Linda was born on 28 December 1918 at Ariah Park in NSW. She was the third daughter of Emily and William Pratt.
Linda was educated at San Souci Primary School and later at Crown Street Girl’s School.
After leaving school, Linda worked in a variety of jobs including a position as a stock clerk with David Jones.
On 4th April 1942, Linda married Raymond Percy Bean. After the birth of her three children, Linda trained as a nursing sister at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital and also at the Rachel Forster Hospital at Redfern. In 1967, Linda took on post graduate training at the St George District Hospital at Kogarah, where she obtained her Geriatric Nursing Certificate, after which she spent six years in District Nursing.
When Linda divorced, she became involved in a series of staff nursing appointments, with the British Motor Company, David Jones production Unit and with Pye Industries where she looked after the health of some 1,000 workers.
In her more senior years, Linda displayed characteristics of paranoia which had the affect of alienating family members, friends and associates. This caused her to become increasingly isolated and withdrawn. She spent her last years in the Presbyterian Aged Care facilities at Paddington and Ashfield.
Linda’s family was not aware until recent years that she was suffering from mental illness including schizophrenia. They felt regret that if they had known earlier about her condition, they may have been prompted to find better health care for her. Lind’s experience shows that there needs to be a better understanding of mental illness in the wider community and how it can affect families and carers. Also there needs to be improved communication between health professionals and close family members when a loved one is suffering from mental illness.
Prior to her battle with mental illness, Linda was very caring towards her family and to those whom she nursed in the wider community. She was artistic and had a great love of art, music and politics. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Why is my eulogy so dry and lacking in warmth and family memories? It is because no one, even me, remembers my life. I have seen very few of my children and their children over the last 30 years. Every now and then one of them comes in to visit me, but they never do so because they want to they do so because they think the should.
I have done some amazing things. The things that are in my eulogy I did do. I worked with all of those people and I used to help so many people but eventually I was the one who needed the help and I never even knew it.
It started with the voices. Whispers at first and gradually growing louder until they were a clamour that I could not ignore. I tried to follow their warnings to make people aware of what the voices told me so that they knew, but nobody listened.
I told my kids which of their children would die young. None of them wanted to hear it and eventually they all just went away and left me. They didn’t want to know. So I never even knew if the voices were right.
Each year I would send packages to my kids. I didn’t bother sending things to the children that were going to die. What was the point of that? But I sent lollies and I knitted things for the other children. I wanted them to have something from me for Christmas. I sent letters too, I tried to tell my children what the voices were saying but I never got an answer and the voices kept on getting louder.
Finally I stopped. I had not heard from my family for years. They never came to see me and they never wrote back. Plus I had other things to do. I was working for the Queen. I never met her all my work was done through the voices. They would tell me what I had to do. It was amazing how they knew where I would be and what I needed to do but they were always able to tell me.
For years I worked for the Queen. I gave her the best years of my life. I worked for her and did everything the voices told me. I never got thanked, why did I never get a thank you? Nothing in mail and I had long ago given up even having a phone.
My life was going on happily. I had all the equipment that I needed for my covert operations all around my house. Things were hidden everywhere. I didn’t notice the smell. I don’t know why people complained. Why did they say my house smelled?
One day the giant teeth broke into my apartment. They took me away to a hospital. There they told me that I had schizophrenia. What is schizophrenia? I have been a nurse for years but I know nothing about this disease. I was a nurse right up until I started working for the Queen but have never heard of this disease.
They tell me it is a disease of the mind. So they drug me and stick me in a small room where they tell me that the voices are all in my head and that everything they say is a lie. I lay here on a bed in a room by myself hardly able to see, unable to get up without help and my memories, and now they tell me those are a lie. So what do I have left? Why did they give me these drugs why do they want me to live my last years in a prison of four walls having been told that years of my life are a lie?
Some of my family come and see me but not many. They don’t want to see me because they are worried that the voices will start telling me which of their children will die again and they don’t want to listen. So every now and then one or other person comes to see me. They used to come every couple of months, then once a year and now it is just now and then.
I have great grandchildren now. I don’t know how many but I have seen at least two. I have been in this room or one like it for year after year. Every now and then they change the room or I have a fall when being helped to a chair that I cannot see and so I go into hospital. I know that my life is a lie that I can only remember some of what my life really was. But I don’t know which part is the lie. How do I tell, how do I know?
So I sit in my room waiting to die. Unsure of what in my life is real and unsure of what is not. The only thing I know for sure is that when I die instead of grieving my family will feel only relief and guilt. They will feel relief that I am dead and that they no longer need to come and see me when they don’t want to. Guilt because they didn’t come and see me much and when they did they scurried away, from the mad woman who didn’t know what was real and what was not, as fast as they could. They will also feel guilt because they think they should have done something earlier or something more once they new. But really what could they have done, they didn’t know what schizophrenia was any more than I did.
So once again we come to my eulogy. It is dry it holds the bare bones that one family member has managed to dig up by asking others. They tried to ask me but all I could remember were the voices. So now that is all I am remembered for. I know I did other things but no one knows enough about them to write more. Even before I die I am dead, the real me does not live in anyone’s memory. There was a real me she was alive and vital but when the voices came she died. That dead me is the only me that anyone now remembers.