The thirty-five-year old ?Pharaoh,? as he prefers to be called, slams a Bulgarian coin on his forehead as he says, ?Money controls everything. Money is why I am here. Money is why I will never get out. We have no voice here; only money speaks.?
He entered an out-of-town mental hospital after getting violent in jail, where he served time for stealing. He lost 20 kilograms because of the decrepit conditions in the hospital. ?I just stopped eating. I mean, you could see the snot floating around in the soup. The food is better at this hospital, but nothing else is an improvement.?
He sought accountability for its crumbling walls, defunct plumbing, lack of basic amenities and insect infestation, and said he sometimes expressed it violently: "You know, I used to chase around nurses with pieces of broken glass just to try to slit their throats. I?m ok now because I have medication, but when I don?t, ooooh, I get so crazy!!"
This patient, like the others, can leave the hospital unescorted whenever he wishes.
The ward 's staff hopes (if it receives funding grants) to equip several of its rooms with heavy doors, locks and insulated walls that will be used to hold dangerous psychopaths. One of the European Union standards for mental hospitals will be the ability to house mentally unstable individuals with who could harm others and themselves. But paramedic T. T. said the salaries of hospital staff wouldn?t be enough to match the new educational and health standards outlined by the EU.
"How can we pay to live up to them when we have doctors and professors driving taxis at night so they can make ends meet?" he says. "There isn?t any structure in Bulgaria to help the mentally ill. What we really need is a strong Social Service system."