As Michael Schumacher lies in his bed in intensive care, the surgeons, the nurses, his wife and family all hope he will come through and make a full recovery. We are all behind them, listening to every news bulletin hoping to hear that his situation is improving.
Yet there are those who look on dispassionately, some, perhaps jealous of his motor racing success, might say that if you indulge in dangerous sports you deserve all you get. Whether motor racing, skiing or partaking in any sport where there is risk, each of us know that accidents might happen. The girl (or boy) who gets attacked by a gang walking home from a New Year’s Eve party,because they have not been able to tolerate the alcohol they have drunk, do they deserve it?
The reality is that we are human beings who deserve the love and kindness of others, not to be judged by the circumstances that led us into trouble. Love, kindness, compassion and hope are what we want for 2014.
Yes, there are many reasons for us to feel that we have had enough of migrants coming to our shores, scare stories abound about the latest group of economic refugees due to hit our shores, but that should not stop us offering hope to some individuals for a better life. Indeed, whether or not we should be open to all, is a vexed question and one I am not qualified to answer. However, perhaps offering the hand of kindness to a few people from war torn Syria is another matter. Would you turn away the boy or girl at your doorstep, injured by thugs because you were having a dinner party and your house was full?
We all need hope, hope that others will be there for us when we need it. When the chief anaesthetist, Professor Jean-Francois Payen who is treating Michael Schumacher, stated that medical literature suggest he has a 40-45 per cent likelihood of recovery from his injuries, he added, “I don’t work with statistics, I work with patients.” That is the point, we all need hope, whether it is the recovering alcoholic, the person breaking free from a bad relationship or someone recovering from a bout of mental ill health, hope and well wishes from others is what we all need.
Just as anyone recovering from a brain injury will need everyone around them to believe in the possibility of recovery, however remote, and to work tirelessly to put every ounce of energy into treating them, helping them to get better, the same must be said of the person with mental illness in that every one involved works tirelessly for their recovery. There is no excuse for sloppy mental healthcare any more than there is for sloppy physical healthcare ( not that the two should be separated anyway!) but the person tormented by voices, just as the person wracked with physical pain deserves the same high standards of treatment.
It is fitting that the two “whistle blowers” in the Staffordshire hospital scandal should get recognition. More people need to speak out. As I write this I can be sure that someone, somewhere is being treated cruelly. Whether it is the boy or girl with learning disabilities or the elderly person in a residential care.
We all need hope. Hope that someone will be there and will listen to us in our hour of need. That a Good Samaritan will stop and offer us help when we are in need. Hope that someone will take the time and trouble to comfort our family when we are not able to, to explain to them what is going on when they feel alone and helpless, not understanding what is going on. We need hope that this year will be a better one and that simple acts of kindness will replace harsh words, judgemental minds and rudeness. That health professionals will listen and not assume they know best.
Whatever any of us do, we need to speak out to get the highest standards of care for those less able to speak out for themselves. People need hope, love and care, patents are people after all, not statistics in medical literature.
Let us support each other in 2014.
Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.