Human Kindness

Recently I have had a spate of incidents that have restored my faith in humanity. Everyone seems so busy nowadays. We are all too rush rush rush and go go go. We stare straight ahead and often don’t notice, or don’t want to notice what is going on in our peripheries. We’re all guilty of it.

But one day I went to the beach, had an ice cream, took some pictures and came home again. About half an hour after I arrived home there was a knock at the door and two girls were standing on my doorstep. “Are you Rachael” they asked.

“Ummm, yes….” I responded, completely confused.

“You left your wallet at the beach, we thought we would return it to you”.

I was amazed, I didn’t even notice I had lost the wallet, and these two girls had driven personally to return it to me (they explained they would have taken it to the police station had I not been home). I felt like I needed to give them some sort of prize I was so grateful. But in the end I just thanked them profusely and thanked my lucky stars after they left.

A few weeks ago my car broke down in the turn off lane on a major road. Of course, this caused complete chaos. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the level of abuse I copped for being in a situation I had no control over. People honked, swore, rolled down their window to scream at me. Seriously? Like I chose to be in this situation. I was alone and there was nothing I could do. Half of me wanted to dissolve into tears and the other half wanted to get out of the car and hurl abuse back.

But suddenly a man appeared at my window. “Need a push?” he asked.

“Thank you!” I cried with gratitude “everyone is getting so mad!”

“They are idiots, this isn’t your fault.” he gave me a friendly pat on the shoulder “it’ll be ok”.

So he gave me a push onto the grass and left when he knew someone was on their way to help with the car. I must have thanked him a million times.

So these things happen, and I firmly believe in passing the kindness on. Kicking the crowd mentality. Stopping when everyone else walks by.

So one day I was walking around in my city centre, having just had a rather nice satisfying lunch with my husband and son. As we got to the car park there was a homeless man sitting on the curb, his head in his hands, a sign next to him saying he was homeless and hungry. Every single person walked past, including myself.

 

Suddenly I stopped, told Hubster I would be back in a sec and I marched back to the homeless man. It had gotten to me. I had just spent a good $50 on a nice lunch, and this guy hadn’t eaten for days.  He looked incredibly young, he looked like he could be my friend or my brother. I know lots of people say not to give homeless people money because “they will just buy drugs”. Perhaps they are right, but something inside of me that day couldn’t take the chance they are wrong.

So I marched up to him, emptied my coins into his hands and then gave him every item of food I had in my bag (as a mother I tend to have all sorts of random foods ready for any emergency). He looked absolutely dumbfounded  then gave me the most heartfelt “thank you.” I have ever heard. I wasn’t prepared for what a few muesli bars and a handful of coins mean to some people.

“Good luck” was all I really thought to say before racing off to catch up with my family. I thought about him a lot that day.

I’m not perfect, I’m no saint, I have walked by a hundred homeless people before and stared straight ahead. But on those busy busy busy days I try to remember the ones who need help. On the baddest blackest of days I try to think of those who are in a far worse situation. And I do the best I can, when I am able, to be a good citizen, to consider those less fortunate than I, and to not forget just how lucky I am.

So thank you to the girls who returned my wallet, to the guy who helped with my car and the man who helped us with our flat packs. And as for the homeless man, I know it wasn’t much but I hope you went a little less hungry that day, I hope you find yourself a warm bed sometime soon.

 

 

 

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Thank You

 

I would never want anyone to think that I hold any abhorrent feelings towards the mother and baby unit (MBU), or to the people who have helped me along this journey. While I was in the unit I did occasionally feel imprisoned or resentful. I would be lying if my time as an inpatient was full of rainbows and butterflies. It is a hospital after all, and I was very unwell. But now as an outpatient I understand why I was treated the way I was, and I am profoundly grateful for the help I received.

I was hanging on by a thread when I was admitted to the MBU, and with open arms the unit allowed me to collapse and then taught me how to build myself up once more.  They protected me when I wasn’t able to look after myself, and encouraged me when I was ready to stand on my own two feet.

The staff at the MBU are some of kindest, gentlest and most patient people I have ever met. Psychiatric nurses must put up with a lot of bullshit. I know I must have been difficult at times – particularly when I was manic. But somehow they know when you need to cry, and when you need to be told to wipe your tears away and carry on. With a gentle authority they kept control, and managed to ensure I participated in activities and tasks that I didn’t want to do. I would look up, halfway through finishing my meal, then think indignantly “Hey! How did they get me to eat this? Oh well…tastes pretty good”.

We were patients, but we were human beings as well. The staff asked about our interests and shared their own. With the encouragement of the nurses I began baking. When I wasn’t able to go to the shops for ingredients, the nurses did it for me and they collected recipes for me to try out. A few of us patients started to knit, and suddenly more needles and patterns started to appear. In the evenings, like a strange eclectic family we watched TV, patients and nurses laughing and joking together.

I hold a very high regard for my doctor. She is a breath of fresh air from the traditional psychiatrist stereotype. She has always kept me involved in the decision making process for my treatment, and I trust her judgment implicitly. She is the type of person you feel comfortable with immediately, and I am very thankful that I am under her care.

 

The unit itself only has 8 beds. Eight. For the whole state. For the whole eight weeks I was there, there were very few vacancies. It is an extremely busy unit and highly sought after, and I am grateful that I was offered a spot. The alternative option would be a hospitalization in a general psychiatric ward, where they would have no facilities for baby, and a more limited understanding of the needs of new mothers. The mother and baby unit is the perfect therapeutic environment for vulnerable mothers.

The unit focuses on being family oriented, husbands were invited – even encouraged – to stay overnight as often as they would like. On the weekends the staff often organised family barbeques or dinners, where the staff and the patients who were well enough would cook. Steven came every single evening to see David and I, and occasionally stayed on weekends too. The staff made sure to include him in my treatment, and also check in with him and see how he was doing.

All in all I am very satisfied with my stay at the mother and baby unit. They showed me how to turn a corner, and helped me find myself again.

So from the bottom of my heart…Thank you.