Friday, 15 November 2019

volunteering, helping others

I'm getting back into volunteering, helping others, through organisations, something I've always done, since the early days, in Rigside, Lanarkshire.  I did this in 2003 when recovering from psychiatric treatment, volunteering with Link East Fife Befriending Project and North East Fife Association for Mental Health, also Express Groups Fife and Barnardo's charity shop in Cupar.  The latter I got paid work with, a keyholder, before getting a job as a Relief Library Worker in NE Fife, on permitted work, 2005, then a FT post at Adam Smith/Fife College 2006.

Before this I had worked in the voluntary sector, various jobs over the years, with all ages of people and children eg Strathclyde Youth Clubs Association & Youth Clubs Fife, Age Concern & YMCA/YWCA Cupar, WRVS Kirkcaldy Youth Project.  I have also worked with and alongside Councils in Lanarkshire, Fife and Perth, in grassroots posts, alongside folk in communities.

And since 2008 I've worked voluntarily in mental health matters, setting up Peer Support Fife to promote recovery and more recently campaigning for better MH services by whistleblowing about Stratheden Hospital, resulting in a new £4.4m IPCU, Hollyview Ward, funded by Scottish Government.

I've retreated from mental health matters and frontline campaigning although still look on via social networks.  My interests these days are broader and include the social history of Dundee, creative crafts and fitness.  


Trottick Ponds Dundee walk 29Oct19
Swans at Trottick Ponds:



after swim at Olympia Dundee 25Oct19
at Lamb Gallery to view this exhibition 12Nov19

Alexander St Multis

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Thursday, 7 November 2019

revolving door patients/psychiatrists

I saw this tweet yesterday, it came up up on my Notifications:


I made a series of twitter responses from my own Lived Experience before heading out to Dundee for a swim at the Olympia.  Then afterwards as I walked down the Hilltown I made a wee video and tweeted it:



I was annoyed at the inequalities, the throwaway tweet about being a revolving-door mental patient/psychiatrist, thinking of family members who got caught up in the psychiatric system, how tough it was for them and others like them.  

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later on walking up the Perth Road Dundee


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

11yrs of mental health activism & campaigning summed up in 250 words

my story #HumansofScotland @ALLIANCEScot 28Oct19

The strapline: "I’ve had to learn to be more self-sufficient and to cope with the isolation of being a lone campaigner" which is very true.

"things didn't go to plan" after setting up vol org PS Fife for various reasons, one of them being my psychiatric abuse survivor history although at the time I described it as "recovery".  I was mature, well qualified and experienced in community development, working with all ages of people in various settings, so was used to leading, managing and having an opinion.  These abilities and skills were not valued in a person with Lived Experience in Scotland's mental health world in 2008.

2012 was a seminal year, my 60th, after which I wasn't the same person, exposing systematic psychiatric abuse by blowing the whistle.  It was a matter of survival and I had a tough battle on my hands.  I cared and it was costly.  I still care.

I'm so glad that my youngest son and I are still together, in solidarity, it's not been easy.  Well done Daniel Son!


Kirk Wynd Cupar 2008
Scottish Sunday Express 5Oct14
on my birthday in Edinburgh 28Sep14
Cupar Crossgate 17Sep17
Stirling Castle 1Jun19






Monday, 28 October 2019

my story #HumansofScotland @ALLIANCEScot 28Oct19

Chrys’s story

Section: Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland
 

"I’ve had to learn to be more self-sufficient and to cope with the isolation of being a lone campaigner"


“In 2008 I set up voluntary organisation Peer Support Fife and my own website, to promote mental health recovery and the benefits of peer support, as a person with lived experience of surviving, recovering from, psychosis and psychiatric treatment 3 times in 1978, 1984 and 2002.

However things didn’t go to plan and by 2010 I was an unwaged Carer for my son and in 2012, after he experienced another mental health crisis, I became a complainer, campaigner and human rights whistleblower. And at the same time I became a fully-fledged writer, blogger and social networker, to speak out and to have a voice.

Eventually I won an Ombudsman case and apology from our local Health Board in the autumn of 2014, and they stopped using the locked seclusion room, having received £4.4million from Scottish Government to build a new IPCU following my activism. This ward was officially opened in July 2016 by the Minister for Mental Health.

I’m glad to say that my son, who lives with me, is in better mental health these days with only my support and occasional psychiatrist appointments since 2012, as we were abandoned by mental health services after I started raising complaints.

It’s been a very challenging 7 years and I’ve had to learn to be more self-sufficient and to cope with the isolation of being a lone campaigner and Caregiver, glad to have survived. This saying “What does not kill me makes me stronger” attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche, rings true.”

@ChrysMuirhead

​ChrysMuirheadWrites.blogspot.co.uk

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Friday, 25 October 2019

it's a long haul

yesterday on Claypotts Rd Dundee
... recovering from, surviving psychiatric abuse and living with "mental illness" 
caused by psychiatric treatment ... I'm just glad to be of help to family members, and to still be here to tell the tale.

Last night's sock knitting and TV watching:

 
After my usual daily swim at the Olympia Dundee, before going for a walk in the city:

 

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Designer Daniel Muirhead creates 3D models of Fife landmarks @fifeherald 23Oct19

Designer creates 3D models of Fife landmarks by Jamie Callaghan, Fife Herald, 23 October 2019  [my son Daniel!]


The model of Cupar's Old Parish Church.
"A Springfield designer finished second in an international competition after reproducing 3D versions of local landmarks.

Daniel Muirhead (35) took part in a competition run by Italian firm 3Dflow, where entrants were tasked with creating the best 3D models using their photogrammetry software.

Photogrammetry involves taking a set of photos of a real life subject, feeding those photos into computer software, and the software then automatically reconstructs the real life subject as a virtual 3D model.

Daniel, representing Scotland, earned a place in the final, where he entered 3D models of Cupar’s town centre, Dundee’s Howff burial grounds, and Arbroath’s Western Cemetery Mortuary Chapel. The international panel of judges awarded Daniel second place, with a prize including a bundle of software licenses worth more than £4000.

“I entered for fun so to place second was a pleasant surprise, especially given the high level of quality within the competition,” Daniel said. 

“It was a privilege to represent Scotland and I have no doubt that it was the beauty of our built environment, represented in the models, that was a major factor in my success.”

Daniel is now looking to reproduce town centres in Fife, whether as models or virtual reality environments.

Anyone groups interested in using Daniel’s skills to recreate a town centre, or any prospective funders or investors, can reach him at danielmuirhead3d@gmail.com."

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

glad they got the Schizoaffective Disorder Dx label wrong in 2002

today on the Murraygate, Dundee
Or to put it another way, glad that I never believed in mental illness or in psychiatry as an exact science. [sci fi]

A quick blog post before bedtime, had thought of writing it earlier but got too busy with stuff, housework, knitting, potting out plants etc.  I wanted to say something about how thankful I am to have survived abusive psychiatric treatment in the earlier years when my boys were young which helped me to both get off a neuroleptic cocktail at the menopause and also support them in/out of psychiatry, when necessary.

I couldn't have got through the whistleblowing years following the 2012 locked seclusion room abuses and attempts to put the blame on me, if it weren't for my previous survivor experience.   And going back to my happy childhood of adventures, games, falling off a piler, dancing/slipping on wet grass, then recovering from broken arm, leg aged 6 and 7, preparing me for hospital treatment and for being assertive, resisting authority, taking risks.  Surrounded by family, growing up in Perth, lots of activities on offer, many things to see and do.  

Just now it's like being in transition, living in a halfway house, until moving to Dundee, hopefully sooner rather than later, I'm not getting any younger.   

today checking on Mum's grave in Cupar Cemetery

My Mother only lived to 68 years, on a Depixol depot for the latter 2 decades or more, walked with a stick from her 50's, I moved her from Perth to Cupar in 1993, to a flat on the Bonnygate which she bought, having been financially supported by her older batchelor brother.  She was also a survivor of psychiatric abuse, many courses of ECT and drug treatment, locked wards in Murray Royal, Perth, 1950's to 1970's, don't have all the details, but she had it much harder than I did.  These toxic chemicals shorten lives, cause nerve damage and the shock treatment memory loss, my Mum wrote lists, kept a notebook.

My Granny, Dad's Mum, only lived to 70yrs old in 1970, I think she'd had enough by then (lost 2 out of 5 bairns when they were young), whereas my Grandpa lived another 10yrs without her, eventually on oxygen.  My Dad and his younger brother died a few years later, aged 57 and 56, both of them war veterans, RAF briefly and Royal Navy for years, a sci-fi writer and a chiropodist, choked to death avoiding doctors, burnt to death in a house fire.  

I feel very fortunate being so fit at 67 despite the titanium plate on right fibula due to max dose Venlafaxine and the bladder prolapse which happened in 2015 after years of campaigning for justice/no justice.  Neither injuries hold me back or affect my movements, I can swim, walk, jog, cycle, and don't have any incontinence.  Maybe because in my 40's I did daily swimming and gym weights, and before this was active in community sports and games, working with children and young people.  




1980 preparing for Krypton Factor assault course
1973 on Muirheads farm, Douglas, Lanarkshire
Perth Academy 3rd year hockey team
me aged 3/4, Kingswell Terrace, Perth in background
me, Right Inner







































Saturday, 19 October 2019

not looking for paid work (updated post)

Updated 19Oct19: Not looking for paid work, going onto Pension Credit, Housing and Council Tax Benefits now at age 67.  I did try for the Whistleblower Champion post with NHS Scotland at £8k/year but didn't even get an interview. 


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I'm 67 next month so won't be looking for full time work, just a few hours weekly. It's about time that I earned some money for all the work I do.


Perth Road, Dundee, 1Aug19


Wednesday, 16 October 2019

is my word not good enough? on having to film inside Stratheden Hospital 2012

Recent tweets about the suggestion by Professor Ian Reid that I should have filmed what went on in Stratheden Hospital 2012:





another similar tweet from July 2018:

 
dug up this old tweet from 2015 when I got a new mobile phone capable of taking videos and many photos:



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Nowadays I take photos and wee videos most days when out and about, in Dundee and elsewhere.  Put some of them in blog posts or on my YouTube channel.  It's good practice should I ever have to capture bad practices in psychiatric settings or elsewhere.

Yesterday on the way to the V&A Dundee:

 

Monday, 14 October 2019

healing

On Saturday my son Daniel and I set off early on the 8 train from Cupar to Edinburgh, visiting St Mary's Cathedral then the Scottish National Galleries, firstly Modern One and Two off Belford Road, then to the city centre, on the Mound.  Some photos:

St Mary's
The Virgin of Alsace
Master of the Universe by Eduardo Paolozzi, my 3D model

Pitlessie Fair by David Wilkie

There was another painting that caught my eye in the National Gallery on the Mound which I didn't take a photo of, it was 'Christ healing the blind man' 1712, and the description said "The picture was owned by King George II's physician, Dr Richard Mead".

And I thought about Christ healing, physicians, doctors, then and now.  Miracles.  

A tweet from 2016 when I visited the National Galleries of Modern Art:





 
12Mar16; still there now, outdoor work by Nathan Coley

I've experienced healing and have the scars to show for it.  





Thursday, 10 October 2019

my #WorldMentalHealthDay2019 tweet





Sunday, 6 October 2019

scars

I was swimming earlier in Cupar pool and thought of writing a blog post about the scars I have, exploring the topic, so here it is!

Dec76, Perth
I've got 3 physical scars of any consequence and all of these were received in Dundee, at Ninewells and Kings Cross Hospitals.  Hadn't really considered this before, the common denominator.  

The first scars were internal and external after the birth of my oldest son in October 1976, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, he was a Keilland's rotation and forceps birth, I was cut inside and out to deliver him.  I'd forgotten these scars until 2016 when I got an internal examination by a physiotherapist at Adamson Hospital, Cupar, due to my bladder prolapse (happened August 2015) and she mentioned them.  I had two more sons after this, in 1978 and 1984, both normal deliveries, small cuts and a few stitches at William Smellie Hospital, Lanark.

The next big scar I got was in August 1997 on my face after having a basal cell carcinoma removed in Kings Cross Hospital, Dundee.  It was a small ulcer but its position was on my nose beside the join to my face so the surgeon decided to cut out more skin to prevent any risk of further ulceration.  A local anaesthetic and about 15 stitches, the doctor told me to let him know if I felt any pain and he would inject more painkiller in, and so I did.  I felt confident that the surgeon knew what he was doing.

I'd asked my middle son (19yrs old) to drive me home after the op but he got a shock on seeing my face, the amount of surgery, and so I drove us both home to Cupar.  In a day or two my face swelled up to twice the size and I had to get antibiotics for the infection, was warned about the possibility.  What I was most concerned about was starting a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Education in a few weeks time, didn't want to miss it.  The infection was controlled and I got the 15 stitches out of my face at Adamson Hospital, Cupar, in time to start the FT study at Northern College, Dundee.  I put daily moisturiser with sunscreen on my face then and now. 

What was really tough that year 1997/8 was my Mother's ill health then death of lung cancer on 19 March 1998, during my time at Northern College and on placement at Douglas Community Centre then Whitfield Learning Centre, Dundee at time of her last days.  I was living in a council flat in Cupar with my youngest son (13yrs old) and my Mum lived nearby at Mountcabra sheltered housing latterly after moving from Perth in 1993 to her own flat on the Bonnygate, Cupar.  Just before my Mother passed on I got this Springfield terraced council house because of anti-social neighbour in downstairs flat and I drove her out from the hospital to see the house, buying her an ice cream from Luvians.  


graduation photos July 1998, I'm wearing my Mum's ring, watch & necklace


Cupar cemetery 24July19

The 3rd scar of consequence I have is on my right fibula, due to a 6in Titanium plate inserted after 3 fractures, end of March 2005, operated on in Ninewells Hospital.  It happened after a job interview at Cupar Library, only walking downstairs with 3 Library workers, I didn't trip or fall, my right fibula just shattered.  At the time I didn't know what it was, had trousers on, sat down on stair, in shock.  Ambulance was sent for, paramedics carried me down on chair.  Future tests didn't show up osteoporosis.  It was a mystery why my bone shattered until about 2013 when I read about the risk of bone loss at the menopause if on max dose of antidepressant Venlafaxine, which I had been prescribed.

I also found out around the same time that suicidal impulse was another side effect of Venlafaxine.  I'd swallowed a bottle of these pills without thinking in 2002 which resulted in a cocktail of neurotoxins being prescribed.  I'd never done such a thing before or since, it was out of character.  In my opinion antidepressants are too risky for me and my family, and I have warned them about the risks.  Steer clear is my advice.  

These are the visible scars on my body due to life and its stressors, a sign of pain, injury and of healing.  And then there are the emotional scars which may not be so visible and yet have shaped my living and the person I am today at 67 years of age.  Engaging with psychiatry has been a negative influence on my life from an early age before I even knew it.  What was done to my Mother because she experienced a nervous breakdown/psychosis/mental distress and externalised her pain.  It was a form of torture and there is no excuse for it.  I've known something of what she went through but she had it much worse.

my Mum & me, pink teddy


me in my kilt, a happy wee girl!

I'm forever taking selfies πŸ˜€ don't have many photos of my Mum or from my childhood so I've persisted with getting used to putting my face out there ....


Perth Leisure Pool

Murraygate, Dundee

Dundee Slessor Gdns Womens Bike Race

Cupar Crossgate

Perth Road, Dundee

Verdant Works, Dundee

I'm not backward at coming forward, regardless of my scars.

Well done to me!


reflections

A tweet just now:



Yesterday we were in Dunkeld and my home town of Perth, walking around, capturing photos:

at Dunkeld Cathedral

Dunkeld

Tay Street, Perth, with my son Daniel 😜

Woke up this morning after a good night's sleep reflecting on my life and coming to terms with injustice and unfair treatment.  Reflecting on the last 7 years, I've been angry and it was necessary, externalising the pain.  I don't agree with therapies like ACT (acceptance & commitment) and mindfulness, and think they are only short-term solutions to long-term wellbeing.  In my experience they were used to cover up and whitewash systematic psychiatric abuse, failing to tackle the root cause.  It wasn't good enough.

I've found knitting to be very therapeutic since getting back into the craft in 2015 after a breakdown 31 July, particularly sock knitting, a new skill, taken up in the spring of 2016 and now knitting 4ply socks regularly, wearing them daily, giving them as gifts:




When knitting or occasionally sewing, while watching TV or listening to music, I can go over past situations in my mind, working through them as I do patterns in wool or stitch:

present projects: Merino wool jumper & cabled socks (a gift)

I've most likely always done this, to some extent, when knitting and doing craftwork, much moreso these days, making sense of what has gone on before, facing up to how things are now, looking ahead hopefully to the future.  I feel very fortunate to be able to do so, to have the capacity for self and situational reflection, to experience the anger, disappointments, pain, feelings of unfairness, letting them go.  An ongoing process of healing without the need for a "therapist".


at Tannadice on my birthday 28Sep19, United won 6-0
walking back through Hilltown Park after fitba