Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Powerful Bricks.

Anxiety is something that comes and goes with me. It is a rare thing but annoying when it visits. I am lucky that I am able to acknowledge it at the time and attempt to reason with myself or at the very least remind myself that it wont last.

My anxiety usually comes when I am driving. There have been rare times I have had to pull over just to get myself back together again.

I don't expect anyone to understand this, I certainly didn't when it first started happening.

It started after Lochie died.

We lived on the North West corner of the city. The best, quickest way to get home was to drive past the Royal Children's Hospital. I realised that I just couldn't drive past anymore so I went a different way, every single day. Of course I never mentioned this to anyone else, thinking that would look at me oddly, seriously it is just a building.

A taxi drove me home one night, I was on my phone and before I knew it we were cruising past the hospital. I talked myself through the chest pain as we drove past.

Weeks later it happened again and then again. Anxiety visited but left quickly.

A year later I had to take Popps into the children's a number of times for check ups. I had no choice, I had to deal with the anxiety.

Here we are now, years down the track and I drive past the hospital so much that I never feel that anxious. I don't start to sweat and want to jump out of moving vehicles just to avoid driving past a building.

But I pulled over last week.

The Children's Hospital has been rebuilt and the old hospital is being pulled down. It will become a parkland beside the new hospital. A place for recreation, a green space in a big city.

I wasn't sure how I felt when I saw it. Was I glad to see the old bricks come down, was I sad? It certainly wasn't a building of beauty, it was an ugly 1960s yellow brick square and the inside was run down and like a rabbit warren of passageways and rooms.

A lot has occurred at the Royal Children's Hospital, lives lost and saved, families broken, lives changed.

It is now rubble and teams of people will work very hard to transform that area to be a place for others to enjoy.

It is only bricks.

It is only bricks, they are not doing anything. I used to repeat this over and over when anxiety started to visit when I drove past.

Are buildings more than just the materials that they were built with to you?

There is a wall on the new RCH page that people can add to, it isn't easy to use, so maybe contact them directly if you want to add your own message.


  1. i think buildings, streets, smells, colours EVERYTHING becomes ingrained in our memories for various reasons. Some good and some not good. I hope your anxiety eases because as you say this place is only bricks that are disappearing and with it some memories do fade a bit.

  2. That is a building I have been to on a few occasions so to me it means more than bricks. A new me was born in that place out of some pretty low moments - I am thankful it didn't rehash the anxiety I suffered in my early twenties and I'm so glad to hear yours is easing. I can't think of anything comparable to losing a child, what a gift that little boy gave.

  3. To me buildings are more than just the materials they were built with. But that's just me, not everyone.

    The RCH has some raw memories for me. I don't know how I feel about it going in all honesty.

  4. Oh yes, to me buildings can mean so much more than bricks & mortar. When we sold & moved out of our house earlier this year, I felt such sadness for leaving the place we brought our newborns home to. The house where so much growth & love happened. The place where 'firsts' were experienced. A building can hold so much meaning and so much history.
    Totally understandable about your anxiety towards the old hospital, and it being pulled down. Thankfully it is being replaced with a gorgeous green, peaceful space. A place where you can go to remember & cherish!
    Sending you lots of love xx

  5. I think a building is more than bricks and mortar. My family have spent a lot time in this building with our youngest child, Mr. T. For us this building has memories I would prefer to forget. But when I think about what was inside this building, what this building is about and what it means for so many families..... I'm not sure how I feel about it being demolished.....

  6. I totally understand your anxiety.... I get an odd sinking feeling when I pass the old Royal Women's Hospital... there is so many feelings tied up in that place for me, not all bad, not all good.

    So I totally think buildings are more than just bricks and mortar. I have memories of the RCH building too... so many check ups and appointments and ER visits... I don't think the fact that the building is gone will make much difference to those memories though... the place, the park... it will still remind me. Time eases these feelings but I don't think they ever go completely.

    Wonder what they are doing with the old RWH building... I must say I was kinda glad that my boys were born at the new one, I didn't even know where the NICU was there... but then I was born at the old one too...

  7. Firstly I'm very sorry about Lochie - I wasn't reading your blog yet when you wrote about him.

    Yes, I feel something for buildings too and they are not just bricks and mortar to me. My old primary school burned down some years back. The rest of the school is still there but this was the old building. The main building which I remember from my days there. Gone now but so clearly in mind that even though I know I won't see it again, every time I go past and don't see it where I expect it to be, my heart drops again as it did when I first heard.

    The Children's Hospital has a whole other level of poignancy though for many reasons. Another lady I know, this one from Chicago, was expressing similar thoughts recently when their old children's hospital was demolished. This was the hospital in which her daughter had been treated as a paediatric cancer patient. Her little girl had died at home but her life was short and so much of it was spent within those walls. She had such mixed feelings over the demolition for that reason.

    I'm hoping in your case that the new park may be a place of peace for you and others who have lost loved ones.

  8. I think that buildings, like sounds and smells have a way of working themselves into our living memory, informing our reactions and shaping our responses. That particular building isn't meaningful for us, thankfully not having spent much time there, but the corridors of other hospitals and other buildings haunt me. I still can't walk into our Paed's office without a shiver, or drive past the hospital where Nan died without catching my breath.

    Hopefully the park will bring a peace to families who spent life changing moments there - good or bad.


Commenting brings amazing luck, you must try it and see how you go!