‘And I can stay out for as long as I want!’ – St Patrick’s Day and the deprivation of liberty by Dina Poursanidou

Yesterday, on 15 March 2014, it occurred to me that 5 years ago, on 15 March 2009, I was detained under the Mental Health Act in an acute psychiatric ward in Park House, the psychiatric facility at North Manchester General Hospital. I recall that I had 6 hours Section 17 Leave on 15 March 2009, so my friend Robin took me to an Irish pub in Levenshulme (where I lived) for the evening.

There was a gig of Irish folk music on at the pub to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. I remember being able to kind of enjoy the music – I have always loved Irish folk by the way…and this was very significant in light of my severe depression, serious lack of motivation, enthusiasm and  interest in life,  as well as  the heavy medication I was on that had an immense numbing effect on me…I remember being able to feel and enjoy the music in spite of all this…


Park House_NMGH
Park House – Psychiatric facility at North Manchester General Hospital (NMGH)


But I also remember the profound disappointment I felt when Robin told me that it was time to leave the gig and go back to Park House as my 6 hour Section 17 Leave was up shortly and we did not want to be late reporting back to the hospital…I think I must have felt disappointment and anger and a sense of injustice whilst faced so concretely with the deprivation of my liberty and the restrictions on my freedom of movement…a sense of being imprisoned and  having less rights than people who had committed offences…




Yesterday, on 15 March 2014, 5 years after my detention in Park House, I went to a concert in the Lowry Theatre where Clannad and Mary Black performed and sang beautiful Irish folk songs…throughout the evening I kept thinking  ‘And I can stay out for as long as I want!’ I kept thinking that I was free, i.e. not sectioned in a psychiatric ward, and able to make autonomous decisions and exercise choice in my everyday life…I was not at the concert being on Leave from some psychiatric hospital/prison where I had to report back by the end of the night…I could even say that at the concert I felt  happy…



Clannad in concert

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clannad)