I wanted to write a short blog post about the freedom I have in my home country of Scotland to speak out against psychiatry and at the same time to work with and alongside psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, other mental health professionals and people with lived experience of psychiatric labels/diagnoses. I appreciate the room for negotiation and for differences of opinion despite the times it has felt like badmouthing and backstabbing. But I have given as good as I’ve got, it has to be said. I bear no grudges even if others do, although I may have some sore points. That’s life.
In 1980 I began my “career” in community development, where empowerment and lifelong learning were underpinning philosophies although I didn’t know the theory and background of it until achieving a postgraduate qualification in community education in 1998 at 46 years old. I just lived it in an ex-mining village in South Lanarkshire all through the 80′s where the mothers like myself set up playgroups and youth clubs for our children and neighbours.
|me with oldest son on isle of Gigha c1980|
After my 2nd puerperal psychosis in 1984 and a year of chlorpromazine, with 3 young sons needing my support, I had to break free from the mental health world and get back on with my normal life. I was able to do this because the way was open, the coast was clear, and it just required me to believe in myself and to lay hold again of my skills, resilience and community support, of family, friends and wider networks. There’s no doubt it was harder for me in 2002 because of the drug cocktails. But yet again eventually my community supports and inbuilt resilience got me out of the slough of despond and back into the fray. I was fortunate. The drugs did not hold me or tie me down forever. I couldn’t let them have the power to do so.
I’m now working in partnership with a Scottish psychiatrist in challenging the power of the drug companies, the hard sell of big pharma to psychiatry in their “educational” events and their freebies, consultancy posts and other tempting offers to doctors.
@PeterDLROW good idea. Sometimes psychiatrists are also activists. It's the brave ones who reveal their true identities. Baring all.
— Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) May 15, 2014
I’ve started pharma blogs on Blogger and WordPress. There is a Sunshine Act petition being considered by Scottish Parliament. The government has been seeking transparency from health boards in the relationships between their staff and pharmaceutical companies. The Scottish Medicines Consortium is now holding their meetings in public.
I want to see the Scottish Mental Health Act implemented properly and monitored effectively. Respect for Carers has to mean just that. Protecting the rights of psychiatric patients has to become a reality. It’s why I speak out in Scotland and can do so without fear or favour.