Watershed, what’s that?
When we arrive it’s the end of a disaster. A welcome relief. Is that a watershed?
Was it the completion of a journey? How then did it start?

Behaviour stalks us, our behaviour stalks each of us.
What’s wrong with a room full of kid’s unwrapped toys collected in anticipation of a baby’s joyous coming?

What’s wrong with cross dressing, isn’t that Boy George’s monika, that boy ofKarma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon fame?

Why take medication you don’t think you don’t need, isn’t that irrational?

It’s a long steady decline, the descent into full blown mental illness.

It’s a journey no one makes willingly.

“You need to come down here and see what he’s doing, stuffing cakes in his pockets at church morning teas,” they said concernedly.

He says that he “Needs to take something away to eat later.”

“He says he needs to take his shoes and socks off, then he throws them out the church upper storey windows. He says his feet are too hot,” come the more urgent pleas.

“You need to come down and sort this,” I am told, “You must!”

I come, not once but week after week after week. I make the flight from Sydney not understanding any of it. It’s a maelstrom, conflicting views, pressure to act, beyond the rational world of chemical engineering.

Commitment, isn’t that what men fear, commitment?

I know I do, commitment of your only brother to an asylum, it’s a commitment that takes, well commitment. When the facts stack up to being the only way out, I act. Arrange the legal papers with a family doctor friend, the ambulance,  and the police hidden away round the block from the family home.

Scared shitless, I provoke a fight with him. He stands on the back of the lounge room sofa screaming at me of my privilege and his disadvantage. Why should he take medication that I wouldn’t myself? From the remnants of his sanity my frustration mixes fulling impotence and anger. Is it more to justify to myself my actions.

On schedule the ambulance arrive. They try to explain why they’re there, I’m. Hoping they’ve done this before. It’s clear they haven’t. The ambo’s are unable to rationally argue that someone who doesn’t want to go with them, should. Somehow this seems fair enough to me, but leaves a quandary. Mum can’t process what is happening. Jeff’s clearly in need of help but is this help?

The ambos leave. I trudge up the hill and around the corner to where the police are hiding. Clearly they’d rather be elsewhere,  go see the hiding police who would clearly rather be elsewhere, but with a legally enforceable document in my hand, theirs are tied. It has to be served. Their time is up.

When they knock on the door they try to reason with him. All his life Jeff has respected the police. He is polite and restrained. He engages with them in a futile debate. With the order than can use reasonable force, which in the end is handcuffs, my God fearing and law abiding brother is frogmarched to the back of the ambulance and sat on stretcher to the right side of the back of the ambulance. Does insanity ameliorate the embarrassment?

“Would you like to come too?” the ambo’s ask, “It’ll be easier to sign him in. The coppers will follow us all the way there.”

I clamber past my stunned brother, and sit on the fabric stretcher in the middle of the ambulance, next to him. He’s upset, is that the word? Upset, an understatement.

The swinging doors are closed on us.

The convoy of two cars leaves, we thread the bitumen C class roads around the semi rural  fringes of the city, up hill, down dale. The roller coaster of the ride, cushioned by the soft ambulance suspension. Down a long long hill, gravity coasts us, to gain the crest of the next hill the ambulance is accelerates in the trough of the valley.

The doors fly open, my brother rocks then rolls towards the open flapping doors.

Instinctively I reach and grab, catch his collar, grimy from weeks of not washing, his glasses skew on his face as he twists to look at me.

I see the fear in his face.

I am glad he can’t read my mind.

Forty years later I still recall those watershed words of my dark inner self.

Tears well whenever I recall my disgrace. 

I think “All I need to do is let go, and it’s all over”

I don’t and my life has changed. Forever.