Peter’s Story – Part 32

Speaking to his friend via phone, he explained what he’d been told by the NUM. He asked his friend if they could be present at the Mental Health Tribunal, and could they assist him by saying that they would have Peter at their home, as part of his discharge plan. Fortunately for Peter, his friend decided to help him out.

Excitement was starting to brim with Peter. He was determined that nothing was going to stand in the way of his discharge. There was only going to be one whole day remaining in this place, and then he’d have his ITO lifted when he faced the Mental Health Tribunal on the Friday.

Thursday seemed like it would never end. Life on the ward now, for Peter was one of finality. He wanted the end to come. His focus was set on his discharge and what was going to happen tomorrow at the Mental Health Tribunal. All the while, his thoughts wandered to his new companion. Wondering how she was coping interstate, and how desperate he was to be with her again. He just wanted this day to end and the rest of his life to begin.

The day finally arrived, Friday. Peter had been incarcerated in this Mental Health Facility for six weeks, in addition to the nine weeks spent prior, in the Private Facility. Fifteen weeks was more than enough, he was sick and tired of hospitals.

Nervous anxiety was beginning to bubble up in Peter. He so desperately wanted to be out of this place and be with the one that he felt sure was his soul mate, but on the other hand, being Friday, in the back of his mind, he couldn’t help but think, what if they kept him longer ?

Forcing himself to put this horrible thought to the back of his mind, he only considered, discharge. There was no way he would be staying any longer, he had made his decision.

The time was 10:00am, and Peter was called from the verandah, where he was enjoying one of the many cigarettes, that he was still smoking copious amounts of. He knew why he was being called to the Nurse’s Station. This was the first step towards discharge.

At the Nurse’s Station, he was met by his friend who was representing him at the Tribunal. He gave the friend a hug and said, “Thankyou”, for helping out in such a big way. A Nurse, then took the two of them out of the ward, downstairs to the conference room via the elevator.

Peter had never been to this part of the Hospital before. At the door of the conference room, waiting for Peter and his friend, was his Hospital (treating) Psychiatrist and a Psychiatric Nurse, who Peter had very little to do with during his stay. These people were to be arguing Peter’s case for discharge at the Tribunal.

The door to the room opened and they were all met by a distinguished gentleman, sporting a bowtie. He ushered Peter’s team in. The man with the bowtie sat in the middle chair on the opposite side of the large, polished wooden table, located in the centre of the room. First of all, he introduced himself , an independent Lawyer, and that he was the head of the Tribunal and he would act as the Chairman of the proceedings. Next, he introduced the man on his right to be an independent Psychiatrist. Peter was to learn this meant, this Psychiatrist worked in the community as opposed to the Hospital and had nothing to do with Peter’s case. To the left of the Lawyer was a community Social Worker. Peter had some experience with Social Workers while on the ward. He understood that they played a role in making sure patients can adapt to life “on the outside”. They do this by linking the patient with family, friends and organizations in the community that can help get someone who has been in Hospital for a long time, back into community life.

The Lawyer then gestured to Peter’s team and asked each member to introduce themselves. Firstly the Nurse gave her name, followed by Peter’s Hospital (treating) Psychiatrist, then Peter’s friend who was representing him, and lastly, Peter himself.

After the introductions were complete, the Lawyer then explained the format of the Tribunal. He indicated that each member of Peter’s team would have an opportunity to comment about Peter’s case. The three members of the panel would ask questions of each, during their statements. Upon the completion of statements from Peter’s team, the members of the Tribunal would then decide if Peter was fit for discharge.

Peter listened intently to all the introductions and explanation of the proceedings of the Tribunal. He could see no problem at this stage and was eager for the process to begin.

The Lawyer cleared his throat and said that he would begin proceedings. The Psychiatric Nurse was the first on Peter’s team to be asked to give her statement.
The Nurse’s statement was not very strong, not having had a lot to do with Peter, she wasn’t able to give a very strong account of Peter’s Mental state. Peter was disappointed that she was chosen to be a member of his team. He was glad, however that she didn’t say anything that could go against Peter’s impending discharge. She did say that, in more recent times, Peter’s mental state did seem to be improving. He wasn’t as disruptive in the ward and seemed to be more relaxed of late. Peter was reasonably happy with that.

The three Tribunal members listened and the Psychiatrist asked if she thought Peter understood that he had been mentally unwell and if she thought he had improved sufficiently to be discharged. The Nurse answered, that she wasn’t sure if Peter knew he’d been unwell but she said he’d improved.

Next in the lineup was Peter’s Hospital Psychiatrist. After what the Nurse said, Peter was feeling quietly confident. The Psychiatrist was also asked if he thought Peter was aware of his illness and if he thought he was well enough to be discharged.

The words that followed made Peter cringe. The Psychiatrist’s comments were anything but favourable for Peter. He made it very clear that he considered Peter lacked insight to the point that he was still in denial of having a Mental Illness and he also recommended that Peter not be discharged as he was still experiencing delusional thoughts about his wife stealing money from the family business.

Peter was shattered upon hearing this from his Psychiatrist. How was he going to get out of this place now ?

This time it was the lawyer who asked the questions. He asked if in the opinion of the Psychiatrist, had Peter’s Mental state improved enough to consider discharge ? To which he answered a firm negative. The Lawyer and the independent Psychiatrist looked at each other and Peter was sure they were satisfied with what was said.

Peter could feel the odds stacking against him. He could feel the frustration bubbling inside, but knew if he released it, there would be no hope. He had to now rely on the statement of his friend and ultimately, that of his own.

The Lawyer then turned to Peter’s friend and asked what she thought of Peter’s progress since he’d been in hospital and whether Peter would be well enough to be discharged.

Peter’s confidence began to grow as his friend gave a glowing report of Peter, saying how she had visited Peter in hospital many times in the total fifteen weeks of his hospital stay, and his Mental health had improved to the point that she believed he was ready for discharge.

The Social Worker asked Peter’s friend about Peter’s discharge plan. Was Peter’s friend going to support Peter in the community and help with his discharge? was the question. Peter’s friend agreed that would be the case.

Next it was Peter’s turn to state his case. The Lawyer summed up the situation before allowing Peter to speak. He noted that the Nurse indicated there had been significant improvement in Peter’s mental health, recently. Peter’s friend believed he was well enough to be discharged and most importantly was prepared to play a role in Peter’s discharge plan. However, the statement that holds the greatest amount of weight, that of the Hospital Psychiatrist, wasn’t good for Peter.

The long and the short of it was, he didn’t believe Peter was fully accepting of his illness and was still not well enough, mentally, to be discharged.

Now nervous, Peter waited for his cue. Once again it was the Lawyer who asked the questions. He asked Peter what he thought of his Mental state and if he felt he had improved enough to be discharged.

Realising how important the answer to these questions were, Peter spoke as carefully and deliberately as he could. He was still harbouring those delusionary thoughts of his wife stealing and the fact that she was breaking the lease on his rental property. He also knew of the increasingly strong feelings he was building towards his companion, interstate. He had to get this right.

As hard as it was, he had to tell the Tribunal what they wanted to hear. Peter knew inside that he was still not fully fit mentally, but he didn’t want to stay any longer. He had a life to live. A new life at that.

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