Sunday, 30 June 2019

I've updated Stratheden Hospital Wikipedia page

I'd noticed that there was a paragraph 'Recent developments' on the Stratheden Hospital Wikipedia page with mention of the new IPCU so decided to add context by inserting information about my Ombudsman case with links to newspaper articles in the Express and Fife Herald/Today:

I also added 6 July 2015 visit by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to Stratheden Hospital for the sod-cutting ceremony, the fact that Scottish Government funded the new Hollyview Ward, IPCU, and that Maureen Watt MSP, then Minister for Mental Health, officiall opened the unit in July 2016.  And I uploaded this photo of Hollyview Ward which I'd taken on 15 May 2016:

Stormzy - Blinded By Your Grace Part 2 (Glastonbury 2019)

Saturday, 29 June 2019

researching Stratheden Hospital Archives

This week I've booked my first session looking through Stratheden Hospital Archives managed by On Fife, formerly Fife Council, and stored at Bankhead Park, Glenrothes [Archives page link]

This research is in preparation for writing a book about Stratheden psychiatric Hospital, in particular my family's experiences as inpatients and carers, from 1995 to 2012.  The challenge in looking through these archives will be to find out relevant information that can inform my writing, to understand why the culture became/was so unhelpful and at times abusive to patients.  

I expect to have to do FOI requests to NHS Fife for further information eg about the building of Lomond Ward, it's design, the why of it.  When I was an inpatient briefly in that ward, March 2002, I found it very risky sleeping in the female dorms with male patients in rooms opposite down a long corridor, no Nurses around, when I was drugged up on antipsychotic Risperidone.

my suggestions to redesign Lomond Ward, October 2012 (no response)

I plan to self publish an Ebook and also print out copies for my bookshelf, to have a written record about this hospital which has had such a negative impact on my life and that of my son.

Newspaper articles after I won my Ombudsman case against NHS Fife in September 2014 for "unreasonable treatment" in Stratheden IPCU/Ward 4, and in the transfer of my son in bare feet and underpants, with a broken hand from Lomond Ward, 1 February 2012, of which I was a witness:

HOSPITAL HORRORS: Patient locked in cell with no toilet, food or water

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

today my Mum would have been 90 years old

Remembering my Mother on her birthday, she died 21 years ago:

Cupar Cemetery 21Jun19
at 70 Pomarium, Perth, photo taken by my Dad

with me, 1953, Kingswell Terrace, Perth
Perth High St with my Dad, August 1952, one month before I was born
Mum & Dad's wedding day 7 July 1951

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

moving on

today walking to the Ferry from Sainsburys Dundee
[When thinking of this blog post strapline I checked back and found another with same title, from February 2014, over 5yrs ago.  So have put it to draft.]

I need to move on from mental health campaigning and blogging to writing about a range of topics and to this end have been preparing my mind for the change, reflecting on what I might like to write about, fiction/faction, self publishing in book form so as to eventually print out paper copies for my bookshelf!  Something to show for it and a legacy of sorts for my family.

Whistleblowing and campaigning about human rights abuses can be very negative when I would rather be spending my time on more positive pursuits, creative outputs, while not forgetting what has gone on before, since 2008 when I dived into MH matters from the "lived experience" perspective.  I got involved to make a difference, to promote recovery and peer support, and ended up being an unwaged Carer, raising complaints, exposing bad practices and improving psychiatric services for others, if not for ourselves.  

I'm glad that there is now no locked seclusion room at Stratheden psychiatric Hospital because of our whistleblowing and that my campaigning has brought scrutiny to bear on MH practices locally, even if I've not had any public recognition for this.  That's ok, I know my worth and feel confident of my abilities, although I could have done with a paid position as a consultant or lecturer, since I'm well qualified and an experienced survivor of mental illness and psychiatric treatment.  It's not been easy on a low income.  

I'm looking forward to having a go at creative fiction and sci-fi, biographical storytelling and reflective writing about engaging with psychiatry over a lifetime, helped by scepticism and a belief in myself, in God and in the unseen. 

Monday, 24 June 2019

moving to Dundee: an aim since 2012; updated, zero points, no chance of council house

today in Dundee after Olympia daily swim
My son and I are focused on moving to Dundee.  I have completed a council housing application form, asking for sheltered accommodation as I'm 67 this year, attaching personal statements from us both and letters from our GPs and my son's Psychiatrist.  In addition our MSP Willie Rennie has written a letter of support on our behalf to the Head of Housing at Dundee City Council. 

I first put our names on the Dundee council housing list back in 2012 after my son's negative treatment in Stratheden Hospital and for 4yrs we were on the list, offered no accommodation in that time.  In August 2015 I had a breakdown after the years of campaigning and caring, resulting in a bladder prolapse eventually diagnosed in March 2016, and by this time we had no car, couldn't afford to run one.  I started swimming at the Olympia Dundee by the end of 2015, taking 2 buses from Springfield, and cycling for fitness.  It was a matter of survival.  

Meanwhile my son was gradually recovering from the psychiatric abuse of the old IPCU regime at Stratheden, the locked seclusion room and dehumanising treatment by staff, while I advocated for him at meetings, scribed for and mentored him at Abertay University.  He graduated with a 2nd Honours BA Sociology in July 2014 after 12yrs of part-time study, beginning at Edinburgh University after he left Bell Baxter High, Cupar, where he was a Prefect and achieved 5 Highers.

I raised many complaints in 2012 against staff at NHS Fife, Fife Social Work Services and Fife Police, received apologies, and eventually took my complaint against the Fife Health Board to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman in September 2013 which took a year to investigate, after which my complaint was upheld as "unreasonable treatment" and I received a written apology from NHS Fife.  [Hospital Horrors: Patient locked in cell with no toilet, light or water; 5Oct14]

Since 2012 after my son's discharge in April from Stratheden Hospital we have received no community mental health services despite my completing a Carer Assessment Form and trying to access Self Directed Support.  In fact the Mental Health Officers leading the Adult Protection Investigation Report into my son's treatment in the old IPCU February 2012 tried to find evidence that I was at fault when Nurses were locking him in a room with no toilet or water, in the dark for hours on end, broken hand untreated, unobserved.  They found no evidence, either of me causing "psychological harm" or of human rights abuses perpetrated by Nurses.  So I had to whistleblow and try to seek justice.  

There was no real justice which is why I had a breakdown in 2015 and since then have been coming to terms with it.  I need to move on from mental health campaigning and we both need a move out of Fife where my son was subjected to "unreasonable treatment" in the psychiatric hospital up the road from where we live in Springfield which is known as the hospital village.  My two older sons live in Dundee and my two older grandchildren also.  

It will be good for us to live nearer to family, especially for my youngest son who is isolated here and receives no support for his "enduring mental illness" apart from 6mthly psychiatrist appointments.  I have a "schizoaffective disorder" diagnosis in my medical notes and have never claimed disability benefits yet bear the wounds and scars of bone loss caused by max dose Venlafaxine, 6in metal plate on right fibula after 3 fractures in March 2005 when only walking downstairs after a job interview at Cupar Library.  Fortunately I survived an overdose of this antidepressant in 2002, not knowing at the time that suicidal impulse was a side effect.  The psychiatrist never said.

We are looking forward to the Dundee move and hope it won't take too long.  I think we deserve a fresh start, away from negative memories, where my son can continue his mental health recovery and have opportunities for further study and paid work. 



Updated 26 June 2019: Received a letter from Willie Rennie MSP with attachments which confirms we have zero points regarding our Dundee City Council housing application, no hope of an offer or of being considered for sheltered accommodation. 

Sunday, 23 June 2019

the benefits of forgiveness; healing, faith; science fiction storytelling

me aged 14
I want to write a bit more about the act of forgiveness as a psychiatric abuse survivor, looking back over 50 years and more of my family as mental patients, the pain, the cost.  From the first memory of my Mother having a "nervous breakdown" after the birth of my youngest sister in 1966 when I was 14 then 1970 another episode and visiting her in Kinnoull locked ward of Murray Royal psychiatric Hospital, Perth, aged 17.  To 1978 when I voluntarily entered Hartwoodhill psychiatric ward, Lanarkshire, when experiencing "puerperal psychosis" after the traumatic birth of my 2nd son who was 3mths old, my breasts bound to stop the milk and being forcibly injected with Chlorpromazine, threatened with ECT (escaped with my husband's help).

Then in every decade after, personally and in support of my 3 sons who also experienced "psychosis" after leaving home for university in the city (Lomond Ward, Stratheden, Fife 1995/6 and Liff Hospital, Dundee, 1999/2000).  Finally the 2012 locked seclusion room human rights abuses in Stratheden psychiatric Hospital, Fife (youngest son), and 2012/3 Carseview Centre inpatient treatment (middle son).  Nothing since, hopefully no more in the future.  I've had more than enough.

youngest son
In 1984 I experienced altered mind states/psychosis after my 3rd son was born, in the maternity hospital, another traumatic, painful, induced labour.  And when in the bath soaking my stitches I had a spiritual experience of God taking me through my childhood years, healing all the hurts [I'd become a Christian in 1981 when reading the gospels]. Later on I realised this was a preparation for what was to come, another "voluntary" admission to Hartwoodhill, courtesy of our local GP, where I was forcibly internally examined and injected with Chlorpromazine, my 3 boys at home, separated from my baby son only one week old, no need to bind my breasts this time around. (memories of peer support in the psychiatric system)

Mum's grave June 2019
at Mum's grave 2Jun19

I count myself very fortunate to have had a good Mother with a Schizophrenia diagnosis, an example to me of loyalty, fortitude, intelligence, and surviving psychiatric treatment.  She lived on a Depixol injection 3wkly for over 20yrs until her peaceful death, 19 March 1998. 

my Dad holding me 1953
To be able to forgive has been a Godsend is how I look at it, I couldn't have done it without faith. Same goes with recovering from "mental illness" which Psychiatrists told me was lifelong and labelled me with a mental disorder in medical Notes to justify the coercive drug prescribing.  It's science fiction not fact and I have my Dad to thank for that inheritance, a sceptical and enquiring mind, asking "why?" rather than "how".  Space invasion with iatrogenic drugs is not therapeutic or healing.  I'm fortunate to have escaped with a 6in titanium plate right fibula and no osteoporosis after max dose Venlafaxine 2002/4 prescibed when depressed due to Risperidone coercively given, Lomond Ward March 2002.

I plan to write a book about my Dad and our family, his scriptwriting of Jeff Hawke sci-fi comic strip for the Daily Express in Fleet St, London, from 1956-69.  And to write science fiction stories, carrying on his legacy, weaving in the many life experiences over the years of engaging with psychiatry, exploring the themes he wrote about from my perspective as a survivor and child-bearer, a grandmother and woman of faith.


Perth Academy Hockey team c1966, me front, 2nd right πŸ˜„

Today at Riverside playing fields Dundee:

"Eleanor did what she did not just for herself, but to heal other people ..."

'Her Work Is Not Yet Done': Helena Bonham Carter Talks Playing Mental Health Campaigner Eleanor Riese by Rachel McGrath in The Huffington Post


"There was no money,” Helena Bonham Carter says. “Everything was down to the wire.” 

‘55 Steps’ is a different kind of project, compared to the big budget movies - be it this year’s smash hit ‘Ocean’s 8’, the ‘Harry Potter’ series or Oscar winner ‘Les MisΓ©rables’ - it’s easy to associate her with. 

The actor served as executive producer - for the first time ever - and plays Eleanor Riese, a mental health campaigner, who is stubborn, funny, kind-hearted and pushy, all at the same time. 

Her fight for the rights of patients who are being given medication without their consent runs parallel to her own health battles, as she struggles with her mental health and the side-effects from the anti-psychosis drugs supposed to improve things. ..."

Friday, 21 June 2019

Panic! At The Disco - High Hopes

the act of forgiveness as a psychiatric abuse survivor

[this is personal not prescriptive]
yesterday, Dundee Overgate after swim

A brief post as I'm off to swim as usual in Olympia pool, Dundee.  It keeps me fit, especially with the titanium plate right fibula caused in March 2005 most likely by max dose Venlafaxine at the menopause, bone loss, 3 fractures when only walking downstairs after a job interview in Cupar Library.

A tweet from yesterday:

I voluntarily entered psychiatric hospitals on 3 occasions, in 1978, 1984 and 2002, for respite when experiencing psychoses due to traumatic childbirth and menopausal changes, and was treated abusively with toxic chemicals and other space invasion, at risk of exploitation.  Practising forgiveness was very helpful in my recovery, especially after the 2002 episode which was harder to recover from, getting off the drug cocktail, surviving a suicide attempt caused also by Venlafaxine.

It was more challenging when my sons were abused in psychiatric settings, 2012 locked seclusion room human rights abuses the worst, Fife health board benefitting with £4.4million while we got poorer, abandoned by community MH services for whistleblowing, raising complaints and speaking out.  Social workers trying to frame me for it in an Adult Protection Investigation Report.  Writing, tweeting and blogging has been a great way of releasing pain, anger and feelings of injustice.  Externalising my distress as with psychosis.

I hope that eventually there will be other ways of working with people, especially women, coming through psychosis.  Safe house alternatives to abusive psychiatric treatment as I've tried to provide for my son singlehandedly since 2012 in his recovery from psychiatric abuse.


A favourite song recently:

Monday, 17 June 2019

Twitter is like having penpals ...

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Tayside legacy of groundbreaking sci-fi comic strip which even predicted the year of the moon landings @thecourieruk

In the online Courier newspaper today:

'Tayside legacy of groundbreaking sci-fi comic strip which even predicted the year of the moon landings' by Graeme Strachan:

Chrys Muirhead with the books.
Chrys Muirhead with the books.

'Tayside legacy of cult sci-fi strip' Graeme Strachan @thecourieruk 15Jun19 #JeffHawke #WilliePatterson

In today's Courier:

My quote in newspaper article: 

my Dad Willie Patterson c1963, a selfie taken in our home, Perth, Pomarium flats

An Email sent this morning: 

"Dear Graeme 

Thank you for writing such a true representation of the story, in the comic strip and told by me. ....

Your article makes me want to go and read more of Jeff Hawke, the mention of the National Portrait Gallery in London, the alien estate agent and the Englishman on the moon in a Mini Cooper! ... 

Well done for bringing the sci-fi stories more alive and to the Courier readership.  Much appreciated.

Regards, Chrys"

These Jeff Hawke 1986 and 1987 Titan Books editions sent to me by Sydney Jordan after my Dad's funeral, October 1986:

Inscription in Book Two:

from Jeff Hawke Book Two Counsel for the Defence, Titan Books Ltd, Pub 1987


I donated copies of the 2008 republications of Jeff Hawke stories by Titan Books to both Fife and Dundee Libraries, the latter copies went into the Local History department, and I will be donating books also to Perth Library:

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Peer Support, Navigating the System, Safe Houses for Psychosis ...

Some of the mental health initiatives I wanted to be involved in setting up in Fife and Scotland since 2008 when I organised Celebrating Recovery in Cupar, April, creating vol org Peer Support Fife and my own website Chrys Muirhead Associates in the January.

I organised this event voluntarily & many others subsequently
Peer Support Fife website archive

link to mental health matters page (website to be updated)

I'd made a full recovery after psychosis and psychiatric treatment 3 times, 1978, 1984 and 2002, so was really keen on helping others to do the same, by promoting peer support or mentoring, ways of navigating the psychiatric system and latterly safe houses for psychosis.  But there wasn't the appetite for it and the agendas of others took priority.  I'd been a "one man band" or "force of nature" (both descriptions given about me by MH managers) when running various events from 2008-12 then exposing locked seclusion room abuses, singlehandedly supporting my son, having got abandoned by MH services after raising complaints.  

I didn't choose to be a campaigner but I couldn't let them abuse my son and get away with it.  Although they did get away with it, up to a point, protected by the health board and their social work colleagues who ganged up against me.  It's a thankless task being a whistleblower about human rights abuses in psychiatric settings.  There's no profit in it or medals to be awarded.  Best not to get bitter about the unfairness.  I've got a life to live, other stories to tell, if time (and God) allows ...


Photos from today in Dundee:

selfie by son Daniel 😊
Perth Road

Sunday outing to Edinburgh and Rosslyn Chapel:

Sunday, 2 June 2019