Philosophy of The Big Society

David Cameron gets to be God!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The All New Improved John Prescott

According to Lynn Barber (of The Observer) Mr Prescott is in a class of his own. I think she meant that as some kind of flattery...

Seems he is going to be doing some series about 'The Class System'. Can't help but laugh to myself about that. The working class hero (with his mansions and jags etc etc etc).

The full story on him is here:

And he duly makes it as Messiah of The Week..for duping so many people and himself for so long.

Letter to Trust regarding complaint over accessing blood test results

Dear ......

I normally correspond with ....... but understand she is on leave until later on in November. She has asked me to send any communications I make to you.

I have had time to digest the letter I received from ...the CEO..(dated 2 October). This letter was in response to a formal complaint I had made about trying to get access to blood test results, that had been taken whilst I was in Oakley Road Crisis Unit in June 2008.

Firstly, I would like to inform you that I had a telephone conversation with ....... (Practice Manager at my GP Surgery) today, in which the issues around getting the blood test results were made. Following that, I took the letter to her and she has taken a copy. She informed me that she will be completing a full investigation.

Secondly, I need to raise issues in regard to a comment made in the letter from CEO. In the letter CEI stated that I had a discussion a CRHT team member and was told the blood tests had been transferred to Crombie House. I did agree to contact Crombie House and I did so. I rang them and was advised they hadn’t arrived there. I left it, hoping that a member of Crombie House staff would inform me if the blood test results got there. Perhaps I was wrong to assume that. After a while, I assumed that they had not got the results and so then contacted the GP practice again, to see if they had arrived there and they hadn’t so I contacted the Complaints Department.

In all honesty, I do not think it is my role to chase up different NHS departments trying to work out where my blood test results are. Perhaps it is not a policy of BLPT to send copies to the GP surgery or CMHT. If that is the case, I think that policy needs reviewing as someone within this set of departments needs to take responsibility for informing patients what their blood test results are and sooner rather than later.

I am not sure if the letter I received from CEO is the last formal communication I will get from BLPT in regards to this complaint. I write this because it says that if I am not satisfied with the responses I can take the complaint to The Healthcare Commission.

Before I take a complaint to the Healthcare Commission, I need to get the feedback from ........ Although I do not feel assured that the problems I have come across others won’t or that if I was to deal with staff, the responses would be any more efficient in future. What I will do, in future communications with Trust staff, is whomever I deal with, in regards to either my care or the care of my father, I will ask their name and will keep dates and times as well as records of what is said. That way, at least I will be able to evidence what I have done and when. I don’t like having to do that but I feel that will prevent people from justifiably questioning the actions I take.

I do not wish to drop my complaint against the Trust until I have received the outcomes of the investigation .... is completed and what the outcomes of that are. After that I will decide what further action, if any, I wish to take.

Yours etc.

NHS on Usual Form

Got a text from friend this morning, telling me she went to pick up my prescription but it wasn't ready and was advised, by a receptionist, to go back after 2pm today.
She duly went back after 2pm, to be told it wasn't going to be ready till tomorrow afternoon and that I needed to ring the surgery.

And so I did...I asked to speak to the practise manager. Explained to her that I rang the GP on Tuesday (who had told me they would write up the prescription that afternoon and that I could pick it up on Wednesday). Due to my issues with agoraphobia I wasn't able to do that and I asked my friend to pick it up for me. She could only do that today.

The practise manager confirmed that the GP had made out the prescription on Tuesday but that it had got lost. Yes, that seems to be the pattern of behaviour at that practise. Remember the case of the missing blood test results (3 lots of and
sent on 3 different occasions...all of which got lost at the GP's). The practise manager then tried to blame my friend, saying she was asking personal questions about my medication. All my friend did was ask for the prescription. A bit of a set to ensued with the practise manager making excuses about how many prescriptions there are to be dealt with daily. I said "That is not my problem. I am a patient, entitled to a service. I had an agreement with the GP and it hasn't been followed up on".

I also explained that I had a letter from a MH Trust Director clearly placing responsibility for the mistakes made over the blood tests in the GP's domain and that what we have is a pattern of losing things going on. She didn't like that and said she couldn't see that it would be the fault at the GP practise end of things. I said I wanted to talk to her about all this and would be bringing the letter with me for her attention.

Anyway, I ended up going, with my friend, to the GP's because she was stressed from going back and forth to be treated with contempt. When I got there and without even asking for the prescription the receptionist went to it. So I am known there. Ha! Ha! She took a copy of the letter and the manager came out and said that she would be carrying out an investigation. I said "Good". I also thanked her for ensuring the prescription was made up for when I arrived. Not because that was anything special but I do say thank you. Fact that the surgery wasted my friend's and my time doesn't seem to phase them one bit!

Following this, I am now going to reply to the MH Trust saying I have passed their letter on for the GP manager's attention. However there are still some discrepancies between what they say happened and what I actually asked for.

And so it goes...on and on...heading nowhere.

Fight or Flight...and then there's just staying put

Which is where I am at because I haven't got the energy to fight and there is no where to fly to.

I remember a psychiatrist (the first time I was admitted to an acute unit) asking me why I found life so hard. At the time I told him I didn't know. On reflection it was to do with too much going on/too many demands.

I haven't got the same demands now but if a psychiatrist were to ask me that question I would say it is because I feel too much..and too much of the pain of those around me. Particularly my Dad. Maybe some people are over sensitive and empathetic. Mind you in a world that seems to lack much empathy the only negative about that (for me) is that it has such a devastating effect on me and doesn't always serve others that well either.

Am not likely to change without some intrusive operation on my brain or a few months in Room 101 and so it has to be a case of bunkering down and rolling with the here and now.

On the practical front I still get to the local shops if not every day then every other day. The neurologist appointment is Friday and from there, gotta hope that tests will be done and migraines will get treatment that works and yesterday I put all my cards bits in order. Am waiting for the double sided sticky bits my friend is bringing later as I have 6 cards (and their embellishments) all cut out and ready for putting together.

Can't remember the last time I felt manic. Which is a good thing. I don't want to go manic. But I can't remember the last time I had a real sense of hope that things could get better.

Perhaps the art to life is expecting very little cos then there is no surprise when that is exactly what you get. Ha!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...The BBC Bullies

A couple of complete tossers!!!

Read about phone calls they made to Andrew Sachs.

Sort of thing you expect spiteful youngsters to do (those who haven't been taught any boundaires either that or what goes on in their home, or peer group, reinforces a fight and bully for attention ethos).

I used to think Jonathan Ross was interesting but have switched off to him because he is another one who is so up his own arse... everyone else plays a bit part in his life.

Russell Brand, I originally found 'novel' but then, having read his book, thought him an utter shite. He reckons he has Bipolar disorder. I dunno about that....I know that in the thick of illness people can do shitty things...but with a professional hat on, surrounded by professionals...why did this particular horror take place. Why did no one who could act responsibly, do so?

And I would have thought (likely wrongly) the pair of mature enough years to clock that ringing someone up telling them you have had sex with their grand-daugther and saying that would incline them to kill themselves.. was off the scale of depravity.

But no worries eh? Good ol' Auntie Beeb makes good by saying "Sorry". Mr Ross and Mr Brand...well they might have to sit in the naughty chair for a while but they will soon be back fopping around and earning big bucks.

When the going stays tough ....

Bit of a weird one yesterday. Well, as the day went on.

Am waking up, already with the knowledge that things are not anywhere near okay but somehow muddling through till about lunchtime...without any lorazepam. That in itself is no small achievement.

However, that is when the withdrawal symptoms kick in and I am not in a strong enough position to work through them. Will I ever be? Most probably not but dealing with each day best as I can is good as it gets here.

Was so happy to see Em and her fella but things were not okay there. Basically I think Em was knackered out from 4 full on days at work (slotting in Uni homework and making time for the man). One of those days where it was all coming in on her. I felt like the umpire between her and the man. My loyalty is to Em (always) but I also felt a need for keep some kind of balance in amongst the ratting that was going on.

Ended up with tears in her bedroom and I basically told her it was okay to feel shit when you feel shit. Like who am I to say that really when my everyday state veers towards shit or is shit from the start? But I am her Mum and I can see how dealing with different responsiblities and relationships clash (or more she is time managing herself into a corner) and I know her. Ultimately plenty of hugs were given, whilst I listened to her and understood. She was tired out. Alls well that ends well. As in the fella and her ended up holding hands and I said that she needed to let it all go for the night and agreements were made that the fella would let her do that without demands. He is very easy going so I didn't really need to say that but it was a reassurance all round thing.

In between this had call from Dad. I think he was in a state and trying to be brave. I know that place (it is an old stoic friend who isn't always that reliable). He says he is suffering bad stomach pains and we spoke about his medication and he had taken himself of the Quetiapin. I advised that coming straight off it could cause more problems and that, if it was me, I would cut down to half and see how that felt. That was agreed. He then wanted to talk to Em. Which he did but when he was back on the phone to me he cried. My heart went out to him. He was saying he was a useless father. I was saying "No way" and that he is (and always has been) a mega important in my life. I told him to ring me, if things didn't improve or got worse.

He didn't so later I rang, to check how his tummy was. It had settled a bit but he was still very tearful. We talked a while and afterwards I started getting a migraine. The third in as many days. Yep, pretty evident it was stress related but that doesn't make it go away.

Stayed at friend's and have decided, whilst lying in bed contemplating, that I am going to ask him to move in with me. He might be too proud. He might think he will be a burden but I think it would be better if he was here. Is not like him living apart makes me fret any less. In fact maybe more.

Here, he has company. I ain't exactly 'buddy of the year' but I love him and here he won't be alone.

Seeing him later and will take it from there.

London Ambulance Service - Patients' Forum Meeting November

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Psychiatrist Who Didn't Give a Shit

The continual blunders of psychiatrist, Lenia Constantine, critised by coroner during the inquest of Leon Laga, who took an overdose and died on the steps of Kidderminster Police Station.

No key worker was assigned to Mr Laga

No Risk Assessment Form completed

No Care Review or Carer's Assesment took place.

In fact one has to wonder if Dr Constantine was aware that Mr Laga was a patient under her care or gave a monkey's.

Full story here:

For the recovered

Actually, for one sort of recovered person, for reasons I will touch on later in this post, is someone I kinda like. Shaun Ryder - ex of Happy Mondays and Black Grape. And yes there is a link because it is Monday. The happiness is for the happy people out there.

The other link is that I read the latest story about his goings on in Q - A magazine I rarely read but am liking alot.

Mr Ryder's history is one of drug induced out there-ness but he has kicked the heroin and latter years of methadone addiction. Whether that is for good or not who can tell but good on him for now.

Due to feuds with De Management he gets no royalties from anything he has been involved in (including his awesomely dead pan - and I write that with affection - contribution to the Gorillaz 'Dare'). He is muddling along, like alot of us.

I know I tend to admire people that the rest of society would classify as 'waste ofs' or 'morally inappropriate' but such is how I am. The arrogantly self perpetuating Johnny Borrell (adore him for it) and not least because he comes up with the goods and to Shaun Ryder - For being real and fucking up and carrying on regardless.

So, with the links already in place, is time for some melon twisting.

Service User Elitism and Other Stuff that Screws with my Head

It's Monday and that means another shitty day in paradise.

With what has been going on in my life I should be in some kind of freefall state. Usually, it gets me like that but I am in this sort of resigned state of existance. I would fight but when you fight you need to know you stand a batting chance of winning.

Why have I written about service user elitism in the title? Well, because it exists and it doesn't do anyone (except those with the positions and/or making money out of it) any favours. It is a reflection of human nature for sure but it only serves to perpetuate the system. That is a tiered system where those with the power are on the top tier and have no intention of sharing it or even using the power to make positive changes for others. Some might kid themselves that they do but they don't.

I have a concern. It could just be my paranoia that there are people parading around as 'individuals', everyday folk, on blogland who are actually pro-actively working for organisations (with specific agendas) but won't admit that. I know it sounds bonkers and maybe it is but I often get the feeling that there is an element of control about things I come across. And yes it could be me. I am a sceptical person (extremely so). Anyway, such is my thinking and I will either be seen as even more fruit cake or a dumb fuck or she who must be avoided because she rocks too many boats and whatever the status quo is heaven forbid I dare to question it.

Anyway, infiltration paranoia aside I am itching to get to town. Even though I have no money to spend (several direct debits due to be paid including the truly disgusting con that is the gas bill). I do need to be out there a bit. The worry is the migraines. I started to get one last night. No obvious reason but took a wafer thing which stopped the full on effects but left me with flashing lights, squiffy vision and tightening across the forehead. Was the lesser of 2 evils.

If my friend goes. I will go with them. Maybe drop the migraine wafer and a whole loz beforehand. For me life is all about damage limitation (a little too late perhaps). Ho Hum

Em is popping round later and will be good to see her. She has the uni equivalent of half term this week. I do miss her although fully appreciate she is doing her thing and mostly enjoying it. Even though she is having to work incredibly hard (4 days a week at a restaurant) to sustain her studies. For those without mega bucks you have to work much harder to get anything near what you want. Fact of life! At least she is giving it her best shot and I admire her. In fact I am in awe of her. Sometimes, I still can't believe she comes from me. That someone so great is part of me. Lucky Mummy, I am.

Time for a cuppa and a cig and to contemplate my navel for a few hours..that is if I don't get to town. I heard Ladbrokes are taking bets on that with 100-1 odds.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Can any system ever stop someone being killed?

I ask this question because have been sent an article in which MH services are blamed for not providing the appropriate care and support to a man who stabbed and killed a woman, whom he had met in an acute unit.

In a report, The Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) said steps which would have made the killing unlikely were not taken.

There is a contradiction in the way the man has been treated. In that he was given a life sentence in a jail, rather than sent to a long term MH establishment. Therefore the law does not view him as ill or ill enough!!!! However, it is the MH Trust that is seen as being negligent in his care and therefore perhaps they should be tried for manslaughter or gross negligence. Thinking as I go here but if the irresponsibilities of an organisation play a part in the killing of another person they should be made accountable.

I am not sure that anyone can be prevented from killing another person, unless they are incarcertated (s'cuse spelling) and I think whoever made that decision would need to be pretty damn sure the person had a very violent past and was likely to kill. Who knows that for sure? I am not defending irresponsible MH Trusts but there is no black and white in all this...only, for me, another non comedy of errors that seems to have taken place within the Trust and a legal system that still doesn't know the difference between acts carried out through illness or acts carried out for other reasons.

I think MH charities could do a better job, if they are even trying to help the mentally ill, in looking at how the legal system decides who has mental illness and then how it treats them. Actually, having a look at the negligence that goes on within MH Trusts is something charities could look more closely into too.

Perhaps, and this is not my view but it is a view, people with mental illness should be treated equally by the legal system. Then I would have to ask what point mental health services? What point diagnosing, and therefore acknowledging, mental illness in the first place?

I also wonder if the family of the lady who was stabbed will be entitled to compensation. Not that they necessarily want it but I think that might encourage organisations to become more accountable. Maybe not but usually if it comes to paying out large chunks of money, that tends to make organisations pay more attention.

The full article is here:

Saturday, 25 October 2008

In Defence of Relationships

Some people are blessed and I mean blessed by love. The love of each other.

Below is a poem. I feel honoured that it was sent to me, by a friend, along with an e:mail asking me not to lose hope. Am particularly touched as this friend has recently lost their loved one. They gave me permission to share it here and I am pleased about that because I feel it deserves to be read by others. Rest in peace Max xx

My Love

You are my love, my world my everything

You are my sunshine, you make me so happy, I never dreamed of a love so strong as the love I feel for you.

I am so very happy! You made me feel so good about life and so good about myself

I only hope that I can make you feel as good about life as you make me feel

Yes we have our ups and downs but doesn't everyone else?

I love you so much that it sometimes hurts! My darling Ian thank you for making me so happy I love you now and always

Maxine May Griggs Circa 2002

At last some good news

Walked round shops and found November's Edition of Q Magazine at the newsagent's. Mr Borrell on the front cover, lots of piccies of him and the band along with an article on his sabbatical in the Inner Hebrides and the new single and album. That'll do for me!!!!

Then went to see Dad, who is ever struggling on the Quetiapin. Horrid fucking drug that is. He could hardly get up to open the door and had to slump back on the sofa afterwards, spaced out to the max. Yes that is modern MH treatment for ya! We discussed this and he is going to cut down to 1 tablet a day. Maybe half in the morning and half later because it isn't helping him at all with his mental states and is totally screwing his physical state. I wanna shoot his shrink for being such a lazy dumb wanker. Simple as!

Anyway, this is, primarily, a good news post and the second piece of good news (for me) is that Luton Town FC have finally won a game. 2-1 away at Bury (Go on my sons). I think it is the first they have won in seven games. For a club unfairly penalised by the FA (bunch of tossers they are) and already having 18 points deducted, before they even started playing in League Two, they were on a hiding to nothing. I always listen to the match, or highlights, with Dad on a Saturday afternoon and I would love Luton to win all their games and then they and I can stick two fingers up at the FA. I know chances are slim but it would be Soooooo great.

I can spend rest of day swooning over Mr Borrell, pleased with efforts of home team, and that makes the shite a wee bit more tolerable.

Relationships ...

Was going to take time out from blogging. Mostly because when life seems rather stagnant, then writing that seems irrelevant. However, have spent most of my down time contemplating relationships.

I know they are often difficult to sustain for people who don't have MH problems but for me (as a bona fide loon) they are erratic at best of times.

A couple of things have been going on that have made me revisit my concerns over relationships. That is on top of the weird depressive/stressy cycle that is the relationship I have with my Dad.

One of my neighbours has spent big chunks of this week moving stuff out. The marriage that seemed to be full of love's gold dream has withered under the pressure of real life. I don't know too much of what has gone on but I think the lack of additions to the family was the biggest nail in the coffin. I won't go into the affects that wanting children and not being able to have them have on the female psyche. Cos I think they are too obvious. I think it is sad and also sad that what I saw in the couple 5 years ago (love and hope) has changed so drastically. Life does have a way of reminding us that however safe you feel you are never really safe.

The other thing is to do with a relationship I have been party to for nearly 11 years now. Where does the time go? (Down a black hole).

It is not, and never was, love's gold dream. I think it was more a case of need and some sense of belonging in a world where neither of us felt we belonged. Also when we first met, things were different. I was the strong one. I nurtured and was much more comfortable with the compulsive caring aspect of my nature. I was also working and felt more part of some kind of normal existance.

That is not to say that there's no love (make that care), only I don't really believe that love is all that anyway. Mostly love has brutalised me. Those I have loved the most have been taken from me through illness..theirs and mine....or death. That is another life lesson I have learnt the hard way.

We have had more crisis, because of who we are as individuals, than I have time to write about and they have become suicidal again. This is where I look like the bastard in all this. I am so weary of trying to find believable reasons to give them for carrying on. I am so weary of us. I am as much to blame for the rut but it is true, well for us, that 2 people in pretty much continual states of despair do not a healthy relationship make.

I do blame MH services, at least in part, because their role in this has been to tell us we shouldn't be together, whilst offering minimul support or to view us as making our own beds and leaving us to it when we are struggling the most. In fact, I mostly agree that we shouldn't be together. Only because of the lack of real support one of us ends of picking up the pieces of where the other is at.

The bottom line for me is that I am beyond caring in many ways. Years of co-nursing Mum, whilst being a mum (at best part time) to be left supporting a Dad who was pretty much done in by his years of caring for Mum to lose her..and on and on that pain seems to go. I feel enough is enough!!!!

i don't want anyone to kill themselves, far from it but I can't be anyone's reason to exist or the one who carries them through, anymore.

My reason for living, ultimately, is because I am alive. Rather crass but true.

So getting back to the title....Relationships, I find them incredibly demanding and demanding of me things that are either long buried (and at present have no desire to dig up) or simply too much.

Sure this has been a disjointed, rambly, post but it is a reflection of where I am at. It doesn't get any better or worse than that.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Hey Monkey Boy...Where's ya nuts?

The older I get, the lamer I seem

Have been reading the blog of a younger person, who is struggling with themselves. I tried to write something relevant but in the end I thought "Shut the fuck up Mandy".

I do remember my late teens. It was a time of emotional surging and my reactions to that were mostly reckless and feckless.

The positive aspect of my late teens was the amount of energy I had. I could run around quite a bit, zonk a bit, but be up and about running around again. Okay with no particular direction but I could vent things in a more physical way then. I could party hard and I did.

These days getting out of bed seems to zap most of my energy and from then on it is a struggle to stay upright and doing.

I feel very old. I feel like I am a geriatric looking back on my life and realising that it was brutally painful and I seek the happy memories...only I can't find them. They are so distant.

People keep telling me I am still a young woman. 45 (in general terms) isn't young but it isn't old either. 45 means nothing to me. How I feel reflects how I am.

Another thing people keep telling me is that I am depressed. I get that but there is depression and depression. As in sometimes I know I am depressed and that is very foul what I feel is thoroughly knackered out. It is like beyond depression.

If I could get what I wanted, it would be to be placed in a coma for a few weeks, maybe a month. No kidding. Being is exhausted....wherever I am when I am being. The act of being, in itself, is too much. Both on mental and physical levels. Even typing this is taking great effort. My body wants to stop and do nothing.

I am even asking myself why I am bothering to type and the answer is I don't really know. It is how it is...that is all.

So when I read the posting, I was sort of jealous (of not being young anymore) because at least when I was younger I was driven and had the energy to keep driving. Now, I can't find the energy to open the door to get in the car.... Let alone start the ignition and try and find an appropriate gear.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The answers to all my ills (well for tonight) are


The headaches are continual....with slight relief (mostly from mongey effect of sedation) so am continually taking lorazepam. Shock! Horror! Another NHS junkie to deal with. Well, get over it, I am!

Feeling like a used tampon that somebody dropped in an alleyway yonks back. And if you think that is a horrid should trying coming across one. You get all sorts dumped in the alley near where I live...a veritable array of life's used and no longer needed items. Maybe, one day, I will be lying there, crumpled up and covered in shite.

Some might say it is because the nights are drawing in and winter looms ever closer. That is usually the case for me. Historically, I have gone into acute care end of December/early January having battled a few months and failed to gain any real balance. However, this year it has felt like January ever since January. Ever since Dad ran off to find that 'something' that makes life worth living for him.

I find that wrenching (gut and heart) that he had the motivation to go somewhere (quite a ways a way)..and all he found was himself, lost again!!!!

I used to do the heading for the hills thing. Mostly in some sort of manic state. Coming to in the middle of a park, or a street or someone's front garden and wondering how I got there. I think the mixture of sedation and realisation that wherever I go then I have to go with me has put a halt to all that roaming around.

I wouldn't say I am anymore found (inside myself) than Dad and maybe that means a big part of my spirit has already surrendered. But I don't feel so much defeated as I have done on some medications I was encouraged and agreed to take in the past. That really was a case of arriving in no man's land with accompanying baggage lost in transit.

I think one of the hardest things for someone with mental illness to come to terms with is the fact that, in quite alot of cases, this is for life (and not just for Christmas). And it is fucking relentless!!!

When my Dad is sitting there, pouring his heart out through his eyes and mouth, the stark pain of seeing reflections of my own pain in his pain are too much to bare. As in, I have to deal with Dad in small time sections (some kind of compartmentalisation goes on) or else I would be jumping off the nearest solid structure above 10 feet high (approximation obviously).

Call me a coward. I know I am. I can't sit there for hours listening to him, watching him turning himself over and cutting himself up. Is hard enough doing it to myself but a loved one doing it to themselves. It sucks!

Anyway, that is the doom gloom and despair part of this posting. Well, there is more as in bawling all over the support worker and getting continual phone calls and texts from someone TELLING me I didn't care about them.....but that is pretty much a weekly occurance for me.

The lorazepam followed by the walk to Dad's and then our joint walk to the chippy for our supper was like some halting of the marching insanity. We mellowed a bit together as we ate our battered delights and the talk was relatively easy and afterwards we both lay on our respective sofas, in his front room, and let it all be. If I hadn't had to get home for Suki cat, I think I would have crashed the night. Dad said I could. I said "Maybe next time".

Okay so it was a brief halting and I know the onslaught will resume soon enough but it will do for me, for now!

Conglomoration - The Way Forward for MH Charities?

Story from today's Guardian, written by that media expert on mental health Mary O'Hara, on the merger between MIND and Mental Health Media.

In the article, Paul Farmer, head of MIND, reckons the merger will provide a more positive image of people with mental illness by building better links to the media.

My views about the shenanigans of a certain major player in MHM and the fact that they got away with, at least, questionable behaviour means that I don't see this as some breakthrough on behalf of people with mental illness.

As charities seem to have little accountability to those they claim to represent...I can't help seeing that this is another way for 'players' to come together so they can feather their new nest for themselves.

I also (in present climate) wonder how much (surplus) charity money has been invested in these financial companies that have been or are likely to become 'nationalised'.

For full Guardian story go to link below:

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Songs and their relevance

Sometimes, it is all about the mickey take.

This song is for a certain mad dentist. Not just any mad dentist, although if any other mad dentists wanna sing along, feel free!

Words are relevant because of comment I made about the NHS/Patient relationship of "They know, we know, they know, we know" (and various twists on same theme):

What a classic this is..shame about the hair!

Hospital Discharge Errors Put Patients At Risk

Results of a poll carried out on GP's reveals that hospitals are failing to provide accurate discharge details for patients.

The NHS Alliance surveyed hundreds of GPs and claims that the lack of information being provided means that patient's lives are being put at risk.

A Department of Health spokesman said it was unacceptable for patient safety to be compromised after a patient has been discharged from hospital.

Story here:

So what exactly do The Department of Health intend to do about it? Nothing forthcoming on that front from the spokesman eh?

Taxi's, Appointments and The Pussycat Dolls

Up early again. I dropped loz straight away. Taking no chances on panic attacks and migraines. Needed to be together for Dad.

Went round his about 9.15 and it was clear that he was in an okay place for the meeting with the shrink. As in, getting ready and talking in a free way.

He was nervous but then aren't we all before these kinds of meetings?

Got taxi and arrived 10 minutes early. Thankfully, we weren't kept waiting and Dad allowed me into the meeting. He asked if I wanted to go in with him. Of course I did. I just wasn't going to force matters.

It went quite well. The shrink gave him time, and listened to what he said and tried to provide supportive and thoughtful responses. A far cry from the conveyor belt that is ward round meetings (in acute care) where patients are in and out in 5 minutes and don't know what hit them and how hard.

Dad spoke of his bad thoughts, which upset him greatly, but he is unable to share. The shrink reassured him that he doesn't have to share them. It is his choice but if he wants to talk them through at some point, some kind of psychotherapy can be made available to him. It is something that might be useful at some option at least.

The possibility of returning to the day care centre (he used to love going there), on a basis that suits Dad, was discussed. Dad was very uncertain and nobody pushed him on it but said it could act as some kind of destraction from the bad thoughts. I thought that was fair comment but again, it is up to Dad.

I explained my concerns in regards to Dad and problems with his balance and the fact he keeps getting dizzy and falling over. Not good for a man of his age and height. Was agreed the care co-ordinator will take his blood pressure lying down and sitting see what the differences are and he is being encouraged to go to his GP,although the last time he went the GP was very rude and flippant with him. Maybe, when Dad is ready, he could see another GP or the practice Nurse. Again, it is an option.

I did say that I wanted my concerns as not to have any of this "We weren't informed of your concerns" crap that I have come across in the past.

So back home now and catching up.

This is my record of the moment. I know it is bubblegum but it is a fun track with quite a good underlying moral. Even if the Pussycat Dolls look like they have just walked off the cover of 'OK' magazine.

As for me when I grow up, I want to be even more childlike:

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Haircut that launched a thousand more (including Emos)

Homage to the geometric, half bob, cut and top tune to go with it.

For 2 special people from my not that distant past

With sadness I write that one of those people is no longer here. Mentioning no names because don't think that would be their style.

Respect and kind memories prevail:

Latest Communication to Local MH Trust

Maybe I am, at some point, talking myself out of a service - as in I will be excluded for non compliance- by having a blog and sharing my experiences as well as views here. If that is the case, then I will have to fight that battle when it is thrust upon me.

Not that the service/s I get are how I would like them... but I know, because I hear of other's experiences, that I get more than many. The saving grace, as I have written before, is the time and care given to me by my Support Time Recovery Worker. Although, and am truly grateful for and wish to continue to have her support, the Recovery aspect of her job I find difficult to tally with my long term and medicine intolerant illness.

Having written all that, am going to share my latest response to the Trust Director. I don't copy their communications to me on here, because 1) There may be legal implications of doing so 2) I don't copy communications without seeking the person's agreement first. However, from what I have written....the giste of their correspondence sort of comes through.

Dear .............

Thanks for response and for copying ...... in so that he can confirm actions, if he wishes.

I am sort of relieved to read that the Comissioners are looking at their out of hours services. As I wrote in previous e:mail it is something I have taken to 3 forums previously and debated with and as part of CSIP ebe (not that that made any difference). I get very frustrated, not just on my own behalf, but on behalf of many people who also have difficulties accessing the right care at the right time as it seems to have taken so long just to get back to the point where people still struggle to get emergency care when they need it. Either because the system is so complex that they don’t know who to call but when they do call, they don’t get the sort of response that is condusive to helping them through their crisis.

I think it would be good if the Trust did a genuine consultation, in as much as that is possible and democratic. on what mental health service users want as a set of emergency responses. Rather than offering suggestions of what the Trust think (obviously Trust staff can’t speak on behalf of Social Services but it is clear they need to be seeking some client feedback too) and not just because ‘consultations’ are sometimes a legal requirement but because the Trust is committed to offering services that people find useful and comfortable (as in easy) to access.

In regards to my father. I am walking a thin line between trying to ensure he makes the decisions ( after all it is his health and I do not want to be controlling him in any way) and trying to ensure the relationship we have as father and daughter is not over-compromised or jeopardized any more than it has to be because of either of our needs for external support. Not easy. Sure you understand. What I need to write now is that Dad seems to be ‘accepting of his medication’ and the side effects that are going with that. From a close onlooker viewpoint, I have concerns about his physical welfare being on the medication he is on. I don’t want it changed against his will but I want his whole wellbeing monitored in relation to the medication and impact that is having on him. Am also worried that a man of his age (67) is maybe not as able to tolerate the medication as much as a younger person could. Maybe an irrational worry but still a worry for me.

I spoke to his care co-ordinator who is also concerned, enough to want him to see his GP. However, I think there is disassociation going on. It is not either physical or mental but both, integrated. I am encouraging him to go to the appointment with the psychiatrist, which is tomorrow. However, not only does he have fears around meeting the psychiatrist (due to his mental state) there could be travel issues as he has to make his own way there. Considering he struggles just to get to the local shops and back I think the MH Team are expecting a little too much of him too soon. I have said I will go with him, should he need me to. However, that depends on my mental state and whether or not I am suffering a migraine. Which I am getting on frequent basis.

Again, I feel MH services either think the pair of us are more healthy and able than we are or there is a concern over budgets and manpower that mean they are unable to help him when he has to travel anywhere.

I know this is maybe sounding more complex than it is to you but it is a complex situation where the fragility in, and between, my Dad and myself affects us both and it doesn’t take much going wrong in one of us for it to start the other wobbling.

One last thing, and apologies for length of mail, but I am not sure if Dad was given an assessment for Dementia. I am not saying I think he has it. I just don’t know and nobody has bothered to inform me whether he has had the assessment yet.

Ho hum

Yours etc.

For Lareve and Hannah ...whilst thinking of all of us

Played a Pete Gabriel cd yesterday and this was on it. My friend and I were howling and hugging. Sometimes that is all you can do.

My thoughts are with you. xxxxx

Stigma is alive and kicking (people out) of Strangford

To show that I am not all one sided opinions, with no objectivity (well not today, anyway), going to share a story of a man who was chased out of the village he lived in because he was seen as 'different'.

Not only was he hounded by neighbours but businesses refused to serve him. In fact, if you go to the link below, you will see how intolerable his life became.

Maybe I am one of the lucky ones who has never suffered abuse, because of my illness, from other people who have lived in communities I have. I did suffer abuse at school. Then again so did my father, my daughter and many people I know (with or without mental illness). I think there is more to stigma than it being about mental illness. It is about pack hunting and going for easy targets. Granted people with learning disabilities and the mentally ill are often seen as easy targets but let us be clear when it comes to pack hunting and going for easy targets...take a look at how the government are planning to treat the vulnerable!!!

Sis had a posting the other day about the government's intention to force carers on to job seeker's allowance. How is that going to enhance their well being or the well being of those they care for? Particulary, those who need 24/7 care? I ask ya!!!!

Saint Maxine on Monday Spot


Saturday, 18 October 2008

I need something completely different

After third night on migraine tablets, and feeling more horrid than when I don't take them (restless leg syndrome, more spaced out than than an astronaut in free fall and head like candyfloss made of chicken wire), have decided to put up a real story of personal empowerment as opposed to the wanna be rock stars of the loony world.

Okay the traditionalists won't like it but I do and I love people who break the mould.

Below is Mary Murdoch. Born Malcolm Murdoch. She claims to be the first transsexual to become a Geisha.

Okay so she isn't the most aesthetically appealing person (to me) but live and let live and if she appeals to Japanese men (for whatever reasons), then game on to her and, anyway, I am not in the Angelina Jolie camp of stunners. More like - 'nice legs, shame about the face' also runners!

Full story available here :

Friday, 17 October 2008

Jonathan Naess - Hard at it on the frontline

Former financier helps stressed City workers (BLESS HIS HOLY SOUL)

Oct 5, 2008

LONDON (AFP) — Having himself suffered a total breakdown at the office, former corporate finance specialist Jonathan Naess is well-qualified to run a charity helping stressed-out workers in London's City district.

And he is not short of clients -- experts report an increase in visits to mental health professionals in the capital's financial quarter as the credit crunch, which has led to thousands of job cuts in finance, piles the pressure on the industry's already cut-throat work culture.

"Work is one of the places where we understand our abilities, our talents, who we are," said Naess, now the director of Stand to Reason, a charity specialising in work-related mental health.

"Major reorganisations pending within organisations, the lack of control that people have over their working life and... The concerns they may have around how they may be impacted, we know are a major cause of workplace stress."

Naess, 40, is no stranger to stress -- he broke down in his early twenties, shortly after graduating from Oxford University, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which can be triggered by stress.

Later, while a partner at corporate finance firm Nabarro Wells, he was admitted into a psychiatric hospital after suffering a major breakdown at work, following several days of little or no sleep in a high-stress environment.

"I was at work, and had been going to work really right up until the point where I was very sick... I had very little knowledge of the symptoms and didn't pick up on the very clear warning signs," he told AFP.

He took a sabbatical in March 2007 to set up his charity, and Stand to Reason now counts among its backers Dennis Stevenson, the chairman of HBOS, the mortgage lender recently acquired by Lloyds TSB bank.

Naess says that increasing numbers of people are being referred to mental health professionals for counselling, a trend that Michael Sinclair, a consultant psychologist, has also seen.

"Since the onset of the credit crunch, there's been a growing sense of stress and anxiety in relation to potential redundancies," Sinclair, who estimates between 90 and 95 percent of his clients are City workers, told AFP.

The Samaritans support service said last month they had seen more than a 25 percent increase in telephone calls in August and September in their central London branch, from 3,500 to 4,500, compared to the same time last year.

In Sinclair's view, the work environment in London's finance industry has a detrimental effect on mental health, with many employees fearful of admitting to feeling stressed, thereby compounding the problem.

"It's a very driven and very goal-orientated business environment, and weakness is just not acceptable," he said.

"There's something particular in this industry in relation to the stigma around mental health and how that affects mental health in an unhelpful way."

He added: "It goes towards exacerbating a lot of mental health problems in the City, the reluctance to talk about it."

Dealing with it will not be easy -- Naess recommends a steady diet of training for managers and backing for flexible working hours so that employees will feel more comfortable leaving work for treatment, among other things.

He has big plans for his charity, outlining his hope that it will eventually have a similar impact on workplace culture to Stonewall, which has successfully fought for more gay-friendly office environments in Britain.

On a personal level, Naess insists his current project will not last forever and that he will eventually return to the world of international finance.

"What helped me get better both times was being at work," he said.

Claimer: For what I am about to write, I make no apology:

This guy really does think he is some kind of messiah!!! I think he is a shitbag!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Messiahs with Medals

Our Messiah of the Week is Anne Beales.

I have chosen her for her unstinted work towards self promotion. Sure her adoring fans will be on my case. So what?

The woman has been round the block more times than the ice cream van and where is this national service user movement she has (reportedly) strived to achieve over the yonks she has been working the boards?

Well there is handful of people on the management committee of NSUN (The National Service User Network), of which Ms Beales is a member. A network which has been going nearly 2 years now...with people to'ing and fro'ing (mostly fro'ing)and little to show for it.

I don't dispute that getting a national service user anything together is difficult because of the varying views that abound but for someone, like this week's Messiah, to have done so well out of the various forums she has been on...even when they have done sod all of any an achievement - FOR HER!

She has earnt her place here and serves, if nothing else, to raise awareness of the wonders of hat wearing.

Links Members are Pissed Off!

Press Release – October 16th 2008

National Association of LINks Members

NALM exposes major problems in development of new care monitoring system

A study by a national patients’ organisation has revealed major problems with the Government’s the new system to monitor health and social care.

LINks – ‘Local Involvement Networks’ replaced Patient’s Forum on April 1st 2008 as the public’s voice on health and social care. They monitor care from the patient’s perspective and are funded through local authorities.

The Report reveals the government has broken its promise that monitoring of hospitals, clinics and care services would continue after the abolition of Forums, and that activities during the transitional period have been bureaucratic - not patient-centred - leaving patients with no independent voice.

Highly experienced would-be LINk members have drifted away during transition, because the local focus on patient care was lost. Many volunteers could only continue monitoring activities out of their own pocket and received no expenses – leaving the unwaged, the chronic sick and other and vulnerable people excluded.

NALM discovered that some local authorities retained large fees from tiny LINks budgets to cover their own costs. Haringey took £64,900 from a 3-year budget of £514k, Sefton £52,934 out of £513K and North Yorks, £68k from a budget of £660k.

The decision by Government and Audit Commission not to audit the establishment of LINks also causes NALM concern. “There is neither the intention nor any mechanism for the DH to monitor the finances and development of the LINks system”, says NALM Chair, Malcolm Alexander

NALM believes it’s a scandal that Government won’t provide LINKs members with state-backed indemnity against injury or being sued for making public statements, which NHS or local authorities hold is against their interests. Indemnity is essential to ensure effectiveness and independence of LINks volunteers.

Malcolm Alexander, Chair of NALM said; “over six months of inactivity in patient involvement across the country, has left patients more vulnerable and weakened public influence in service modernisation and improvement. We now need assurances that the Government will provide:

Urgent support, training and resources to support people to join LINKs in every part of the country and reactivate public monitoring of hospitals, clinics and care services.

Guarantee that people joining LINks will be paid expenses for participation in monitoring activities of health and social care retroactive to April 1st 2008.

Incentives for local authorities to return their excessive fees to LINKs for the use of LINks members for NHS monitoring activities.

Commitment to monitor the development of LINks and the use of finances intended for LINks in liaison with the Audit Commission.

A guarantee to provide of state-backed indemnity for all LINks members


1) The NALM report examines the progress made in the development of LINks in the period April 1st 2008 – August 8th 2008. LINks replaced Patient Forums on April 1st 2008 and are now the main statutory vehicle for the public to influence policy and practice in health and social care in England. The report is based on Freedom of Information Act questions put to all 152 LAs in England with social services’ responsibilities.

2) The study examined:

· The way funding for LINKs has been used so far by Local Authorities

· The contractual relationship with the LINks support organisation – the Host.

· Current state of development of the LINks and readiness for action

· The effectiveness of transitional arrangements which the government promised would provide for an effective transition from Forums to LINks

3) NALM is an independent organisation formed on April 1st 2008 and is lay membership based. It is a registered company with wholly charitable aims and an unregistered charity.

4) In March 2009, NALM will hold its first AGM and elections for Steering Group members to represent each Region in the country.

More information:

Chair of NALM: Malcolm Alexander, 30 Portland Rise, London, N4 2PP

0208 809 6551 or 07817505193. Email:

Vice Chair of NALM: Ruth Marsden, The Hollies, George St, Cottingham, East Yorkshire HU16 5QP

01482849980. Email:

Some of us, who used to be in Public and Patient Involvement Forums, saw this coming. In fact we wrote our concerns and forwarded them, as part of the national consultation that took place. Needless to say, fekk all came of that and I doubt fekk all of any use will come of the LINKS!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Jumble Sales for Brains and Plenty of Tat Donated by Services

Have already taken 3 quarters of loz this morning and still veering towards hyperventilation, so dropping the other quarter pending...something.

Sure this is going to be one of those rambly postings but so what eh? Is not like I need to get it into any particular format to pass an exam or get extra Brownie points.

Highly wired up over Dad. I sense MH services have given up on him and I feel like I am drowning in the horrors of our joint history.

Dilemmas abound. Not just with my brain trying to get some level in order for me to get through today but trying to get some place where I don't have to fret the fekk over him. that I can let go a bit because there is some semblance of support that will ease his distress.

Wrote to a friend, and then was prompted to revisit that from a memory posting on another blog, about what I call Selective Memory Recall. As in the memory blocking stuff. Weird thing is it is blocking any good stuff and recalling all the pain. Must be histrionic me doing the drama queen bit. Whatever it is soul destroying!

The letter from the MH Trust Director did nothing to reassure me, although sure they tried...or maybe just tried to cover their own arses (like they do). All it basically said was they shared my concerns and were going to talk to people about them. I know any positive movement is slow in the NHS but BLPT have had years to get something right and yet they keep getting things so very WRONG!

Am furious over my care co-ordinator because I feel like she is treating me like some muppet who needs to be given leaflets about my illness and problem solving tasks in the shape of writing what my problems are and the possible answers. DOH!

The major problem is actually more to do with services leaving my father to fester, taking large amounts of medication that are dangerous (in regards to him falling over). Granted he can ask for help but he isn't. I don't know why but I feel that there is a level of capacity in him missing that the MH services need to acknowledge. Basically Dad and me are passing our mental illness back and forth to each other, either directly or indirectly and that is not right...not at all.

Another problem is that there is no one else either family of friends willing and able to offer practial or emotional help makes the situation even more intolerable for the both of us. How does my care co-ordinator think I can solve that? Conjure up some pretend family and social network from the eye of toad and tail of newt (and a bunch of herbs)?

Basically what the care co-ordinator was saying was "I can offer you basic stuff that you could easily access on the internet (and have been given several times before) but after that you are on your own". Cheers matey!

To say I feel despondant is an understatement and I have a meds review to arrange with my GP, where they will question my lorazepam use and I will tell them it is either lorazepam or you will have me swinging, from the neck!

All pressures and no let out clause. Well there is one..but am not quite at that point yet!!!!

Dancing with myself

I used that title because that is how I feel right now. That in spite of the letter, which I have copied below, I am back on me todd, wishing for a service, or sets of, that are supportive, reactive in a positive way and do help people when historically what I, my father and friends get is medication and lip service.

The redeeming feature in MH services for both my father and I are our support workers. Although, recently mine keeps missing appointments and yesterday got someone else to cancel with a promise that they would ring in the afternoon and didn't. Not looking good there. And my father only sees his twice a week now and really he needs alot more interaction and support than that.

Anyway, am going off on a tangent because of the mass of negative reinforcement I am feeling in regards to MH services.

Here is the letter I sent in repsonse to the one I received from BLPT. It isn't totally together because I am not but I think it says what it has to.

Dear ......

Thank you for your letter including details of what we discussed at the meeting on 15th September.

In regards to my concerns over the responses of the EDT on the 2 occasions I was involved in dealing with them, I would like to say that I appreciate your comments at the meeting in regards to looking at how the EDT and BLPT can work closer together, in future, in order to provide more appropriate emergency care for service users. However, that does not reassure me in the here and now. I am not satisfied that the EDT do provide appropriate support when people ring them and, although I appreciate ....... resourcing issues and possibly procedures that have to be adhered to…the bottom line is that often people are not able to get to A&E or to get other people in distress to A&E and there needs to be appropriate support available for those people. MH and other Emergency Services should take the responsibility for people in crisis, when it is necessary, and not expect other people (particularly, those who have MH problems themselves) to take responsibility for them. That is an issue that needs addressing in the here and now not in the future.

I am relieved that you will be discussing my concerns regarding people in MH crisis and A&E not being at all a supportive environment in order for people to get the assessments/care they need with local Commissioners. I hope that means that something positive (better emergency support mechanisms) for people with mental illness will come of it. Although, I have been to many meetings over the years where emergency and out of hours support has been discussed and nothing at all has changed for the better. I have been party to a lot of talking with little action. I am sceptical and rather saddened that that is the case.

The bottom line is what would happen if I had to contact the EDT on behalf of myself, my father or a friend now? I am not reassured that any of us would be provided with adequate support. I am also concerned that if I contacted MH services, problems would be belittled and, again, I would be expected either to get people or myself to A&E or call out an ambulance. I would ask is that is the best way to deal with people in crisis? I don’t think so.

Sorry to sound so negative but the mental health problems both my father and I suffer with are severe and, at present, I do not feel reassured that if we hit crisis, which sadly we are both closer to rather than further from, the support will be there for either of us.

I think the problem also links to responsibilities and I have tried my best to carry out mine as a daughter but I feel the MH service needs to acknowledge that I cannot be responsible for making my father better. At the end of the day, no one can play God but the services should provide every opportunity support wise to enable people to improve. In spite of heavy medication (which seems to knock my father out and he is continually falling over) he is still psychotic and there is no sign of improvement in regard to his delusions. Perhaps this is in part due to medication. I don’t believe the medication is working but I am not sure what it is supposed to be doing either. Anyway, that is a concern I will be taking up with his care co-ordinator, although she hasn’t seen him for 2 weeks and I am worried that the support is being taken away from him and once again that responsibility will be put back on me. I reiterate that I cannot provide psychiatric support to my father and neither do I want to. I believe that is the role of BLPT.

In regards to the letter about blood test results. I have read it but need to re-read it and respond separately because right now my major concern is the care provided to my father and myself. I will endeavour to respond within the next week.

Yours sincerely

Mandy Lawrence

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Quango you see him, now you don't, now you do again!

Found out today that Paul Mullins, ex CEO of Bedfordshire and Luton MH Partnership Trust, is now working for the Eastern Region Strategic Healthy Authority and.... get this.... he is on a temporary contract working on the merger of CSIP (parts of it) into the Strategic Health Authority.

And there was me thinking that there would be an end to the cycle of rotating iffy management (well, in an ideal world). No! they just get moved to another government job where they will do fekk all of any use etc etc.

I have heard that the SHA's won't be absorbing all of the work CSIP did. There will be other arms of CSIP, I would assume, doing pretty much the same only the name will have changed.

So one quango gets replaced by...yep... more quangos!

You know you've been quango'd when you get a large brown envelope, through the post, with a 250 page document inside that, having read the first couple of pages, rids you of the desire to keep on breathing.

Shiftings and Shaftings

My friend, who also happened to have been caught up in the NIMHE bullshit with me (until we both got wise), has informed me that NIMHE (national institute for mentally hindered establishmentarionism) which changed it's name to CSIP (Controllingly Supervising Incompetent Partnerships)is no more.

Having spent a year with NIMHE and going from being hopeful of some positive change to totally deluded as each layer of bureaucracy grew stronger and the service user voice weaker..all I can say is 'Good Riddance!'

All is not good news though. The Strategic Health Authorities have now absorbed whatever the government found useful from CSIP's existance and as these authorities have never shown any sign of giving a tuppeny shit what Mental Health Service Users think, there will be nothing good come of it. Only that people will know exactly where they stand.

Like when you vote Tory. At least you know you are going to get a shafting with them!! Whereas with Labour people (naievely or not) thought "Things Could Only Get Better". Better the devil you know...not really...better no devil at all. Fat chance!

The Personality Disorder Test

Took the test, which Sis had up on her page...for distraction purposes.

These are the results (of the Dutch Jury)

Disorder Rating Information

Paranoid: Moderate
Schizoid: Low
Schizotypal: Moderate
Antisocial: Moderate
Borderline: Low
Histrionic: High
Narcissistic: Moderate
Avoidant: Very High
Dependent: High
Obsessive-Compulsive: Low

As I wrote on Sis's blog, the only thing I was surprised about were the low ratings which I put down to my histrionic nature!!!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

How will you celebrate World Mental Health Day?

Any bedpushers about?

I haven't heard what is going on locally because I haven't been back to the day centre since I said I was joining the belly dance group and got a damn migraine on the day I was supposed to go. Them Evil Dwarves I tell ya, I will swing for them!!!

I will be celebrating by not celebrating. Instead, I will be heading off to the east coast for a reclusive weekend of staring at the sea.

So there will be no blog posts until, at least, Monday.

However you choose to spend the glorious day of enlightenment for the world, enjoy it.

As far as evolution goes - We have gone as far as we can!!

According to an article I found on an MSN link.

Human evolution is grinding to a halt, according to a leading genetics expert.

The gloomy message from Professor Steve Jones is: this is as good as it gets.

Prof Jones, from the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, believes the mechanisms of evolution are winding down in the human race.

At least in the developed world, humans are now as close to utopia as they are ever likely to be, he argues. Speaking at a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture in London, Prof Jones said there were three components to evolution - natural selection, mutation and random change.

He said: "In ancient times half our children would have died by the age of twenty. Now, in the Western world, 98% of them are surviving to the age of 21. Our life expectancy is now so good that eliminating all accidents and infectious diseases would only raise it by a further two years. Natural selection no longer has death as a handy tool."

Mutation rate was also slowing down, he said. Although chemicals and radioactive pollution could cause genetic changes, one of the most important mutation triggers was advanced age in men. "Perhaps surprisingly, the age of reproduction has gone down - the mean age of male reproduction means that most conceive no children after the age of 35," said Prof Jones. "Fewer older fathers means that if anything, mutation is going down."

Random alterations to the human genetic blueprint were also less likely in a world that had become an ethnic melting pot, according to Prof Jones.

He said: "Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be, according to the rules of the animal kingdom, and we have agriculture to thank for that. Without farming, the world population would probably have reached half a million by now - about the size of the population of Glasgow.

"Small populations which are isolated can change - evolve - at random as genes are accidentally lost. Worldwide, all populations are becoming connected and the opportunity for random change is dwindling. History is made in bed, but nowadays the beds are getting closer together. Almost everywhere, inbreeding is becoming less common. In Britain, one marriage in fifty or so is between members of a different ethnic group, and the country is one of the most sexually open in the world. We are mixing into a global mass, and the future is brown."

He added: "So, if you are worried about what utopia is going to be like, don't; at least in the developed world, and at least for the time being, you are living in it now."

Well, considering the financial mess we have gotten ourselves, or let ourselves be gotten, into, devolution is looking like the next step for us (or are we already in the midst of it?)

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Return of the Nazi Punks in Dog Collars

The Times is running a story of a camp in the USA, whose leader, Alan Chambers, reckons it is a place to find a cure for homosexuality.

Exodus International is one of the ministries of the so called "Ex Gay Movement! which encourages people to renounce their sexuality through the Christian faith.

Mr Chambers (a self confessed 'Ex' Gay????) is quote 'Happily married with children' and says he does not judge gay men having been one himself. He also claims to still be 'in denial' but chooses to ignore any feelings he has towards members of his own sex. Maybe, I am reading that wrong but to me it comes across as "Yes I am gay, just pretending not to be in order to get to Heaven".

After all he states that "Homosexuality is not the opposite of heterosexuality but the opposite of holiness".

More of this pious tripe can be found here :

And Mr Chambers takes up his rightful place as "Messiah of the Week"

Progress on MH Services Front....Missing trains or am I at the wrong station

Had the meeting with care co-ordinator today.

Spoke with a friend earlier about my views that I should say I don't want to see them anymore because the meetings seem irrelevant to me. Friend's advise was to stick with seeing CC because I might actually need something from them and giving them an excuse to take me off their books just means should I need something (which may or may not prove helpful in the future) I would be even less likely to get it as I would be filed in outakes (sub section 'recovered or missing - not our problem anymore').

So the meeting went ahead.


Problems and their advise for me to write up a problem solving chart. I sat there trying to look as attentive as possible, whilst the memories of many a chart from my training days came back to me. To say I am charted out would be an understatement.

Advised to give people in my life ultimatums (although I need to disguise them so they don't look like ultimatums)

Advised to contact Dad's care team (any member I can manage to get hold of) and tell them I am concerned that he might be having a relapse. Yeah that should do the trick alright, particulary as Dad has made it clear to me that he wants to keep his contact with MH team separate to his contact with me. I haven't worked out why..then again I haven't worked out much of anything that is going on with Dad right now. I don't need further complications of breaking trust or acting like a snitch.


When they left, I thought "Fuck that". I will rattle along aided by lozees and do whatever seems appropriate for me at the time.

Thank Heavens for Em. She, and her fella, bought me a Subway bagette and cookie and then we went round to Dad's together and a pretty good time was had by all. A case of strength in numbers.

This song seems kind of appropriate:

New Habits for Old

Thanks, again, to friends who are sending through some stonkin' stories. Please continue to do so :>)

Here is one man's take on dealing with the credit crunch:

TSURNOGORSKI MONASTERY, Bulgaria (Reuters) - Brother Nikanor, a Nasdaq broker turned monk, advises former colleagues to put a jar with soil on their desks to remind them where we are all heading and what matters in life.

As western banks fold into each other like crumpled tickets and commentators portray the current crisis as the last gasp of modern capitalism, Hristo Mishkov, 32, shares the pain -- and offers home truths.

His story partly resembles that of Brother Ty, the monk-tycoon protagonist of the 1998 satire "God is my Broker" by U.S. writers Christopher Buckley and John Tierney -- he failed on Wall Street and became a monk.

But 10 years later, the similarities are superficial: the Bulgarian had a successful broking career, does not write self-help manuals and aims to get happy, not rich.

His interest in financial markets began under communism in the 1980s when he and other children created their own play stock exchange in their apartment block's basement in Sofia.

Five years ago, after failing to find happiness in the life he lived, the Christian Orthodox who hadn't practiced as a child quit the New York-based market for a dilapidated Bulgarian monastery that once served as a communist labor camp.

Retaining one luxury -- a mobile phone, which connects him with both potential donors and former trading colleagues -- he has brought the rigor of his broking experience to his faith.

He has helped to raise hundreds of thousands of levs (dollars) to rebuild the monastery -- a hard task in a country where charity is not part of the mentality and building shopping malls and golf courses is a priority

An introduction to Diplomacy - Groucho Style

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Political Correctness in Blogland

Personal view is that there shouldn't be any...or if there is then it is more about a personal choice on what is correct for someone on their own blog rather than 'groups of' deciding what is best.

By the very nature of the freedom that blogs give to people, to then be embroiled in some kind of shared standard of correctness defeats the object.

Have been giving this some thought, lately, because I am wondering if cliques have evolved. That, in itself, is not a bad thing..unless people feel they have to belong to a clique in order to belong in blogland or that certain opinions have to go with being involved in certain blogs.

People will go where their comfort levels (ideologies and interests) take them and fair enough but I sometimes get hung up. Because I don't want to belong to a clique. I find them exclusive rather than inclusive..and I also like to move around blogland and comment wherever there is something I feel I want to comment about without having to sign allegiance to 'a way of doing things'.

Granted I have my views, and some are very strong but I like to read differing views too. I like to review where I am and why I think what I think and different opinions help me to do that.

Maybe it is my neurosis that makes me pose these questions..and to myself (mostly). I don't want to have an exclusive blog where only anti meds people come, particulary as I sometimes sway back into 'maybe it is worth another tablet' mode (usually to talk myself out of it again). In fact I don't mind who comes here...although if they are going to state something, it makes for better communication if there is a level of explanation to that..although not compulsory...I wouldn't want to start another clique! ha! ha!

Anyway, things will be what they will be because people will make them so. That is if the bureaucrats don't start devising 'conformity rules' on our behalf.

And I will carry on being acid, daft, erratic including sometimes relatively nice because my blog allows me the freedom to do that..and that is what I think blogs, bottom line, are for.

Ultimate expression of the self (within the confines of what a blog can enable people to express)

Some Heavy Bed Time Reading - There is a Messiah in the making

I went searching for anti psychiatry theories. Why? Because I wanted to and to see what was out there. I found something interesting here:

I am not going to condense this because it warrants being in it's entirity so that people can read it (if they can stay the course) and make of it their own judgement. I might well do a posting on it, later, but for now I want to take it all in and digest it and then digest it again.



The institution of psychiatry grew up in the 19th century during the emergence and consolidation of industrial capitalism. Its function was to deal with abnormal and bizarre behaviour which, without breaking the law, did not comply with the demands of the new social and economic order. Its association with medicine concealed this political function of social control by endowing it with the objectivity and neutrality of science. The medical model of mental disorder has served ever since to obscure the social processes that produce and define deviance by locating problems in individual biology. This obsfucation lends itself to the perpetuation of the established order by side-stepping the challenge that is implicit in deviant behaviour and thereby undermining a source of criticism and opposition. During the 20th century, a fierce attack on psychiatry has condemned this misleading medical characterisation of the problems of living and the repressive measures that masquerade as psychiatric treatment. However, at the same time more sophisticated technology has enabled the psychiatric profession not only to weather the storm, but to strengthen its claim to the jurisdiction of 'mental illness.' Opportunities for social control and the suppression of dissent in the guise of psychiatry have increased.

In some respects psychiatry has never been as confident and respectable as it is at present. In the 1950s and 1960s a pharmacological revolution produced an array of drugs for use in disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety which enabled psychiatry to move closer to the paradigm of physical medicine of administering specific cures for specific conditions. Starting in this period also, psychiatric care relocated physically away from the discredited asylums and into general hospitals, in closer proximity to the rest of the medical community. This move embodied the attempts of the psychiatric profession to disentangle itself from the stigma of caring for the chronically insane and instead to forge a role curing the acutely disturbed. Community care is the concession to the chronic and recurrent nature of psychiatric conditions.

Similarly, the endeavour to locate the biological origins of mental illness has been revitalised by the introduction of new technology for studying the brain and by the development of molecular genetics and the human genome project. Despite a disappointing lack of consistent results, the quantity of resources devoted to this research has, in itself, leant the medical model of mental illness further credibility.

However, the 20th century has also produced an influential critique of psychiatry articulated by academics and some rebel psychiatrists (famously, R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz & David Cooper). Sociological theories of deviance, medicalisation and the organisation of professions helped to expose the political functions and processes involved in the institution of psychiatry. The paternalism of psychiatry was attacked and medical treatment was accused of being more oppressive than legal sanctions or punishment.

These ideas were expressed in concrete form in the activities of protest movements, patient advocacy groups and experiments in alternative care. In the early 1970s in the Netherlands and the United States, where protest movements were particularly strong, there were demonstrations against the use of electro convulsive therapy (ECT), university lectures were disrupted and some prominent biological psychiatrists had to have police protection. There were famous attempts to create therapeutic communities which renounced staff patient distinctions and hierarchies (such as R.D. Laing's Kingsley Hall and David Cooper's Ward 21in the United Kingdom) and in Italy a politically conscious democratic psychiatry movement instituted mental health care reforms. The patient advocacy movement, which took inspiration from civil rights organisations, was another important development. Although the activism has diminished, patient or survivor groups remain strong and individuals and groups of professionals continue to promote alternative approaches to the problems of the so-called mentally ill . The 'antipsychiatry' movement also had a significant impact on social policy resulting in increasing restrictions on involuntary confinement and treatment and a diminishing use of physical techniques such as psychosurgery and ECT.

However, recent developments in the definition and management of two major psychiatric conditions, depression and schizophrenia, illustrate that the social influence and formal powers of institutional psychiatry may now be expanding. The criticism that was first expressed over three decades ago may therefore be more relevant than ever.

Depression: medicalising discontent

The Defeat Depression Campaign (DDC), launched in 1992 was organised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in association with the Royal College of General Practitioners with funding from the pharmaceutical industry. The literature of this campaign suggests that around 10% of the population suffer from a depressive disorder at any one time, a third will suffer at some time during their lives and antidepressant drugs are recommended for all those with moderate to severe symptoms. These claims seem to suggest that a large proportion of human unhappiness is biologically based and can be similarly corrected. The publicity surrounding the new antidepressant fluoxetine (prozac) has become only slightly more extreme with claims that it has personality altering and general life enhancing properties.

A recent collection of interviews with prominent psychopharmacologists who were involved with the discovery and introduction of modern psychiatric drugs provides an interesting historical backdrop to the DDC. In psychiatric hospital practise in the 1950s depression was a relatively rare disorder and there was no concept of a specifically antidepressant drug as opposed to a general stimulant. When antidepressant action of certain compounds was first proposed drug companies were initially reluctant to develop and launch such drugs. In an unconscious alliance of interests, influential psychiatrists developed and popularised the view of depression as a common biologically based disorder, amenable to drug treatment and as yet frequently unrecognised. This concept had the dual benefits of vastly expanding the market for psychiatric drugs and extending the boundaries of psychiatry outside the asylum. Since this time the psychiatric profession and the drug industry have continued to try and inculcate this idea into the consciousness of both the general public and other doctors. The DDC is the latest offensive.

Numerous biochemical mechanisms responsible for depressive illness have been proposed implicating a variety of biochemical and hormonal mechanisms, partly determined by fashion. The evidence for all these theories has been inconsistent and the consensus about the efficacy of antidepressant drugs remains the strongest support for the thesis that depression is a physiological condition. Perusing the psychiatric literature indicates that this consensus developed in the mid 1970s based on evidence from randomised controlled trials of the original and still widely used antidepressants, the tricyclics. However, early reviews of this evidence portray an ambiguous situation with a large proportion of trials failing to find a positive effect. In addition, more recently some researchers have suggested that antidepressants are not specifically active against depression but merely exert a placebo effect in a receptive condition . They appear to perform better than an inert placebo because their side effects increase their suggestive power and may admit bias into the assessment procedure by enabling investigators to guess whether patients are on the active drug or the placebo. A recent meta-analysis of placebo controlled trials of prozac found that the likelihood of recovery was indeed associated with experiencing side effects . A review of seven studies which used an active substance as a placebo to mimic antidepressant side effects found that only one showed the drug to be superior.

Variation in mood is a characteristically human way of responding to circumstances but unhappiness has become taboo in the late 20th century, perhaps because it undermines the image that society wishes to project. Medicalisation diminishes the legitimacy of grief and discontent and therefore reduces the repertoire of acceptable human responses to events and denies people the opportunity to indulge their feelings. At the same time it diverts attention away from the political and environmental factors that can make modern life so difficult and distressing. It may be no co-incidence that the concept of depression has reached its present peak of popularity in western societies reeling from two decades of economic events and political policies which have been blamed for increased unemployment and marginalisation of a substantial section of the population.

However, it is also important to acknowledge that people have different propensities to experience intense moods and that, for those at the extremes of this spectrum, such as those with manic depressive disorder, life can be very difficult. Prophylactic medication is promoted by psychiatrists for long-term use in this condition primarily in the form of lithium. However, in a similar way to antidepressants, claims of the efficacy of lithium seem to have been based on insubstantial evidence and follow up studies of people with manic depression do not indicate that it has improved the outlook of the condition. It is possible therefore that prophylactic drug treatment constitutes a false hope held out to people who feel desperate, by a profession that feels helpless. But it may only further undermine the self assurance of people who are already vulnerable. Instead of aspiring to complete cure, natural remission of episodes should be encouraged by providing care and security, and attempts should be made to enhance people's confidence in their own ability to manage or survive their condition.

Schizophrenia: disguising social control

The enormous investment in the investigation of the biological basis of schizophrenia has produced no conclusive information. Decades of increasingly sophisticated technological research has revealed a possible weak genetic predisposition, often much exaggerated by psychiatric commentators who ignore the shortcomings of the main studies . Molecular genetic studies have publicised initial findings implicating several different genes which then transpired to be due to chance when attempts at replication failed. The most recent pan European study boldly concludes that the genetic associations revealed are involved in the pathogenesis of the disorder. However, the gene implicated is common in the general population, it is only slightly more common in people diagnosed with schizophrenia and the similarity of the comparison group in this study was ensured only for ethnicity and not for other factors. As regards brain function and anatomy, the only consistent finding is the larger size of the lateral ventricle, one of the brain cavities, in people with schizophrenia. Again there is a substantial overlap with the 'normal' population and most studies have been conducted on people with long histories of drug treatment. However, the possibility that drugs may be responsible for causing the brain abnormalities observed has received little attention in the psychiatric literature .

Drugs variously termed 'major tranquillisers,' 'neuroleptics' or 'antipsychotics' form the mainstay of psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia. They have been claimed to have specific action against psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, but critics suggest that they act in a much cruder way by producing a chemical lobotomy or straight jacket which inhibits all creative thought processes . Psychiatry applauds the role of these drugs in emptying the asylums but an alternative perspective suggests that they merely helped to replace expensive custodial care with long-term drug-induced control.

A consequence of the move towards community care is that public and political anxiety has replaced the concern for patients rights with concern for protection of the community and psychiatric treatment has become the panacea for this complex social problem. In response to a few highly publicised cases of violent or dangerous acts by former psychiatric patients, amendments were made to the Mental Health Act (1983) which came into force in April 1996 and which introduce a power of 'supervised discharge.' This power enables psychiatric personnel to have access to the patient if deemed necessary and to enforce attendance at psychiatric facilities. It does not confer the right to enforce medical treatment but it does require that an assessment for admission to hospital be conducted if the patient is uncompliant with aftercare arrangements such as refusing medication. The justification for this legislation is the assumption that medical treatment can cure disturbance and prevent relapse. However the evidence indicates that a substantial proportion of people with a psychotic episode fail to respond to medication at all, a further significant proportion relapse despite taking long-term medication (in clinical trials the relapse rates on medication is around 30% ) and, like other people, they may behave antisocially when they are not actively psychotic.

The social control element of the changes to the Mental Health Act is only thinly veiled and they have been strongly opposed by civil and patients rights groups. Their significance lies in the introduction of a new precedent of control over people after discharge from hospital. The use of the former 1983 Mental Health Act for these purposes was successfully challenged in the courts in the 1980s. The exact form of the new provisions when implemented is uncertain and is likely to vary according to the predisposition of local professionals. Although there is much unease among psychiatrists about shouldering increased responsibility for the actions of people labelled mentally ill, many in the profession have called for stronger powers to enforce medical treatment in the community.

The medical model of mental illness has facilitated the move towards greater restriction by cloaking it under the mantle of treatment. This process of medicalisation of deviant behaviour conceals complex political issues about the tolerance of diversity, the control of disruptive behaviour and the management of dependency. It enables a society that professes liberal values and individualism to impose and re-inforce conformity. It disguises the economics of a system in which human labour is valued only for the profit it can generate, marginalising all those who are not fit or not willing to be so exploited.

Characterisation of schizophrenia as a physically based disease of the brain also forecloses any debate about the meaning of the experiences and actions associated with it. Attempts to render schizophrenic symptoms intelligible and to understand their communicative value help both to illuminate ordinary experience and to increase empathy for people with this condition. Other interesting findings point to the association of schizophrenia with features of social structure. Nothing resembling schizophrenia was described prior to the early 19th century, suggesting an association with the emergence of industrial capitalism. In modern societies schizophrenia is more frequently diagnosed in urban centres, among people of lower social class and in certain immigrant groups when compared to their country of origin, particularly second generation afro-Caribbean people in the UK. Research in the third world has shown that people with schizophrenia have a better prognosis with a lower chance of relapse and functional decline than their counterparts in the developed world . It appears therefore that social conditions play a part in determining the expression of schizophrenic symptoms and so schizophrenia may be regarded as a mirror on the deficiencies of the current social structure.

Tolerance of the diversity of human lives and a respect for the autonomy of all must be the foundation of a progressive alternative approach. Enhancing people's control over their lives means providing genuine choices and opportunities for people of all different propensities. It means creating a society where there are niches available that allow a diversity of lifestyles. It involves accepting that some people may chose to lead lives that appear bizarre or impoverished. Although some people with schizophrenia will find drug treatment useful, psychiatrists frequent complaints about non compliance illustrate that many chose not to take medication. Similarly, some people with chronic mental illness gravitate away from the structured, rehabilitating environment of the mental health services to homeless hostels and to the streets. It is commonplace to blame the underfunding of community care for this phenomena but research has found that most of the homeless psychiatrically ill had not come straight from closing hospitals but had been settled in adequate community accommodation before drifting away . An alternative explanation might be that the long-term mentally ill prefer the undemanding nature of the homeless situation to the intrusive demands of family, community and mental health services.

The management of disruptive and dangerous behaviour is a problem for every society. Involuntary confinement and treatment continue to be a major area of contention with opposition emphasising the need to respect people's autonomy and opposing the imposition of a relative set of values about what is normal and sane. It is argued that it should be possible to deal with behaviour that is genuinely harming or harassing other people using normal legal sanctions. It is an area which requires further and wider consideration. Whatever solution is adopted, it must be developed openly and democratically, with proper provision for representation and public scrutiny, so that measures taken can not be subverted to serve the ends of certain groups above others.


Despite the political and professional retrenchment of recent years, there are many developments which presage the ultimate transformation of the psychiatric system. The burgeoning patients rights movement and the anti-psychiatry critique are some of these. Rejection of paternalism is also embodied in the increasingly important role of consumers in medicine in general and the demand for justification of treatments and involvement in decision making. The medical profession is also placing more emphasis on objective evidence about the effectiveness of procedures and showing less inclination to support the principle of clinical freedom. Many individual psychiatrists are aware of the political conflicts that beset their practice and try to address these thoughtfully and with respect for their patients and philosophical debate, which inevitable touches on political issues, is flourishing within the profession at present. It is unlikely however that psychiatry will be radically transformed without profound social and political change. The control of deviance and the enforcement of conformity are too central to the smooth functioning of the divisive and exploitative social system in which we live.