Wednesday, 16 June 2021

power in our communities, a catalyst for change ...

 Yesterday I attended an online zoom seminar organised by HIS (Healthcare Improvement Scotland) collaborative communities with a strapline: The Power in our Communities: Catalyst for Change: Celebrating Community.  Not sure how I found out about it but the title drew me in to take part because it's how I am, it's the work I do, and I could identify with it.  Which is ironic as I'm a lone community activist and catalyst for change, in Fife for 31 years and now in Dundee, before that in Rigside, Lanarkshire.  And in the past I have challenged HIS leadership about their behaviour, winning an apology for a doctor because of it.

I cut my teeth on grassroots community development, childrens' and youth work, in the ex-mining village of Rigside where we lived 1980-90, and further afield in Lanark with SPPA and Play committees, and steering groups in Hamilton, Motherwell areas.  Voluntary work as my 3 sons were growing up, having twice made a full recovery from psychosis/psychiatry after tortuous childbirth labours in 1978 and 1984.  

1985 photo of my sons wearing velour jumpsuits (M&S) gifted by my Mother, their Granny, who worked in the Babygro factory at North Muirton, Perth, even although having a Schizophrenia diagnosis and being on a Depixol 3wkly antipsychotic injection.  My Mum was an amazing example to me and my family of overcoming abusive psychiatric treatment (many courses of forced ECT/shock treatment and memory loss).

1980's South Inch Perth

I would not be the person I am today were it not for my parentage and upbringing, and I couldn't have survived 3 bouts of coercive psychiatric drugging, making a full recovery from the treatment and diagnosis, were it not for being the daughter of a Kings Badge war veteran, science fiction writer Willie Patterson and his faithful wife Anne Ferrier Dewar, Dux of Secretarial College who did better at Latin than my Dad, at Perth Academy where my parents first met and became school sweethearts.  

They were a stylish couple, something else I inherited, my Mother a dressmaker, seamstress like her Mother Lizzy Edwards before her, from Auchterarder.  And my Dad's older sister Margaret was a craftswoman. his Mother my Granny a sock knitter, embroiderer, Highland Dancer and teacher in her earlier years.  


me & Granny at 10 Kingwell Terrace, Perth

I was named after Granny and Grandpa's favourite flowers Chrysanthemums which they brought into the PRI (Perth Royal Infirmary) after I was born on 28 September 1952, for Granny had wanted me to be named Jessie after her but my Mum suggested Chrys instead as Jessie wasn't a popular name that year.  And so I had a different name, spelling, couldn't be shortened which was useful.

me at around 4, Kingswell Terrace in background, happy wee girl, kilt wearing

The older I get the more thankful I am for my childhood, especially the pre-school years spent with my parents and grandparents, which shaped my life and made me the child and young person I became, the woman and mother, grandmother.  I was brought up to be a free thinking, independently minded child, a tomboy who felt equally at ease playing with boys or girls before puberty.  My Dad had taught me to box before school, to stand up to the bully boys on Dunsinane Drive, Letham, Perth, where we lived by the age I was in that photo above.  And my Mum told this story in later years, very proud of my ability to resist bullies and to be my own person.  

It sounds strange when saying it but I didn't know that I would grow up to be a woman and when puberty hit I was annoyed about it for years, how my relationship with boys changed.  I remember one day at our Pomarium flat when my Mum knocked on my bedroom door and said that an older boy was at the door, asking if I was going out .... he wasn't a laddie I used to go about with, rather a Teddy boy, hair slicked back, the older brother of a boy I went about with when at primary school.  I grumped at my mum No!  And I knew that my life had changed, I wasn't one of the boys any more. This was in around 1964, after I'd started Perth Academy.

Eventually in 1970 I agreed to go with my Storey's the draper's Saturday job girlfriend colleagues to the dancing on a Saturday night at the Sally (Salutation Hotel, Perth) and so I made a dress for the occasion, helped by my Auntie Margaret, it was blue and white cotton material, flared skirt, mini, not too short, collared neck, mid length sleeves.  Don't have any photos but I can picture it.  By this age I had made a few outfits, sometimes sending away for cut out material outfits, through the Fab208 magazine eg an orange trouser suit with skirt.  Using my Mum's Singer sewing machine, which I still have, also her instruction booklet ...

in my spare craft room, sitting on Dad's desk


I bought this old copy of Fab208 from Ebay, 19 October 1968 edition, from the time I used to get this magazine as a teenager in Perth, aged around 16, when I had started to get interested in fashion, style, materials, sewing. 

example of cut out, ready to sew outfit I sent for

And in 6th year at the Academy I took a dressmaking class alongside advanced Maths - Algebra, Geometry, Computer Programming (Algol), also Higher Geography, briefly studying O grade German, Physics and Applied Maths but dropping these as I didn't enjoy them.  I also taught a girl O grade Maths, got paid for it, she lived in a big house up Moncrieff, Perth, and she passed.

Summer of 1969 I worked in the chicken factor at Coupar Angus to earn money, working Saturdays in Storey's the drapers, my Dad by this time was stuck in London, jobless, his contract with the Daily Express scriptwriting Jeff Hawke had been terminated.

1986/7 Titan Books publications
2008 Titan Books republication on Amazon

I've still to donate these two Jeff Hawke books to AK Bell Library in Perth, have had them since before the pandemic lockdown.  I've already donated copies to Fife and Dundee Libraries:

27 October 2017 in Springfield Mobile Library, Fife

in The Courier 15 June 2019

photo taken in Central Library, Dundee

Sunday, 13 June 2021

pot plants today out backie ... looking good!

My pot plants are flourishing out the backie, getting lots of sun these days, just means they need a good watering every day, carrying can down stairs and out the back, today two watering cans full, it's been very dry recently and warm.


Here are photos taken just now, the Chrysanthemum plugs I got in the post after moving in here 10 May, a month ago are doing very well, the Starburst collection from Woolmans:

Chrysanths on right pink table, a collection of perennials on blue table

Lavenders flowering

at front right Crazy Daisy & Sweet William starting to flower

recently bought, Honeysuckle & Clematis climbers

Rhododendron is still flowering, bees love it



current challenges - getting fitter, restoring energy, being more creatively crafty

That's about a month now living in Dundee and I was very exhausted at times after the flit, it took a lot out of me, energy wise, moving house after 23 years in Springfield, many of which were linked to caring after psychiatric treatment and campaigning about it.  A thankless task being a whistleblowing carer and survivor of psychiatric treatment which in my experience since 1970 has been coercive or abusive and heavy handed.  I still think there has to be something far better for people experiencing psychoses, emotional crises or nervous breakdowns, rather than what psychiatry has to offer.  Maybe I can still have an influence in promoting Safe haven crisis Houses ...

Today I've booked the gym then a swim at Dundee University Institute of Sport and Education, ISE, who have a super Senior membership offer for over 60's, from £10.50 to £20 a month.  I've got the latter which includes swimming, gym, sport and exercise classes, and I'm working towards taking part in all these facilities over time, as I get fitter and make more connections.  I get the bus with my rucksack containing fitness gear to nearby the ISE and walk down town afterwards, covering long wet hair with headband.  We are not getting the use of hairdryers yet due to Covid.

yesterday on way to bus stop from my flat, to ISE

I first used the University pool after being banned from the Olympia in November 2018, following my raising a complaint due to being bullied by a Duty Manager, having got stuck in a flume when the water stopped.  I got an apology for that, however 2yrs later, last November, I raised more complaints about a variety of issues in the pool and changing rooms (including algae and detritus at base of training pool, unsupervised lifeguards leading to issues, aggressive male swimmers) and this led again to me being banned.  Leisure and Culture Dundee don't welcome complaints in my experience.  Hopefully that will change and their services will improve.  

I got out on the bike yesterday, carrying it down 2 flights of stairs from the flat and back up after cycling.  Just glad to be strong enough to do this no problem, all the weight lifting, gym exercises and swimming I did in my 40's and 50's helped build up my upper body muscles and strength.  I joined a weightlfiting club at Aberdeen University the first week of term, September 1970, and also the OTC (Officers Training Corps), both groups promoting their actvities at Freshers' week.  The OTC paid a wage for taking part in .22 rifle shooting, marching, orienteering and this was an added attraction back then, as I was on my own, both parents out of action.  Dad stuck in London, Mum in Murray Royal mental Hospital, getting discharged the day I left Perth for Aberdeen on my 18th birthday.

yesterday at Fairview Park

I hope to plan cycling routes in the future where I can avoid busy traffic and having to push the bike.  I noticed laddies on bicycles yesterday weaving in and out of traffic, onto pavements, but they weren't wearing specs!  I have to take more care expecially as I don't know the area from being on a bike, the bumps and lowered pavements etc.  The Green Circular Route would be ideal but I'd have to get there first, have enough energy to cycle it, cycle back and carry bike upstairs to flat.  I'm not there yet!  Hence needing to get fitter with exercise.

I'm still caring for my son from a distance, giving peer support over phone calls and texts, have given him the car to get around more easily from Springfield to wherever, to get back into his photogrammetry work which was halted after a recent breakdown, following the stresses of Covid19 social isolation, lockdown and eventual vaccination.  He's getting support now from Fife health and housing services, also more benefits than when he lived with me.  I'm getting less financial support but that's ok, it will be cheaper to live in the city, to manage on a lower income.  I've got a bus pass and can still get up to the top deck carrying stuff ...

getting bus to supermarket for 20min foodshop then back again

I've been doing a recce of bus journeys from where I live to different supermarkets to see how I can do a food shop, saving money, in the shortest time, sort of a thing! For I'm a busy person and don't want to be in a bus for longer than necessary although I can take photos, read news items, keep occupied on the buses.

However I do want to get back to more craftwork, sewing, dressmaking and of course knitting.  With being so tired after the flit I haven't been doing as much sock knitting but am getting back into it, at present doing a pair of slipped stitch socks for an up and coming birthday gift:

wrap & turn heel, 2 shades of Drops Fabel 4ply wool

Yesterday evening I managed to do a bit of sock knitting, getting back into the swing of it while watching Noel Gallagher on TV, talking and performing ...


My spare Craft room is still choc a bloc with stuff from 23 years living in the Springfield house and I hope to sort it out more in the coming days.  My bike is stored in there, also lots of wool, fabrics, haberdashery, files and books from my 13yrs of mental health work, my Dad's old desk to be properly assembled, and so on.  Photo taken just now:

I'm very glad to have settled so quickly in my Dundee sheltered flat, it felt like home right away, unlike in 1990 when we moved to Cupar area of Fife from living 10yrs in the ex-mining community of Rigside when I was homesick for nearly a year, missing Lanarkshire.  I was 31 years in Fife, we moved there to support my sister and then I helped my Mother move to the Cupar area from Perth, and after she died in 1998 I helped my wee sister find a good council flat in Perth and renew acquaintance with a CofS Minister who I met up with at the Festival '99 weekend in the Scotland Hotel, Pitlochry.  I was a Trainer/Counsellor at the Franklin Graham event in McDiarmid fitba Park May 1999, having trained folk in Dollar prior to this, then led a team at the Festival and supported a woman from Perth who went forward at the call, then and afterwards.  A mentoring role.

In 2000 I got a full-time job in Perth at the Gateway, with PKAVS, managing volunteers for the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, and I did other tasks in that post, including independent advocacy, supervising advocacy partners and working with folk requiring advocacy, one-to-one and groupwork.  Mental health, learning and physical disabilities.  That was a great job for me, running with various initiatives, and another similar post I got was in 2006 with Adam Smith College where I ran with stuff, achieved much and got another postgrad qualification, TQFE in Care subjects, Stirling University, self funded.  I had 2 other PT evening posts a the same time, with Fife Council at Newcastle Primary School, Glenrothes, and lecturing on Introduction to Counselling Course at both Levenmouth and Glenrothes campuses of AS College.

These two FT posts enabled me to buy new cars, a Ford Ka, both times, the first time of ever owning my own new car.  And then in 2019 I got another new car, the Vauxhall Corsa, with money from my ex-husband and oldest son.  Now my youngest son has taken over the car and I'm a named driver so can get a shot every so often at the wheel, to keep my hand in and to visit places not accessible by bus eg Kinloch Rannoch where my great-granny Bella Watson worked as a Cook at Dunalastair Hotel, 1896-1900.  And gave birth to my grandpa William Campbell Watson in 1900, her third illegitimate child, in South St, Perth, who became William Campbell Patterson after adoption.

That's another topic of interest which I hope to pursue - family history, genealogy of my Dad's roots on both his Father and Mother's (Doig) side.  My Dad named after his Dad who was adopted by the Patterson family, along with his older brother Alexander Burke Watson (who became Alexander Watson Patterson), both of them with sons who they named William Cunningham Patterson.  And I only found this out after Heir Hunters Fraser & Fraser got in contact 2005/6 with news of an inheritance via the granddaughter of Isabella (Bella) Watson, also named Isabella, and I received a copy of the family tree from 1896 onwards ...

my Grandpa's birth certificate 1900, Mother Bella Watson Cook ...

My Auntie Margaret, Grandpa's oldest child, daughter, said to me shortly before she died, in 2007, that he had a "thing" about having been illegitimate, that it bothered him all through his life, yet I don't remember him mentioning it ... which is interesting.  Both the fact she drew attention to this and that I didn't know about it being so stigmatising for Grandpa.

me and oldest son Edwin Alexander cDec76 when in Perth visiting Grandpa

I didn't know in 1976 that Grandpa had an older brother named Alexander, I'd suggested Edwin's middle name after a favourite uncle of his Dad's, Sandy, who had helped the Muirheads through the years at their small family farm, Douglas, Lanarkshire, giving them cows and other items, from his big farm in the south of England, sending them up by train, I think.  I chose the name Edwin as being similar to his Dad's name Edward, Ted, or Teddy as his sister and brother called him.  Had been watching the Clayhanger trilogy on TV when pregnant in 1976 which gave me the idea ...

Now he calls himself Ed.



Thursday, 10 June 2021

giving car to my son; controlling my finances

Today I hope to wash and hoover out the Corsa for giving to my son Daniel tomorrow so that he can use it in Springfield and Fife, for everyday living and for his photogrammetry work.  I was given £10k in April 2019 to buy a new car, £7K from ex-husband and £3K from oldest son Edwin, and got the 68 plate new Corsa from Arnold Clark, Dundee, which only had a few demonstrator miles on the clock.  It's now done about 22k miles and is in good condition.

just now, living room window

It made sense to give the car to my son now that I'm living in Dundee, bus stops outside my sheltered flat, food shops nearby if I run out of stuff.  Also because I'm on a lower income now and need to take more control of my finances, don't have the Carer Premium part of the Guaranteed Pension Credit which makes up my State Pension, and gives me full housing benefit.

I will have to write down my expenditure, haven't done this for a while although I have done it in the past when on a low income, firstly when my husband was a student in Aberdeen 1972-5, and I wrote everything down that we spent in a daily diary.  

me paddling Aberdeen beach c1973

And I managed our finances through the years as our 3 boys were growing up, when I was mostly a homemaker, did voluntary work during the day when they were at school and in the evenings, living in the ex-mining village of Rigside, near Douglas Water, Lanark area.  My husband wasn't on a big wage and we got Family Credit although he had a company car with his Milk Marketing Board, Paisley, farm visiting job, and I could drive it evenings and weekends.  I briefly had a Minivan early 1980's when selling sheep, hogs with lambs at foot, at Lanark Market, and later had a Suzuki 50 moped 1989/90 for attending Higher classes during the day at Lanark Grammar, as a Returning Adult, Classical Greek and Music.  I'd achieved As in Higher English and Maths the year before.

our sheep with lambs at Lochlane Farm Crieff 1975

me front garden Crieff cottage with our pets 1975

Monday, 7 June 2021

13 years working hard in Scottish mental health matters, nothing to show for it financially

On waking this morning I wanted to write something about the financial cost of caring, campaigning and exposing systematic psychiatric abuse so here it is ....

just now, sitting at PC in living room

just now, window view

Looking back over my life common themes have been psychiatry, mental illness, recovery and proving the system wrong, since 1978 personally and before that with my Mother who got a Schizophrenia label and the abusive treatment that went with it.  Shocked and drugged for externalising her mental distress, punished for having a nervous breakdown and given a life sentence of stigmatising mental illness and having to put up with a 3wkly Depixol antipsychotic injection until her death at 68, the age I am now.

I dived into mental health recovery and peer support from Lived Experience in January 2008 because I thought there was a civil rights movement in Scotland and the tables were turning, the psychiatric system changing.  However I soon realised this wasn't the case and independent voices weren't welcome in Scotland's mental health world.  I became an outcast for giving an honest opinion, saying what I thought, and for being a leader not a follower.  In a sense it was a useful preparation for the 2012 human rights abuses in Stratheden psychiatric Hospital, perpetrated upon my youngest son, and on others before him, over the decades.

It was a very difficult, challenging time for both my son and I after February 2012 in the old IPCC/Ward 4 in Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, Fife, when he was locked in a seclusion room with no toilet, light or water, in the dark, unobserved, broken hand untreated, having to defecate on the floor.  No nurses came to let him out and eventually he did a dirty protest, then they came and punished him, face down in his own faeces and urine, penetrating his anus, smacking his bottom.  Humiliating, dehumanising treatment, following which the Senior Charge Nurse tried to make out it was my son's fault, to me over the phone.  [she left nursing in 2016 after the new IPCU Hollyview Ward opened]

Our whistleblowing about human rights abuses in the locked seclusion room resulted in £4.4m being awarded to NHS Fife from Scottish Government for the new build Hollyview Ward.  This hasn't benefitted us in any way and now my son is being supported by his Dad in Fife while I live in sheltered accommodation in Dundee, still caring from a distance.  I'd wanted a move here since 2012, 9 years, and am very happy to be here in Dundee.  Fortunately I had some Royal Mail shares given to me by my ex-husband which I cashed in and used to buy secondhand white goods, furniture and new carpets.  My oldest son helped finance a new bed and I have a 68 plate car which also was funded by my ex and oldest son, bought new for £10K in 2019.

I'm on less money now, State Pension and guaranteed Pension Credit, no Carer premium, my son will be better off living on his own, receiving Severe Disability allowance and more mental health support from CPN, psychiatrist and Fife Council tenancy assistance.  After I started raising complaints and exposing systematic psychiatric abuse in 2012 we were abandoned by Social Work Services in Fife as they tried to frame me in an Adult Protection Investigation Report, which ironically I instigated.  So it's good that my son is now getting support 9yrs later, having had another breakdown and inpatient stay in Ravenscraig Ward, Kirkcaldy, after I was targeted by NHS Fife staff who tried to prevent me getting my first Covid19 vaccination in Cupar Corn Exchange 15 February.

I do feel aggrieved at times for having worked so hard with nothing to show for it financially which is understandable.  And it's one of the reasons why I will be going back into mental health matters, attending events, virtually until the pandemic ends, and continuing to speak out about systematic psychiatric abuse and the cost of caring.  I've worked hard for 13yrs in Scotland's mental health world and cannot let my Lived Experience be forgotten, by me or others.  I am still keen on promoting Safe Haven Crisis House alternatives for people experiencing psychosis, comfortable places and green spaces where folk can restore their minds and bodies by keeping busy and being creative.  I won't be letting the negative experience with DClinPsy academics in 2016/7 put me off this topic.

14 Sep 2016 MH Strategy Event ScotGov Edinburgh COSLA

I drew this picture at the Mental Health Strategy Event, the third one I'd attended, the other two in Aberdeen and Glasgow, and after it I fell off my folding bike at Haymarket, pulling my left hamstring, ambulance to the ERI, fortunately no broken bones but I'd also strained my hip and thigh.  I'd been working very hard attending these Scottish Government events to speak out and was exhausted.  At the same time I was aiming to do a PhD in Clinical Psychology, researching Safe haven crisis Houses, but this eventually fell through in May 2017, it wasn't a good fit.

I've got many interests these days, including knitting, sewing, swimming, gardening, cycling, walking, which can be summed up as creative crafting and exercise, keeping fit.  And of course writing.  I hope to tackle fiction in the future, writing stories, studying my Dad's science fiction scriptwriting in the Titan Books republications from 1986/7 around the time he died and 2008 the year I got involved in mental health matters, set up Peer Support Fife and my own Chrys Muirhead Associates website, and started blogging with the Wee Cat Diaries about Zena, Gypsy and Sooty, and Muirton Fairfield action research project in Perth:

Peer Support Fife website Jan08-Nov12

Chrys Muirhead Associates website, from Jan08, not updated much

wee cat diaries blog from Mar08-Jan09

Muirton Fairfield blog from Mar-Jul08

So it was blogging that got me into writing, good practice for speaking out on the PC via social networking (son Daniel got me started on Twitter, March 2012) and by Email when running vol org Peer Support Fife, and at one point I had a large Emailing list of over 800 contacts, local, national and international.  All of this without payment, working very hard, sometimes writing at the computer after waking early, for up to 6hrs at a time, passing on information, organising events and blogging.  In November 2011 I hosted American author Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic and then started writing on his Mad in America website January 2012, a great help when speaking out about systematic psychiatric abuse in Stratheden Hospital.



Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic, public lecture Cupar, Fife, Scotland, 19 November 2011 from Chrys Muirhead on Vimeo.


21 August 2013 blog post


So although I've got poorer financially over these 13 years I've achieved a lot, well done me!  It's been very therapeutic writing this blog post, remembering some of my achievements over these busy years of sharing my Lived Experience of making a full recovery from mental illness and of surviving psychiatric abuse in Scotland's mental health world.  

Some selfies of recent days out and about in Dundee ....