Burns night meal with friends, 2019. Ross burns bright, the life and soul. 6 weeks later, we use the anniversary of my dad’s death as an excuse to visit the crematorium together, followed by pub lunch. He is – on edge. After food he becomes vocally aggressive, shouting. I have to leave. That evening he emails. He simultaneously never had a mental health problem (my having him sectioned was abuse) and all his mental health problems were caused by me. Schrödinger’s psychosis.
That day in March 2019 marked the end of our relationship as far as he was concerned.
As the year progressed, he tried to get his mother arrested for an imaginary assault and ended up living in the woods in autumn. Semi-assaulted me (mildly) on Christmas day morning as the cause of all his problems, spending the rest of the day in a police cell. Returned to the family home to live intermittently with his mother and in the shed. Increasingly bizarre behaviour. Any attempt by me to contact him is met with extreme anger.
So if you encounter a man behaving strangely, he may be a man with an internal life that is often unbearable. A man who used to be someone else, a man whose 16 year old brother described as “hugging barbed wire”…
BBC Radio Berkshire interviewed me about Ross on 9th February 2022, nearly 14 years after they helped me save his life when he was sectioned then. Listen below…
Hospital consultant failure mark 1
I spend 2 months putting intense pressure on the local mental health services and finally succeed in persuading them to act. They call to say they will turn up with the team to assess him – on the morning after he burnt down the shed (in which he had been semi-living) in the night and disappeared to, as we later discovered, Bournemouth.
I contact the Bournemouth mental health services (local services doing chocolate teapot impressions) and, eventually, he is picked up by the police and taken to Prospect Park hospital in Reading for assessment. Relief is too mild a word. BUT. Fleeting. I’m told that he’s a “trustee”, allowed to come and go as he has promised to be treated in the community. I’m told he will shortly be released into that imaginary community…
Urgent overdrive “I’ll go to the media like last time” pressure results in a 2.5 hour meeting with 3 senior consultants. I try everything to convince them that he’s gaslighting (highly intelligent/educated, brilliant at improv/narrative/acting and very skilfully manipulative) and will abscond without treatment. Unfortunately, they know better. 15 hours later, a call. He has absconded and disappears.
Failure to help my son has been snatched from the almost closed jaws of success because the experts are naïve and know better. I breakdown for a week, eviscerated by months of extreme stress and distress now rendered useless. I can do nothing. Literally. There is no more a dad can do – and that’s incredibly painful to admit. Most days I have to re-admit. My subconscious ruthlessly and regularly twists my mind in sleep, seamlessly waking me from dream tears to trickling cheeks and a dark day ahead…
He finally had temporary accommodation – but decided to live rough instead after having his head caved-in by interlopers.
I gather his mother informed the police he had accused her of assault again just before he moved.
I gather he was arrested for inebriation in Maidenhead shortly afterwards.
I gather he was arrested again in Slough a couple of weeks later.
I gather and gather and gather.
He self-medicates with weed, alcohol and anti-depressants he finds in bins. He called his brother just once to ask why his circumstances are so when Owen has a good life and family. No further contact. He doesn’t understand what is happening to him and why. His feelings of paranoia and delusions are completely real. The causes of his feelings are external, other people, not his own mind.
Hospital consultant failure mark 2
He was arrested in Bournemouth and taken to a local mental health hospital. It is groundhog day. Once again, the consultant ignores all the objective evidence and my pleas and is taken-in by Ross – so doesn’t keep him secure. He absconds. She retrospectively discharges him to avoid embarrassment…
Dying on the streets
I saw him briefly 3 times over Christmas on the street or at the garage he was using for shelter. It’s the first time I’ve seen him in 2 years. The shock is visceral, the contrast between the imagining and the reality. He is slowly dying, inside and out. And the system says that there is nothing I can do. I have support from the local mental health teams, but there is nothing they can do. Every time I get him into hospital, he gaslights the consultants who tell me they know better – and who tell me there is nothing they or I can do.
Apparently, there is nothing I can do except watch my son die in the street.
The internal life of my son, Ross, is a frightening place. No rhyme, no reason, no escape. No escape without external help that he cannot seek. He’s in a terrible place and his dad can do nothing to help. All I can do is grieve – and hope that, somehow, at some point, from someone, he will get the help he needs.
So, if you encounter a man behaving strangely, he may be a man with an internal life that is often unbearable. A man who used to be someone else, a man whose 16 year old brother described as “hugging barbed wire”…