This morning I had to chase up some money again so that I wouldn't be out of pocket for too long, after doing a task as an "expert by experience" in mental health matters. The reality in Scotland for anyone trying to be "meaningfully involved" in sharing stories of recovery, resilience and resistance. It just doesn't pay, in monetary terms.
There is a lack of joined-up working which has its root in government, in my opinion and from what I've witnessed. A top-down affair. Where the mental health division of civil servants write strategies and documents that are words on paper with limited resource to back them up. Commitments and HEAT targets which seem out of reach and unachievable, from the offset.
This is where Scottish Parliament government ministers should come in and get the civil servants telt. Hold them to account. For the sake of the public, the people who pay their wages. But they don't, in mental health. There is a slackness there and a neverending rope on which the tasks dangle, held loosely. Out of reach of the common people.
I got involved in Scotland's mental health world in January 2008 and it was only 6 months or so before finding myself out of step with the other protagonists. As usual I ran on ahead with tasks, setting up systems and achieving outcomes. (I was 55 and no spring chicken) There were attempts made to hold me back, to exclude me, to bring me into line. But I resisted. And so became the odd one out. The scapegoat.
Then I got involved in national groups from the psychiatric survivor perspective. A variety of settings, from crisis to clinical psychology to cross party groups at Scottish Parliament. Plus the national meant-to-be mental health service user led organisation VOX. But that engagement didn't last long before I was cast out into the nether regions. Told to Shut Up and Go to Bed.
Seven years later and here I am still. Been there, done that, served my apprenticeship, now 62 and counting. Excluded by many, bullied and intimidated by quite a few. Family members targeted by psychiatry. It forced me into writing so as to have a voice and not be silenced. So be it.
Filmed by social reporter Rosie at the Stronger Voice event in the Discovery Point, Dundee, on 9 October 2014:
My blog post: Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition Goes Before Parliament Committee a Third Time 23 January 2015.
Hole Ousia blog post by Dr Peter J Gordon: A Sunshine Act for Scotland 29 January 2015.
First wee 57s film by me, unedited, capturing the moment on my new Canon EOS, at Broughty Castle, by Dundee, on 27 January 2015. Didn't take a mic so some background wind noise. I had planned to spectate at Scottish Parliament that day in the Robert Burns Room to hear the Sunshine Act Petition being discussed but instead headed north to spend time with my son Angus: