|Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Recorded: October 28, 2004
This is a transcript of the complete original interview conducted for the Australian Biography project. Each transcript page covers one videotape (approximately 35 minutes). There is also QuickTime video of the full interview available. To play the video, click on the icon in the right hand column. In addition, each question in the transcript is linked to the video. Clicking on a question will play the video from that point. (Help with this feature.) Optionally, you can download the video file for offline viewing (approx. 10MB).
The interview has been left it in its original state so that you can get a sense of how the conversation developed. The repetition of some questions, or a question followed by another question, is often due to the end of a particular tape or some other interruption, and has been indicated at the appropriate place in the text. There has been minimal tidying up of the text so that the flavour of the encounter has been kept.
What was the message of those who were preaching tough love to you?
Can we stop? Can we pick up on that doctor? I've just got one ...
Yes, of course.
Because ... um ...
We need to get it as a whole story, so why don't I ask you the question about who helped you, and then you can tell it with that in it.
And during that period in Adelaide when things were grim, were there any people in the mental health system who actually responded and helped you?
Yes, I remember a doctor, who was Jonathan's doctor, one day saying to me ‘Look, if you need any kind of support, I'd be quite happy if you came and checked in once a fortnight, one a month, how ever much you think you need it. Simply, if you have any tough decisions ... and you want to sound them out with someone.’ So he wasn't suggesting being psychoanalysed but he was suggesting actually practical help. And they were the kinds of decisions that I was constantly having to make which were agonising. I mean, how do you ... what do you do and how do you feel when you have to call the police and eject your own son because you've been told that you must set boundaries, and tough love is the only way to go? What do you do and how do you feel if you get hurt ... and the house gets trashed and you're told to take out an apprehended violence order against your son? How do you handle that? Um ... what do you do when you're desperate because you can't get any help for your other two children? And it went on and on.
There were these constant, terrible dilemmas that I was wrestling with night after night after night ... and actually being able to go to someone and to talk them through. What will I do if Jonathan's in gaol and ... and I feel that he's safer in gaol because at least he gets medication? But on the other hand he might be bashed up and raped? So do I try and get him out or do I leave him there? They were terrible decisions. And going to this man was extraordinarily helpful. But the interesting thing was, he was very practical and I thought quite severe at first. So he'd listen and he'd say, well if you do so and so and so and so, and if you do that this might happen, and so there was never much response to me as a person. And I always felt that I was inadequate and weak and floppy and all these kinds of things. And I was particularly conscious of this toxic mother syndrome, really, that had been part of the culture earlier. Because I had been to America and heard a well-known world authority on schizophrenia saying that ‘I have never yet met a young person with schizophrenia who did not have a noxious and toxic mother.’ This is very eroding you know.
But one day I was asked if I would mind if medical students came along, and I said no, of course not. And they did. And he said, this doctor, to these medical students. ‘Anne is one of our wonderful mothers. And I've watched her really hang in and go through the most terrible decisions and yet never ... never fail her son, and yet now be able to make tough decisions at times. And I can't tell you how important it is to support the parents, the carers.’ And I actually ... I felt as if somebody had given me a whole rainbow because nobody had ever said that. Nobody had said, well done, you know, and hang in there ... and I remember telling him, you know, I remember saying to him in front of the students, ‘That's the most marvellous thing to hear, but why didn't you say it earlier?’ And it opened up a whole discussion. Because I think when you're dealing with really difficult illnesses like this, and there are many others, it's important that the carers are supported. And it's also important that people in the health professions are supported. It's important to thank the doctors and the nurses when they do a good job because it's tough for them as well. So that was something that came out of that Adelaide experience.
Anne, why do you think the system was prepared to send police, prepared to support you in having security guards to deal with the situation you were confronted with, with Jonathan, but so unprepared to take him into care?
Because I think they didn't have the beds, and they still don't have the beds. Because people, when they have had two or three bouts of schizophrenia, but more importantly, when they're not being responsive to the medication, are very difficult to deal with. So you get less attention, the longer the illness sustains itself ... often the harder it is to get help ... and I think people ... it just fell into the too-hard basket. I think mental illness is very difficult to deal with, but it doesn't have to be. Often it becomes difficult because of neglect.
And I still hear ... week after week, I will get phone calls and emails from people ... from parents or siblings who are facing similar situations. There are not the hospital beds. There is not the understanding of the illness often. You get young registrars coming along who are overworked and very stressed themselves. And who don't see what's happening at home. There is an ... an inability to recognise that carers can be a very important resource. That if you are looking after somebody with a chronic mental illness, you become very knowledgeable and skilful yourself. And there are, by now, a very large number of studies around the world that show that if only you took a tripartite approach, and where the doctor and the carer and the person who is ill also became part of a kind of team working together, and you are pooling your resources, that the chance of re-hospitalisation is diminished enormously ... and yet ... and so there are all sorts of things that we still aren't doing. We move around them. We take short cuts.
But in your particular case, the really puzzling thing was that here was a boy who wasn't responding to medication, had a diagnosis of a very serious illness, and was not taken into care, but you at the same time were being told by the same system who refused to look after somebody who was desperately and obviously and acknowledgedly in need of care ... you were being told, told not to care for him either. So the solution, the official solution of the system, is that he should live on the streets?
More or less and, I think, I think that still can happen ... again ... I come back to the present. With the acknowledgement now that we do know much more about looking after the illness and ... and there are ... there isn't the same crude neglect that there was then. But there's still a lot of young people on the street, or a lot of young people ... I see them sometimes in gaol. I'm on the Mental Health Review Tribunal. I sit on many of the forensic cases. We go to Long Bay Gaol and we find quite young people there. Quite often ... I can think of two or three right now who have had ... have schizophrenia, who've become increasingly psychotic. Who've gone themselves to the hospital and asked for help and have been turned away. Whose parents have gone and asked for help who've been turned away. And who have ended up killing one of their parents.
And now they're in gaol and the irony is that they're getting good medical care because they're held there by a team of very good psychiatrists and very good health care people who are committed to these people who are in gaol and who are getting very good health care. And they come ... they present themselves extremely well. I mean, they come and they're not psychotic any longer. They're not crazy. But it took a tragedy to allow that to happen. Now that's an appalling thing to have in a society.
Why do you think we are prepared to spend so much more money on keeping people in gaol than keeping them out of it?
I think we've never been very good at preventive work, have we? Because you can't monitor it. You can't measure it. How do you know that what you're doing is keeping somebody out of gaol. It doesn't buy political votes. I think that's one reason. I think the resources we give to mental illness in Australia [are] very low compared with many other OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries. I can't remember exactly, but it's about ... it's sort of 50 percent of the money that's spent in England or New Zealand, or ... if it's not 50 percent then it's only 60 percent. So in other words the actual overall resources have never really caught up. We're always behind ... I think these are complex illnesses, and they don't fit readily into systems. So you have to be prepared to be flexible. And systems often aren't flexible.
You've described a woman trying very, very hard to work out how to deal with her son, and feeling that she was failing. Did you ever feel you got it right?
I don't know if you ever get it right, but you learn ... you learn how to be with someone who has an illness. And you learn how to ask for help. Those two things were very important to me. Asking for help was something that didn't come readily to me. Again I go back to my English stiff-upper-lip upbringing. You know, where you soldiered on and you put your best food forward. Um ...
And you pulled up your socks.
And you pulled up your socks ... [laughs] ... and you put your shoulder to the wheel. And ... and so I didn't ask for help, and then when I was in Adelaide and I realised that the system wasn't going to help, and probably no system can help, well, in the sense of that intimacy of friendship and people who are going through the same sort of experience. Um ... it was very good that I did learn to reach out and the first time that that happened, I remember, was in the period when Jonathan was ragingly psychotic and ... and I'd had to send the children away. I was in the house by myself. There was a security guard at night. And this was when I was told that I should either get two Alsatian dogs or I should take my other two children and go and live in Europe and forget about my son. Or that we should go and live in a penthouse in a secure building. And that's when I ... this was obviously to me quite ridiculous.
But at that particular point I was still desperate, and I was there on my own and the blooming tap wasn't working. I had a leaking tap and it was the last straw. And it was going plop plop, plop plop, plop, plop and it was dark and I was cold and I was frightened. And I called a plumber. I looked in the phone directory. And this guy said he could come around straight away. And he came round and he saw me there sitting pinched and miserable and ... and we started talking while he was fixing the tap. And I told him about Jonathan. And I told him I was scared. And he said, ‘Oh, I'll fix that love.’ And he said, ‘Mind if I use your phone?’ And he picked up the phone and he said ... he said, ‘There's a lady here who's got a son, a boy with schizophrenia, and she's a bit scared on her own at night. Do you mind if I stay the night with her?’ And his wife said, ‘No, that's okay.’
And what happened, of course, was that they had a boy ... they actually had two sons with schizophrenia. And this man, the plumber, stayed the night, dossed down on the couch. Um ... we had tea together. His wife came round afterwards and they became ... they were the beginnings of my having a network of people to support me. And I remember on another occasion when Jonathan had trashed the house and ... he'd just chucked stuff out of the window and carried it out of the door. He'd trampled on pictures. He'd broken up furniture. It was just stretched for miles down East Terrace. And ... this woman came round and she looked at all the rubbish and she said ... she crossed her arms like that. She was a big woman and she looked like a woman out of a Drysdale painting and she said, ‘Well love ... ‘ She said, ‘You sure taught him if a job's worth doing it's worth doing properly.’ And it was this kind of um ... humour you needed to keep you going.
And that was when I helped start the New South Wales Schizophrenia Fellowship, when I went back to Sydney. And I was there at the beginning of the South Australian Schizophrenia Fellowship. And then I went on to help start the National Fellowship because, you know, it was ... it was this kind of community of people who were having ... sharing similar experiences. It was very important and important as a lobby group politically.
And your relationship with Jonathan?
Well, this was the interesting ... I think in a way the most interesting kind of experience or thing that I learnt was ... in the beginning I was trying to fix him up always. So I was trying to make him normal, to pull him this side of the line. And he'd turn up and ... this is before he became really psychotic, or as frequently psychotic. He'd turn up and I'd say, ‘Have you eaten anything?’ And, ‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ And ‘Wouldn't you like a nice shower?’ because he would be absolutely filthy or, ‘Do you think it would be a good idea if you changed your clothes?’ Or ‘Have you taken your medication?’ And so the conversation was incessant and always concerned with his illness, and his state of health. And it wasn't about ‘how are you’, or it wasn't about ... giving him a hug.
It wasn't about anything that went beneath the surface of this illness where I was trying to fix him up, clean him up, make him better. And which set up a resistance in him, and prevented, inhibited, any real communication between us. And this persisted for quite some time, and whenever I would engage in one of these, you know, discussions with him, my level of anxiety would be rising and so would his. And usually it would end in a fracas, where he would get very angry with me, because if my anxiety was here, his was right through the roof. And it took me quite a while before I began to realise that I had to pull back from this. And then we had this really bad psychotic episode. This bad episode. In between that he'd been in gaol for nine months in Sydney. But that's another story. On remand on a charge that was ultimately dropped.
But ... he'd come home to Sydney ... to Adelaide ... and he'd trashed everything. And he was then at large. The hospital let him out after 12 hours. He ... I was very frightened. This was when I was all on my own back in that period ... and this was when I was told, get the Alsatian dogs, etcetera, etcetera. And I decided, as I had earlier with Joshua, that ... I had to go away somewhere and think my way through this. Feel my way through this about what I was going to do, because I knew I wasn't going to get the Alsatian dogs or ... I knew that wasn't the answer. And I ... a friend lent me his place in the country and it was on a hill and very peaceful. And I went to bed that night and I had this extraordinary dream that I was in the country and on the hill was a compound full of lions and tigers and leopards and cheetahs. And I was the keeper of the compound. And down below, a little way down below, was a little mountain stream and drinking at the stream were rabbits and baby goats and chickens and ducklings and all the little soft timid creatures of the world. And my responsibility as keeper of the compound was to open the gates and to let all these wild fierce animals out so they too could drink at the stream.
But I was terrified because I thought if I do this, they'll eat all the animals and they'll eat me too. And in my dream I realised that the only way to approach this was to go and open the gates without fear, and if I could open the gate without any fear, and let the animals come out as a part of that community of animals and birds, that it would be alright. And I went and took a deep breath and put myself in a place where there was no fear, and I opened the gates and the animals, the fierce animals, the lions and tigers came down and drank at the stream. And then I woke up. And the following day I drove back to Sydney and there sitting just outside our house — we were right opposite the parklands — was Jonathan. And he was in a very dishevelled and dirty state. And he was sitting cross-legged, and he was rocking, and he was keening. He was howling. It was in the middle of the parklands. And my immediate response was to be frightened again because only the day before he'd wrecked everything.
And I remembered the dream and I went into the house and I put myself in that place of no fear, and I came out of the house and I went up to Jonathan and I put my arm on his shoulder and I said, ‘Let's not be frightened of each other, come inside and let's just sit down and spend some time together.’ And he came into the house and he was never ... [I'm being a bit tearful] ... and he was never angry with me again. And I think it was this extreme fear that people have when they have a mental illness that makes them often, you know, so frightening themselves. But it ... it was entering a state of being with him that dropped all that rage away. And from then on, long after, his illness became less ... less, less angry, less crazy, but when he was very ill in many other ways, and he would come to me when I was living in Sydney, and he would come into the house. He would break into the house often, and in the beginning he would pace up and down the room, and he'd be talking to himself, and he'd push me out of the way.
And if I was ... just sat there and was quiet with him, or did the ironing or did something like that, and I was just peaceful with him, after about half an hour the rages would stop and he would stop this angry psychotic behaviour and he would stop that language. And he wouldn't say much to me but he would say, ‘Let's go for a walk.’ And we would be able to walk and hold hands and walk in peace around the oval. And then he'd come back and he'd have some tea and then he'd leave again. So it was a very strong lesson ... which stayed with me. And it's ... it was quite profound.
Were you ever frightened with him again?
No. No. I subsequently read ... in other books that people have written, similar kinds of experiences. Not through a dream but psychiatrists, people who work in this way, talking about the same kind of approach. And probably coming upon it themselves ... And I think ... and I remember a psychiatrist friend once telling me that this fear was critical because ... in Sydney, in the period when I went ... I think I was filming in Sydney and ... Jonathan at that stage was on speed as well. And the combination was terrible. And he was ... he had spiky ... spiked his hair and he'd got ... he actually got made up to ... [interruption] ... He used to say he was too much of a wimp to actually have them done. He looked pretty ... he was like a Goth. He was in black all over and spurs and knuckledusters and ... and he'd come into the house then and I'd be frightened then. But that was earlier on. And I would ... kind of try and take control of the situation and be very bright and chatty and make the tea and this sort of thing.
And I remember a great friend, Andy Campbell, who's a psychiatrist, a terrific community psychiatrist here in Sydney, saying to me, ‘But are you really feeling bright and cheerful?’ And I said, ‘No, I'm feeling very frightened.’ And he said, ‘Well, why not tell Jonathan that, because what you're doing is compounding his fear, really, because you're not being real with him.’ And the next time he came round, when he started to kind of push me around, I said ... you know, I burst into tears and I said, ‘Jonathan I'm very frightened when you're like that.’ And he stopped me and he put his arms around me and held me and he said, ‘Ah ... I reckon we're both a bit screwed up. I'll make you a cup of tea.’ So there were these sorts of small messages that came through that culminated in that extraordinary dream.
Can we stop there a minute? ... What made you decide to go to Sydney, back to Sydney from Adelaide?
I got approached by the film school [Australian Film, Television and Radio School or AFTRS] ... to see if I would apply for the position of executive director of the film school. I'd been on the council of the school for six years. I hadn't wanted a management job. I hadn't thought of going back to the film school in that capacity, but they were having difficulty finding someone. They'd advertised twice overseas ... and they hadn't found anybody, I think they felt, who could help steer the school through a period of great change. It was to move the ... shift into a new building. It was to open the school up in a much bigger way to the industry, and after the third approach I relented and I went and had an interview.
And I think I felt then that maybe the time in Adelaide had come to an end. That it was a way of getting back to Sydney. That although I didn't really see myself as being ... spending very long time being CEO of the film school, I did have a deep affection for the school, and I understood how it worked. And I thought I probably could do a good job ... the problem was that Georgia was still finishing at university, and Josh hadn't quite finished his high school certificate. So I had to leave a setup in Adelaide and come back most weekends when I could ... so that's what ... and the relationship with Newell was over by then. And so that's what really was responsible for the shift. It also gave me some money. My coffers were very low. So there was a whole lot of very good reasons. And when I found out about the position and, you know, what it entailed, I decided to take it. Also Jonathan was in Sydney and although my primary responsibility in a way had always been to the younger children ... nevertheless he was flopping around in Sydney. So, you know.
In Sydney, did Jonathan have anywhere, until you came over, that was a base for him? Or was he officially by that stage living on the street?
A bit of both. The place that was quite wonderful for him was the Matthew Talbot Hostel, which never once let him down ... wherever he was, in whatever condition he was in, they took him in, and I think that's very true today. And a lot of the hostels ... there was a period when it looked as if they were going upmarket in the sense of, you know, only taking in people who weren't a nuisance and so on and so on. I think that shifted, because they're the only place for people to be, and although you might live on the streets, you still need times when you need to go and have a shower and a hot meal, and medical care. And they run a very good medical clinic there, a health clinic. There are two sisters there who are quite wonderful with these men, old men, young men. There's a whole mix of people there.
And I found them just ... you know, quite heartbreakingly wonderful. They would always find Jonathan for me. There was never any question of making me feel I was the mother, the enemy. They would ... I would ring up and I'd say I was thinking of coming round, and they'd say ... there was a terrific guy called Ray and he'd say, ‘Oh, I don't think I'd come around today, love. He's a bit wild today, and I'll ring you tomorrow if he's better.’ And so there was that kind of informal liaison with them, and sure enough if I did turn up, usually I could find Jonathan somewhere around the Cross. And people would know where he was. He became quite well-known in the Cross. He was very tall, and very blond, and he used to wear an old kind of Ethiopian jacket I'd given him once. And he'd have a dilly bag on his shoulders, and bare feet always. And he had this lolloping walk. So he was quite well-known. And um ... I could always trace him ... they also ... if he got lost for any length of time, if he didn't appear for any length of time, they would send a van out to try and find him, and others of their flock. There were certain people who ... who had more permanent accommodation at the Talbot, or who they would always find a bed for somehow or other. And Jonathan was one of these.
So it was quite a long association, you know, with them, and with them caring for him, really. And then giving him medical care. Because one of the things that's often overlooked when people are chronically ill is that it's not just their mental illness that becomes a problem, it's their physical health, and nobody ever looks after that. I remember, it was quite clear that Jonathan's teeth were rotting because his diet was appalling. And it wasn't until he was in gaol on remand for that nine-month period that I managed to get a dentist to look at his teeth, because outside it was impossible ... he had trouble with blisters on his feet. He was malnourished. And these were all the extra sorts of things that the Talbot were able to take care of.
Anne, you'd had to come to terms with the meaning of having a son with schizophrenia. But how did a woman of your background adjust to the notion that you had a child living on the streets?
In the beginning in Adelaide, when he started to live on the street, I found it very difficult. You know, I'd be very ashamed and I'd sort of pretend he had his bedroom at home where he'd be tucked up in bed with his woolly blue blanket, even though he was about 17 or 18. And I found that hard. I think ... I think fairly rapidly, though, Jonathan's illness was quite a public one, and by that I mean he would give spectacular demonstrations of being mad sometimes. He'd stand up and hold forth on street corners and a lot of people knew Jonathan, and a lot of people tried to save him. I want to say two things — that although the system was often very poor, whatever the system is, but it was hard to get him treatment. But on the way I met ... there were some terrific doctors and nurses and people who tried to save Jonathan as well. We were all trying to save Jonathan.
And the second thing is that Jonathan's illness was a particularly ravaging kind of illness. And there are many different kinds of schizophrenia and ... and in many different ranges of severity, to sometimes quite mild episodes of the illness. And the prognosis is different. People aren't the same. So that in Jonathan you were looking at somebody who was very severely ill at a time when not nearly as much was known, and there wasn't the range of medications that there is now. Whereas now I'm aware of many young people I meet, or many older people, who have heroic struggles with the illness, and I can't stress that enough. I'm full of profound admiration for people who battle through this illness and other severe mental illnesses. And many of them do very well. Many of them hold down jobs and have relationships. And they're not as ... as ill or become outcasts in the way that Jonathan did.
I'm sorry to be persistent about this, but because he was clearly very severely and publicly mad, and he didn't ... it had been decided that he wasn't responding to any medication. Even if he could keep on it, he wasn't responding to medication. It would seem superficially that he was a perfect candidate for what they call scheduling, which would have put him into care in a more permanent way, in the way he was put into care in gaol. Now why was it so impossible to get him scheduled?
Because I think the philosophy did not engage or allow for scheduling for long periods. Um ... now with the present, say, Mental Health Act now ... cases are reviewed and some people are in for longer. But there is still a philosophy that says ... that these are illnesses which ... from which people can be cured. Whereas there are some illnesses where I don't think there is a cure. There is an accommodation. There is recovery. There are remissions, but not cures. And so it's ... it is hard. But now there is scheduling. There is compulsory care in the community now which was one of the things I chaired ... two Mental Health Committees that reviewed and set up the new ... it's now quite old, but Mental Health Act in New South Wales. And ... and that concept of compulsory community care ... came into being then. And that has been very successful. So people can still live in the community. However, having said that, I think there are still people who aren't responsive and who may go through periods of severe illness who need asylum, who need protection. And sometimes need long periods of adjustment on their medication, and they weren't getting it then and they still aren't getting it now. So that I think that's a failure in our mental health system. I ... I'm very much in favour of the whole concept of de-institutionalisation and I've seen it work very well. But I've also seen it fail abysmally because the resources haven't been there.
The concept of a person's civil liberties is also very important, but in Jonathan's case it seemed that his liberty was his problem.
Absolutely. And this was something that came up time and time again. And ... often you would get a sympathetic response. He came under the Guardianship Board, who tried to take care ... which tried to take care of his money, and they were responsive to the severity of his illness ... and in the beginning when he was first ill, and I ... I've said this earlier I think, the system does respond more, but that's because they feel they can cure them. They can get them better. But if they don't, or if they abscond or ... Jonathan was always getting out of hospital. He was like a Houdini. He would hide his clothes in the bushes and escape. It was all a big game ... but later there was very little care. And yet people sometimes have been severely ill for many, many years and have made recoveries. Have made considerable strides in their illness.
What did he do for money? For drugs, for food?
Oh, well in the end he couldn't afford any drugs. I mean, Jonathan's drug was nearly all marijuana. Marijuana and cough mixture and cheap grog and that kind of thing. Ah ... he never shot up heroin because he always said he could never bear shoving a needle in his arm, and he couldn't afford it. So he wasn't on the hard drugs. He was on amphetamines for a while, which were very dangerous, very bad ... I remember having an argument with one of the hospitals where he had attempted suicide four times, and each time he would go himself to the hospital to have his stomach pumped out. So there was an ambivalence. There was this wish to end his life because he felt it was so miserable, and then he would regret it and he would go to the hospital. And they would keep him in for about 12 hours and then they would release him again.
And I remember storming up from Adelaide to Sydney, which I always seem to be doing, and having this big row with the doctor in charge, the psychiatrist in charge, and saying ‘How dare you let him out. Surely you must see you must keep him in now for longer.’ And he said, ‘But do you know your son is a drug addict.’ And I said, ‘Look this is irrelevant. Yes, I know he takes drugs, but this ... this is the very thing I'm talking about.’ And he said, ‘And do you know also that he has many, many, prostitutes he looks after?’ And I said, ‘This is also irrelevant.’ And the point was that Jonathan had this fantasy that he was a black belt in judo and that he looked after 40 prostitutes, and he took care of them, and that if he ... it was part of his fantasy, part of his thought disorder. And this doctor had taken him seriously, and even if he had had 40 prostitutes and he was a drug addict, he still needed care. And this was a constant kind of argument, that it was a punitive attitude you found in some areas, when people had a dual diagnosis, and were too difficult.
What did he do for money?
What did he do for money? He ... he had social security. And when he was at the Talbot they used to give him his money but try and, I think, meter it out gradually. Um ... he used to eat a lot at the Talbot and people looked after Jonathan. I found people would give him cigarettes on the street and ... if you gave Jonathan anything like ... he loved music. And if you gave him then a transistor radio he would give it away. He was ... he looked after people actually. Jonathan had a small flock of people always with him at the Talbot that he looked after in turn. So he kind of didn't need money. He managed with little bits of money here and there.
Did you see a lot of him?
I saw quite a lot of him in Sydney because I would come up to Sydney and I was working in Sydney. And then I came to live in Sydney and then ultimately Joshua ... the kids, the other two children, gradually came back to Sydney in time. And he used to come home to me in Sydney when I was working at the film school. He would crash in at odd hours and at odd times, and he'd stay the night some times. Quite often he'd have a meal and then he'd go off again ... [interruption] ...
Could you see that he was getting worse?
Yes. Um ... I think that was obvious. I could see that in a way the actual madness was burning itself out. He had no more energies, the kind of psychic energy had gone ... but physically he was also deteriorating quite rapidly. And I know that at the Talbot, Ian Webster, who's a professor and started [one of] the first schools of community medicine in Australia, and who has always worked for half a day or more at the Talbot, was one of the people who was constantly engaged with Jonathan's care and trying to get him hospitalised for longer periods, and trying to get him looked after. And being well aware of the distressing physical debilitation that was going on. So I could see this happening. And I remember we had so many attempts to try and save Jonathan, that I remember going to Kings Cross Community Health Centre and talking to two of the social workers there to see if there wasn't, yet again, something we could do.
At one stage I had taken him to India where there was a clinic there, and that hadn't worked. And in this case we had found somewhere in the country, where I thought I would take the time off work. I'd take two or three months off the film school and I'd go with Jonathan to the country, and maybe there I could help stabilise him. And he'd come home. It's the story of Jonathan's death.
[end of tape]