Saturday, 21 November 2015

Putting relationships at the heart of recovery from psychosis: Prof Andrew Gumley @rcpsych Nottingham 20Nov15


and my comment on the presentation:

"Nice presentation Andrew. I particularly like the photos, of mothers and babies, human and animal. The nurturing, secure base and safe haven which has been my experience of family life, both as a child and parent. It meant that I could recover from psychiatric treatment, and so could the other 7 of my family members who had no choice but to engage with psychiatry. Providing a safe haven and secure base was my way of helping my family to recover from psychiatric abuse. The psychoses were not the problem, rather they were, for me and my family, a natural occurrence and way of coping with the trauma of everyday existence, the ups and downs of life that happens to all of us, at some time or another."

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Critical Psychiatry: Are early intervention services beneficial?; and my comment

from Dr Double's blog
Critical Psychiatry: Are early intervention services beneficial?

My comment:

"Speaking as a person who has experienced "psychoses" on 3 occasions that resulted in psychiatric intervention or forced drugging, and also as a "carer" of many family members who have experienced altered mind states or "psychoses", I still believe that early SUPPORT is the way to go. But I don't like the word or action of "intervention" and didn't like being invaded by psychiatric drugs that took away my agency, made me vulnerable to takeovers and exploitation.

In 1967 my mother experienced another altered mind state or nervous breakdown as they called it back then. We lived in Perth, Scotland. She had given birth about 6 months before, to my youngest sister, I was 14 and a half. My father was distressed and asked me what we should do. We lived on the 4th floor of a 10 story block of flats. My mother's perceptions were altered. Eg she let the budgie out of the cage and out of the verandah window, thinking it would fly back. It didn't. We never saw the budgie again.

My father, a science fiction writer with the Daily Express in Fleet St, London, was distressed because he had been a psychiatric inpatient himself, about 3 years previously and knew the score. Forced ECT over many sessions. Forced drugs. Locked in. At the mercy of psychiatry, regarding freedom to leave, to get back on with your life. He didn't want to make the decision regarding my mother getting taken away in an ambulance to the local mental hospital in Perth.

So I made the decision. Someone had to. It wasn't safe for her to be in an altered mind state, 4 floors up, not sleeping, writing poetry, feeling the pain of the world, going outside into the darkness and wandering about the town. She resisted going into the psychiatric hospital because she'd been there before, knew the score. And berated us for sending her away to be forcibly shocked and drugged. We felt her pain.

But what else could we do? There were no alternatives available. Nearly 50 years later and there are still NO alternatives available for people in altered mind states, not caused by recreational drugs. Eight of us in my family have been subject to the forced drug treatment, stigma and ritual humiliation because we experience altered mind states naturally, whether due to the pain of living or extreme exhaustion. I have always resisted the regime when I could. It is a matter of principle. And because I don't like psychiatric drugs or being forced.

It is way beyond time that we stopped forcing drugs on people who experience altered mind states because they are sensitive and imaginative, experiencing the pain of living. Giving us labels because the treatment doesn't work. A failed paradigm is not the fault of the person. The system is to blame. Let's devise alternative ways of working with people in psychoses and stop making them/us the scapegoats for an unjust and unfair world. We deserve respect for being human."

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

the shame of psychiatry; the rape of the Sabine women

I realised as a child that there was something bad happening in my family from an outside source.  And it was to do with my mother.  We lived in Dunsinane Drive, Letham, Perth, at the time.  My grandparents were at number 81 and we were at number 57.  Prior to this we had all lived in a house at Kingswell Terrace.

I would be about 7, old enough to go on the back of my Uncle Ian's scooter, holding on tight around corners.  Making me forget the distress back in my granny's house, the family confab. 

My Uncle was a sailor and had brought back a tape recorder from his travels.  Wooden Heart by Elvis Presley was one of the tunes played:

And I stayed with my grandparents for a while.  Then later when my parents went to London in preparation for the three of us going there, to be near my dad in his job with the Daily Express, scriptwriting Jeff Hawke with creator Sydney Jordan.  I remember telling all my friends at school that we were moving to London.  However I don't think my mother took to the big city although she did try it out and told me stories of her experiences.  

When they were away I broke my left leg, dancing on wet grass, ended up in Bridge of Earn Hospital with a full leg plaster (my right leg got a fractured fibula 3 places 2005, titanium plate).  Didn't get crutches, I was very disappointed, just a stick and a rubber shoe which slowed me down at Caledonian Road Primary School, going up the girls' stairs to the P3 class.  My parents got me a black and white cat, Tubby, to cheer me up.  But after we moved to Pomarium flats, 4th floor, it wasn't suitable for a cat.  Also I used to dress him up in doll's clothes and he used to hide.  So my grandparents got Tubby and he got tubby with porridge and milk every morning for breakfast.  They also had Fergus the Scottie dog who I took for walks, stopping at every lamppost.  I soon got bored and preferred the large brown poodle belonging to someone in Paradise Place.

About 6 months after my youngest sister was born, in 1966, I was 14 and a half, my mother became unwell again, wasn't sleeping, and my father also was distressed.  I think because by that time he'd also been a psychiatric patient in Murray Royal Hospital, Perth, and knew the score.  What happened behind the closed doors.  The shame, the force, the ritual humiliation of mad women and their consorts, the men.  Shock treatment over many courses, drugs and agency taken away.  Psychiatric workers complicit.  Becoming mad themselves in the process.  A community of mad people.  So that society could feel safe.

My father said to me, what should we do?  We were in a 4th floor flat and my mother's perceptions were altered.  There was nothing else for it.  I said that she would have to go to hospital.  The decision was made, by me.  Because I have always thought that people in an altered mind state, or psychosis, need support as soon as possible.  The issue is that we need alternative ways of supporting people in psychoses.  But until that is available we have no choice but to enter the psychiatric system and try to withstand the force, emerge with our dignity intact, regardless of what has been done to us.  Or that's how I look at it.
Niccolò Bambini: Der Raub der Sabinerinnen

In 1970 I made my first visit to Murray Royal, aged 17, and saw the locked women's ward Kinnoull, the distressed women, and met with male psychiatrists who said I had an old head on young shoulders.  I just thought they were mad like the patients.  And didn't think I would ever be a mental patient.  Because I was resilient and had insight.  But painful, tortured childbirths, meant I did have to go through the psychiatric system.  In solidarity with my mother and sisters.  Similarly my 3 sons.

Forty-five years of engaging with and resisting psychiatric treatment, the shame and the force.  It hasn't got easier and in fact in some ways it's much worse.  Care in the community or coercion and control (Prof Tom Szasz wrote of this).  More recently I had a real fight on my hands, against NHS Fife and their use of a seclusion room at Stratheden Hospital, to "manage" patients.  No toilet, no water to drink, locked in for hours and left.  A disgrace and an abuse of human rights.  That had been going on for decades.  Unchecked.

I eventually "won" an Ombudsman case 30 months after starting to complain and got a grudging one line apology in a letter from Dr Brian Montgomery, interim CEO at the Fife Health Board (BUT they didn't stop using the seclusion room until after the SPSO judgement, and NHS Fife were awarded £4.4million from Scottish Government for a new psychiatric unit. We got nothing.).  

Despite the indignity and disrespect I continued to spectate at board meetings until June this year when I got scunnered off by an attempted invasion of my space, in full view of others, a senior male demanding a hug.  A step too far.  No doubt a planned manoevre to be rid of me.  It worked.

Space invaders.  Takeovers.  Abductions.  Betrayals.  Battles.  Resistance fighting.  Recovery.  Remission.  Mental Illness.  Psychiatric drugs.  Big pharma.  Profit.  Money.  Victims.  Pain.  Justice.  Reparation.  Reconciliation.  Take your pick.

I got involved in January 2008 because I believed that people in the Scottish Recovery movement were serious about shifting the paradigm and creating a fairer system, giving psychiatric survivors and people who use mental health services their rightful place.  At the centre.  Unfortunately it only took a few months for me to cotton on that it was more about money, fame, position and hierarchical shenanigans.

Good luck to them.