尘封的病例 我与母亲的隔世相遇

2019年10月29日 英语美文 暂无评论



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My mother was a woman hollowed out like a tree struck by lightning. I wanted to know why.
Ever since her first suicide attempt, in 1978, when I was 22, I had been trying to fill in gaps. She was gone much of the time in my early childhood, and when she returned nobody spoke about the absence.


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I learned much later that she had suffered acute depression after my younger sister’s birth in 1957. She was in hospitals and sanitariums being shot full of insulin — a treatment then in vogue for severe mental disorder — and electricity. The resulting spasms, seizures, convulsions and comas were supposed to jar her from her “puerperal psychosis,” the term then used in England for postpartum depression.
In 1958, my mother was admitted to the Holloway Sanatorium, the sprawling Victorian Gothic fantasy of a 19th-century tycoon, Thomas Holloway, who amassed a fortune through the sale of dubious medicinal concoctions. The sanitarium, opened in 1885, was a great heap of gabled redbrick buildings, topped by a tower rising 145 feet into the damp air of Surrey.
1958年,我的母亲住进了霍洛威疗养院(Holloway Sanatorium),那是一座庞大的建筑,是19世纪大亨托马斯·霍洛威(Thomas Holloway)的维多利亚哥特式幻想,此人通过出售可疑的药用配剂积累了财富。这家疗养院于1885年开业,它由很多三角墙红砖建筑组成,还有一个145英尺高的尖顶,耸立在萨里郡潮湿的空气中。
Run initially as a private institution, the Holloway Sanatorium became a mental hospital within Britain’s National Health Service after World War II. It was not closed until 1981. Many of its records and casebooks were burned. The gutted building became a setting for horror movies. Directors could not believe their luck. It is now a gated community of luxury homes.
霍洛威疗养院最初是一家民营机构,第二次世界大战后成为英国国民健康服务(National Health Service)系统中的精神病院,一直到1981年才停业。它的很多记录和病例资料都被烧毁。后来这栋内部被掏空的建筑物成为了拍恐怖片的地方。导演们简直不敢相信自己如此好运。现在,它则成为了一个封闭的豪宅社区。
Some records were preserved at the Surrey History Center. In the faint hope that a trace remained of my mother, I wrote to inquire. My parents had never spoken in any detail of her first depression. A letter came back a few weeks later. References to June Bernice Cohen had been located in the admissions register and in ward reports from July 1958.
该疗养院的有些记录保存在萨里历史中心(Surrey History Center)。我觉得母亲当年的资料可能还留有片纸只言,于是怀着微弱的希望,给他们写去了询问信。我父母从来没有谈到她第一次抑郁症发作时的任何细节。几个星期后,我收到了回信。他们在1958年7月之后的一些入院注册和病房报告中,找到了吉恩·伯尼斯·科恩(June Bernice Cohen)的名字。
These showed that “she was patient number 9413, was admitted on 25th July 1958 and discharged on 12th September 1958.” The ward reports for most of August and September had vanished. I applied under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act to see the records.
这些资料显示,“她的患者编号是9413,1958年7月25日入院,1958年9月12日出院。8月和9月的病房报告大部分已经散失。我以英国的《信息自由法》(Freedom of Information Act)为依据,要求查看这些资料。
My re-encounter with my mother involved painstaking negotiation with an archivist. At last I was presented with the weighty register for female patients. Entries are written with fountain pen in cursive script. In columns across the page my mother is identified. “Name: June Bernice COHEN. Ref Number: 9413. Age: 29. Marital Status: Married. Religion: JEW.”
I stared at her age — so young — and at the capitalized entry under religion: “JEW.” The noun form has a weight the adjective, Jewish, lacks. It seems loaded with a monosyllabic distaste, which was redoubled by the strange use of the uppercase. June was not religious. She is the youngest on the page. She is also the only non-Christian.
The first ward notes on my mother read, “History of depression in varying degrees since birth of second child, now fourteen months old. Husband is engaged in medical research. Patient has some private psychotherapy and also modified insulin treatment at St. Mary’s last month, being discharged July 8th. On admission she was depressed, tearful and withdrawn.”
我母亲的第一条病房记录中写着,“自从生下第二个孩子,就患有不同程度的抑郁症,现在已有14个月。丈夫从事医学研究。患者接受过一些私人心理治疗,上个月在圣玛丽医院(St. Mary’s)接受过改良的胰岛素治疗,于7月8日出院。入院时,她情绪沮丧、流泪、沉默不语。”
The doctor examining my mother was struck by how “her tension increased remarkably on mention of latest child.” I ran my fingers over the page and paused at “JEW.” I wanted to take a soothing poultice to her face.
On July 28, 1958, my mother was visited by a Dr. Storey. He “confirms diagnosis of post-puerperal depression and advises Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), which patient and husband are now willing to accept.”
1958年7月28日,一位斯托雷医生(Dr. Storey)对我母亲进行了诊断。他“确认了产后抑郁症的诊断,建议采取电痉挛疗法(ECT),患者和她的丈夫都表示接受”。
She first underwent electroshock treatment on July 30, 1958. I see my slight young mother with metal plates on either side of her head, flattening her dark curls, her heart racing as her skull is enclosed in a high-voltage carapace. I can almost taste the material wedged in her over-salivating mouth for her to bite on as the current passes.
The treatment was repeated a second time, on Aug. 1, 1958. That was one day before my third birthday. So, at last, that is where she was.
I now have some facts to anchor memory, fragments to fill absence. My mother, who recovered sufficiently to be stable, if fragile, for about 15 years through my childhood and adolescence, would suffer from manic depression, or bipolar disorder, through the latter third of her life. She died in 1999 at the age of 69. The ravages of this condition I observed; the onset of her mental instability I only felt.
The hidden hurts most. Mental illness is still too clouded in taboo. It took me a long time to find where my mother disappeared to. Knowledge in itself resolves nothing, but it helps.
Acceptance — it comes down to that. This is how I came to this point, and to this place, by this looping road, from such anguish, and I am still alive and full of hope.