Monday, 31 August 2015

Update @scotgov on the 36 Commitments in Scotland's Mental Health Strategy 2012-15

Here is a response from Scottish Government, on Mr Paul Gray's behalf, received 28 August 2015, to my request: 

Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2012-2015: 36 Commitments: what are the outcomes and where can they be accessed?

Email Strapline: Update on the 36 Commitments in the Scottish Government's Mental Health Strategy

"Dear Ms Muirhead,
Thank you for your email of 20 August to Paul Gray, Director General Health & Social Care and Chief Executive NHSScotland, requesting an update on the 36 commitments in the Mental Health Strategy. I have been asked to reply on Mr Gray’s behalf.
In the interests of transparency and accessibility, all updates on the Mental Health Strategy (MHS) are published on our website, including written reports when they are available. The mental health web pages (link below) also contain links relevant to external sites and reports.
You will note that, at present, not all commitments have an update. However, we will publish the status of each commitment on this website by Spring 2016, after the completion of the Strategy’s timeframe.
You also go on to ask about several specific commitments – 5, 6, 13 and 24. I will address these below.
We do not have any updates available on commitment 6 and commitment 24 of the MHS but, as stated above, these will be published on our website by Spring 2016.
An update on commitment 13 of the MHS is available here:
An update on commitment 5 of the MHS is available here:
I hope you have found this helpful in responding to your query.
Original request letter sent in an Email to Paul Gray, Director General Health & Social Care and Chief Executive NHS Scotland, 20 August 2015:

Sunday, 30 August 2015

sharing my "recovery" story on #SRN; being outed in 2008; seven long years of meaningless involvement

I remember the realisation that my cover had been blown. The game was up the pole.  After sharing my "recovery" story on the Scottish Recovery Network in 2005 then updating it in 2008.  After throwing my coat in the ring, setting up Peer Support Fife and Chrys Muirhead Associates in the January of that year. 

For I had believed the Peer Support message being touted by SRN at their December 2005 Glasgow conference (silly me), funded by government, promoted by voluntary sector mental health organisations.  The promise of a civil rights, grassroots movement, giving us our rightful place at the centre.  Valuing our experience and expertise as survivors of mental illness and psychiatric treatment.  It wasn't about money or celebrity. 

As a community education and development worker since 1980, at the grassroots, with people, alongside, empowerment and lifelong learning, I knew that it was possible to work collectively and creatively.  Supported by statutory agencies.  Because I'd done it and had evidence to show for it.  Plus I'd made a full recovery from psychoses and psychiatric treatment on 3 separate occasions since 1978.

I did notice in 2005 at the SRN event that some of the lead Scottish mental health folk were a bit up themselves.  Full of their own importance.  I'd approached a few to ask for information and they were either too busy or passed me on to a minion.  However I was impressed with the American speakers, their workshop facilitation.  They came over as professional while sharing their personal stories of mental health problems.

It was only a few months into 2008 that I again was aware not everything in the Scottish mental health garden was rosy.  I noticed a lack of professionalism in leadership and a lack of congruence in actions and behaviours.  By the end of the year the lead balloon had settled.  This was no grassroots development, rather it was a hierarchical affair.  A favouring of chums.  Excluding those who didn't toe the line.  And voluntary organisations using the model of peer support to win contracts. 

After attending the Brisbane IIMHL (international initiative for mental health leadership) in March 2009 following a disastrous exchange in Auckland where my motel accommodation was sub-standard and I wasn't hosted properly, I considered coming out of mental health matters and going back into the "real world".  But I'd come too far to give up.  And it became personal when family were targeted.

It's been 7 long years of trying to be meaningfully involved in a wide range of mental health initiatives as a person with "lived experience", an "expert by experience", a former "service user" and psychiatric survivor.  All to no avail.  They didn't want an independent voice.

Rather they wanted a conscript, a "yes" person, someone to fit into their research "evidence", to justify their theories of psychoses and schizophrenia.  Someone who would jump through the hoops, be glad of an Empire medal, compete for a Peer Support Worker post on low wages, go cap in hand for 20p/mile travel expenses.  Be a spokesperson who wouldn't rock the boat or say anything critical about government, civil servants, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists or mental health services. 

I just wouldn't comply. 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

holding the coats

Here is an extract from an Email written this morning to a trainee clinical psychologist in relation to my 'stigma and scapegoating' blog post, then forwarded on to academics and others:

"I think that if an "expert by experience" is teaching or facilitating a class of trainees or students in mental health matters then it will be challenging and a real opportunity for learning.  The EbE could be a lecturer who is willing to admit to "mental illness" or mental health issues.  It doesn't have to be a "performing monkey" or person who is paid peanuts for spilling their guts.

Regarding the DClinPsy courses at both Scottish universities, I believe it will require a paradigm shift by the academics.  In content and delivery, and in their attitudes and behaviour, towards people with "lived experience" and to the people who they engage with in the course of their "work". 

If there is psychiatric abuse going on in a health board setting where clinical psychologists are based, working with patients, I do not think that offering patients "mindfulness" is good enough.   I describe it as "holding the coats".

Those of us who are psychiatric survivors and/or mental health service users deserve to be treated with the utmost respect.  Because we have been at the sharp edge.  There is no excuse for academics sitting by, holding the coats, while a mother, psychiatric survivor and unwaged carer is bullied for speaking out about psychiatric abuse.  Or to bring pressure to bear on that mother because her agenda is not the same as the academics' agenda.  Bullying by another name. ..."


'Mindfulness is all very well – but don’t give up your right to get angry' by Tracey Thorn, in New Statesman, 27 August 2015

"I started thinking about this the other night when I was watching What Happened, Miss Simone?, Liz Garbus’s documentary on Nina Simone. The film is full of extraordinary live clips, including one jarring occasion when Simone sings “I Loves You, Porgy” on Hugh Hefner’s television show Playboy’s Penthouse, surrounded by gowns and cigarette holders, her eyes full of burning sorrow. What struck me about many of the performances was her vivid, righteous anger. Her daughter spoke of her being diagnosed fairly late in life with bipolar disorder, and that can’t be ignored – but still, what rang out like a bell from the life story that was told was how much of her fury was justified, and how it found an outlet in both political activism and creativity."


in Scottish Sunday Express 5 October 2014


Stratheden Hospital Blog post 11 April 2015: the naughty step

screenshot blog 29 August 2015

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

stigma and scapegoating

A wee post about the singling out of some people for "special treatment" in mental health matters.  When emotional distress becomes a mental disorder or mental illness.  Diagnoses and labels which remain in the notes regardless of recovery or remission.  Scapegoating a few so that the many can rest easy. 

It wisnae me.

Last year I was asked to teach a 2 hour session from the "lived experience" perspective to a group of social work students on the topic of Social Justice.  I chose the topic of 'Mental Health Recovery':

During the session one of the male students in the class, very much in the minority (about 20 women to 6 men) told the story of an older female relative who had "schizophrenia", describing her antisocial and inappropriate behaviour over many years.  I then spoke of the risks to women in psychiatric settings, of drugs which disinhibit and leave female patients open to sexual exploitation.  The male student became agitated and said it was because of promiscuity.  To which I wrote up on the flipchart the word "scapegoat" and highlighted the definition on the white screen from the internet.

After the comfort break the male student and another male colleague did not return to the class.  The lecturer who was present during the session told me afterwards that she used some of the topics raised over sessions in the following weeks with students.  I found the teaching to be challenging.  Not least because I was sharing my story and life which is always costly but also because of the importance of the topics, the social injustice inherent in mental health matters and psychiatric treatment.  Which can result in psychiatric abuse.

Tough teaching which I hope led to some learning and shifting of perspectives.  When I hear of women being singled out for "special treatment" in psychiatry and society, in families and communities, it gets my goat.  The unfairness of it.  In a man's world.

I'd prefer a paternal psychiatry to a patriarchal system.  Protecting their conscripts and patients, from stigma and discrimination.  Rather than sending them out to a world which scapegoats and pins the label on a person like the game of pinning the tail on a donkey.  Which is no fun if you are the ass.


Mary O’Hagan, Legal coercion: the elephant inthe recovery room, SRN, 17 January 2012 

 Scotland’s Mental Health Strategy: Mind the Gap, CSPP (Centre for Scottish Public Policy), 4 September 2014
In personal consideration of the 3 R’s: Resilience.Resistance. Recovery. Division of Clinical Psychology, Scotland, Review, Winter 2014/2015 edition, Issue 11

Bipolar Disorder from where I’m standing: a Mother speaks out (a piece written for Bipolar Scotland mag)


Saturday, 22 August 2015

constrained by circumstances but that's okay

I had been planning to stand in my local area as a parliamentary candidate at the next Scottish elections 2016 but recent happenings have made me realise that I have other commitments that take precedence and that I don't have the required resources for mounting a political campaign.  


That's a relief.

Photos of our cats chillin' out yesterday ...

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2012-2015: 36 Commitments: what are the outcomes?

"Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2012-2015

Monday, August 13, 2012

ISBN: 9781780459950

The Scottish Government’s mental health strategy to 2015 sets out a range of key commitments across the full spectrum of mental health improvement, services and recovery to ensure delivery of effective, quality care and treatment for people with a mental illness, their carers and families. ..."
Scottish Government publication

This was the first government mental health strategy that I was involved with from the beginning, in terms of attending consultation events and submitting my own individual response.  I know that Geoff Huggins, former Head of the Scottish Government's Mental Health Division, now Acting Director for Health & Social Care Integration, wrote the Strategy in its entirety, because he told me so in the summer of 2012 when my son and I bumped into him, in Rose St, Edinburgh.

In 2012 I was a member of the Scottish Crisis & Acute Care Network steering group, the only person admitting to "lived experience" of using mental health services, of having a psychiatric label/diagnosis.  And I was involved in this group until February 2014 when an altercation forced me out of membership.  It was as a result of the written report of the Improving Pathways conference in October 2013 at which I was a main player.

[Monday, 3 March 2014: my presentation at the Scottish Crisis & Acute Care Network Conference in Stirling on 29 October 2013 - Pathways and Perspectives – A Tale of Two Cities]

Regarding the MH Strategy 2012-15, have the 36 Commitments been met?  Are there measurable outcomes?  I have sent a letter in an Email to Paul Gray, Director General Health & Social Care and Chief Executive NHS Scotland, asking for information about this:


Commitment 1: The Scottish Government will commission a 10 year on follow up to the Sandra Grant Report to review the state of mental health services in Scotland in 2013. The review report will be published in 2014.
Commitment 2: We will increase the involvement of families and carers in policy development and service delivery. We will discuss how best to do that with VOX and other organisations that involve and represent service users, families and carers.
Commitment 3: We will commission a short review of work to date in Scotland on peer support as a basis for learning lessons and extending the use of the model more widely.
Commitment 4: We will work with the management group for see me and the Scottish Association for Mental Health, who host see me, and other partners to develop the strategic direction for see me for the period from 2013 onwards.
Commitment 5: We will work with the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Mental Welfare Commission to develop and increase the focus on rights as a key component of mental health care in Scotland.
Commitment 6: During the period of the Mental Health Strategy we will develop a Scotland-wide approach to improving mental health through new technology in collaboration with NHS 24.
Commitment 7: In 2012 we will begin the process of a national roll out of Triple P and Incredible Years Parenting programmes to the parents of all 3-4 year olds with severely disruptive behaviour. We will include more information about the delivery of this commitment in our Parenting Strategy which will be published in October 2012.
Commitment 8: We shall make basic infant mental health training more widely available to professionals in the children's services workforce. We shall also improve access to child psychotherapy (a profession which specialises in parent infant therapeutic work) by investing in a new cohort of trainees to start in 2013.
Commitment 9: We will work with a range of stakeholders to develop the current specialist CAMHS balanced scorecard to pick up all specialist mental health consultation and referral activity relating to looked after children.
Commitment 10: We will work with clinicians in Scotland to identify good models of Learning Disability CAMH service delivery in use in different areas of Scotland or other parts of the UK which could become or lead to prototypes for future testing and evaluation.
Commitment 11: We will work with NHS Boards to ensure that progress is maintained to ensure that we achieve both the 2013 (26 week) and the 2014 (18 week) access to CAMHS targets.
Commitment 12: In addition to tracking variance and shorter lengths of stay, we will focus on reducing admissions of under 18s to adult wards, with a new commitment to reduce figures across Scotland to a figure linked to current performance in the South of Scotland area.
Commitment 13: We will continue our work to deliver faster access to psychological therapies. By December 2014 the standard for referral to the commencement of treatment will be a maximum of 18 weeks, irrespective of age, illness or therapy.
Commitment 14: We will work with NHS Boards and partners to improve monitoring information about who is accessing services, such as ethnicity, is consistently available to inform decisions about service design and to remove barriers to services.
Commitment 15: We will work with partners, including the Royal College of General Practitioners and Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland, to increase local knowledge of social prescribing opportunities, including through new technologies which support resources such as the ALISS system which connects existing sources of support and makes local information easy to find105 . We will also raise awareness, through local health improvement networks, of the benefits of such approaches.
Commitment 16: NHS Health Scotland will work with the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector to ensure staff are confident to use Steps for Stress as an early intervention approach to address common mental health problems.
Commitment 17: We will work with NHS Boards and partners to more effectively link the work on alcohol and depression and other common mental health problems to improve identification and treatment, with a particular focus on primary care.
Commitment 18: We will develop an approach to support the better identification and response to trauma in primary care settings and support the creation of a national learning network.
Commitment 19: We will take forward work, initially in NHS Tayside, but involving the Royal College of General Practitioners as well as social work, the police and others, to develop an approach to test in practice which focuses on improving the response to distress. This will include developing a shared understanding of the challenge and appropriate local responses that engage and support those experiencing distress, as well as support for practitioners. We will develop a methodology for assessing the benefits of such an approach and for improving it over time.
Commitment 20: We will take forward the recommendations of the psychological therapies for older people report with NHS Boards and their statutory and voluntary sector partners and in the context of the integration agenda. Access to psychological therapies by older people will be tracked as part of the monitoring of the general psychological therapies access target, which applies to older people in the same way that it applies to the adult population.
Commitment 21: We will identify particular challenges and opportunities linked to the mental health of older people and will develop outcome measures related to older people's mental health as part of the work to take forward the integration process.
Commitment 22: We will work with the Royal College of GPs and other partners to increase the number of people with long term conditions with a co-morbidity of depression or anxiety who are receiving appropriate care and treatment for their mental illness.
Commitment 23: We will identify a core data set that will allow effective comparison of the effectiveness of different models of crisis resolution/home treatment services across NHS Scotland. We will use this work to identify the key components of crisis prevention approaches and as a basis for a review of the standards for crisis services.
Commitment 24: We will identify the key components that need to be in place within every mental health service to enable early intervention services to respond to first episode psychosis and encourage adoption of first episode psychosis teams where that is a sensible option.
Commitment 25: As part of the work to understand the balance between community and inpatient services, and the wider work on developing mental health benchmarking information, we will develop an indicator or indicators of quality in community services.
Commitment 26: We will undertake an audit of who is in hospital on a given day and for what reason to give a better understanding of how the inpatient estate is being used and the degree to which that differs across Scotland.
Commitment 27: Healthcare Improvement Scotland will work with NHS Boards to deliver the Scottish Patient Safety Programme - Mental Health.
Commitment 28: We will continue to work with NHS Boards and other partners to support a range of health improvement approaches for people with severe and enduring mental illness, and we will work with the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland and other partners to develop a national standard for monitoring the physical health of people being treated with clozapine.
Commitment 29: We will promote the evidence base for what works in employability for those with mental illness by publishing a guidance document which sets out the evidence base, identifies practice that is already in place and working, and develops data and monitoring systems. Change will require redesign both within health systems and the wider employability system to refocus practice on more effective approaches and to realise mental health care savings.
Commitment 30: We will build on the work underway at HMP Cornton Vale testing the effectiveness of training prison staff in a 'mentalisation' approach to working with women with borderline personality disorder and women who have experienced trauma. The pilot will be extended in that prison and also introduced in HMP Edinburgh.
Commitment 31: We will also work with NHS Lothian to test an approach to working with women with borderline personality disorder in the community by extending the Willow Project in Edinburgh. We will use the learning from the test to inform service development more widely across Scotland.
Commitment 32: We will promote work between health and justice services to increase the effective use of Community Payback Orders with a mental health condition in appropriate cases.
Commitment 33: We will undertake work to develop appropriate specialist capability in respect of developmental disorders as well as improving awareness in general settings. As part of this work we will review the need for specialist inpatient services within Scotland.
Commitment 34: We will continue to fund the Veterans First Point service and explore roll out of a hub and spoke model on a regional basis, recognising that other services are already in place in some areas. We will collaborate with the NHS and Veterans Scotland in taking this work forward and will also explore with Veterans Scotland how we can encourage more support groups and peer to peer activity for veterans with mental health problems.
Commitment 35: We will work with COSLA to establish a local government mental health forum to focus on those areas of work where local government has a key role, including employability, community assets and support and services for older people, and make effective linkages with the work to integrate health and social care.
Commitment 36: To support progress on this agenda the Scottish Government will put in place arrangements to co-ordinate, monitor and performance manage progress on the national commitments outlined in this strategy. In doing this we will build on the successful experience of managing the implementation of the Dementia Strategy.


Previous blog posts on this topic:

Monday, 18 August 2014: Scotland's mental health strategy - a damp squib and a disappointment but I shall persist 

Friday, 8 August 2014: Scotland's Mental Health Strategy Key Theme One: Working more effectively with families and carers?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012: why is independent advocacy not in the new mental health strategy?
Saturday, 8 September 2012: is the new mental health strategy more than just a fine piece of rhetoric?

Sep 2014: Centre for Scottish Public Policy blog post 'Scotland's Mental Health Strategy: Mind the Gap'

Cupar rail station Edinburgh platform
Thanks to the Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP) for featuring my blog post, specially written, 'Scotland's Mental Health Strategy: Mind the Gap':

"The “new” Mental Health Strategy for Scotland was published on 13 August 2012, a 3 year plan, and I was involved in consultation meetings prior to the publication and submitted an individual response, from the perspective of being an unpaid carer and a person who has recovered from a “mental illness” prognosis.  Because of these personal circumstances, at 62, I’m now a writer, activist and campaigner in mental health matters, involved in national groups, speaking out and influencing positive change.

A strategy can be defined as “a method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future”, and I was looking for level playing fields and straight paths so that people with lived experience of mental health difficulties would be meaningfully involved in service design and delivery.  A commitment to action as well as words.  Evidence that Scottish Government senior managers were serious about people power.  I was looking for a strategy that was more than fine rhetoric and a reinforcement of top-down hierarchy.

On first reading the published document it appeared to say the right things in the key themes although the warning bells started sounding when seeing the division between “common mental health problems” and “severe and enduring mental illness” being perpetuated.  Mind the Gap.  Them and us.  The sheep and the goats.  The stigma and discrimination that is endemic for people with a “mental disorder” label who can be coercively treated in psychiatric settings. 

It happened to me on 3 separate occasions, altered mind states after childbirth in 1978 and 1984, then more recently in 2002 when aged 50 and menopausal.  I didn’t like being forced to take psychiatric drugs as they depressed me and the antidepressant gave me suicidal impulse then bone loss, resulting in a fractured fibula and 6 inch metal plate.  Fortunately I was able to take charge of my own mental health, taper the drugs, against the advice of psychiatry, and make a full recovery.  However the mental illness label remains in my “notes”, indelibly written.

The Strategy’s first Key Theme is “Working more effectively with families and carers”.  However in the two years since publication, with only one year to go, I have seen little evidence-based practice.  Healthcare Improvement Scotland is mentioned but my experience of this quango is less than impressive and they don’t welcome critical voices in the mix, preferring the adulation of their peers.  No doubt if I was to tell them they were wonderful then I would be a favourite and invited to participate.

Therefore the themes and key change areas in the Strategy I contend are flawed by dint of their only involving people, cronies, who tell them what they want to hear.  Mind the Gap.  There are 36 Commitments which profess to be either person-centred, safe or effective, some of them claiming to be all three.  But people come in all shapes and sizes, from different viewpoints and perspectives, and it will be difficult to claim person-centredness for everyone.  What suits one person may not suit another.

What is “safe”?  My family members have been injured and denied basic human rights in psychiatric settings, and I have complaints ongoing about this.  Because there is the option for compulsory treatment then a person resisting can be restrained, secluded and subject to force.  The phrases “non-compliant”, “without capacity” and “lacking in insight (anosognosia)” can be used to justify coercion whereas in society the same person might be described as non-conformist, free thinking, wise and creative. 

Mind the Gap.  Therefore I have had no option but to concede that there is a gap between the government’s current mental health strategy and what they should be doing to make straight paths and level playing fields.  A gap between their words and their “commitments”.  I have to question my involvement in the strategy consultation, as to whether it was worth my time and energy in writing an individual response when we just got more of the same. 

There is also a gap between their words and their practice, what is promised in the strategy and what has been delivered so far.  I speak from experience as I have been involved in a number of national mental health initiatives, including a crisis network, clinical psychology training, carers’ groups, Carers’ Parliament, a user led research group and the Cross Party Group on Mental Health that meets in Scottish Parliament.

I’m working to close the gap between words and actions so that people who use mental health services, their carers and families will be treated fairly and justly.  I want there to be meaningful involvement of people with lived experience in strategic and operational mental health matters.  For all voices to be heard, critical or otherwise, to bring about real improvement.  I expect civil servants to deliver." 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

"Congratulations – you've been awarded a bursary" @CarersUK AGM & Summit 26 November London

An Email received this morning from Carers UK:

"Dear ....

I am delighted to let you know that you have been successful in gaining a bursary of up to £260 to help towards the cost of attending the Carers UK National Carers Summit and AGM.

Date: Thursday 26 November 2015
Time: 10am - 4pm
Location: Clifford Chance, 10 Upper Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London E14 5JJ (click here for map)
Bursary band: Scotland
Bursary amount: up to £260


Receiving this bursary means I can afford to attend the London meeting, to network and share with other Carers nationally, and to speak out about the challenges of mental health caring while also being a writer, activist and human rights campaigner. 

Carers UK website


Blog post, Tuesday, 9 September 2014: (updated) £100 bursary travel expenses for Scottish carers to attend Carers UK Summit in London

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

"Lies, damned lies and statistics"; datacosmology

"Figures often beguile me," Mark Twain wrote, "particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'" Chapters from My Autobiography, published in the North American Review in 1906


"Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics: A few years ago I thought that I had successfully tied down the origin of this quotation. I concluded that it came from Lord Courtney in 1895 as explained below, but it now appears virtually certain that, whoever first thought of it, it was not Lord Courtney. The origin is still uncertain, but if it originated with any one well-known figure, the most likely candidate is Sir Charles Dilke." 
University of York, Department of Mathematics


blog post on Integration and Reshaping Care

"understand the lived experience of service users" says Mr Huggins, Acting Director for Health & Social Care Integration

[Email from Geoff Huggins on 24 June 2014 that caused me pain, wounding me with its underlying blaming and shaming]

NHS Scotland: My Next Step Images


Sunday, 16 August 2015

the schizoid personality of biological psychiatry; motorcycle emptiness & dancing in the street

I have reason to believe that in Scotland biological psychiatry is more dominant and discriminating than in other developed countries.  No doubt it's historical and to do with roots.  But whatever the cause I am very fed up with having to be on the receiving end of a failed paradigm and I say this after nearly 50yrs of picking up the pieces.  Strong words but I'm unapologetic.  For if the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work.

Mad in America link

Many of my family members have been given psychiatric labels/diagnoses that remain in the "notes" regardless of recovery.  A concept that in recent years has been touted by government so as to hound the mentally ill off their welfare benefits.  Meanwhile I did recover 3 times after psychoses and psychiatric forced drug treatment yet the schizoaffective disorder label remains in my "notes", rearing its head at inopportune moments.  Stigmatising and discriminatory, in my opinion.

I never claimed DLA (disabled living allowance) in 2002 when on a cocktail of Risperidone then Venlafaxine then Lithium, because I was determined to recover despite the labels and the treatment.  It was a matter of principle.  I was not going to let the b***ers grind me down.  So I tapered the drugs, got off them all and got back on with my life.  I was able to do this because of family support otherwise I may have chosen to remain in the system as a protection.

However I have a 6 inch metal plate and scar on my right fibula as a reminder of Venlafaxine and its side effect of bone loss.  And a psychiatrist in 2004 told me that my high blood pressure was as a result of Lithium which led to my having to take pills for it.  This same psychiatrist (a locum) told me I'd have to stay on this "mood stabiliser" for life because of my psychiatric label and mentioned the DSM chart.  I told him that I didn't believe it then tapered the 800mgs a day, by 200mgs a month, determined to prove him wrong.  And so I did.

I saw this same psychiatrist many years later, in Weston Day Hospital, Cupar, around 2012 (although I may have the year wrong), in his full motor bike leathers, coming down the stairs as I waited in the foyer (possibly to meet with another psychiatrist, to discuss my Advance Statement, not sure).  I took the chance of telling him about my recovery and how his prognosis was wrong.  But he said it wasn't him who had made the diagnosis.  He had a point I suppose.  It wasn't him.


Motorcycle Emptiness.  And here are the Manic Street Preachers playing the song live at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival on BBC Alba, with a harder rock edge, approx 1:40 in (available until 12 September).


I am glad that, despite the metal plate in my leg, I can still dance.

Martha Reeves was performing at the Tartan Heart Festival, a superb set from a living legend, taking me back to the 1960's and the Motown hits! Nowhere to Run; Jimmy Mack; Dancing in the Street.  From near the beginning to about 17mins, including an interview with Miss Martha Reeves ( (available until 13 September)