I’m currently under a Section 3 of the Mental Health Act, here in London. We don’t need to go into details; my psychiatrist made me promise not to write about the treatment and rules of the ward.
This is a story about a fellow patient, 48-year-old “Jimmy” who’s also been sectioned after spending six years in Feltham prison for a violent crime. Jimmy’s one of the only criminals I’ve known who genuinely deserves to now live a peaceful life in the community. I’ve spent 16 years in Psych Wards and the worst kind of Mental Health accommodation, which may explain why I typically wear sunglasses on the ward. It’s important not to let psychopaths see your eyes, but Jimmy’s no psychopath in my opinion. He now has to take vitamin injections, and his arms are a criss-cross of razor blade notches and deep fag burns. But, like me, his mother’s love has saved him from dying in prison.
A life of poverty and abuse from his father between the ages of three and nine has meant he cannot read or write, which has obviously caused him sadness, anger, and humiliation. But every night (breaking the rules) I play some mellow songs on my phone, we smoke a few cigarettes and talk honestly about our experiences. He trusts me, because I never lie if I can help it. I believe government adult literacy programs are simply pressure chambers of shame and humiliation. Both my parents were teachers (subsequently my Dad earned his fortune as a salesman) but Mum, fluent in five languages, taught German at a top secondary school in Beckenham, Kent.
Jimmy said his first day at Feltham was the worst day of his life. The psychopaths who run prisons savagely beat him, beginning a chain of violence that has now, thankfully, subsided. He self-harmed to deal with the dehumanizing nature of HM prisons, which desperately need major reform. I could make a good case for better medical and dental care as well as vital Rehab for drug abuse.
Today I helped him write a card to his mum to say thank you and tell her just how important she’s been in his life, and how much he loves her. I plan on continuing our friendship in the community should we be released, and I’ll will teach him how to read and write. Jimmy said that it was a belief in God, his family and the possibility of love that was the only reason he survived the hell of HM Feltham.
It is possible for ex-patients to work on Psych Wards. It takes 12 weeks of stability in the community and then three months training. All I’ve wanted to do for years is work for a living, so I’ll approach my psychiatrist for information on how to apply for a position on the ward to save as many people as I can.
Finally, like me, Jimmy (by no means useless in a fight) also despises drug dealers.
—Follow Andrew Moody on Twitter: @VoguishFiction