But you don’t look like one

Striding out manfully towards fort george (no, not a shopping centre – it’s actually a real honest to goodness fort on the moray firth) I met a man on a bike.

He said, with some confidence looking at the ominous sky,”We’re going to get wet….”

I said, with equal conviction,”No, it’s passing us by…”

Weather man I am not. I found him down the road a bit, sheltering from the storm under a tree.

“I told you it would pass us by,” I smiled as I stood there dripping.

He was going nowhere – I had a captive audience – so I told him about my journey.

“Walking round the uk?” he laughed,”you’d better watch out, some people might think your as mad as the people you’re collecting money for…”


I told him about my own mental wiring.

“You don’t look like one….”

A compliment?

What on earth does one look like?

Back in my social work day, I was working with a chap who’d been diagnosed with the schizophrenia.

Often when working with people with this label one might get to see some behaviours, or hear some beliefs that fit in with this mental malady.

Over 6 months I had neither heard nor seen anything of that sort. Not completely unusual – but I checked with a host of other people who’d been working with him – and they reported the same.

We called a case conference – he had been living in a psychiatric hospital for some time, and that felt a little unusual given the circumstances.

Before our man was called in, the registrar explained she’d been through his notes with a fine tooth comb – the only reports of his psychosis had come from his mother – from whom he was estranged, with whom he wanted no relationship.

Munchausens by proxy was mentioned.
The consultant was very defensive of her colleague who’d initially given our man his diagnosis – seemingly on the evidence of his mum – “I’m sure dr x wouldn’t have based his findings on such scant information…” she said.

To be fair, folk with your mental conditions rarely behave to order – as such it isn’t uncommon to listen to the reports of others….

But only his mum? Hmmm.

“let’s call him in,” said the consultant psychiatrist, aware that there was a question mark hanging over this particular case.

He came in. He smiled at those of us he knew. He answered any questions put to him intelligently and succinctly.
When the psychiatrist had had her fill she thanked him and asked him to leave.

“Well,” she said, “he looks like a schizophrenic…..”

Holy and indeed guacamole – what does a….?

This lady was not for turning – no matter what challenges we put up, the diagnosis remained.


The other day I was walking into Inverness. I met a couple of boys, maybe 11 or 12 who saw my backpack and enthusiastically asked if I’d been camping.

I told them an abridged version of my tale.

“I don’t mean to be rude,” started boy number 1 politely,”but has anyone ever called you mad?”

Join the queue.

It’s not an exact science, is it?

Maybe I do look like one.

Do you?

Walk a mile


This entry was posted in mental health, Uncategorized, walking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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