Sunday, 28 July 2013

user led mental health groups promoting big pharma - a big no! no!

This week I received an E-bulletin from a user led mental health group in Scotland that promoted the work of two big pharma companies F Hoffman-La Roche (operating income £10billion) and GlaxoSmithKlein (operating income £7billion). 

I shouldn't be surprised.  It's been one thing after another with this group, funded by government.  

Ignorance is no excuse when it's about drug companies who make fortunes out of psychiatric drugs that can be forced into mental patients and cause long term chronicity. 

A mental health user group that is just another arm of the government does nothing for the cause of mental health service users and survivors of psychiatry.  My plea to them is get wise and stop colluding with the powers that be. 

Scotland needs to hear the critical voices of mental health service users and survivors of psychiatry.  Big pharma gets enough press and money.  Don't be dancing to their tune.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

is madness catching?

Is that what it's all about?  The psychiatric labelling of families down through the generations.  Mothers being shocked and drugged because they feel pain and their children after them.  A bit like chickenpox but going much deeper, into the psyche and out through the psychiatric system.  

Changed into a reformed character, remodelled and re-engineered.  Biologically flawed, according to the experts by education.  Separated and segregated.  Siphoned off by means of medication, expected to lie down and take it.  Conform and co-operate.  Believe and be silent.

It's for your own good.  Your brain is affected.  It's genetic.  Biological.  Inherited.  You can't help it.  Don't resist.  We will care for you and make your decisions.  Just lie back.  Relax.  Don't think.  It's for the best.  You'll get used to it.

Is madness catching?  How far has it spread.  Into psychiatry, government and mental health leadership.  Fairy tales of biomodelling meddlers.  Barking up the wrong tree.  Paradox and topsy turvy land.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Psychiatric Drugs and Mind Control

I don't believe in the biomedical model of mental illness.  It never made sense to me and seemed to be a red herring or diversionary tactic, along with the brain chemical treatment of psychiatric drugs.  In 1970 when I first believed this, upon seeing my mother locked in a psychiatric ward with other mad women, I didn't think that I would ever have to engage with psychiatry as a mental patient.  The optimism of youth.  I thought that my levelheadedness and natural resilience would keep me sane in a mad, mad world.

To some extent I was right to think this but I hadn't counted on the spiritual effects of childbirth and menopause, transitions for a woman that can produce mind-altering states.  Giving birth to another human being is a transformative experience and life for me was never the same after.  In a positive way.  However, the pain I experienced after sons two and three, due to chemical induction, and having to deliver on the day shift, was traumatic and caused me to be spiritually and mindfully affected.

Thirteen weeks after the birth of my second son and a couple of days after the birth of my third I was experiencing an alternative universe of sensitivity to the world about me.  I remember psychiatrists coming to my house the first time, in 1978, speaking to me, trying to engage with me when I was in this state.  There was a reluctance to admit me to a psychiatric ward.  But no other alternatives were available and so I voluntarily went in to "get better", separated from my baby and older son.

And so began the psychiatric drugging and mind control, topped up by ECT which was still in its heyday then.  I resisted all of it as I didn't want to be taking pills from strangers and I knew that ECT was dodgy.  Having a psychosis didn't mean that I had lost my sense of what was right and wrong.  A psychiatric ward then as now is no place for a person in their right mind, even if that mind is too sensitive, and I was forcibly drugged until taking the chlorpromazine in liquid then pill form, fortunately managing to avoid the ECT.  The psych drugs have always quickly brought me out of a psychosis.

But the psych drugs have also dulled my mind and creative functioning, taking away my imaginative capabilities and dreaming potential.  Mind control if you like.  Subjecting me to a grey universe of conformity and compliance.  Making life very difficult and hardly worth the living.  I don't like to be controlled by anyone or anything.  To be free in mind and will is the essence of life as I see it.  So in the midst of the psychiatric drugging I was planning my escape.  One year on the drugs and no more was how I saw it.  And worked towards it in 1978 and 1984, succeeding and leaving psychiatry behind.

The 2002 mind control episode was harder, took longer, but I eventually got out from under the mind fog, made a plan, got involved in lots of voluntary work in mental health and charity shop work.  Dragging myself out of a morning, psychiatric drug induced lethargy, to do stuff while going through menopausal hot flushes and indecisive thought processes.  Gradually it got easier although sometimes lying longer in bed and missing appointments.

I started tapering the anti-depressant, a maximum dose of venlafaxine, informing the psychiatrist, and I felt better as I reduced it.  This left lithium at 800mgs a day to deal with.  It was around 2004 and I googled the internet about coming off lithium, couldn't find anything so decided to taper it by 200mgs a month.  I informed the psychiatrist, who said I should be on it for life as I had a lifelong mental illness.  I told him I didn't believe it.  He talked about the DSM and the chart of diagnoses.  I said I didn't believe it.  I'd never been on a community treatment order so they couldn't force me to stay on the drugs.  Fortunately.  I was only ever on a detention, of 72 hours, in 2002 after going in to the psychiatric hospital voluntarily then being detained when I wanted to leave. In 78 and 84 it seemed they could forcibly treat, as in grab and jag, without detaining.

The psychiatric drugs were mind altering chemicals in my experience, taking away my personality and free thinking spirit.  Although they made me conform at the time that doesn't mean I believed in the need for forced treatment or chemicals going into my body.  Being forced to submit makes me even more determined to resist and oppose the system that does this.  Some people might say they are fine about being forced.  Well that's OK for them but please don't expect me to go along with it.  I didn't like being forced and I didn't deserve it.  Whatever psychiatric label they pin on me and write in my notes.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

hearing voices

I am always hearing voices as a mental health activist and campaigner. Critical voices of people who aren't being heard elsewhere.  Voices of people close to me who are struggling with personal issues or difficult life circumstances.  Voices of psychiatric nurses in medical notes calling me a "difficult and demanding" mother.  Social workers in adult protection investigations, that I instigated in the first place when my son was secluded, restrained and forcibly treated, accusing me of "psychological harm".  

I hear my own voice being silenced when speaking out about human rights abuse in psychiatric settings.  Because people, mostly professionals, don't really want to hear about painful situations, negative experiences, bad practice and broken bones. They'd prefer we swallow the psychiatric drugs.  Be compliant.  Believe the evidence based treatment and SEMI (severe and enduring mental illness) label.  The two tier recovery agenda that means lifelong mental illness prognoses, psychiatric labelling and drugging, for some of us while others of us manage to escape by not believing a word of it.
my mum and me 1953

I remember my mother in the 1960's saying that, when she was in the local mental hospital after periodic nervous breakdowns and getting forced treatment, they kept asking her if she heard voices.  She said no she didn't.  But they gave her a schizophrenia label anyway.  It was a mystery to her I think.  Firstly, she didn't understand what they meant by the term 'hearing voices'.  When she was becoming "mentally unwell", it took the form of not sleeping, writing poetry, thinking about various things that she wouldn't usually bother about.  For example the block of flats we lived in was built on the grounds of an old cemetery.  So people's graves were under our feet.

My mother was extra sensitive at these times and pondered all the big questions of life.  Speaking and writing she didn't sleep.  When I was 15 or so, in 1967, she was in this state of mind and my father was very anxious about what to do.  He himself had been forcibly detained in the mental hospital only the once in 1963, following a period of stress due to work pressures.  He was a writer with the Daily Express in London, in the 50's and 60's, travelling back and forward from our home town of Perth in Scotland, sending his sci-fi scripts of Jeff Hawke by courier at other times.

Because my father knew what the mental hospital was like from personal experience he didn't want to send my mother there again.  He was torn, knowing that she would get more ECT and drugs against her will.  But there were no other options available then for people who were experiencing emotional crisis, mental distress or extra sensitivity to the world round about.  So he asked me what we should do.  I said that my mother would have to go to hospital because she wasn't well.  And so the decision was made.  

My family have all experienced altered states of mind or psychoses.  It's normal for us and we don't need to take recreational drugs to experience them.  So we've all been asked if we hear voices and we've all responded, no.  And got the schizophrenia labels anyway or schizoaffective disorder or, if we're lucky, bipolar disorder.  Although we don't hear voices we do have an inner monologue, our own voice in our minds, speaking to ourselves, debating, considering, making decisions, reflecting, laughing, creating, enjoying.  But when I was made to take the psychiatric drugs my own voice, the inner monologue, was silenced or quietened, depending on the amounts of drug given. 

Within about 48 hours of being forcibly injected with chlorpromazine, in 1978 and 1984, I came out of the psychosis, back down to earth with a bump.  Depressed and subdued, beginning to obey the regime of the psychiatric ward, I was given liquid largactyl (chlorpromazine) then pills when they were sure I wasn't going to tongue them.  In 2002 after the menopausal psychosis I was forcibly detained after voluntarily entering a psychiatric ward, took the risperidone under pressure, knowing that I had no other option.  I was discharged after a week, suitably chastened with my inner voice quietened.

But I don't like having a silent or dull inner voice, it depresses me and also means I can't remember how to do the usual tasks in life which depend on my decision making abilities, reflections, considerations.  It took a lot of the enjoyment out of my life.  My sense of humour had disappeared.  My singing voice had also been silenced for I often go about singing, it's what I do.  The psychiatrist at appointments would repeatedly ask me "Are you tearful?" and I would answer back "No, I'm flat", wishing that I could have a good cry or laugh.  He seemed to be fine about my being flat.  Well I wasn't fine about it and had to do something about it.  Which meant taking back control of my own mental health, tapering the drugs and recovering.  And so I did.

I'd like to see alternative ways of working with people who are in altered states of mind or psychoses, emotional crises or mental distress.  Call it what you will.  It can happen to anyone and is no respecter of persons.  I don't want to be forcibly injected or made to swallow psychiatric drugs if I don't want to.  Or to be locked up in psychiatric wards with other mad people.  It doesn't make me feel better.  Taking away my voice or silencing it is an oppressive action, to my mind.  My voice has served me well over the years, keeping me safe, informing my actions, helping me to be a good mother and responsible citizen.  It makes sense, I think, to work with people's voices and help them to find equilibrium and peace of mind.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

seeing the funny side of things

[a less serious blog post]

I enjoy having a good laugh in everyday situations , it's very useful in the world of mental health activism and campaigning.  Being able to see the funny side of things.

That's one of the reasons I disliked having to swallow anti-psychotic drugs.  They made me flat, took away my sense of humour.  I used to try and make of joke out of it, saying to my family that it was like the film 'I Walked with a Zombie'.  Although it didn't feel funny at the time.

A number of situations recently have caused me to laugh uproariously on occasion and titter the rest of the time.  Who needs artificial stimulants when real life can appear so funny?  It's where stand-up comics must get most of their material.  The older I get the more it seems like folk believe their own press, as the saying goes. 

"Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear & shall not understand, & another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware both of that more & of the outsiders' incomprehension."  Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 1926

Speaking on the phone this morning to a friend we were discussing with irony a recurring situation which if we didn't the funny side of it would be very annoying.  It was about a couple who are members of a group and stick their noses into everyone's business without fear or favour.  Unaware of effect or consequences they go merrily on, sometimes leaving chaos in their wake.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

why do anti-stigma organisations reinforce stigma?

I am of the mind that anti-stigma organisations in the mental health world are not in the business of trying to eradicate stigma and discrimination but are more about keeping the status quo, not rocking the boat but making sure that the mad people in society are still kept under control.  

Their campaigns seem wishy-washy, woolly attempts at getting to grips with the real issues of stigma that exist in psychiatry where labels masquerade as diagnoses and lifelong mental illness prognoses are given to people with whom psychiatry doesn't know how to engage or work with appropriately.  Anti-stigma campaigns directed at society will be never ending because the root of the discrimination begins at the point of contact, when a person enters the psychiatric system.

A balancing act costing a million a year with the illusion of making a difference when in fact the same old stigma and discrimination continues.  Psychoses become schizophrenias and the lucky ones escape with bipolar although disorder is still the name of the game.

The wise among us learn to disappear back into society after episodes of madness, leaving our labels in the psychiatric system.  Others struggle to break free and have no option but to take out membership of the clinical club although in private are non-believers, rebels and dissenters.  Swallowing the drugs but anti-psychiatry in nature.  

Others of us come back in to join in challenging the system, the beliefs and the power.  Someone's got to do it.  Critical of psychiatry, compromise and control.  Freedom fighters.  Resisting the lure of celebrity, position and hierarchical shenanigans.  Each to their own.  It's a matter of conscience, choice and enjoyment.