History - Oral Histories
Oral Histories of People at AMHI - David Bargmann
Interview with David Bargmann
[at AMHI for 6 or 7 years 1988-1995]
September 17, 2003
Interviewer: Karen Evans
Note: This interview was difficult to understand. There are several gaps in the dictation.
KE: I want to talk a little bit about your experiences at AMHI. I want to first note why did you ever go to AMHI? What caused you to go there?
DB: I couldn’t find housing. So they provided housing…I was there from 1988 to 1993…[Also, by the]…police department for observation…
KE: Okay, one time you went because you think it was housing, and the other time it was for observation with the police department?
DB: Yeah. I believe so.
KE: Can you talk to me about some of your remembrances at AMHI? What things do you think of when you think of AMHI?
DB: Well, I think about coffee and cigarettes…
KE: How many different times did you go up there? Do you remember?
DB: It was 1988 to 1994 or 5, so that would make it 7 years.
KE: 7 years, but you were only there one full time?
DB: No, no, no…I was…sentenced there in 1988 for 60 days…and I was biding by time there. I was going to psychiatric consulting, and I was on medication and I had my friends to support me.
KE: Now did you notice change over time while you were AMHI? Did it get better? Did it get worse?
DB: I think it was kind of better.
KE: You think over time it got better for you?
DB: I think so.
KE: What was the day in your life at AMHI like? What time did you get up? What kind of things did you do?
DB: Well, I got up early in the morning about 6 or 7. I would go have a cigarette. I would have coffee afternoon occasions…[I had] spending money. [I could buy coffee for 17 cents a cup.]
KE: Wow, only 17 cents! That’s a deal…When did you have breakfast, and did you do any activities before breakfast and lunch? What was the full day like?...
KE: Of people who were at AMHI, did you find anybody there that was especially positive, that you really liked? Was the staff especially nice or was a patient especially nice.
DB: Yes, I met – there was one woman. I don’t remember her name. She was very beautiful. She was kind to me. She showed me some respect so I showed respect back.
KE: Were there things that were negative while you were there?
DB: Oh, the quiet room.
KE: The quiet room. So what was the quiet room like? … Was that called the seclusion room also?
DB: Yes…You were closed in. You were watched through glass.
KE: Wow, that sounds terrible, David.
KE: Okay. Well we are not going to push you if you don’t want to remember it. Of all the people you met while you were up there for that 7 years, who helped you the most?
KE: You helped yourself the most? Well that’s a unique answer. I like that David. That’s good. So you were helping yourself. Good. What was the culture like at AMHI? I mean how did the patients relate to one and other and how did they relate to the staff?
DB: Well we were…mental patients…
KE: How did the staff relate to each other? Did they get along pretty good?
DB: Oh yeah.
KE: How did they relate to the patients? Did they treat you pretty good?
DB: Oh yeah.
KE: Well that’s good to know. What kind of treatment did you get while you were at AMHI? You mentioned something about med call, so you were on meds. Is that correct?
KE: Did you meet with a counselor or psychiatrist? Did you have any meetings like that?
DB: Once a week…
KE: Did you have a treatment plan that you worked on?
DB: Well, (inaudible.)
KE: So it was just maintenance—mainly maintaining?
KE: While you were at AMHI did your family or friends visit you?
DB: My mom came up once. She came up.
KE: Did any friends get to visit you while you there, or did you feel kind of isolated?
DB: No, no friends at AMHI…
KE: What happened to you when you left AMHI? How long ago was it that you left AMHI and what happened then?
KE: Did you come here to live?
KE: Was it in Augusta or in Portland?
KE: When did you move down here?
DB: …I’ve been here 7 years, so one, two, 2000, 99, 98, 97, 96—1996…
KE: How do you like your living arrangement here?
DB: I like it.
KE: They’re good to you, eh?
DB: Very much.
KE: Very good. Is there anything else you would like to say about AMHI before we go to the next series of questions?
KE: Now…we are going to talk about what your experiences and thoughts are today, so we are going to focus on the here and now. I am just wondering how you are doing now, David? How do you feel you are doing?
KE: What are you doing? What are you doing with your life? Do…you volunteer somewhere? Do you do work around here?
KE: Oh, do you do woodworking and carpentry here?
| DB: Yes.
KE: Oh that’s great. I would love to see something…before I leave if that’s okay. In what way are you connected to your family? Is your mother still around?
DB: No she passed away 2 or 3 years ago. My father passed away in 4 years ago. What was the other half of the question?
KE: In what way are you connected with your friends?
KE: So right here where you live is where your friends are? Have you ever felt discrimination or stigma because of your mental illness?
DB: …When I was at AMHI I felt it…
KE: What does the word recovery mean to you?
DB: Being able to cope so you don’t need medications.
KE: Has your spirituality played any role in your recovery, would you say?
DB: Yes. I would say remarkably…
KE: Now what do you think is your biggest challenge or obstacle in recovery?…What have been your hopes and goals since you left AMHI?
DB: I really never had any. I just made a smooth transition from the hospital…
KE: What did you do for work when you were younger? If you are on SSDI, it means you worked at some point?
DB: I was a second cook.
KE: You were a second cook…Okay, that’s great. What is your favorite dish to fix?
DB: Oh, steaks, I guess. Rack bone steak.
KE: As you know, we are replacing AMHI with a new hospital up there. It’s going to be called River View Psychiatric Center and seeing you were at the old AMHI, do you have any advice you would like to give the staff at the new psychiatric center?
DB: Just do your medication when it is absolutely minimally necessary for getting along and coping…day-to-day, week-to-week.
KE: What goals might you have for the hospital?
DB: I hope it is successful.
KE: Well, I’m going to thank you so much for this interview. I appreciate your thoughts.