Thursday, 7 November 2013

Bedlam

"There's a murderer in my head who is trying to kill me," says Dominic.

He's in triage at Bedlam. And someone has to decide when and how he gets to go home.

It's heart wrenching watching his struggle. More heart wrenching is watching the effect it has on his kids and wife. Those kids are terrified that their dad is going to die. They want him to stay in hospital. Naturally. I mean, you would. He safe there. And he's shown that he can't be trusted because when he was sent home last week he took another overdose.

He's 45 and he has the mannerisms of Arthur Dent, from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He looks utterly bemused at where he is, how he got here and how he keeps ending up here. He even wears a dressing gown and carries a towel. He's mild mannered and unassuming. Terribly English and polite to all the staff and the other patients.

Rupert, on the other hand, is terrifying. A huge, great bear of a man, he's 6ft 4, almost unintelligible and really, really pissed off. He's a regular it turns out and is often triaged and kept in for short visits.

They give him a trust exercise to pop out for an hour on the proviso that he comes back in good time. He promptly disappears for eight hours, gets blind drunk and comes back waving a massive stick around.

Someone also has to decide when and how he goes home.

Angelica is held down and injected with anti-psychotic drugs. She's a German lady who flew over here to meet her fiance who is waiting for her. Except he's not. He doesn't exist.

Katrina on the other hand tried to kill her ma over an iPhone. She's diagnosed and is brought under control with a potent cocktail of medication that stabilises her manic episodes. She seems so fucking lovely. She writes an apology to her mother saying: "If I kill you, I'd have to kill myself."

She is bright, verbose, logical and appears to clearly understand her condition. She is really nice. She's someone you wouldn't mind having a drink with. And she has this imbalance that ruins her life.

And someone has to decide when and how she gets to go home.

It's intelligently done, this series.

The juxtaposition of the Bedlam madhouse of days gone by and today's clinical drug driven triage process is fascinating.

As the head doctor dude explains, the whole reason people can leave the ward after a couple of months. The reason why there are only 18 beds on the ward, as opposed to the hundreds it would once have had, is down to one thing: drugs.

Drugs stabilise these people and allow them to live their lives.

Katrina recognises how lucky she is to have been diagnosed young and to have found the magic drug cocktail that gives her the choice to go back to university. Her mother is palpably relieved.

Rupert looks sad. He looks definitely less alive than when he was rampaging around and demanding omelettes. He looks sad and a bit lonely. .

Dominic is responding to therapy and medication. His kids look resigned.

Angelica realises that there is no fiance waiting for her. She knows he was never there.

Back to reality.

That head doctor guy and his team has to assess each of these suffering people and decide when they're no longer a danger to themselves or to other people. I have no idea how they do it. I freak out when I have to make a decision about where I'm going to live or whether to get a fringe. That took me about two years.

I can't admire these people enough.

TV that's in danger of making me feel and think. Amazing.

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