Monday, 16 April 2012

Lengthy response to comments on previous page

I have had to publish this separately because it was too long to go in as a comment - I wrote it as a reply to yesterdays comments.

Thanks for the comments.  Rossa, I think the psychiatrist is more likely to 'find' that I never had schizophrenia when he goes back over the old records, despite the fact that he may be contradicting colleagues - because it is now in the interests of psychiatry to do so.  (Also, I wonder if some of them have retired by now?)  As I said, if I never had schizophrenia, my case does not then go against the received wisdom that there is no possible recovery without medication...  Don't worry, I am not in suspense.  I do wonder if I have scuppered my chances of being declared sane by airing the topic on here before he has reached his decision (there is a possibility he will be reading this) - but I wouldn't have done it if I was that bothered about the outcome.
I do wonder, in my more paranoid moments, whether there is a risk that others may stop their drugs because I am seen to manage well without them.  I wonder if this worries the mental health professionals, and that is why they are cautious about my apparent recovery.  If anybody ever asks me how I stopped the medication I always say (truthfully) that I did it under the auspices of the psychiatrist.  I would not have dared to try otherwise - I was always so frightened of being seen to be non-compliant and thus getting sectioned again.  But I wish more psychiatrists could see that breakdown is not the inevitable result of stopping medication - that people could learn to manage their own lives, given the chance, with the necessary support and if their life situation is sufficiently stable.

'Dr Jameson' asked whether I thought the diagnosis was wrong, and I said that although I think my problems should be seen in a human context - chidlhood trauma, extreme stress, anxiety, dope etc leading to a breakdown, I did fit all the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia.  He said those criteria have changed now - and in view of the fact that I was relatively well between breakdowns and am well now, I don't fit the usual pattern for the 'syndrome' of schizophrenia, as he called it.  I was going almost cross-eyed, I was trying so hard to concentrate and understand what he was on about...  I was mostly bemused but at one point a bit offended at how he was re-writing history as he spoke - he told me that I had suffered separate psychoses but had 'responded well to treatment'.  Responded well to treatment? I think not!  I think I recovered in spite of the bloody treatment!  I didn't dare say so though...

He was much softer when I first saw him ten years ago.  He used to listen a lot more than he talked; I used to leave his office feeling that I had talked too much.  But he was a good guy - and I don't think he is bad now (despite his delusions and fixations - so funny, cbtish!)  His outlook has certainly changed and he does seem entrenched in his viewpoint.  He did write down the stuff I told him about Finland and Mackler though...

I think it would be good if we could learn from each other - if we don't verbally attack psychiatrists they will be more likely to take our views on board.  It is frustrating sometimes, though - and I did find your comment so funny!  I would like to have a go at writing in your style!  But I have to go back and see the guy again - I don't want him to hate me, so I can't join in. 

And I have to be honest, even if you guys do see me as craven, or over-empathetic, or whatever.  (A friend once told me I was servile.... That hurt, but she was right.  She is not my friend any more though.  And I am not servile any more, thank goodness!)  'Dr Jameson' was supportive when I saw him years ago - he supervised my while I stopped the medication after my second daughter was born (although he advised me to start taking it in the first place).  I suppose he could have said I was deluded and stuck me on a regular depot injection instead!  Also, he saw me for quite a few appointments, each for quite a long time, probably going beyond the call of duty.  He was also the person who referred to my post-pueral breakdown as my, 'Third and final breakdown' which was a very clever way of putting it, and which certainly helped me to start thinking in positive terms of my illness being behind me. 

You are right, cbtish, I do go over old ground, often because I forget what I have said last year or the year before or because I just enjoy ruminating about it all over again.  Also I know that not everyone who reads this blog has read all the back posts, so I am sometimes deliberately repetitive.  The new book that I am writing about recovery from serious mental health problems will probably cover a lot of the ground that this blog does - so be warned!  I intended to write something completely different once the memoir was done - hopefully I will after the recovery book.  I would like to write something humourous - my writing used to be quite funny, but since I embarked on detailed analyses of mental health issues I seem to have lost my sense of humour.  I wonder why?

Anonymous: It will be interesting to see what conclusions the psychiatrist, or the 'Team' reach.  If they say I never had schizophrenia they will still be taking a risk as I could break down in the future, which I suppose would then be seen as a recurrence of the old 'illness'.  (I think a future breakdown is unlikely, but I can't be sure of that).  Then again, they seem to be in the business of forecasting the future, so maybe they will go for it.  Your son may have to wait a bit longer before he receives the benefit of hindsight - although hopefully meanwhile the Schizophrenia Commission will do away with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, which should help.   

I feel very sorry for your son.  He should defintely insist on getting his case looked at again.  Why should he have his life blighted by someone else's mistake?  However, he should not wait around for someone else's opinion to re-vadidate him, because that outcome is out of his control.  I know what happened to him was unfair, but he survived, and he should not feel any shame about being in a mental hospital.  Personally, I quite enjoy dropping the subject into conversations nowadays (odd, I know, but liberating).  If he can rebuild his confidence and maybe do some further study, or come up with some explanation for gaps in his CV, there is no reason why he should not get a good job in the future. 

In fact, I would advise studying as much as possible.  One of the people who most impressed me in London at the Schizophrenia Commission recovery meeting was an Asian man who said that following his breakdown he recovered by taking every course he could and gained lots of qualifications - in stark contrast to me who sat in Hahnemann House and ate and smoked for two years!  Another chap in London had a psychotic breakdown and now works in mental health research - an honourable and worthy thing to do.  Actually I would quite like to follow his example and have a career in academia - I will add that to the list of all the other things I would like to do with my life now that I feel able.

Tell your son he should not feel the need to disclose his medical history to a prospective employer - a friend of mine who is a solicitor told me to lie through my teeth about my breakdowns to get a job, because no-one would ever give me one if I was honest about the diagnosis.  I really believe now that mental health problems are preferable to physical ones (not that we have a choice) because full recovery is possible and we can even end up stronger than before.  Your son will have learned a lot about life along the way - once he lets go of the hurt and the injustice of it all he can move forward.

It does take time though, and I know I have been very lucky.  Getting the diagnosis retracted may help him to heal from the unfairness of it all - but it may take a while and may never happen (as for me) so he needs to take steps to move away from it himself.  It is a huge psychological burden - but he needs to reason his way out of it.  He knows he is a person not a diagnosis, and he needs to live as if he was never burdened with that label.  He needs to learn to disregard it.  I wish I had!

And with or without a retraction of diagnosis, I don't imagine any apology will be forthcoming, Anonymous, for me or for your son.  But if my diagnosis (and his) is retracted and that makes psychiatrists more cautious about diagnosing people in the future this can only be a good thing. They need to realise the impact these labels have on lives.  In fact, a friend told me today that her friend, who works in a private mental hospital, told her that in his hospital they now treat the symptoms of psychosis and avoid labelling, because they realise the negative effect that a mental health diagnosis has.  

My case is quite different from your son's - I was definitely psychotic on three occasions, and although there were explanations for why this happened, it wasn't the fault of the medical professionals.  And I don't think anybody diagnosed me for malicious reasons - although psychiatrists should realise what they are doing with these labels.

Anyway, good to hear from you all.  This reply has taken me over an hour to compose, I hope it is worth it!


  1. As you has 3 episodes of being psychotic/ completely mad/ call it what you will you must appreciate that Psychiatrists have no choice but to section people and medicate them for your own safety and that of the general public. People who have suffered this indignity would no doubt prefer not to have had that happen to them but do you honestly believe that if you hadnt been sectioned and medicated that you were safe to remain in society at the time? The diagnosis may be wrong name but treatment is necessary. I hope you can move on as you will only truely know you are recovered when your obsession with prooving you right over trained doctors with real experience and daily contact with mentally ill patients who are incapable of being independant comes to an end. Sadly when ill and then down the line your recount and what really happened will be blurred in your favour. Go and get some proper training and you will have a more valid argument for your diagnosis and management ideas. This will be more useful to the mental health community than one recovery story that is only really based on hearsay and your wish that it had never happened. I wish you well but have started to switch off from your story as my experience of mental health teams is that they do a hugely valid and very difficult job and you are constantly knocking their knowledge and experience based on your own view. Sorry but back it up with some medical evidence case reviews of the majority not the converted- why not do a Masters degree and then you can add but be more measured in the reality of those of us who work in this field. I note that you mean well but have some respect for those us in the field please.

    1. Interesting how you claim that the author of this blog is against psychiatrists and seems to think she knows more than they do, when she has repeatedly taken a more balanced approach. Yours is the sledgehammer approach. Give everybody who enters a psychiatric hospital drugs, even if they are not violent and not about to kill themselves. Round'em up, drug'em all.

  2. Thank you Louise for all you are saying: it is all very informative. My son was psychotic all right when he ended up in hospital: he thought that all the British police force was after him. Sadly his case is much more complicated than that and the medical profession made many more cock-ups and they know it. They started lying in case we sued them. By diagnosing him I suppose they felt safe. Well, it is all on their conscience. The young consultant psychiatrist in charge told outright lies at the tribunal when my son contested his section and I could see that he felt terrible about it. I am sure that his senior colleegue who had been in charge of my son's case before had asked him to say these things.The way that the judge never allowed us to put our side of the story was disgraceful. He believed what the doctor said outright. It doesn't say much for British justice. Like you say, my son will just have to learn to live with it. He will have to learn how to lie. For some reason he finds it very difficult and he feels besmirched by it all.

  3. Sorry, I replied to these comments but wrote so much again that I had to turn it in to another blog post! Hope this isn't becoming too confusing...