Update

Hi. I have been more consistent with my sleep and medication schedule. I bought a diary to make notes on things like the time I take my medication.

Still doing mindfulness yoga which is very helpful. My mental health nurse seems to have suddenly left the scene with no explanation. Overheard conversation of an nhs psychologist today about pressure to ditch clients after 7 sessions. Feel like the whole system is threadbare. Feel it is lip service. Could do better. I heard New Zealand pumps more money now into mental health but I’m not in favour if it goes to the pseudoscientists at the royal college of psychiatry. I happened to be in a hotel the other day where there was a psychiatry conference. I felt like rushing up to people and saying ‘of course you know psychiatry is all bollocks’. Did t

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‘A variety of factors affect mental health’ – well no way!

I was thinking about my mental health situation. When I was a teenager I took Roaccutane, a drug for acne. Later it was revealed or discussed that Roaccutane triggers either suicidal thoughts or psychosis in young men. Apparently there was even a case in the US where a young man who went psychotic after taking Roaccutane tried to drive a plane into a high rise building re-enacting 9/11. Apparently there was a court case in 2002 where a patient sued the pharmaceutical company Roche but I can’t see what the outcome was and I wonder if it was settled out of court? 

When I mention it to my mental health workers they just say ‘a variety of factors’ impact mental health. But there seems to be some link here? 

My perfect mental health system (fragments/ notes)

Soteria houses; welcoming crisis houses where psychotic people are given 1-2-1 attention rather than psychiatric drugs. Or psychiatric drugs are used sparingly and not for long term use. 

(I read some psychiatric texts from before widespread use of pharmaceuticals in mental health. Some people didn’t respond to psychoanalysis. They were just like hopeless cases). 

Gardens can be healing. 

Good home cooked food linked to market gardens. 

A media that tells the truth.

I read a book that explained how the emergence of electric light coincided with a huge rise in psychiatric disorders. 

In my world a psychiatric hospital would contain a library with lots of art books and poetry books. An activity room with desks and writing/drawing materials. 

more to come…

Using NHS customer care

If you are receiving care from an NHS mental health trust in the U.K. there is usually another related organisation called PALS or sometimes customer care. It’s a channel to air complaints mostly. It’s quite useful if you want to get the NHS bureaucracy to move its gear wheels. 

PALS itself is quite slow and bureaucratic but they do know how to push certain buttons within the system. For example I recently requested to change my social worker and PALS was able to set that in motion. Although as I’ve mentioned they do work quite lethargically.

Previously I’ve even gotten a meeting with the head of the trust through PALS. 

What PALS is not good at is looking at anything outside the pre-existing NHS tickboxes. So they are not good for requesting alternative treatments that aren’t approved by NICE or doing anything much more radical than pulling the pre-existing levers of complaint. 

Medication #1

I feel exhausted all the time. I’m on a mixture of psychiatric medication. It generally makes me sleep 14 hours a day. When I am awake I feel zombified and unable to concentrate.

The local pharmacy delivers my medication every week in a little cardboard container with all the days marked out in little cellophane boxes. It’s another sign that I am disabled and can’t be trusted to know the day of the week.

Currently there is an issue with my medication but the pharmacist won’t talk to the doctor so I have to make an appointment, wait a month and still the problem will be miscommunicated.

The medication generally has a sedative effect. Some people argue that the medication is in some way targetting certain neuro transmitters but to my understanding they are really just downers. 

More soon…

The rise of the mental health gurus

I wanted to write about mental health gurus. 

There seems to be a brand of mental health urban warriors (facilitated by the internet) who shake their funky stuff round cyberspace selling the idea that yoga can cure mental health and if you just do enough psychoanalysis or take the right herbs you will be liberated from bipolar or schizophrenia.

These mental health gurus hang out on you tube or at hearing voices conferences. The mental health jet set. They sashay  through the world spreading their gospel of med reduction and mental health alternatives.

It’s kind of an industry. Some of these people are peer counsellors charging a $100 a time for coaching sessions. They have probably been interviewed on madness radio!

I find most of these people 1) suffered a breakdown 2) had a bad time 3) discovered something like Kabbalah, macrobiotic diet or crystals 4) had some huge epiphany, their life turned around overnight 5) after their road to Damascus experience they go out and spread the gospel to the rest of the world using You Tube, Instagram and zines. 

These people become a poster boy/girl for the radical mental health movement.   They might make a movie using Kickstarter funds, start a Facebook group or get a book published by an indie publishing house. They become twitter celebrities part of the opinion-orati supporting knee jerk left wing politics and every minor cause of the moment. 

Searing through the information superhighway spreading disinformation. Hiding their zealotry to push people off medication under the guise of harm reduction. 

I find their rhetoric that everyone can get off drugs and that the answers to life are in dreams or signs all around us quite un water tight. They express the  mantra that break down is break through but if they ruin your life it will be statutory services that pick up the pieces. 

I just find the mental health matrix unrealistic and when it boils down to it mental health refuseniks basically espouse Marxism. 

They espouse risky experimentations with hallucinogens and bogus philosophies. Yet take no responsibility.

I think the basics message that you should feel guilty for relying on psychiatric medication sucks. Not everyone can get off medication. Mental health gurus tend to be high functioning A type personalities with a mild case of anxiety. When it clears up they swear their recovery was secured by post reichian or gone therapy and feminist praxis groups. 

I like a lot of these people and maybe I’m being unfair (this is a polemic after all). I just feel as though the mental health guru circuit is handy gig to promote books, blogs, products, services of dubious value. 

Maybe I am a bit of a mental health guru myself? 

Never being listened to about alternatives to psychiatric drugs

Ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2001 I thought there must be some other way of treating the symptoms other than drugs.

When I looked into it I found out that numerous people have advocated other methods for healing mental distress other than pharmaceuticals. However the National Health Service only invests in psychiatric drugs. Or I should say drugs are used to treat acute distress. Drugs and psychiatric hospitals.

The NHS is like a Stalinist edifice when it comes to mental health. They only supply ‘evidenced based’ treatments but as others have pointed out a lot of the studies ‘proving’ the efficacy of psychiatric drugs are bought studies paid for by the pharmaceutical companies. The evidence is little more than marketing really.

As a psychiatric patient or consumer you really have little input into your treatment. Discusssions with doctors about alternatives just meet a brick wall. Most psychiatrists are trained to dole out pills and can’t conceieve that other ways would work.

Contacting the health service administration yields nothing either they just defer to the evidence base (drugs company marketing).

So who do you take it to then? The politicians. “We are not medically trained” they say and defer to the doctors. It’s a self defeating loop of confirmation bias. Because the system of drugs and psychiatric hospitals and the current legal framework is all there is that is all these administrators can conceptualise of in their paucity of imagination.

The mental health system is very very dreary and doesn’t allow any participation by patients. You are ‘done unto’ you don’t have a say. Despite there being lots of shiny posters about patient voice and patient inclusion. Patient inclusion is channeled into pointless tick boxes and toothless committees and quangos.

The mental health system is inherently frustrating. Also most of the public is saturated with drug company marketing about chemical imbalances. Every time you mention mental health people just tell you how important it is to take the drugs until you just give up and stop complaining.

Also it’s fiendishly hard to actually get off psychiatric drugs. The withdrawal effects of drugs look much like the original illness.

Thee is no mention of this in the NHS but I’m sure that the science behind NHS psychiatry is far from scientific. The drugs largely tranquilise but the doctors hide behind this dogma that they are targetting certain areas of the brain and neuro transmitters. How this charade is allowed to go on in the post #MeToo era beggars belief. Presumably it’s more convenient to just keep mental health patients drugged. If that’s the case why not just admit it rather than hide behind the pretence you are doing medicine. It’s incredibly frustrating and I’m not sure what the answer is. Can I risk ruining my life by coming off psych drugs. Why is this system based on lies. As a mental health patient it makes you question how much else of society is just lies and marketing.

L