Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Links to various news articles

A lot of mental health articles in the news seem to be going over the same old ground - or stating what seems to be perfectly obvious, like this one:


Of course, I think to myself, obviously suffering abuse as a child leads to risk of schizophrenia (I know, I would think that).

However, I find that mental health articles in the news are always worth a read - for example, in this piece Richard Bentall, who led the study that this article reports on, points out that there is no such strong and consistent link to genetic theories regarding psychosis.  And later in the article Louise Arseneault, a senior lecturer from the Institute of Psychiatry, says that it is interesting that the risk of child abuse extends to states such as psychosis, which was previously thought to be influenced by genetic factors.  So is the establishment starting to pay attention? 

Personally I don't think that genes mean a stuff in comparison to upbringing, and I like this article because it backs up my pet theory and implies that my kids should be ok as long as I continue to do my utmost to give them a secure upbringing.

But then I am aware that people who have had a difficult upbringing are extremely likely to pass some of this influence onto their kids.  I think the strength of this effect is how the genetic theory of mental illness took hold.  I do think it is necessary to see that this is not genetically determined though - it helps both the parents and their children to know that they have a choice about their behaviour and their reactions to the behaviour of others. 

Another interesting thing about this article, to me, is that it makes clear the fact that child abuse can also lead to physical health problems.  Presumably these are not the genetic sort of health problem, and nobody is suggesting that they are?  So why are mental health issues put down to genetics?  Perhaps so that people are absolved from guilt about their parenting...

If this is the reason, then I think it is erroneous thinking.  Nothing in life is certain, and because your child suffers mental health problems I don't think it should be laid at your door.  Even in cases where the child was abused, it may not have been deliberate (in my case, I think my father would have been a better and calmer parent if only he had known how to be, and I don't think my mother ever chose to have an alcohol problem.  Any more than I chose to be over-sensitive.  It just was how it was - a tangle that needed to be sorted out, and my mental health problems were the catalyst that led me to a better understanding of my personality and how I would have to adjust in order to get along in the world). 

Other people may have been perfect parents - or perfectly good enough parents - but their children happened to fall in with the wrong crowd and lead an erratic lifestyle which led to breakdown, or may have had experimental personalities - or something.  Whatever.  The point is, if we look at these problems as genetic and brain disease centred, and therefore permanent and immutable, we are not helping to solve them - we are removing a sense of guilt which should not be there in the first place, but in the process we are obscuring the solution.   

And what is the solution.  42? 

Hope and love, perhaps, and hard work.  And time.  And trust. 

Anyway, enough for now.  Read the article, if you get a chance.  Anything that sheds more light can only be a positive thing, and this piece does, I think, shed a little more light.

Friday, 25 May 2012

CBT and The Untroubled Mind

I had a session of CBT yesterday.  It was supposed to be my last one - I hadn't been for two months and this was a sort of signing off session.  I have made so much progress in my personal life in the six months or so since the sessions began, and even begun to sow the seeds of a career. 

But a few days ago I realised that I still had one major issue that I hadn't raised in CBT and that if I didn't take this opportunity to talk about it with someone I trusted, it might be hanging over me for ever.  It was not ruining my life - I love my life - but it was worrying me, and making matters permanently seem less than perfect.

Anyway, I plucked up my courage and spoke about what was bothering me right at the beginning of the session, and as usual the therapist was really helpful.  I came out of the session feeling so peaceful, and still feel that way today.  Amazing.

I would really advise everyone who goes for CBT or any other therapy to be totally honest with the therapist.  I have had problems with trust for a long time, so I always held back until now - but no counsellor or therapist can treat you properly unless they are in possession of all the facts. 

So I have one more session booked, and hopefully that really will be the last.  I think the problem that I spoke about yesterday has already gone - but I will just test that out over the next six weeks or so until I see her for - hopefully - the very last time.  I don't think I am clinging on or becoming dependent - I just don't want to have to go back again a few years down the line.  And I thought it would be nice to end the sessions knowing that I am completely healed - plus I want to thank the therapist properly for all that she has done.

CBT - go for it, anyone who has any worries about anything!  Ten or tweleve sessions have made the most incredible difference to my existence.  And I really think that is it now - I have no more worries that I don't think I can cope with now that I have been equipped with the means to do so. 

By coincidence, yesterday afternoon I started reading The Untroubled Mind, by Herbert J Hall.  I had downloaded this free to my Kindle several months ago, but not looked at it yet.  After I saw the counsellor I came home and sat quietly in my garden to eat lunch.  I then decided to do something unprecedented - go to the outside swimming pool of the local club where we have family membership, and read a book, alone, in the sun.

Toddler was at play school, and the others at school, so there was nothing to stop me indulging myself.  I have never done this before - it seemed so decadent - there is always so much to do at home.  But I had just taken the washing in and hung some more out, it really was too hot to hoover or clean much, and I only had an hour before I had to collect Toddler, which I knew would not be enough time to work on my book - I have to spend quite a lot of time recapping the last chapters before I begin the next.

Anyway, I didn't feel as if I needed an excuse.

And this is the magical thing.  I sat by the pool, dangled my legs in the water, and opened The Untroubled Mind on the Kindle.  I had no idea of what  I was going to read - although obviously the title sounded psychotherapeutic.  And then I started to read, and every word seemed to chime with me.  All the things I believe about how to achieve mental health, and the place of God in healing (as a spiritual concept, without the necessity of religion to politicise matters) - all this was written down, expressed in the most elegant language.  It was like a gift.

Hall is so enlightened.  For example, he says, 'I do not even assume that there is a God in the traditional sense... But I do feel vaguely that the laws that compass us, and make our lives possible, point always on - "Beyond the realms of time and space" - toward the existence of a mighty overruling spirit.  If this is a cold and inadequate conception of God, it is at least one that can be held by any man without compromise'.  (To be perfectly honest, towards the end of the book the author says that, having accepted the possibility of the existence of God, it is only one step further to acknowledge the existence of Christ.  But I see this bit as optional, because he makes this so clear earlier in the book, and I think it is important not to try to regulate the nature of anyone's spiritual belief).

He writes of the importance of resting when one has been mentally ill (he calls it nervous exhaustion, a much more humane term).  He also says that we should not over-think, but keep busy to distract ourselves.  So he speaks of therapeutic work, and how it should be carefully managed.  He describes how he arranged for one of his patients who had, 'an illness of the mind and of the nerves, and not of the body, although the body had suffered in its turn' to do some work as a blacksmith while he returned to full health.  'That young man, instead of becoming a nervous invalid as he might have done, is now working steadily in partnership with his father, in business in the city'. 

And he goes on to say (I had to smile here), 'I had found him a very interesting patient, full of originality and not at all the tedious and boresome person he might have become had I listened day after day, week after week, to the recital of his ills'. 

 Anyway, I am in danger of typing out the whole book here, which would  be silly.  SO here is the link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Untroubled-Mind-ebook/dp/B004TOXSRA

I have not yet finished reading - it is only a short book, but I want to savour every word.  I have just turned to it again, because I couldn't resist, and immediately found this sentence, 'Most good character has been built upon mistakes and failings'.  And again, 'I know of no bodily ill or handicap which we may not eventually rise above and beyond by means of brave spiritual progress'. Whoops, off I go again... Follow that link!

It is such enlightened writing.  I am so pleased to have found it - and especially at such a serendipitious time.  Lucky me! 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Rethink Mental Illness Activist Training Day

I have been to London again!  It was so nice - a two hour journey on the train to Waterloo, then a perfect half an hour walk along the Thames to the Rethink Mental Illness offices on Albert Embankment.  A day discussing important issues in the company of congenial people.  A free lunch.  And then another long train journey home on which to languish lazily, reading and gazing and thinking and grazing...  Such peace. 

I cannot exaggerate the sense of freedom and independence that comes with a day in the big City - well, it has that effect on me, probably because I have become so parochial in the last twelve years or so that I practically never leave the few square miles around my home, and if I do then I hardly ever do so alone. 

My first day in London for a mental health event, back in March, just felt so empowering.  Woman can build!  (Family joke, sparked by something my ten year old said when she saw my friends assembling the table I had bought on our ladies' trip to Ikea.  She watched in wonder before exclaiming in awe - 'I just feel so, like, woman can build!'  By which I think she meant, empowered).

Anyway, I had been looking forward to this event, and I was not so nervous about it as I was the last time, although I had been feeling a bit wobbly at the end of last week and over the weekend and am starting to think this might have been stress rather than the bug I attributed it to at the time.  Who knows...

It did go really well.  I met some great people, including a Rethink Trustee who I had the good fortune to be seated next to.  She was lovely.  Another lady at our table turned out to live very close to me.  She looked familiar, and we realised that we had both attended a local networking event last year.  Small world.

The tone of the event was lively - people had plenty to say, and we all learned something about campaigns, how to organise them, and established what sort of issues are important to us as people affected by mental health issues.  We did some group work, and I offered to scribe, then ended up reading out the thoughts which were pooled at our table.  I enjoyed this, although I did worry whether I had done the job adequately - and still don't honestly know how I came across.  I should have recorded myself - but then I would probably have been really self-conscious. 

I forget sometimes how new all this is to me - a year ago I was still hiding my diagnosis from the world, in fact I was still pretty shy and retiring and beset by nerves.  Now I am attending meetings in London and learning about campaigning... I would never have believed myself capable of giving a presentation like I did today - and enjoying it!  It is all such a huge change.

I do worry sometimes that my experience is so different from that of the average service user.  I suppose the fact is that I am not really a service user - I was once, but I was never dependent on services, in fact I was always eager to get away from them.  Apart from benefits of course, which I didn't like taking but knew I had to, because they protected me from the worst effects of stress and gave me time to heal.

Most of the other activists today (the term activist sounds interestingly edgy, but it basically just means campaigners) are still reliant on services to some extent - I think I am right in saying this - and so when I pitch up talking about how the use of restraint and long term medication needs to be reviewed I must seem a bit off track.  They want to concentrate on services, I want to concentrate on recovery and moving away from the need for services.

The fact is, I feel so much happier now that I am earning my own living - but it has taken me an exceedingly long time to get this far.  So I do understand how others feel - that there is no hope of recovery - and sometimes I think I must be pretty annoying insisting that there is hope, and that I have personal experience of it.  I can completely understand the need for decent service provision, and I think anyone who needs benefits should have them for as long as possible - as I have said on here before, I don't believe in the term benefit scrounger, I think anyone who felt capable of doing a job would do so for the sake of self respect and decent remuneration - if only life were so simple.

And I know some people don't recover from serious mental illness, for whatever reason.  I met a mother today whose son has schizophrenia - he has no other relatives and she is terrified of what will happen to him when she can no longer care for him - it is an awful predicament.  I feel pretty useless waltzing in and saying, 'Look at me, I was ill and now I'm fine!' in this sort of situation.  What help is that?

And yet - and yet, it is true, there is a real possibility of recovery from serious mental illness.  It is just that those of us who do recover from so-called schizophrenia go into hiding, because that is the only sensible way to react to a label like that.  Sometimes I wonder on days like today if I am a bit manic - if I have lost touch with reality and have just got my rose tinted glasses stuck on. 

I was pretty full on - I told everyone how much better I felt about speaking up about my diagnosis - I do, almost all of the time, except that I occasionally panic about the long term effect of all this on my kids.  I hope it will make them more caring, understanding and enlightened adults - I do hope so, so much so.

I also talked about the Hospital Radio Bedside interview and how I had enjoyed it - again, true, except that it threw me when Helen said she wanted the interview to have a positive spin (because the listeners were bed-ridden) and when she asked me questions about my early childhood and education which I really wasn't prepared for (Paul edited these parts out of the radio interview that you find at the top of this blog).

So I was a bit relentlessly upbeat, and then I rushed off at the end of the day to catch my train and didn't even say goodbye to anyone properly.  (Note to self, next time do not run at full pelt along the Embankment towards the train, stopping only to take a picture of Parliament for the kids, and then break into a run again, and as a consequence almost trip over the flagstones and break one's neck.  Instead, say goodbye in a slow and civilised fashion, then saunter back to Waterloo enjoying the weather, the atmosphere, the ambience and the wonderful view.  These trips to London are not likely to be frequent - they should be savoured).

Anyway, what's done is done, and it was a good day, and I am proud that I was able to be there and to contribute.  I shall give myself a pat on the back instead of berating myself for where I went wrong because at the end of the day, nothing is perfect, but I think it helps to look on the bright side. 

However, I do understand that some things really seem not to have a positive slant - I very much recall feeling helpless and hopeless - it was not all that long ago.  There is so much wrong with the mental health system - sometimes it seems so overwhelming.  But we have come a long way - as evidenced today by one old chap at the back of the room, who clearly had lost a lot of years to his mental health problems.  I think young people today have a far better chance of recovery than he ever did - he was probably institutionalised from his late teens and only let out in the eighties with the advent of care in the community.  Poor old thing.

Anyway, if any of those people who I handed my cards out to today are reading this - fellow activists -  it really was great to meet you all, and I hope to see you again.  To the Rethink Mental Illnes staff - thank you for everything - and if you need anybody to come to London again, for anything at any time - I am at your disposal.       
And the best bit of the day?  Paul bringing all the kids to collect me from the station, and getting greeted like a homecoming queen.  Back to reality - and it's the best place to be.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Reply to Rossa

Hi Rossa.  I did my usual thing - spent so long replying to your comment on my previous post that my reply ended up being too long, so I have had to make it into a new post.

I don't think I will relapse either - but I wouldn't dismiss the possibility - it is never far from my mind.  If I suffered major stress - if something awful happened - I think I would be very vulnerable.  It is a bit of a conundrum - always expecting to get ill is not good for the mental health, but neither is refusing to acknowledge the possibility of it.

Well, I would say that the key in staying mentally healthy is to remain calm.  This gets easier as you get older - I used to get over-excited about things and a bit obsessive and then kind of go off at a tangent.  This is why I base my mental health strategy on preventative measures - eating properly, exercising, sleeping well and so on.  Having kids has helped me immeasurably - keeping a routine has become very important, and I know how vital it is for them that I remain stable.  Also, having a partner has been crucial - you already know how supportive Paul has been.  He also helps my hormones (I joke that he has restored my chemical balance) - physical affection is a great healer.

I never used to think of myself as having a mental health problem - which is why I never saw the warning signs.  And the main reason I kept breaking down was because I was always so anxious and panicky and worried about everything.  I don't know how your son is - but I would guess that he suffers from anxiety at some level - I feel instinctively that this condition is at the root of most (perhaps all) mental health problems.  The single biggest thing I have done to help myself, and the thing that has made me strongest, is learning to deal with this anxiety.  I did this through CBT - recognising negative thought patterns, learning to replace them with positive thoughts, changing my core beliefs to positive ones, learning to care about myself.  Conquering my anxiety has really revolutionalised my life - I now take pleasure in things that I would have found an absolute trial before.

Your son should value himself - I just googled Recovery Innovations, Arizona, because this is the recovery model that my new employers base themselves on, and there was some interesting stuff on there about the importance of work in establishing a sense of self esteem and purpose.  So I hope he is busy...  Don't let him feel bad about what he has been through, because although 'going mad' is a really humiliating experience, it shouldn't be.  Show him Jung's writing, which says essentially that he is a more complete human being because he has suffered psychosis! 

I consciously relax if I feel myself getting stressed.  There is a brilliant website called Glasgow Steps with all sorts of hints - I like their guided relaxation technique.  You can google that too. 
I guess if there is someone your son can trust - someone not too close - it would help.  He might well know if he was becoming ill, but might not want to worry you by talking to you about it.  When I felt odd after waking up from the anaesthetic after my foot op last year, I really should have told a medical professional, but didn't because I thought they might just section me.  Is there a mental health phone line he could call for reasssurance, or someone supportive he could speak to if he became worried about his mental health?  

Does your son write?  I know I would say this because I am a writer - but I think it is a really therapeutic thing to do, to put your feelings down on paper - they are then out of your mind.  So he could keep a journal - although he would need to be sure it was private.  Or he could take a creative writing class and disguise his emotions in stories, or work through emotions and thoughts he thinks other people might have.  Or, if he is musical (I know you said he sings) he might prefer to write lyrics or music to satisfy his creative needs.

I presume he has a written record of his early warning signs - perhaps he could add to it with a list of positive things he can do to keep himself healthy, so that at times of stress he can refer to this and just try and stay on track.

Most of all, keep loving him as you do - it will mean a lot to him, even if he doesn't always show it.  My own mother has her failings (she is drinking again very heavily these days, I despair for her health) but the fact that she loves me has been central to my recovery - I always knew she believed in me, she never thought I was a schizophrenic, no matter how much I believed it myself.  

Hope it helps.  I could go on - this is all stuff I have been thinking about recently, for inclusion in my recovery book.  I will send you a copy of that when I have finished it - you can even proof read it for me if you have time.  I have been neglecting 'Blog-land' recently, but have had a great time catching up today - and thanks for your comment.  It is always good to hear from you.

All the best

I was about to write a post, but got distracted by something from Beyond Meds that showed on my dashboard - about Robert Whitaker's response to E.Fuller Torrey.  Then I read an article on Beyond Meds written by someone who has recovered from schizophrenia, although she still hears voices - Eleanor Longden.  Then I watched the most amazing YouTube film of Suzanne Beachy, 'What's next for the truth'. 

It has been an hour very well spent.  So the best thing I can do is provide you with the links to the things I read and watched on the Beyond Meds website - it really is the most amazing resource.  Here's the link for Suzanne Beachy's talk:


Here' s the Eleanor Longden article: 


And here's Whitaker - the Master - http://beyondmeds.com/?s=whitaker%2C+Torrey

I had a dream last night that I was psychotic, or just becoming psychotic - it was very alarming to feel that I was losing control.  I remember wondering who to go for help and how I would ask...  I was very pleased to wake up sane.

I used to have very frightening dreams on a regular basis - at least several times a week.  That happened from when I was very young, and right through my life since, especially at the times when I was very unhappy and not functioning at all well.  Now that things are settled in my life I rarely remember my dreams - when I do, I find it interesting to observe how daytime worries are played out in our dreams.  

My application to be a Peer Specialist has finally been approved and I am now employed, on a very part time basis.  I had to go to the office a couple of days ago, to sort out some details with the Business Development Manager.  I  was asked how I would cope if I became unwell - it was made clear that this was not a discrimatory question, but that all employees are encouraged to think about these things.  They are a very enlightened employer. 

I think I gave the wrong answer - although it was an honest one - that I cope well with stress, have been busy and challenged at times in the last twelve years bringing up my kids, and that it has been a long time since I was unwell, therefore I don't anticipate that this will happen.  I did add that I make sure I always sleep and eat well, exercise and so on. 

I think the right answer would have been that I would inform the employer I was feeling stressed, and ease off on the workload until I felt better.  I think my answer probably suggested complacency about my mental health.  I am actually quite aware of my mental health - perhaps a little over-sensitive to it - and for the last day or two since the meeting I have actually been a little stressed. 

It is a big change, going out to work - something that I have wanted and feel ready for, but still a change.  I have found myself thinking how uncomplicated life could be if I didn't bother to push myself - I could still write from home, it would be easier to keep up with the housework and childcare, and there would be no pressure.  I found myself nostalgic for the days when I could just saunter around, without a care in the world...

Then I remembered that I am just not like that.  That during all these years when I have been based at home I have always pushed myself, always felt that I should be doing more, never felt completely fulfilled.  What I have wanted is to be using my mind in the workplace, which I finally have the chance to do, and also to make a difference to the outcomes of those with serious mental health problems like I once had - to be instrumental in giving hope to others.

What I now have is the most fantastic opportunity - part-time work in the field that interests me most, the chance to feel useful at last (I know I have been useful bringing up the kids, but actually I think it will now do them good to have a mother who is forging a career as well as catering to their needs).  It is great to feel that I will have a place in the world at large.    

Anyway, the dream was clearly my subconscious questioning whether I would cope with work - and it did my mind good, because I woke up this morning feeling happier about the fact that everything is moving in the right direction.  As long as I can still find the time to write, all will be well in my life - so I am off now to do some more work on my recovery book.

Have a good day! 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Paperback available in the UK

I am pretty excited about this - the paperback of my memoir is now available in the UK.  I feel as though I have been announcing its imminent availability for about six months - well never mind, because it has finally arrived!

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Surviving-Schizophrenia-Memoir-Louise-Gillett/dp/0956693733

Now, don't be put off by the 'Out of Stock' announcement on Amazon.  The book is not out of stock - I ordered fifty copies a couple of days ago from the print on demand company who issue them, Lightning Source, and they have arrived already.  If you order on Amazon, the book will be with you really quickly - and very soon it should be possible to order from online retailers like WHSmith and Waterstones too.  Maybe it will even appear in bookshops soon - or eventually.  You could also order from the Twynham Press website.

Anyway, this is a real step forward - although I am not resting on my laurels.  I am only a writer for as long as I keep writing, so I am busy working on my new book, which is about recovery from serious mental illness (working title - 'How to Recover from a Nervous Breakdown' - other suggestions gratefully received).  The new book is coming on nicely - maybe not as quickly as I might have hoped, but then I have had my fingers in other pies meanwhile. 

I put my money where my mouth was today (see yesterday's post) - I cycled up to the shops, duly helmeted.  It was raining, but I still found it a pleasurable experience - especially the feeling of avoiding the traffic, and not having to queue for or pay for parking, or having to rush back to my car after an hour for fear of getting a penalty ticket. 

I also taught my writing class - well, it is more of a writing group and there was probably an equal ratio of chatting to writing today, but it too was highly enjoyable. 

I also cleaned the house today, sorted out some washing and walked the dog.  This evening I have worked for several hours on my recovery book.  I have probably peaked now, and will fall sharply tomorrow into some sort of trough of inactivity and stupor which may last for some time (I won't, it's a joke, admittedly a weak one) but I am going to sleep with a sense of a day well and fully spent.  In fact, I think I may well be asleep already..........

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sunshine and Bicycles!

What a relief it has been for the last few days, not to get wet on exiting the house.  I actually like the rain - I don't mind getting wet, and I have never been one of those women who fusses about what water does to the state of their hair.   But the wet weather was getting a little monotonous - especially because we have been blessed with some beautiful springs over the last few years.  In fact, March and April, and perhaps May, have often been more clement than the summer months.  So the rain came as a surprise this year, and literally a bit of a dampener. 

And it has gone on, and on.  In late February I bought an annual family pass for some nearby gardens.  It has been so wet since - or we have been busy on the odd days that it has been dry - that we went for the first time today.  It was a wonderful afternoon - the children love the place, although there is not a great deal to do there.  They charge around, playing hide and seek and other games, and Paul and I amble around feeling very lucky to be alive.  They have even relaxed the rules now so that you can take your dog, on a lead, so our little dog came too and had a very nice time (as far as I could tell - she was certainly doing all the appropriate tail wagging and happy-looking panting that we we associate with happiness in canines).  Perfect.

I got my bicycle out yesterday, for the first time since I had my bunion operation last July.  My feet are fine now, by the way, although they took far longer to heal than I had expected.  I look after them assidiously - after all the years of ignoring my feet because I didn't like the look of them, I now realise how important these appendages are (is appendage the right word for a foot?  It looked wrong so I just looked it up, and it is the right term after all).  I moisturise and massage them every night, and today my toenails are nicely shaped and painted pink.   I intend never to neglect such an important part of my body again. 

Where was I? - oh yes, cycling.  Little daughter and I went up to town on our bikes yesterday, and it was such a success that we went again today, with her sister and a friend.  I always make sure the children wear their helmets - they have grown up with this safety precaution actually, and they wouldn't think of doing anything else.  But I have never worn one - not because of vanity, but just because I never have worn one.  I know I should though - a dear friend was killed on his bicycle some years ago, and I have heard of some serious accidents where a cycle helmet would almost certainly have acted as damage limitation.  (Although there is another point of view that motorists actually take less care if a cyclist is wearing a helmet as they think he is then less likely to get injured). 

Anyway, yesterday I felt guilty about my non-helmet wearing stance - what sort of example was I setting after all? - and so today I wore one for the first time.  It is one of the children's cast-offs, so it didn't fit properly, but at least it was there - and soon I am going to buy myself a proper one.  It was lovely to ride my bike to the town - quick and easy, with no worries about parking or traffic queues, and so I have resolved to do this during the week for shopping whenever possible, instead of driving in.  Wearing a helmet, of course.

The rain is back tomorrow, so the dear old BBC say, and on Tuesday too.  But there is sunshine in the offing again for Wednesday and Thursday - so hurrah, and rejoice and everything.  Spring hopefully will soon have sprung at last.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Perils of Antipsychotic Drugs

Here is a link to an article on today's BBC news website. 


The headline is 'Antipsychotic drugs made me want to kill myself'.  And yet the article goes on to make the claim that despite the terrible side-effects of these medications, taking them is still a good thing.  This annoys me rather - it is lazy, one-sided reporting.  I could do better!

The article cites somebody from the Institute of Psychiatry who claims that it is better to take medication than not to.  Nothing is suggested to the contrary, although there are plenty of studies to show that people recover better without medication (like the ones that Dr Alison Brabban recently pointed me to, that I cited on here).

Then on the 'informational' bar on the side of the article, the Royal College of Psychiatry is quoted, saying that the 'new' antipsychotics are better than the 'old' ones.  Says who?  I have heard a lot of evidence that there is not a lot to choose between the side effects of any of them.   

What bothers me is that a major piece like that on a reputable site (I love the BBC) purporting to 'prove' something, gives totally the wrong impression.  It will have huge repercussions; people will think that information is gospel now, because a BBC reporter has cited 'The latest research'.  What happened to balanced reporting - you argue one side of the story, then you put the other, and you leave the reader to decide. 


Friday, 4 May 2012

Nurse with Glasses

I came across 'Nurse with Glasses' a while ago on Twitter.  Now she has started a blog.  I like this post 'Twenty Commandments for Mental Health Workers'.  I wish there had been something about investigating alternative treatments to medication - but I guess that is beyond her remit just now.  Good stuff though, Nurse with Glasses.
Here's the link:

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

You Tube radio link

My beloved husband has spent the last few days figuring out how to link the recording of the radio interview I did the other day to this blog.  Eventually he went onto You Tune and uploaded it - he had to do this in two parts, because the file was too big.  So, here's the link if anyone is interested - it comprises two fifteen minute clips.  I was on the radio to talk about my book, but with the wider aim of opening up the subject of mental health and all that jazz...


I am obviously not a broadcaster, nor especially good at thinking on my feet and expressing myself coherently - there were a lot of things I wished later that I'd said, or said more clearly.  But still, for a first try I don't think it's a complete disgrace.  Let me know your views...I'm not fishing for compliments, though, honest!  Any tips for a better performance next time - if there is a next time - would be greatly appreciated.

And I will find some time to blog properly soon - at the weekend, if not before.  I have been distracted by a myriad of other things, but this blog and all it stands for remains very important to me, so I will definitely update it soon.