I happened upon your profile, I'm not sure I would recognize you. Time is cruel that way.

This same friend has a particularly sentimental daughter. She's the one who led me here to Craigslist and these Missed Connections. But as I cast this virtual coin into the wishing well of the cosmos, it occurs to me, after a million what-ifs and a lifetime of lost sleep, that our connection wasn't missed at all.

You see, in these intervening forty-two years I've lived a good life. I've loved a good woman. I've raised a good man. I've seen the world. And I've forgiven myself. And you were the source of all of it. You breathed your spirit into my lungs one rainy afternoon, and you can't possibly imagine my gratitude.

I have hard days, too. My wife passed four years ago. My son, the year after. I cry a lot. Sometimes from the loneliness, sometimes I don't know why. Sometimes I can still smell the smoke over Hanoi. And then, a few dozen times a year, I'll receive a gift. The sky will glower, and the clouds will hide the sun, and the rain will begin to fall. And I'll remember.


So wherever you've been, wherever you are, and wherever you're going, know this: you're with me still.

August 23, 2019

My Best Good Deed ever!

The last I heard of Kevin he had lost his house and was trying to get into a sort of hostel type of residence for old men. What a shame. He was an interesting smart man but alcohol did him in.

The next caller I remember so well was a woman who I hope is still living. She called around 11 one night and said she was alone with her cat and just wanted to chat with someone. As we chatted she brought up something about suicide .... I said "well, the problem with suicide is you can't change your mind the next day" and she said "maybe that is why I am having such a hard time this time" and I said "I beg your  pardon?!!"
She had overdosed and actually believed she just called to pass the time until the drugs took over.

(I guess if we were having that conversation now I would say something more like "I think it would be awfully hard to do because I think humans are animals and as animals we inherently want to survive").

I was afraid she was calling to ask me to save her so I immediately let her know I would NOT be calling 911 unless she asked me to do so. I felt then and still feel it had to be her choice and I had to respect that choice. I asked her to please let me know if she wanted help. She said she  didn't and we continued to talk. Soon the meds started to work and she was fading away. I was sitting on the floor with the phone glued to my ear. Finally, finally she asked for help. Seconds before she passed out. I called 911 or had my co worker call. I heard them come in and say "come on sweetheart" and than they banged the phone down in my ear. I guess they do that for good reason but I found it shocking.

I somehow learned what hospital she was in and that she had survived. I hope she still survives and thrives.

August 22, 2019

THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR

I got my kids back and moved into the very nice house next door. I don't recall the exact sequence of things but I soon volunteered at The Distress Centre. Another woman and I worked the Saturday night shift which I think was from 8 PM until 8AM. The phones were always busy. I remember Kevin who called and told me he was thinking of drinking Lysol [spelling?]. I told him not to do that because it wouldn't kill anything but his vocal cords anyway and I was sure it would taste awful. He said I was right because he had tried it before and they had pumped his stomach out. We had a good laugh and from then on he called me every Saturday night. If I remember correctly I went by Betty 108. One night he called in very bad shape. I asked if I could send someone out to help him and the director of the centre went to his home and I think took him to the hospital. Gordon told me I  hadn't learned to recognize an alcoholic yet. Kevins house was littered with empty bottles. He and I had lots of good conversations and lots of laughs. I particularly remember the time he seemed to be missing both his stove and his fridge and had no idea where they were. I suggested he may have sold them to buy some booze ............... to be continued...

August 19, 2019

OFF TOPIC ...

I haven’t blogged my usual blog today because I read the article below in the New York Times this morning.  I hope you can get it. I subscribe to the NY Times so therefore I am allowed to Comment re their news. In this blog I am commenting on comments from other New York Times readers ………… 

Contributing Opinion Writer
  • Aug. 19, 2019 
  • She Writes……. 
What Part of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ Don’t We Understand?
Here in Tennessee, the hypocrisy of execution day is almost too much to bear……….. go to the NY Times for the rest of the article ... over 500 comments 
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Betty in Toronto 
@VMG - You say - "I don't see the death penalty as killing a human being"
then you must be blind. My stomach turns ...

BettyInToronto | Canada
I find executing human beings totally disgusting! Watching someone be executed is unfathomable and every bit as disgusting - unless the victim is a relative and wants the victim to know they care. I had relatives in the jailing business and I can assure you they had some nasty faults - an uncle who was a sheriff delighted in taking my brother and I through "his" jail when we were less than 12 years old. I will never forget the look on the barred inmates faces as we walked by. They were sad men. Life hadn't given them the breaks it gave my uncle!

BettyInToronto | Canada
@Douglas McNeill -you say "I believe life without parole is actually a harsher sentence than death by any means." which I totally agree with ... and then "For the most heinous crimes, I for one do not wish to grant the release of an execution." which I totally disagree with - I find it mean and cruel ... In my opinion - "there but for the grace of god go I"? ps - I am agnostic.


BettyInToronto | Canada
@Mark Marks - for those who don't know, Canada no longer has the death penalty. Yeah for us! For the little it costs to keep a person in jail for life we can say we are somewhat thinking caring intelligent human beings. I expect there are persons given life sentences who wish for the death penalty - let them commit suicide like your own Jeffery Epstein. In general I believe a person who becomes a criminal has simply not had the breaks you and I have had - often genetically.


65 years ago my 17 year old brother was boarded and killed during a Junior A hockey game. The young man who killed him [I am sure he only meant to hurt him badly - he actually hit him so hard, from behind, that he broke my brothers spinal cord and brought spectators to the ice] was tried for manslaughter. His teammates lied for him and he got off. I was, and am, very proud to say neither of my parents hoped he would go to jail. He may have legally deserved it but what good would it have done? Karma got him. He died of natural causes before he was 60. Karma is like that.

cropped-b3fe2ad265b7aaecc1e7e3cd37bb78e0c76b3fbe670ea7331c4fc109e60506bf.jpg
BettyInToronto
Canada | Pending Approval

Do people not know, or not care to know, that most criminals have been physically abused - slap a child's face and that child will grow up and slap someone else's face, especially their own child's face ... if they have been sexually abused or simply neglected and uncared for they may raise their kids the same way. They well may have inherited wicked traits through no fault of their own. If your aunt or uncle was a child molester there is a good chance you will be or be tempted to be a child molester etc. I believe Fate has much to do with who we are! There but for the grace of god go I. 

August 18, 2019

Metro Apartment Services

My idea was to offer a daily light housekeeping service to working people. There were no services like that at the time. Of course there was no internet in1968 or 9 and I have forgotten how we advertised but we did and we got customers. However most of them wanted weekly cleaning which we also offered. That was okay too [anything was actually OK!]. Marg supplied the car and I believe she also brought her vacuum cleaner. 
I had it all timed down to the minute - enter the apartment, set the timer on the customers stove and have at it for, if I remember correctly 1.5 hours. Then a dash to the car and on to the next apartment. Marg and I didn’t last long but it was long enough and profitable enough for me to rent and move into the very nice town house next door to my rented room. Marg quit because “you don’t need me for anything, you have all the answers” something like that. She also wasn’t fond of housework [I kind of do]. I felt it was enough that we were sharing the profit. Marg had the car so Metro Apartment Services died on the vine.   
 

August 17, 2019


Back to the Real World

thumb_Whitby_1024.jpg
 After I was discharged from Whitby, while living in that room, I drew this picture of the experience and the decision I felt I had to make. Join the many very sick people I had met there or go back to the bricks and mortar of the world? I chose the real world. I got a telephone and invented Metro Cleaning Services on a piece of paper. Marg and I would be partners - she told me a co worker at my previous job had told her to “stick with Betty, that girl is going places!” He was right Marg - I have been to so many places since that time! 


August 16, 2019

The Welfare system 50 years ago

I had $11.00 in my purse [or was it my bank account?] when I hit the road. I can’t recall how I physically left Whitby. I do remember sad goodbyes with my new friends in Admissions One. We promised to meet again but never did. I rented a furnished room on Belmont Street in Toronto. It was a nice little room in a very nice area and had a sweet sunroom at the back. $10.00 a week. I got a waitress job at Frans Restaurant on Yonge Street. 11PM until 7AM. My daughter’s social worker came to see me and convinced me to apply for Welfare. “but Betty you have no money!” The thought of it made me sick but I did it. I passed and was given a cheque which I took to the nearest bank. I think it was for $134.00. The teller looked down her nose at it and said something  
like “we don’t take Those cheques”. I was to go to another branch which would cost me a streetcar fare. I took a streetcar to the main branch of the bank, cashed the cheque, went across the street and bought myself a pair of shoes swearing I would never take another welfare cheque. I wonder if it is still like that for people on welfare?
Thank god I was never that broke again and I actually live very well by the end of this tale. 

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August 15, 2019

Mental iIlness breeds mental illness...

I am not saying there was nothing wrong with me. You may have noticed there was not a single family member, aside from my kids, who even sent me a get well card let alone paid me a visit during the 6 weeks I was in Whitby. 
To say the least we were not and still are not close which I believe in itself is a sign of mental illness. My 2 brothers, 2 sisters and I all had wicked childhoods and we have each paid the price, in our various ways, for those abusive childhoods. I partially write these words for others who may be suffering, or know others who are suffering, as we did and not know it.
Learn all you can about mental illness as soon as possible. It should be taught in public schools from ages 10 or so on. 

August 14, 2019

I can’t recall exactly how I left. After all, it was 50+ years ago - and I am now 85 plus  ;-)!  
I expect and think my friend Marg came and picked me up. She later told me that after our ambulance ride to Whitby she had burst into tears telling her mother “they have locked Betty up and there is nothing wrong with her!!” 
I actually wonder if the whole thing wasn’t a bit of a farce?How did it happen? First and worst by far was the doc at CAMH! Then the 4 seconnal at Women’s College which actually lessened any strength I had left. Then the Emerg doctor at WCH who could/should/might have taken a bit more time to at least let the seconnals wear off before having me sentenced to 30 days in a mental hospital. 

I may send a link to this blog to some of those people. My case happened 50 years ago but I am sure things like this still happen. 

August 13, 2019

A Bad Dream -almost a nightmare ...

A Bad Dream
Somewhere before my 30 days were up I was taken to Family Court with the Children’s Aid workers. My children were formally turned over to the CAS. 
My oldest daughter was allowed to stay with the family of a friend of mine. 
My youngest, who had been with other friends was not so lucky. She was transferred from friends to a foster home which wasn’t ideal. 

August 12, 2019

Suggestion Fridays - NOT!

I forgot to tell you another very interesting Admissions One One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest story before I was sent to “The Cottage”. We had what I believe was our every Friday afternoon meeting in the Common room. The head nurse [we can call her Rachet] led the meeting. The patients were allowed to make suggestions. I suggested new patients should be allowed to sleep in on their first morning in the hospital. It is such a shock for anyone to realize they are in an Insane Asylum. She stared at me with cold nurse Rachet eyes and said “Mrs Bishop,,,I believe you will be leaving this unit next week….” no comment re my suggestion. 
I wonder if any of the other nurses gave a late night admission a break the next morning. Most of the staff were very nice and one nurse said “my heart went out to you the night you were admitted Betty. There are some patients you just take a liking to and you were one for me, you with your torn up sweater!” I hope she is the same nurse who asked for my collage and if so I expect she would think of me once in a while as I think of her with tears in my eyes at this moment. People and a few words can make such a difference in our lives!

August 11, 2019

At a picnic table under a large tree

At a picnic table under a large tree 
An attractive fairly young woman and I are having a chat. She is a long term patient in The Cottage for long term patients. Read forever. 
I particularly remember an ex nun who ate her food greedily - as if it was both her first and last meal. I remember no one else even though I lived in that “cottage” for at least 2 weeks. I well remember the woman under the tree though. As fellow patients we had a wee bit of chit chat and then she started warning me that we were being listened to. Did I not know there were listening devices hovering above us at all times? In the clouds, in the tree. Can’t I see them? She knows they are there, they are hired by the hospital. There were also people in the far away bushes watching our every move. 

My god! she was so convincing! I suspect that is the day I asked my doc to discharge me. Or was it the next day? I also suspect he knew it wouldn’t take long before I would ask to be discharged! Do you suppose that patient was actually a nurse planted there to scare the bejeeus out of me? ;-) …

August 10, 2019

Long Term Care

Long Term Care
I imagine my Whitby fate was decided after the conference. I was assigned to a very nice psychiatrist who I saw once a week. I hardly remember him but I remember our talks as pleasant and fun. At some point I expect I had had my 30 days in Admission One and I believe he said I could be discharged. I believe I said I would just as soon not be discharged. I had no children, I had no home to be discharged to and I had no money. 

My doc said he had no choice but to send me to Long Term Care. I probably said “thats ok by me!”  Long Term Care people lived in a large “cottage” and slept in a massive upstairs room. At least 20 of us, probably more. I remember our beds as being less than 3 feet apart with a small bedside table dividing us from our neighbour. 

August 09, 2019

An important day for me.....

One day a nurse came up to me in the common room. She asked me to help her bring a patient in. The woman had been allowed to go home for the weekend. Her husband brought her back to the hospital and dropped her off. Instead of coming in she was now standing on the front steps staring a the doors but unable to walk through them. No wonder - she was to have a shock treatment the following day. I stood in front of the doors and crooked my index finger in a “come on in dear” way for a few minutes. She came in! I visited her in her cubicle after her shock treatment and I felt so sorry for that woman. Mental illness is so unfair and so nasty. That nurse did me a great favour as I believe this incident had a great affect on me for the rest of my life. I thought maybe I was good at something. For the rest of my life I did a lot of volunteer work. At the Distress Centre, at the Queen Street Hospital for Mentally Ilness etc etc. Ironic isn’t it? 

August 07, 2019

A Business idea

I don’t know when or why but one day I decided to run away. I vaguely remember walking through farm fields on my way to Whitby and then deciding I may as well return to the hospital and sit on the front steps. Actually as I write this I DO remember why I decided to run away. I had talked to my new friend Wayne about an idea I had. Said I wanted to start a house cleaning business when I go out. Wayne said something like “Oh you will never be allowed to do that, your reputation of having been here will follow you”. I believed him. Wayne knew the ropes - he had been to Whitby several times. Thinking my idea was only to be an idea led me to run away. When I got out I did start a cleaning business! Called it Metro Cleaning Services. 

August 06, 2019

they had a “conference” starring Betty Bishop!

At some point they had a “conference” starring Betty Bishop! I was told they would be having it and we [by this time I had become friends with other patients] would not be allowed to use the common room on the morning of the conference. I suppose it was only one or two long tables placed end to end but when I looked through the glass doors it seemed it must be a mile long. All the staff seemed to have been invited but there was  one empty chair at the end of the table. My chair. All these people would be, and soon were, staring at me - the nurses, the doctors, the social workers, the physiotherapists,etc. [God I hope this is now done via some kind of video arrangement where the patient can be seen speaking with one or two people at a time?]
 Eventually I was summoned and sat. The head psychiatrist asked the first question which was “So, Mrs Bishop, why do you feel you landed here?” and I answered “Because I didn’t have OHIP?” OHIP was the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan which, at that time, we paid for individually. I can only image the nasty social worker giving him the eye - “I told you so doctor, I told you so, she is a nasty one!”. The next thing I remember is bawling my head off in a toilet cubical with a a patient/friend banging on the door until I let her in. I am not sure if I stayed and answered all their questions or if I just got up and ran out of the room. Sitting at that table is still a horrible memory. 

August 05, 2019

I should tell you how we lived in “Admissions #1”

I should tell you how we lived in “Admissions #1”
We were 4 women to a room which wasn’t a room - it was a cubicle. No walls. No privacy! My guess is there were 6 or so  cubicles housing somewhere around 24 patients although this is only a guess. 
The patients did the cleaning. On my first morning when the nurse was trying to get me up around 7AM she said “come on Mrs Bishop, get up - the patients can’t smoke until everyone is up and their chores are done!” I asked if this was “a jail or a hospital?”. I soon learned the patients took turns cleaning the bathrooms, scrubbing hall floors etc. In retrospect this is not a bad system. I find cleaning to be good therapy.  
After our chores we could go to the common room and smoke [everyone smoked at that time, no one seemed to be bothered by it], watch TV [Robert Kennedy was shot while I was there-June 6/68], and eat at long tables. I remember throwing a dinner roll at a woman across the table. That was before another patient told me she was there because she had killed her mother with an axe! 

I very quickly found myself a card table and a quiet corner in the Common Room. I also found lots of good magazines and I was allowed scissors and glue. I made collages.

August 04, 2019

A new piece of work! The first for a long time.

My late father's Curling Tam pinned to a  26" x 16" Canvas

A few days later Wayne called Admissions One

A few days later Wayne called Admissions One [that is where I was living] and requested I be allowed to go to a function in the Alcoholics Cottage [that is where he was living]. I was allowed to go but the memory is vague - dancing with a very ill man who smelled of hospital drugs. Soon I was allowed to leave the hospital on my own and Wayne led me to a single bed hidden in some bushes down by the lake. We were preparing to use this bed when he spotted a guy watching us with binoculars! We got out of there fast. Did the hospital plant this bed to see what their patients were up to? I will never know and neither will you. In any case I reported the bed to my psychiatrist the next time I saw him. He didn’t seem surprised.

August 03, 2019

I went to a Dance and I started calling Whitby Phsyciatric Hospital a Nuthouse!

I went to a Dance and started calling Whitby Phsyciatric Hospital a Nuthouse! I think I had been there for 10 or days when, along with 4 other women and a nurse, I was allowed/chosen to go to a dance in what I suppose was called a recreation centre. Oh my my! We were all excited. Rummaging through clothes that visitors had donated to the hospital, doing each others hair and applying makeup. Anyone who has ever been in a nuthouse will know the feeling. I don’t remember a lot about it and I hardly remember the man from the Alcoholics ward who came down from the ??? seats and asked me to dance. Wayne was from New Brunswick and he worked for General Motors. General Motors had sent him too Whitby to dry out. He was good looking and a good dancer.

August 02, 2019

Some Social Worker she was ....

Some days later that same social worker approached me in the common room to tell me the CAS had investigated my sister’s home and “your children won’t be going there” I probably said something like “I told you so!” and she replied with “I have also been on the other end of your nasty tongue Mrs Bishop!” to which I replied [for all those patients in the common room to hear] “and you will be again if you try telling my 16 year old daughter that she is smarter than I am when I will have to go home and live with her!” That was a sweet moment! Some time ago my youngest daughter accused me of having a “ ?? personality”. I like to think I don’t have an ?? [I can never think of the exact word she used, it was too nasty] ?? personality but I do think I have a nasty tongue at times! I sometimes [most times?] speak before I think….

August 01, 2019

There was a meeting with 2 women from the Children’s Aid. I consider that to be the worst day of my life. They wanted custody of my kids and I had no choice but to agree to it. I had been “sentenced” to 30 days in the nuthouse. I am not sure if it was before or after the CAS that my sister [she was bipolar and is now deceased] brought my kids out and we had a meeting with a very large, very nasty social worker. All of us crammed into a very small office. My kids were both staying with separate friends of theirs and mine. However, my sister wanted custody of them. I did not want them to go to my sisters for various reasons. The Social worker was determined they should live with my sister and at some point along the way she said “well if you ask me, this person [pointing at my 16 year old daughter] is the smartest person in the room”. I don’t remember what I said to her but it certainly wasn’t nice. Her last words to me were “your kids are going to your sisters and I don’t care if you like it or not!!”

July 31, 2019

The next thing I remember was a nurse shaking my leg somewhere around the ankle. “Mrs Bishop, Mrs Bishop, wake up, it is time to get up.” Later I told her how much I wanted to punch her in the face and she said she knew that and that was why she stayed at the end of the bed. Before I was discharged there was a sort of general meeting where the patients were invited to make suggestions. I suggested new patients be allowed to sleep in on the morning they arrived. The head nurse said “I believe you are being discharged Mrs Bishop!” Right out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There were lots more One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest happenings. I don’t remember and I don’t think I was on any medication while I was there.

July 30, 2019

They were sending me in an ambulance and insisted I had to find someone to ride with me. Eventually I called [or asked them to call] a co worker I had become friends with. So it was me tied on a stretcher and Marg beside me. It was well after dark when we got there. If I remember correctly my kids still didn’t know where I was and my sister had come and, until stopped by management, was removing my furniture from our apartment! I was wheeled into the Head Doctor’s office. I told Marg and him that he was a very good looking guy! I guess the seconal had worn off by then. Marg later told me she called her mother in tears - “they are putting Betty in the hospital and there is nothing wrong with her!” A nurse took me into a small room and gently took off my torn sweater and got me into a hospital gown and then into a bed. I think she was the same nurse who later said “my heart just went out to you that night and I think she later asked me if she could have a collage I had made. I like to imagine she still has it.

July 29, 2019

I woke up around 7.30, wobbled to the pay phone and called my kids. I don’t remember which daughter answered but I let them know where I was and that I was OK. It made no difference as I think they spent most of the day looking for me anyway. I hadn’t been admitted to WCH so, of course they had no record of me. The next thing I remember is being in a cubicle on a stretcher. I believe I was belted down on the stretcher. It could have been because I wrote on the wall of the room or it could have been because I kept wrapping myself around the toilet bowl as soon as they left me alone. A woman doctor was standing beside me - holding up and displaying my torn sweater. “we can’t have this Mrs Bishop” I remember her saying “I am sending you to the Psychiatric Hospital on Queen Street”. I begged her not to send me there - “my children know that hospital is for mentally ill people”. Instead she sent me to Whitby. I was so glad - actually I am still glad - I have often seen Queen Street patients mulling about on the grounds of the hospital. No privacy at all. I later did volunteer work at that hospital [I forget its new politically correct name] and I think Whitby was probably better. There were no healthy pedestrian gawkers wandering around Whitby Psychiatric, it was in the country.

July 28, 2019

That nurse was right on my tail. “I ask you again to please stay here until the clinic opens….Mrs Bishop I believe you intend to leave here and commit suicide. You are not being fair! I told you I did not have a psychiatrist on duty, the doctor has done the best he could and I am asking you to stay here until the clinic opens in the morning. You have refused to stay. Do you realize what happens when someone commits suicide in Toronto? Every hospital is contacted to see if the person came there for help. Did the hospital turn the patient away? Your suicide will harm the reputation of Womens College Hospital and I don’t think we deserve that. I ask you again to stay.” These may not be the exact words that nurse spoke but they are close enough. She will also be 50 years older now and I once again thank her very much for saving my life and saving my daughters the grief of having a mother who committed suicide. Needless to say I chose to wait for the clinic to open. Who was I to ruin the reputation of Women’s College Hospital?! I remember looking at the clock. It was somewhere around 4 AM …. my kids would be getting up around 8AM. I took all 4 seconnal and lay down on a pew like bench in the waiting room.....