Mathari Hospital (Part 2)

Maximum. So named because it’s where people who are under some armed protection are admitted. (Now is probably a good time to say that there are security guards everywhere. I can’t quite tell if it’s a factor of the psychiatric services on site or if I’m just sensitive to it.) There were APs and prison guards; making for a strange environment.

The lab and x-ray services are in a basement area that looks pretty run-down. There’s an abandoned feel to it, haunted even. Probably apt in the days after Halloween.

The tests took a while to be done and there was a strange moment as the most senior person censured the lab technicians for not following procedure (ensure payment before conducting a test, in this case). Once they were done, though, I was able to carry them back to the doctor.

Some context: I’m generally good at reporting my symptoms and I had told the GP I may have anaemia (the fatigue I had been experiencing was a factor) or I may be clinically depressed (ditto). She sent me to the lab to rule out anaemia &, because I am a woman, pregnancy, before we moved to step two.

When I got back, I gave another GP my results & repeated the things I had said before then I was sent to the psychiatry clinic. The GP gave a nurse my file, the nurse sat me down and asked me in Kikuyu who I had come with. “A friend” I said in English, “my mother” I corrected myself.

She went outside, called my mother aside and told her she needed to speak to her. “She’s been told to go to the other side for this,” she said in Kikuyu, pointing at the word ‘psychiatry’ as she said ‘this’. My mum, being who she is, read the word out loudly to force it out of her. The nurse was mum; we were now firmly on the silence track, the valley of the shadow of the unspeakable thing.

Next up: the psychiatric clinic

Note: This post is part of #CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at

Questions, comments, suggestions or thoughts on mental health? Send them to 🙂


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