Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Another ridiculously long reply to previous comments.

OK - first I will reply to Anonymous 1 - the mother who has been communicating with me for a while.  Thank you for your comment - I was a little concerned in case you thought I was being harsh.  Rossa Forbes (the Holistic Recovery from Schizophrenia blogger) commented recently on here that her son is more sensitive than his two brothers and she thinks that may have been one of the factors in his illness.  So too with your son perhaps.  I know I have been over-sensitive in the past, and if I was tougher I may never have broken down in the first place.  So yes, unfortunately he needs to become an actor, as we all are at some level, in order to get through life successfully.

Truth is important to me, as I have often stated, and I hate the fact that people often lie, or obscure the truth, and think this doesn't matter.  I would advise your son to write his story down - he doesn't have to publish it, but if he wanted he could send it somewhere anonymously, and if he feels that he is being heard this might make him feel better.  I think the psychiatric system makes us feel powerless, and unfortunately there are people in the system who abuse their power.  We are still lucky when you look at the situation historically - at least now when we get better they let us out!  And, as I have also said lots of times before, I am glad now of the lessons that I have learned.  I blundered through life when I was young, making numerous mistakes because I knew no better.  Now I know enough to look after myself and have been blessed with a young family to be proud of and safeguard - every day I appreciate how fortunate I am,  and constantly check myself to make sure I am doing everything to the best of my ability.

Anonymous 2 - or new Anonymous.  Thank you for your comment too.  I look at my situation from all angles all the time - indeed it is fair to say that I have over-anaylsed it.  I am very aware that a lot of people will not believe my version of events, which is why I always try to be as clear as possible about what has happened in my life, so that people may find it all easier to understand.  I have only said what needed to be said - I have held back from some disclosures that may harm others.  But what I have said is the truth.

I can assure you that everything I have written in my book is true.  It may well be that the medical records tell a different story, but there is nothing I can do about that.  And I am not trying to 'prove myself right' against trained professionals at all - I only went to see the psychiatrist last week because I wanted to record that I have recovered from the so-called schizophrenia.  I want to regain back the freedom that has been taken from me, so that I can take my proper place in society, and do things that are presently legally barred to me (like jury service).  I never suggested that I had been misdiagnosed, but I am not objecting if that is what the doctors in their wisdom decide has happened.   

I would love to do a Masters.  If anybody ever wants to fund me for further training, I will be delighted to undertake it.  (Incidentally, do you have a Masters degree to back up your own strongly held views?  If not, then maybe we should enrol on the same course..)  Meanwhile, I will do whatever work I can get in the mental health field, probably in Peer Support.  I don't know if you have looked at the Mad in America site, but there are lots of medically qualified people on there saying the same sort of things that I say from personal experience - that there is a fundamental lack of dignity in the mental health system, that the diagnosis acts as a barrier to recovery, and so on.

It is the mental health system that I object to, not the individuals who work within it.  I have learned a fair amount from being in the system for so long.  I have met many people with mental health problems on a personal level, and I do know a lot about what led them to breakdown and what helps them to recover.  I know this from speaking to them, because they have told me.

As for respect, I respect those people who respect others - as I made clear in my book, there were good nurses and bad nurses when I was in hospital, and the quality of care made a world of difference to the patients.  I certainly don't 'constantly knock' the 'knowledge and experience' of mental health teams per se.  'cbtish' commented here yesterday that I know more about mental health than the psychiatrists - I have never made that claim for myself, and nor do I think it is true.  I am only an expert on my own mental health - although I do extrapolate from this to say what I think would be good for other people who find themselves in emotional distress, because I want to help those people to become well. 

You also talk about 'my wish that it had never happened'.  I don't wish this at all.  I have said countless times on here that I am grateful for the whole experience - I have learned a lot from it all and I am still learning.  If I had never been ill I would never have met Paul and had my kids - I have been priveleged to be able to stay at home with them for so long - my life is just great, and getting better all the time.  If I had not been ill I might be a lawyer now with a nine to five (or nine to seven) job, with maybe two children who I never saw when they were growing up because they had to go to childcare so that I could work.  I might be richer, but I could not have been happier than I am now (don't intend to sound smug, obviously no-one's life is perfect...) Partly I am happy now because I was so unhappy in the past.  That's fine.

And yes, I was psychotic and sectioned three times, and no, I don't believe this was necessary for my protection or that of the public.  I was not suicidal or violent.  I was scared, and desperate.  If when I was nineteen and I became psychotic (or extremely emotionally distressed, if you want to look at it in human terms) there had been another safe place for me to go rather than St Anns (and by safe I don't mean secure, I mean staffed by human beings that I could trust and who would have seen to my basic human needs - food, shelter and so on) I think I might have recovered better and not had the subsequent breakdowns. I don't know this for sure of course - hindsight again - but what are experiences for if not to learn from?  I would like to go to a Soteria house if I ever become ill again - which I hope I never will.  Apparently there is a new one opening soon in Brighton.  I am going to establish some links, just in case!

I try to write about what I have learned - the healing power of human kindness, for example.  'Dr Jameson' was/is kind to me and speaks to me as a human and an equal - I made that clear in my post.  I have had good, bad and indifferent treatment from other mental health professionals.  I know the difference, and it is vitally important.  I repeat, it is the system that needs to change, so that bad treatment does not become or remain institutionalised. 

I had better stop here or all this won't fit in the comment box again!  But let me end by saying that you are welcome to 'switch off' from my story any time you like - I don't need anybody's attention, I am just trying to help and I do this by writing my blog because I enjoy writing.  But do try to keep your mind open to other views.  It is important in your line of business!

You could start by taking a look at Ron Unger's blog.  Or Duane Sherry's 'Discover and Recover'.  Or some of the others that I have referred to on here - all written by capable and understanding people, some of them medically qualified.

PS Obviously it was too late to stop - the comment wouldn't fit the box again.  I must stop this over-lengthy replying habit soon, or I won't have time to do anything else.


  1. Thanks for your reply: every word you say is helpful. I believe every word you are writing in your memoir also to be true: it tallies with my life experience as well as my son's experience in the mental health service. And you are right, my son is too sensitive for his own good: he will have to toughen up.As for anonymous 2, I suspect she works for the mental health services or sounds like it. Don't let anyone put you off: you are easy to talk to and you are plucky. Because you have been through it all, your heart is in the right place. Keep up the good work.

  2. It's me again! I just reread your post and one thing stood out. You say "I want to regain back the freedom that has been taken from me" and I think you express very well how it feels to be diagnosed "mentally ill". I think that is exactly how my son feels: trapped by this unfair diagnosis which is stopping him to live his life in peace and quiet. They keep writing letters to him, stating that they want to check on him and believe me, it is the last thing he wants. He wants them to leave him alone to get on with his life.

  3. Hi. Yes, that must be difficult for your son - I wonder how long it would take before they stopped writing him letters? I suppose if he wants to challenge the diagnosis - and it sounds like he should - he will have to meet with mental health professionals at some point. Perhaps he could contact a psychologist instead of a psychiatrist - they seem to have a different attitude to mental health, and would probably suit him better - he might feel more able to trust a psychologist and they might be able to help boost his self-esteem.

    Alternatively, CBT worked wonders for me, as I have said on here lots of times recently, and can be accessed by self-referral (at least it can in my local area, through IAPT - I am not sure if this is available nationwide. If not, the GP could refer your son.)

    I think that the opportunity to speak to someone impartial and understanding, out of the circle of his family and friends, might help your son to finally put all this behind him and move on.

    I hope things work out for you both, and look forward to hearing from you again. All the best, Louise