Thursday, 31 January 2013

jumping through the hoops

I've just received a letter which requires me to jump through some hoops.  Well, I've done what was requested and also created some hoops of my own.  So there, to whoever might be reading and knows about the letter.

I won't go into detail at present and we'll see how things develop.  It should be interesting.  Above all I like when life's interesting for I really don't like to be bored.  Life's too short for that, especially now I'm approaching the twilight years.

Recently I've had a psychiatric professional recommend I take up making soup and home baking.  Well, I used to do this many years ago when my children were young.  I also knitted woolly jumpers and read romances.  Now I'm more into activism, campaigning and helping people to have a voice.  

And love stories with happy endings don't do it for me any more.  Not that I ever thought they were about real life or true.  It was purely escapism at the time, much like the soaps I watched or the Clayhanger trilogy by Arnold Bennett. on TV in 1976.  Interestingly I note that it had underlying tones of female emancipation.

I'm all for women's rights, being a woman.  Even more so now after a lifetime of witnessing the marginalisation of women in psychiatry under the guise of care and treatment.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

from psychiatric drug cocktails to psychosis to schizoaffective disorder

It's a no win situation trying to access crisis services when in mental distress.  If you don't look distressed enough they will send you away to "get some rest".  You might even try to organise a psychiatric assessment yourself but it's cancelled by the doctor who says you are well.

Then there is no option but to be taken into the locked unit under duress because the distress is mounting.  You still have insight, maybe too much of it because you are still remembering what made you distressed and it seems like nothing can be done about it.

So they start pumping you full of different psychiatric drugs - haloperidol injections, olanzapine, sodium valproate, procyclidine, lorazepam, zopiclone.  Eventually you go a bit doolally or psychotic, according to the clinical term.  And this proves that you have schizoaffective disorder, giving them a reason to keep the drug regime going and even increase it if necessary.  

The fact you have a spiritual faith also goes against you.  Delusions they call it, hallucinations, paranoia, resistance to the ward regime.  You are obviously mentally ill and have a brain disease.  In the outside world it would be seen as normal, believing in God, but here in the twilight zone there is no room for another dimension except that of the psychiatrist's making and in the notes.

All the signs are that you are obviously mentally ill and requiring more treatment, detention and lessons in obedience.  Only allowed to smoke/use mobile phones for 15mins in an hour, lining up with others to go out.  No time out until you are asking for the drugs all the time and then they know you are getting better.  And can be trusted.

You eventually become docile and unresisting, glad to have any and every drug that's given to you.  The staff are happy.  Your family might think that you have become a different person, quite unlike yourself, it's worrying, but what does their opinion matter?  They'll be blamed for it all anyway, in the notes.  

Poor parenting, mental illness runs in the family, difficult and demanding mother.  Even though you are 34, are married and have worked full-time for the last five years, earning a good wage and supporting your family.  It's always the family's fault, never the system's.  "I am right, you are wrong"  It's what they all say, the psychiatric professionals and their chums.

All conspiring to keep society under control while chaos forever lurks at every corner.  But as long as the mad people are locked up the rest of us are safe.  Aren't we?

problems with psychiatric system self regulation and second opinions

As long as we have self regulation of the psychiatric system then there will be human rights issues behind closed/locked doors.  It stands to reason.  Psychiatrists shouldn't be left to keep an eye on other psychiatrists.  This doesn't make sense.  It's too much responsibility that is open to abuse.

I'm also thinking about the situation when in a psychiatric ward, detained, and having to get a second opinion, by another psychiatrist.  I've not found this helpful.  In one case the other psychiatrist was worse than the original one.  Suggesting depot injections or new psychotropic drugs that haven't been trialled effectively.  Just as well that I was there to keep an eye on things.

And when I checked on this 'second opinion' psychiatrist I found out that he was on psychiatric drug committees in the area where he practised.  So a conflict of interests and even maybe personal gain financially?  We can't be too vigilant when it comes to psychiatric drugs.  They alter brain chemicals and can cause physical side effects and permanent disability if taken long term.  

Therefore for any watchdog organisation or independent overseer I think there have to be people from disciplines and backgrounds who aren't psychiatrists and preferably people in management positions with lived or personal experience of mental health issues.  Who are prepared to admit to this and not be ashamed.  Or be in fear of the stigma that goes with psychiatric diagnoses and labelling.

1978 was my first foray into the psychiatric system, as a patient in Hartwoodhill Hospital, Lanarkshire, when I and was grabbed and jagged with anti-psychotics.  My prior experience of visiting my mother in a locked psychiatric ward in 1970 had prepared me for the experience.  I knew what I didn't want and this foreknowledge helped me resist the ECT. 

I also knew that I didn't want to be on the psychiatric drugs, at that time chlorpromazine, for any longer than a year.  And so I worked towards coming off the psych drugs in that timescale.  It wasn't easy for the drugs took away my decision making abilities but I had my sons to look after so I managed it.  And did the same after a similar postnatal episode in 1984.

My 2002 menopausal episode took longer than a year, to get off the drugs, because of the cocktail, of anti-psychotic, anti-depressant and (so-called) mood stabiliser - risperidone, venlafaxine and lithium.  All combining to take away my personhood and personality.  But eventually I got up out of the slough of despond and got back on with my life.  The drugs didn't work for me and I don't want any more of them so have written this in my advance statement.

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Just wrote this on my facebook about stigma:

"stigma is the labelling people as 'mentally ill' and therefore having lifelong mental illness - stigma is so-called medical notes that have so-called diagnoses like schizophrenic and schizoaffective disorder and anything disorder for the term 'disorder' is a reason and excuse for compulsory/forced treatment"

"so in my opinion organisations that say they challenge stigma should be entering the gates of psychiatric institutions and challenging these stigmatising labels and the use of force"

"it's not enough to be saying 'see me I'm a person" we need something far stronger to tackle the real stigma that is in psychiatry which insists they are right and we are wrong - so there! and I will not stop talking about it whatever label they stick in my notes because I don't believe it!!"

I do get so fed up with everyone patting each other on the back and saying we have challenged stigma when in fact they have done nothing of the kind.  To let force in psychiatric treatment continue and stigmatising psychiatric labels remain indelibly then it is just more reinforcing of stigma.  For you haven't really tackled the root of the problem which is that psychiatry isn't a science but a means of social control.

I've got to say it.  Can't keep quiet.  The system just won't tolerate those of us who tell it how it is and speak out about injustice.  For if they had to admit the years of misleading patients and drugging people senseless then their credibility might be at risk.  I'll say it quietly then.  They haven't got it right which means they've got it wrong.  

There's no such thing as mental illness or biomedical model.  It's a body and mind thing, to do with physical stuff and traumatic circumstances.  Something which can happen to anyone, not just 1 in 4 or 1 in 3.  It could be you or me, depending on what life throws at us or where we're born or if we're poor while others beside us are rich.  

You know the sort of thing.  Nothing to do with brain chemicals until they force feed us psychiatric drugs and then do brain scans to prove it.  It's a no win situation if entering the psychiatric system.  Unless you fake it, take the pills and agree with them, go about looking like you're conforming, smile vacantly, get your peer support from other patients who know the ropes.  Do what you can to survive.

And wait for your chance to escape the tyranny of a system gone wrong since the asylum days of refuge.  When it still was a lottery before the postcode era.  Some things never change.  Take it all with a pinch of salt, the bad mouthing and fairy tale note writing.  For who reads it anyway until the next time, and there might not be a next time.  Who knows?  In the land of make believe.


new blog intro

Starting this new blog as a main writing tool in my work as an activist and campaigner in mental health matters.  So it will include topics mainly mental health but also about local happenings where I live near Cupar in Fife and developments at the local psychiatric hospital Stratheden. 

I will archive the other blogs from this date and put links at the side.  They all say something about what was going on at that moment in time, a diary and useful (for me anyway) means of being heard and hopefully having an influence.  But who knows?

The main thing for me is to have an outlet for my thoughts and feelings, to express what I might see as unfair or discriminatory or stigmatising.  I hope it will be informative and a way of sharing stuffMaybe ringing some bells for other folk.  There's nothing worse I think than speaking out about issues and not being heard.