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 ....

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