LibLink: Christine Jardine We all deserve the same quality of mental health care as my late husband

Christine Jardine’s column is a bit different this week. She writes about how her late husband, Calum, was affected by Bipolar Disorder. Calum Macdonald was a brilliant journalist, working for the Herald in Glasgow for many years. Although they were separated at the time of his death from a heart attack during the 2017 election campaign, they remained close.

Christine described how the quality of care Calum received helped him so much. Sadly, others aren’t so fortunate.

When we needed it, our GP was there straight away and offered daily support.

Calum had a consultation within 24 hours and the help he needed, from that moment for the next 22 years.

I will be forever grateful that we had that time, and that medical support allowed my daughter to know the affable, tolerant Calum.

But the fact that she also saw, at times, the problems her father faced has also, in some way, brought its own benefits. When I ask her, she says that she has learned to never make a concrete judgement on anyone. There may be a fuller story than the one we see.

What she argues is that the fragility of mental health can affect any of us and should be regarded with the same understanding as if it were a broken leg.

She recounted how it had first become apparent that Calum was ill:

When this normally affable, tolerant, witty and always reasonable man started to lay down orders and dismiss every other opinion, and the person who had expressed it, as stupid, it seemed unusual. But that was all.

Then his normal cautious approach to finance – my sisters called him Captain Sensible – gave way to a reckless spending spree which we only just managed to stop before he ordered a top of the range BMW that we couldn’t afford.

That was worrying. But we put it down to excitement over the news that he was about to become a father for the first time.

It was only when sociable conversations became one-sided arguments with himself, going round and round, accusing somebody, anybody, else of arguing with him, pacing up and down and then shouting that I realised something was wrong.

You can read her whole article here. 

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4 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th May '19 - 5:22pm

    A very poignant and special piece.

  • Agree with Lorenzo, having seen a relative with extremely severe post natal depression – and a much loved (and loving) admired Dad suffering from PTSD associated with combat fatigue leading to a far too early death.

    Ultimately it’s about resources – both people, treatment and nearby facilities.

  • David Raw 16th May ’19 – 6:16pm………………….Ultimately it’s about resources – both people, treatment and nearby facilities…………….

    Indeed it is..From today’s “Observer”…”NHS England loses 6,000 mental health nurses in 10 years”

    In 2018, in the BMJ David Oliver wrote of the 2012 NHS reorganisation, “Yet, around the 2010 general election, NHS performance was already improving steadily each year, the funding and workforce deficit was less severe than now, and public satisfaction was high. There was no need for this political vanity project of reorganisation for its own sake.”

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