Philosophy of The Big Society

David Cameron gets to be God!

Saturday, 29 November 2008 it 8 o'clock already?

Was going to write up the most relevant bits of my yesterday, today but it has been a busy day and have almost forgotten what went down yesterday...except I got some blue streaks glued (yes, you read it right) into my hair.

I also got to a craft fair last night. In spite of being really wobbly (manic wobbly) all day. Didn't make much money. Not that I make cards as a business more to pass the time and do something creative but having forked out £5 on petrol to get us there, I came out making around £2. That will do for me. Is better than being out of pocket. A total of around 20 people bothered to turn up to the fair...I think the advertisting of it wasn't a priority until the event!!!! But had fun doing the C Word quiz and the visits back and forth to the cake stall.

Last in late last night was on one. I know because I was still writing lists at 4.00 am! I listed all the days in November and then December. I wrote lists of cards made, food to buy, music I like. Even wrote a list of what I could buy if I had to live on £20 a week. After finishing off my on line order (that I have actually budgetted down to £10 less) and realising dawn was imminent, dropped a loz.

Came to at 11.30 am to phone ringing. Em (love it when she calls). Rang Dr J. Long story, but he doesn't mix well with teenagers ..even ones who are nearly at the end of their teens. Not sure he mixes too well with anyone!!!! Anyway, that is a story for another time. He decided he would leave it till after Em has left to come round. Was a bit sulky about it. I thought "Get over it, this is my daughter we are talking about".

I did a bit of frenzied housework, walked to local shops, popped in friends for cuppa and then came home in time for Em and her fella's arrival.

Was a really good vibe. We chatted everyday stuff, drank tea, ate cake and listened to Adam and The Ants followed by Nirvana's 'Bleach' album (is top dog music that). Then we headed round to see Dad with a tub of cakes I bought back from the fair.

We were there about 10 minutes when Dr J rang..having morphed into the Incredible Hulk. Sounded totally disorientated and then he started f'ing and blinding. He was at my front door, pissed up and some local youths were taking the mickey out of him.

Made apologies to Dad (with promise to return and spend a few hours with him tomorrow) and headed back. Em and fella (wisely) decided to go to MacDonald's for munchies whilst I ushered a very green man inside. One thing I cannot stand and I mean is in my top ten list of things I pissed up people talking shit, knocking over things and acting like the village idiot. After the 20th time of him telling me he loved me, and the fekk knows how many times he asked me the same questions over and over (whilst I gritted my teeth and resisted the temptation to go and get the bread knife and stab him) breathed a massive sigh of relief when he fell asleep on the sofa.

He is still there, now, and I am not religeous but am close to praying he doesn't wake up till tomorrow.

At least, I got to watch 'Strictly' and as much as I like Christine (don't know her last name but smiles alot) there is something about her dancing that reminds me of a rag doll???..not that I can talk. My dancing is very ooh-err-ish and usually fuelled by manic energy.

Now have chill time (yeeha!). Think I might update my MP3 player..and so far so good on the loz front. After a couple of days of heavy usage am cutting back again. So far ,today, have only taken 3/4 of a tablet and still no sign of needing a top up :>)

Loose link to Em ringing...this song comes to mind, although she calls me enough:

Friday, 28 November 2008

Chattering Monkeys and Dog Tired

Didn't get on my blog yesterday.

Awoke to text from friend who needed some attention. Spent a couple of hours with them(mostly fighting off a headache). No disrespect but why am I doing MH services jobs for them? And when do I get the pay cheque?

I felt totally rank really and had the mission to post the letter to the council. Bit of a priority trying to get my housing benefit re-instated. A lot more than a bit of a concern that these systems seem hell bent on punishing the ill. I do fear that (especially in this credit crunch) the mentally ill will be the whipping boys and girls. Will cross the next paper drenched bridge when I come to it and am contemplating looking at the disability discrimination act in regards to how government bodies treat the mentally ill. I don't understand how they work, only that they seem to hound me alot. Perhaps that is why these organisations are set make everything so difficult that only the most devious or able can get things from them (as in proper services). then again, I am a worm aren't I? Wiggling around in the mud!!!

Animal references seem to be my order of the day.

Anyway, dragged myself to the post box and saw Dad in the local shop. Was chuffed that he'd managed to get out and he got some fish and chips from the shop. Perhaps my quote of the day should be "All is not lost if you can still make it to the chippy".

Took his washing round later...but felt like migraine was imminent. Dropped a tabby. At Dad's got text from another friend (which on another day wouldn't have phased me) and I felt like everything was coming on on me. Like i had gone beyond my cut off point and it was like chattering monkeys surrounded me.

Panic attacked all the way back from Dad's and was relieved to get home. Dropped half a loz (my third of the day) and ignored the phone and tried to logic my way through but I felt totally fekked.

Tried making cards,playing music, deep breathing etc blah blah. Nothing worked and by 10.00pm was climbing the walls so took another half a loz and finally, mercifully, got some sleep.

Today, is official card making day but I am in damage limitation mode. I want peace and zilch demands.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Morphing Abounds

Have been to the doc spot and have been re-diagnosed and I have an infection, not Shingles. Of the 2, the former is more pallatable to me (and hopefully won't take so long to recover from. Got a supply of antibiotics and a box of Turkish delight (the sweets are a treat to myself for perceverance).

On the really positive side of the spectrum, I got a bus back from town to home, by myself (after doing a bit of shopping). I can't say why or how I am managing to do this but something inside me is determined to have a go at overcoming the agoraphobia. However long it takes is fine by me, as long as I make progress along the way.

Other stuff of sort of interest - Was at Dr J's last night and we watched the Man U (international) match. I am not a big footie fan but have started to pay attention more of late because Dad listens to matches on his radio and is something we can talk about and share. It was one of the most boring matches I have seen, ending in a 0-0 draw. For top quality (supposed) clubs, people paying for tickets to go there (including the travel for Man U fans) must have felt they were sold down river.

The rest of my today is going to consist of catching up on Dad's and my washing, comfort eating and searching for a good movie on tv.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Possibly Useful Support Meeting

Went round Dad's for the support meeting with his housing officer (a thoroughly good egg to boot).

As we went through things, it became clear to the housing officer, that the paperwork had no section for people with mental health problems. I wasn't surprised about that but she will be getting the paperwork updated to include that. Alot of the sections on the existing paperwork could only partly be completed due to needing to add in information about Dad's disability and how that impacts on his day to day life.

The really positive thing that has finally started to be addressed is transport issues Dad has when he has to get somewhere. The MH staff are not insured to take him, and, if I am poorly, then I can't get him there. Housing Officer will be looking into ways to get transport in place when it is needed. Hoo fekkin ray!

Have come away from meeting feeling that, if she stands by her word, then certain blockages in regards to Dad's care support needs will be overcome. I am never overly optimistic because many is the time I have been offered services and support for it not to materialize. But meeting went better, by far, than it could have gone.

Can now chill out.

The Entrapment of Free Spirits

Wrote this title because have been thinking...about my illness and the continual chain of physical debilitation I am suffering. I also got a bit pre-occupied (but only a bit) with yesterday's interview and thought is there a level of arrogance about me? Answer to that is maybe but, particularly in regards to my reticence in doing any more media type activities, is more that I don't want to be boxed into anything.

There is a free spirit inside me. Sadly, she is tied up most of the time..either trying to maintain some kind of acceptable (to me) mental state or trying to deal with one physical problem after another...and in amongst that doing her best to encourage and support a father to keep going. Not forgetting her daughter, who although is doing her thing, still needs her Mum in contact and to sound off to when necessary. Argggh!

So whatever energy and space there is left for my free spirit, I want to keep it as free as possible.

A one off activity.. and infrequently... relating to something I either feel strongly about, find interesting (or both) is fine but the thought of BEING/FEELING OBLIGED to get involved is not my bag.

I am not (mercifully) being bombarded with offers of interviews, conferences, presentations etc. I have done the rounds of group participation, giving speeches and busying myself in things that ultimately led to fekk all. Like a treadmill of good works that go nowhere!!!

I very much prefer to be proactively detached from most of what goes on in the system and most things are all about the system or lead back there. YAK! much as Lareve (and bless you, Lareve, for thinking that I would be up to such a charge) can see me as a kind of advocate for service users. I would last about half a day, before some bureaucrat would twat me off and I would use terminology most un-beffiting of someone with that level of responsibility. Ha!

And this fekkin' virus is not playing ball with the medication!!!! My tablets run out tomorrow so it will be another round of back to the doc spot for further advice and probably stronger meds. Whoopie doo!

For those who cannot watch animal cruelty, please don't watch the next video. Reality leaves a poor taste in the mouth but, for some, the reality is not a personal choice:

Monday, 24 November 2008

Been There and Done where's me t shirt?

I think I might have a t shirt obsession. Another one to add to the collection!!!

In spite of virus, and almost going freak out in the taxi on the way, I got to the radio hour early.

Dr Jekyll, kindly, accompanied me. I was impressed by his efforts as he suffers severe paranoia and going to places he doesn't know aggrevates paranoid states in him. So fair play to Dr J, I say!

Got a nice mug of tea from the receptionist whilst the pair of us sat and read the magazines (which varied from Trainspotting to Disability Rights).

I was ushered through to the recording room around 11.20. Dr J declined to go with me and headed off for a ciggie. It wasn't at all what I expected. I thought I was actually going to be interviewed by a person in the same room as me. Whilst I waited to be connected through to other people (those interviewing and Seanean being interviewed, somewhere else)I looked around the room. Was a bit bizarre, there were boxes and mikes and some kind of telephone system on the desk in front of me and to the side of me some sort of storage system and a kid's trike. That struck me as novel and I told the receptionist that if I got bored, waiting to go on air, I could always whizz round the room on that.

I haven't got a clue whether I said anything that anyone else might find relevant. I was asked, at one point, to move back from the mike. I haven't got the daintiest of voices and was most probably bellowing out (apologies to those involved for any perforated ear drums).

I hadn't prepared (wasn't even sure what to prepare for) so winged in responded to questions with whatever came to mind at the time. That most probably suited me better. I had kinda put the interview to the back of my mind...and more so because wasn't even sure I would be up to it on the day. With mental illness there aren't always obvious triggers for not being able to handle things on a particular day and my physical state hasn't been condusive to proactive involvement in things outside my comfort zone. I consider it an achievement to have got there and without having severe panic attacks before, during or after.

The experience was quite interesting to me. Having a kind of 3 way convo...although I would have much preferred to have someone in the room asking me the questions. I did feel like I could have been talking to people from a space base on Mars (most likely came across that way too...good luck to whoever is doing the editing) but wasn't really that spooked by it. I actually found it a bit comical.

For those interested in listening to my warblings the Radio 4 Programme will go out on Tuesday, December 2nd at 21.00 hours, repeated on Wednesday, December 3rd at 16.30The podcast will be available on the link below:

So now, home and back to my reality, which consists of a rather abrupt letter from the local council, informing me they have stopped my housing benefit until they get a letter from me explaining when I stopped getting tax credits and child benefit. Even though the tax office informed them of those dates, already...and the formal request for a letter from Em's uni confirming she is a student there. I could get worried about this but I am not. The way I see it, these systems are incompetent and run by people who appear incompetent and if push comes to shove I will ask them why they have to pressure people with illness over piss poor communications between government departments. Obviously, I will do that in a manner befitting formal communications (will swap 'piss poor' for inadequate).

And it is time for a cuppa, a cig and a slob out to some tunes. Thanks, again, to Dr J, I now know how to download songs on to my MP3 Player. My favourite is Michael Jackson's 'Stranger in Moscow' (which bares some relevance to how I felt in that studio room today) but is not allowed to be embedded from You tube so have gone for this. Which is Pink doing it for us girls who go, for reasons that may well be our own destruction, for relevant others who don't come with fancy cars and talk to match!!!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

It was all Go, Go, Go and am glad it has gone!

Interesting appointment at out of hours GP surgery at hospital, yesterday.

And before I get back to the plot, isn't it interesting how the term interesting is now used in place of more direct and honest words or terms? I see it alot on tv. When the politically correct don't feel able to express what they truly mean(the chicken shits), they say it is interesting!!!! Hmmm

So I shall rephrase my first sentence, I had a challenging appointment at the hospital yesterday and not just because I had to get there and back. Thankfully, Dr Jekyll was in good spirits and willing to accompany me. NB, before anyone starts thinking that I am being derogatory to Dr Jekyll and he has no say in the matter. I told him what my new names are for him, he laughed and said "You tell it how it is". Which, apart from the most intimate and private of my thoughts and existance I do. Some things are for the person alone!

Anyway, I arrived about 10 minutes before appointment and was directed to the minor injuries section of A&E. Started to get a bit freaked because I didn't feel it appropriate that an out of hours GP surgery should be combined with a casualty department where people are walking in (obviously in urgent need) and waiting in the same area. Maybe a minor issue for others but not for me.

Waited about 30 minutes and was called into the minor treatment ward. Started getting more spooked because it was all curtained sections and I didn't want to discuss my symptoms in an open area (curtained off or not). Thankfully, was taken to a room. Phewee.

I had a problem understanding what the doctor was saying to me, as he prodded and poked me about. I think, but am not sure, he was Eastern European and am not dissing immigrants but would be more beneficial (and certainly when I am trying to work out what is going on) if people wishing to work in this country could speak the language to adequate levels of comprehension. Thankfully, there was a nurse present who was playing translator so I managed to clock that there was more going on in my body than first anticipated (although am still not 100% sure what it all means).

Came away with a prescription for shingles. 800mg of anti virals (to be taken 3 times a day). Butt kicking stuff it is.

I was, actually, just bloody relieved to get out of there and trying to save money I couldn't really afford in getting there, decided we should get the bus back into town to collect prescription. Cost me £3.40 for 2 people to go 1 mile on a bus. It would have only cost me 10p more to get a taxi (lesson learnt). As in, when going to and from the hospital...much less stress and almost as cheap as public transport to use taxi!!!

Got prescription and then used bus from town to home which did work out cheaper than using a taxi (about £1.50 saved) but I have to wonder at the government's view (or at least propaganda is pushes out) that people should use public transport more. Why should they? When it is unreliable, overcrowded and too expensive!!! Make it a viable alternative to cars and taxis and then more people will not be able to honestly justify why they don't use it. I feel sorry for anyone who has to public transport because as a public service (sets of) it sucks!

Rant over...was relieved to get home and although the tablets are coming with some dodgy side effects (nausea which is abated when I take a bit of lorazepam and feeling woozy), I am certainly feeling the benefits outweigh the negatives. Am trying to work it that I take my lorazepam around when I take the new meds so don't feel negative side effects so badly.....and, yesterday, I still only took 1 lorazepam all day. Am quite chuffed with myself.

So on with the day and going to hunt that bontempi organ out and play a few bars of "I Just Can't Get Enough".

Friday, 21 November 2008

It's all gone a greyer shade of peuce

Thought I was over the worst with the virus yesterday. I even managed to walk to the local shops and back. I wasn't great but was picking up.

Today, I feel the same as I did on Wednesday. Am so very tired, weak and in pain.

Poor Hayley. I was no company for her. She left at 3, saying I needed to rest up. I Know I do, so have made myself a hot chocolate, put a hot botty in my bed and am going to curl up and sleep.

Today, the lozee dosage is back to 1.5 mg and am waving a white flag.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

La La La - I am not listening (ling a long a vent your spleen)

That is how I feel about MH services. Why? Because I feel they have spent most of my time, when it is with them, pretty much ignoring me.

My poor support worker was on the sharp end of this yesterday. Wrong day, wrong everything!

Having gone with Dad, to get his blood tests done, and come home was totally drained. Felt like I had flu...was that bad. I could hardly move and I got so despondant that when support worker arrived, I was at end of tether.

She was patient enough, as I raved about how shit everything is and how the last people I want to see right now are the care co-ordinator or the shrinky dink (as Pebbles calls them - I like that term so will use it as and when). I was quite rude actually and said if I saw my care co-ordinator now I would be telling them where to shove their anxiety management leaflets and checklists!!! But the level of crass stupidity used by so called professionals does my head in (even more than it is).

I have done 2 anxiety management courses in the past (one in acute care and one at a local day centre). I spent years, as part of my job, trying to help people problem solve as part of their jobs. Is not so much a case of teaching granny to suck eggs but more a case of "Here we go again on the one size fits all" bandwagon. I am not somebody getting ill for the first time. I am not some dumb fuck who hasn't a clue why stress affects me or how.

What I am is the dumb fuck trying to remind services that they should be running services for patients, as the individuals they are, rather than services being run to suit themselves!!!! Which is the case, most of the time. Services justifying their existance by producing lots of bits of paper and people feeling sanctimonious and precious they are doing really great things. Err, NO!

I feel like having a t-shirt printed with "You suck and you know you do" on it and wearing it to all my 'formal' appointments with MH services. Subtlety, was never my strong point.

Maybe I will feel less venomous later. I don't think so though. I am discinclined, in spite of my support worker's view that I need to be pro-active in talking to care co-ordinator in order to contingency plan in case I hit a nasty trough. Winter is my worst time and, historically, it has been when I have needed acute care but I don't think I should be the one having to chase up anyone anymore (doing their jobs for them). Although it is what I have had to do time and time again to get any support from services and the thought of explaining this to care co-ordinator to then be handed a list of emergency numbers or more leaflets is beyond the pale.

Am too tired and too disillusioned to be arsed.

We also discussed the patient's forum set up by the Community Mental Health Team. I wouldn't be able to get to the meetings because they are held about 10miles away -but my experience of forums is that they are tokenistic. Most of the decisions made by services are made before the forums are involved. Case in point the closing of the local respite care centre. One consultation meeting was held (in the middle of the staff relocation programme) the local (coughs) representative group turned up but the meeting wasn't widely advertised. I don't think it was advertised at all.

When I contacted the CEO of the Trust to ask what was happening in regards to the centre I was informed it was being modernised. That was over a year ago.

Possibly interesting point...the respite centre buidlings are still there, empty. Not being used for anything. Quite what part of a modernisation programme that fits in with, is beyond me.

I wouldn't join a forum again.....I won't be party to political games where the outcomes have already been agreed in a senior management office. Fekk that for service user involvement.

And yep, aren't I the misery guts but so what? Those that think all in the garden of modernising the mentally is rosy should come and live like Dad and me.

The downwardly immobile!!!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Cutting back on benzos and the 'meds' reality.

Having relied a bit more on lozees over the weekend than I would normally, have decided to cut back and, for the last 2 days, have managed on 1. Taking half in the morning and the next half when I feel the need. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be but it wasn't a picnic either. Although I went 8 hours before needing the other half last night.

Am not planning a serious detox. I don't want to come off this medication. Well, in an ideal world I would want to come off it but know that if I did, would end up going too high or too neurotic (deffo too much of something I wouldn't handle) and then would likely end up in acute care or, if not that, referred to psychiatrist for new medication (yuk). If I can stick to one a day that would be the ideal in the world I live, and wish to continue to function, in.

I do realise I am erratic and so not carving anything in stone but is important to try and maintain as low dose as possible on benzos. I know the score on their addictive nature and the long term possibility of ending up on several of the things just to stop withdrawal symptoms. I also know the score on having to survive and trying to keep the effects of my mental illness from swamping me.

As for what is going on today. Dossy morning, with bath and hair wash and tunes and then this afternoon it is off to GP with Dad to get his blood tests done and then going walkies with Support Worker, after.

My friend has gone back on Olanzapine, at her psychiatrist's request. Hope that goes okay for her and have said will stay over tonight if she needs some moral support. I have my views about that medication but it is her body and mental state that she has to deal with and even though I think most anti psychotics are horrid, appreciate she feels so bad she is willing to try it again. Is not like there are decent options is it? Ho hum.

Time to get that kettle on and move forward with the day.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Revolutionary Theory on Mental Illness or something we have all been debating for yonks?

Thanks to SSRI Crusaders for sending this through to me.

By Jay Neugeboren, Huffington Post
Posted on November 18, 2008, Printed on November 18, 2008

This past week, the New York Times heralded a new theory of brain development as providing "psychiatry with perhaps its grandest working theory since Freud." ("In a Novel Theory of Mental Disorders, Parents' Genes Are in Competition," November 11, 2008) Even if the theory is flawed, the Times noted, it is "likely to provide new insights into the biology of mental disease."

The new theory posits that an "evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father's sperm and the mother's egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways." If there's a bias toward the father, the developing brain is pushed along the autistic spectrum; if the bias is toward the mother, the growing brain moves along what researchers call "the psychotic spectrum" (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression).

While the more we know about mental disorders, the more we may be able to find useful treatments for them, this new theory seems, in fact, to reinforce old, unproven deterministic notions: that mental disorders are primarily biological and/or chemical and genetic in origin and course, and that since (if!) they are, what follows is that "science" will some day be able to "cure" them by treating and/or manipulating our genes (or biology, or chemistry).

"Someday they'll see," my mother used to wail after visits to my brother Robert, when he was locked away in mental hospitals, "someday they'll see that it's all chemical!"

Ah, that it were so, and how free of responsibility we might all be then. But what (as with my mother) reductively chemical, biological, and/or genetic explanations for the causes of mental disorders do not take into account is what we have learned in recent years about how the brain develops and evolves.

Researchers and neuroscientists such as Nobel prize winner Eric Kandel have demonstrated that experience itself -- sexual and emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, loss, love, music, sports -- all of experience, in fact, whether ordinary or extraordinary -- actually changes the chemistry, synaptical connections, and neuronal circuitry of the brain. Our brains, that is, have minds of their own, and thus are not subject, across our lifetimes, exclusively or even primarily to the genetic hands we are dealt at birth.

And there's something else: while researchers such as Crespi and Badcock are generously funded for work on their theory of how mental disorders come into being, and the Times and others take heart from it, back in the hospitals, wards, and residences where these people live, there are no funds for basic, human care. Five years ago, the New York Times ran a front page Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles about conditions in New York City's "adult homes," where some 15,000 people, most of them with mental disorders, lived in conditions that were sub-human ("psychiatric flophouses," the Times called them). Despite the world-wide attention to this dismal, criminally negligent situation, in the years since, little or nothing has changed. People in these homes still live without air conditioners in summer, without heat in winter, and without anything resembling competent or humane care.

My brother Robert, who has suffered the ravages of mental illness for more than 40 years, lives in a residence far superior to these adult homes, but when he and I asked the staff psychiatrist about getting some kind of talk therapy for him -- he has always thrived when he was in an ongoing therapeutic relationship, and these relationships have been crucial, in his life, to well-being and recovery -- the answer, again and again, has been: "No Resources."

So while, with the Times, we welcome yet another way of trying to understand mental disorders, we ask how, given what we now know about the neural plasticity of the brain, along with the often positive role non-pharmaceutical treatments can play in people's lives, this theory will prove useful. And we also wonder why it is generally so much easier to find funds for people who study mental disorders in laboratories than it is to find funds that make a difference in the lives of people with mental disorders.

Jay Neugeboren is the author of 17 books, including several award-winning books on psychiatric disorders (Imagining Robert, Tranforming Madness).

Rallying on through the virus

Before I talk about the general shenanigans that is my life want to write that the local resolution meeting is close to being agreed.

The advocate didn't get off to a good start because he promised to send me his email address, so he could be kept up to date on any communications between me and NHS organisations, and promptly didn't. So had to ring the advocacy service this morning. He wasn't there but the admin lady passed it to me and I have passed that on to relevant parties.

I have been asked to put forward an agenda for the meeting and it goes like this:

1) NHS procedures and protocols in regards to informing patients of blood test results

2) The unacceptable amount of time I spent chasing after NHS staff in order to get my blood test results and the reasons why this was the case

3) What improvements can be made to ensure this situation does not happen again

I think they are fair agenda items (and more so relevant).

So back to the general stuff: The DWP have seen fit to pay me my disability living allowance today so am out of panic mode on the bank account front.

I got up too late to make a GP appointment for today so will either have to make one later in week (by which time, health probbies will have subsided or will need further attention).

Dad's warden (for his accommodation) rang to ask if I would attend a support plan update meeting between her and him. Yes, was the answer but unless that brings forth more hands on support for Dad can't really see it suiting any purpose except for proof that it has taken place.

I want the services to provide more care for him. The care services either out-right refuse or say they will and then make excuses to pass the care responsiblity back to me. My view is that it mostly boils down to laziness on their part (with lack of adequate resources being made available for anyone to use).

The highlight of my day, thus far, (apart from being paid my DLA) was listening to the 2 cd's I picked up in a second hand shop yesterday. One by Pink and one by Macy Gray. Both really good listening.

Soon will be heading round to see Dad and agree what time we are heading off for his blood tests, tomorrow. Tried hunting out 'A Moment To Myself' by Macy Gray. Which is what I am in much need of but couldn't find it on Youtube. This is my second choice -Love her voice (melloooooooow):

Monday, 17 November 2008

Is it Monday again?

Having taken a whole lorazepam last night, when I was woken by the phone, I hadn't a clue what day it was and my Support Worker, ringing to re-arrange next visit, must have thought I had had a night on the lash. If only!!!!

OOOh! Just had a call from the advocacy service. Have been allocated an advocate who will be helping me with the formal complaint process and attending the local resolution meeting I have requested (with me and on my behalf). Part of their role is to write letters and that may well come in handy for me, as this time of year is difficult and I think I will struggle to sustain a level of compus as this pans out.

Back to the main plot. Have a nasty virus (don't ask me how I know, let us just say I know because have been here before) which is adding another layer of aggro into things and so temptation is to head back to bed and stay there. Only, even for me, that won't do! Not today, I need to get to town before shops and post office close (gives me a few hours to get act together).

Friend rang with many apologies (same old, same as) but is bending over backwards to be nice and say and do the right things. If it wasn't so crap when they blow a fuse, would be quite endearing. So today, well for as long as it lasts, Dr Jekyll is back. I think I might buy them a dickie bow tie and an incredible hulk mask for Christmas!!!! Ha!

Shit, I mentioned the C word. Try as I might, and have, to ignore it and hope it goes away, it won't. So I am doing what I always do and that is stocking up food items (2 or 3) each time I place a shopping order and working my way through a very small present list. Yep, would love to buy fab prezzies for fam and friends but the money isn't there and I think the credit crunch is putting everyone (not just us nare do wells on welfare benefits) in the same boat.

I don't usually handle the C word well. Having lost Mum a few days before the 25th and with Dad so poorly this year, would be better if it was shifted to Summer. I did once have a Summer Chrimbo due to feeling it wasn't right to celebrate around the time of Mum's death. Was quite fun.

Anyway, Dad has agreed to spending the day with me. Hope that means at my place cos I don't really want to cook a full dinner (pud et al) and have to walk that round to his place.

Isn't it awful that even those of us that would rather the C word doesn't happen still have to make the effort. After all it is, for me, about family and I can't stand the thought of Dad being on his own that day. Even if I would rather it were treated like any other day and the perfect day for me would be Disney DVD's and large boxes of chocolates.

And now I have to get my sorry arse in gear. So it is time to make tea and go forth (in a Blackadder stylee). Anyone got a cunning plan?

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Free Banksey

I didn't even know he had been banged up!!!!

Actually, having been on Creative Cafe ( came across a blog posting about his stuff, which is going free. Downloadable piccies that can then be used for T shirt transfers, mugs and the like from the link below:

I don't know what Banksey would have to say about it but as a guy that expresses himself in a rather anarchic stylee, to claim copyright would be a step back inside the box for him.

I quite like the idea of having the flattering picture of Queenie on a t shirt. Have never seen her look that appealling before.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Drained, Bewildered and in need of a hug from Pudsey

It has been rather a busy week for me and has left me exhausted (very much so).

I managed to get another bus, on Wednesday, when I went to stay at friends so that was an achievement and cooking for Dad and staying over, Thursday, was another. But it is so very hard on an emotional level. I won't go into detail here as it is private and painful but I ended up with a migraine and yesterday spent the day in a semi zombie state.

He (Dad) really isn't getting enough support and I do understand that what resources there are in MH services aren't going to stretch round everyone who needs care but he is stagnating and on Thursday was discussing things that were quite frightening to me. I am not stable enough to provide him with objective counselling. I try but I think that is the role of MH services. I think he needs more than 2 visits a week from the support worker. The plus is that, having spoken with his support worker, she is taking him to see the GP on Monday.

Hayley came round yesterday and I managed to make some cards but I was all over the place, internally, which was not helped by seeing the GP who had the letter from the neurologist and wants to put me on Sodium Valporate for migraines???? I didn't know that was a medication that was used for treating migraines and even so the last time I took it was when I was in acute care and after taking it my blood pressure went through the ceiling. The GP thinks the dose I will be on, 200mg twice a day, is a low dose. Erm, it doesn't sound like a low dose to me. I came home and thought about it and I am going back and saying that I don't want to take it and won't. I will try another (non shrinky drug) but if there aren't any more available then I will ask for the wafer things. At least they kick in when the migraines come.

The bottom line, I think, with the migraines is that they were trigged by Dad getting so very ill and are perpetuated by the worry and stress of his and my situation.

I haven't seen the Support Worker this week. She is off sick (know the feeling love!) but right now I feel like I need to shut down a while. I have a friend due over this weekend but I don't want them here. That sounds awful and maybe it is but I can't cope with any demands and that isn't just the demands of cooking but of having someone in my space who might bring with them all their stresses and there is no room in the inn for any more than my own. In fact there isn't enough room for mine!!!

Watched 'Children in Need' and kept thinking of Baby P and how many more little ones are being hurt right now and it did provide some comfort to know that there are good works, carried out by caring people, going on out there (funded, as ever, by Jo Public) that do help but when government bodies aren't doing their share of the caring, and children are dying because of that, well, it just ain't the severest way.

Not sure what to make of the new Doctor Who. If the chap on Children in Need is going to be the new Doctor Who. I am still rooting for Richard E Grant. He is perfect for the part.

And now I am going back to bed for as long as it provides me with rest and comfort.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Suffer Little Children

I am sure the story of Baby P is being done to death as was he. Rest his little soul.

However, I feel compelled to write about the brutality (such as I know of it) that he was subjected to (by his mother and lover and some other fucker) and the fact that continued on and on, in spite of 60 visits from welfare departments.

To me it screams out..not just about the level of depravity that so called adults will stoop to but also the total ineptitude of the welfare services this country has in place. Certainly in areas such as Haringay, that never seem to learn by their mistakes.

I made myself watch the news last night because I felt I had a duty to do that. I knew it was going to be upsetting but my view is that if I think "I can't cope with watching it" and therefore don't I am doing the baby an injustice because he had no choice to switch off what was being done to him. Nothing I think, feel or do makes the slightest difference to that little boy. He is gone and it is worse that he was continually brutalised until his death that is the most sickening aspect of his sorry excuse for a life (and I mean we should be apologising, as adults, for allowing this to happen - futile as that may seem....there is a sickness in the soul of this country that seems to be spreading like a vicious cancer).

I lay awake for hours, crying for him (for all of humanity) because until as a society - make that species, WE take responsibility for the damage we inflict on others then we are all lost.

This morning, I tuned into the Minister for Child Welfare (or whatever his title is) saying there was going to be a 2 week inquiry into what happened - I would assume ,and hope,this inquiry will be looking at the roles social services, the police and the NHS were acting out but more so I hope that support services are given the appropriate powers to act and liaise much closer with each other in future, so babies and children are not left to be abused by people who are obviously incapable of caring for them and are likely to cause them long term damage and put them in mortal danger.

My fear is that all that will happen is a load of paperwork will be produced and the business of child welfare will return to it's usual and chaotic uselesseness!!!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Getting Real

Having debate with myself here.

I really don't want to be representative by doing this interview but will I be seen as representative? Am I carrying the holy grail? (shrieks). If so, I think I should cut loose now because what I see as talking about my blog and why I set it up and continue to blog seems to be becoming something else to other people.

I am being asked to put forward links to forums and that has got me to thinking do I go along with a list of links that I am interested in? I don't want to do the internet equivalent of 'Desert Island Discs' and anyway there must be plenty of things going on in the world of internet and blogging that I am not aware of. It is not my job to hunt things out or say what is interesting or not.

Feeling swamped here.

Had a chat with friend about this and their view is that I am going, as me, to talk about my blog and that is how it should be. They don't think it is anything shifty or damaging...and that perhaps there is a level of jealousy amongst people because I was contacted. The last thing I need is people being jealous of this, which is something I didn't actively seek and am now starting to feel is a noose around my neck and, actually, if anyone wants the opportunity to talk about their own blog, I am happy to pass their details on and step aside. It isn't important for me to do this interview perhaps it is for somebody else.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Blogging and other Dilemmas

I ripped that title from a book of poems I had published (NB by a small local publishing company) yonks ago. I swapped 'Life' for 'Blogging' which is a sort of ironic twist on how my life actually is. Ha!

Blogging can become a dilemma because although there is an incredible freedom to it, if one chooses to use it, there is also a level of responsiblity (again if one chooses to use that). Now, I am rarely one to let concensus dictate what I write nor do I worry too much what people think of me because I am what I am and I am not going to hide behind a fake persona. However, since the lady at the BBC contacted me I have been in a bit of a quandry. I passed on some details of other blogs to her and made contact with people I had never come into contact with before and that got me to thinking 1) Actually why should I choose people?...everyone who blogs is as valid as anyone else and it is only a matter of either personal taste or, on this occasion, looking to provide some balance that was the reason I put certain blogs forward for viewing 2) Who the fekk am I to be on a radio programme anyway?

As I explained, to the lady, there are so many MH blogs out there (more articulate, witty or interactive than mine) and they all should be given equal exposure. So I felt a heel for doing what I did but I hope that in doing what I did, I was as fair as I could be. I didn't go for soft options for me but tried to be objective. Ho hum!

I have agreed to be interviewed, which will then be recorded and form part of a programme on blogging for the Radio 4 'All In The Mind' series. Scary stuff. Totally out of my comfort zone but,if anything, I want to use this opportunity to promote blogland as another avenue for people with mental illness to express themselves and interact (as much as they wish) within. I really don't need to do this, and as I said before, personally it won't do me any favours. Nor do I want it to. I am not being humble here...I really want more democracy for people with mental illness and maybe this will be a very tiny part of encouraging that. I dunno and I sense that not only will I make a complete pratt of myself (which is nothing new) but will come away all in a pickle because I forgot to say something really important.

The pozzie is that the BBC will organise a taxi for me there and back and a friend can accompany me. I really couldn't get there without support in place.

So now I need to get with another programme. I have a pampering session booked through the carers' group. Last month I had reflexology and was hoping for the same again. However, evil dwarves a go go, have had hives on my feet and therefore reflexology is out of the question (would die of embarrasment). Perhaps a back massage instead.

And even more importantly my daughter and her fella are coming round later and they are staying over. We are having a curry and DVD night. Great stuff.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Tales from Across The Pond

Pharmaceutical Industry Hustlers – Part I Thursday, 6 November 2008, 1:25 pm
Column: Evelyn Pringle

SSRI Antidepressants Pushers

After twenty long years, it appears that the epidemic in mental disorders in America might be coming to an end. It won't happen because of any great medical breakthrough but rather because the perpetrators of the greatest healthcare fraud in history are finally being exposed. The demolition of the giant "psycho-pharmaceutical complex" appears to be on the horizon. For far too long, the focus has been on the drugmakers only. In recent months, the spotlight has shown where it belongs - on the highly-paid opportunists responsible for fueling the epidemic in prescribing of psychiatric drugs by doctors in every field of medicine and the research institutions that enabled the process.

The antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI's, such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro are at the center of the storm. These drugs have been prescribed to more Americans than any other class of medications over the past two decades. Cymbalta, Effexor and Wellbutrin are often referred to as SSRI's, but they are slightly different chemically. However, the drugs all carry similar side effects and warnings.

The top sales pitch for SSRI's has been the "chemical-imbalance-in-the-brain" myth. "There is no evidence whatsoever that depression is caused by a biochemical imbalance," says Dr Peter Breggin, one of the world's leading experts on psychiatric drugs and author of the new book, "Medication Madness."

People take for granted pronouncements such as, "You have a biochemical imbalance," and "mental disorders are like diabetes," he explains in the book.

"In reality," Dr Breggin writes, "these are not scientific observations - they are promotional slogans, so adamantly repeated in the media and by individual psychiatrists that people assume them to be true."

"The psycho-pharmaceutical complex fosters these falsehoods in order to promote the widespread use of their products," he says. "Reluctant patients by the millions are pushed into taking drugs by doctors who tell them with no uncertainty that they need medication."

"If you have got a biochemical imbalance in your brain," Dr Breggin advises in the book, "the odds are overwhelming that your doctor put it there with a psychiatric drug."

All Eyes on Glaxo

At the moment, all eyes are on Paxil maker, GlaxoSmithKline (formerly SmithKline Beecham), due to reports that the company is under investigation by the US Department of Justice, as well as the Senate Finance Committee, with Iowa's Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Committee, leading the charge.

The report that led to the investigation by Senator Grassley was generated in litigation and was only recently made public after it was unsealed by the court. It was submitted by Dr Joseph Glenmullen, a Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of "The Antidepressant Solution" and “Prozac Backlash: Overcoming the Dangers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Other Antidepressants with Safe, Effective Alternatives.” He was retained as an expert by the Los Angeles-based law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. The litigation involves several Paxil-induced suicide cases, including a 13-year-old child.

The report shows that Glaxo knew in 1989, long before Paxil was FDA approved, that people taking the drug were 8 times more likely to engage in suicidal behavior than people given a placebo, or sugar pill. Now, it stands to reason that even the most depressed person would decline to take Paxil if given these facts. Also, parents certainly would decline if they were told about the risks.

Dr Glenmullen explains that, by submitting what he refers to as "bad" Paxil numbers to the FDA, Glaxo was able to avoid adding a warning about suicide to the label when the drug was approved. "GlaxoSmithKline's 'bad' Paxil numbers carried the day: The FDA approved Paxil on December 29, 1992, with no warning to doctors or patients of the significant increased risk of suicidal behavior," he writes.

Instead, Glaxo listed suicide and suicide attempts that took place during the "run-in" period of the studies as if they happened in the placebo group. The run-in period, also called the "wash-out" phase, occurs when all patients are taken off their existing drugs to let the old drugs wash out of their systems, and all patients are given placebos. The rationale for washing out old drugs is to prevent them from confusing the results of the study, so that patients start out in a similar condition, according to the report.

The official trial only begins after the wash-out phase, once the patients are assigned to receive either the antidepressant or a placebo. The patients who continue to receive the placebo are referred to as the “placebo group.”

"Confusing the pre-study placebo wash-out phase with the placebo group in the actual study is improper," Dr Glenmullen writes, "especially when the concern is a potentially lethal side effect."

The "correct data shows that suicide attempts in patients on Paxil occurred at a rate eight times higher than the rate in patients on placebo," he notes.

Senator Grassley has also asked the FDA to go back and review the clinical trial data submitted on Paxil. In a statement on the Senate floor on June 11, 2008, he said: "Essentially, it looks like GlaxoSmithKline bamboozled the FDA."

"We cannot live in a nation where drug companies are less than candid, hide information and attempt to mislead the FDA and the public," he stated. "These companies are selling drugs that we put in our bodies, not sneakers."

"When they manipulate or withhold data to hide or minimize findings about safety and/or efficacy they put patient safety at risk," Senator Grassley said. "And with drugs like Paxil, the risks are too great."

A good start

As the Glaxo scandal unravels, the public will learn that other antidepressant makers such as Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Wyeth and Forest Laboratories are equally guilty. Likewise, there are many more supposedly independent academic doctors who have been receiving substantial financial benefits from drug companies than are currently identified in the media as being under investigation.

Exposing Harvard University’s Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer, Timothy Wilens, Stanford's Alan Schatzberg, Brown University's Martin Keller, Melissa DelBello at the University of Cincinnati, and Drs Karen Wagner and John Rush, who operated out of the University of Texas, might be a good place to start, but the trail of Big Pharma’s funding “academic research” for marketing purposes certainly does not end with a handful of psychiatrists.

According to Senator Grassley's June 4, 2008 statement in the Congressional record, although conflict-of-interest disclosure forms make it appear that the Harvard psychiatrists only received a couple hundred thousand from drug companies over the past 7 years, the true figures show Dr Biederman received over "$1.6 million," Dr Spencer "over $1 million" and Dr Wilens "over $1.6 million" in payments from the drug companies.

"Based on reports from just a handful of drug companies," he states, "we know that even these millions do not account for all of the money."

Senator Grassley also notes that Dr Schatzberg owns stock worth more than $6 million in one drug company. Ed Silverman reports on Pharmalot that there are "30 or so physicians at two dozen universities which the Senate Finance Committee is probing concerning disclosure of grants from drugmakers." The names of those 30 doctors, along with the research mills they operate out of, need to be made public.

The new book, "Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a Best-selling Antidepressant on Trial," by investigative journalist Alison Bass, provides the inside scoop on the fraudulent SSRI research conducted at Brown University by Dr Keller.

The book also supplies background information on the financial ties between the so-called "opinion leaders" in psychiatry and the other antidepressant makers. For instance, Ms Bass explains that Drs Schatzberg and Keller worked as a team a decade ago to promote Bristol-Myers Squibb's antidepressant Serzone.

In 1998, Dr Schatzberg was paid to moderate an industry-sponsored symposium that touted the benefits of Serzone, and Dr Keller was one of the paid speakers at the event. The same year, Dr Keller received $77,400 in consulting fees from Bristol-Myers, Ms Bass points out.

Dr Keller later published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine also touting the benefits of Serzone. The drug was removed from the market in 2004 after it was found to cause liver damage but not before a number of patients died.

Ms Bass reports that Keller did not report any income from Glaxo on his 1998 tax return. But during her research for "Side Effects," she discovered he had earned personal income from Glaxo in 1998, as well as subsequent years. Keller admitted as much during a September 2006 deposition for a lawsuit filed against Glaxo, she says.

It is no longer a case where Americans need only be concerned about the amount of money the academics are pulling in. The pharmaceutical industry also has a stronghold on most major research institutions in this country. Many could not exist if the drug companies withdrew all their research funding, a state of affairs that did not occur by accident.

In fact, according to Dr Aubrey Blumsohn, who publishes the Scientific Misconduct Blog, when all is said and done:

"The chief villains remain our academic institutions and medical leadership. They have colluded with and have acted as apologists for commercial scientific fraud. They have tolerated the telling of lies by senior academics. They have encouraged the prostitution of medicine. They have allowed abuse of the most fundamental safeguards of science. Most importantly, they have set terrible examples for our students."
Universities keep corrupt academics on board for good reason. "Side Effects" reports that, between 1990 and 1998, "Martin Keller brought in nearly $8.7 million in research funding from pharmaceutical companies."

The clinical trial industry itself provides a perfect slush fund. Spending in the U.S. was an estimated $25 billion in 2006 and is expected to reach about $32 billion by 2011. Most of the money for trials comes from private industry, and federal funding assumes a second place position, with the National Institute of Health budgeting $3 billion for clinical trials in 2006, according to the paper, "State Medical Board Responses To An Inquiry On Physician Researcher Misconduct," by Dr Stefan Kruszewski, Dr Richard Paczynski and Marzana Bialy, in the Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline 2008: Vol 94 No 1.

Paxil Study 329

"Side Effects" also covers the whole sordid affair on Paxil Study 329, the most infamous fraudulent pediatric trial of all time. The study "offers a landmark for the point at which science turned into marketing," according to Dr David Healy.

Dr Healy is a Professor of psychiatry and Director of the North Wales School of Psychological Medicine at the University of Wales, and an outspoken critic of the psycho-pharmaceutical complex, with 21 books to his name, including "The Creation of Psychopharmacology."

He explains that, in 1998, Glaxo's original assessment of Study 329 had concluded that it and another study had shown Paxil did not work for children, but that it would not be "commercially acceptable" to publicize this finding. "Instead the positive findings from the study would be published; they were in an article whose authorship line contains some of the best known names in psychopharmacology (Keller et al., 2001)," Dr Healy writes in the 2007 paper, "The Engineers of Human Souls & Academia."

Dr Keller gets most of the “credit” for the study, which was completed in the mid-90's. Keller et al had some difficulty getting it published at first, but finally found a journal willing to take the bate in 2001, the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In all, 20 academics allowed their names to be attached to this ghostwritten infomercial, and not one has stepped forward to acknowledge wrongdoing or to admit that a mistake was made.

Long before the paper was published, the authors of study 329 were fanned out all the way to Canada giving lectures and presentations to prescribing doctors at medical conferences and seminars to promote the off-label use of Paxil for kids. More than any other paper, Study 329 led to an epidemic in pediatric prescribing. "After its publication, the use of antidepressants for children skyrocketed," Dr Glenmullen notes.

These handsomely paid “key opinion leaders” all deserve to have their names in lights, especially Drs Graham Emslie and Karen Wagner from the University of Texas.

Between 2000 through 2005, Glaxo paid Dr Wagner $160,404, but the only payment she reported to the university was $600 in 2005, according to Senator Grassley. Dr Wagner also failed to disclose earnings of more than $11,000 from Prozac-maker Eli Lilly in 2002.

On August 18, 2008, the Dallas Morning News reported that a “state mental health plan naming the preferred psychiatric drugs for children has been quietly put on hold over fears drug companies may have given researchers consulting contracts, speakers fees or other perks to help get their products on the list.”

“The Children's Medication Algorithm Project, or CMAP, was supposed to determine which psychiatric drugs were most effective for children and in what order they should be tried at state-funded mental health centers,” the Morning News explains.

The academics who developed the CMAP include Drs Wagner and Emslie. Records show Dr Emslie may have made up to “$125,000 from drug companies since 2004,” according to the report in the Morning News.

While Dr Keller took the lead on pushing Paxil for children and adolescents, Dr Emslie was the main man on the Prozac trials, and Dr Wagner was the queen bee on Zoloft studies. The co-authors of papers that appear in the medical literature encouraging the use of SSRI's for kids include Drs Biederman, Schatzberg, Wilens and, of course, Charles Nemeroff.

Dr Nemeroff was recently forced to resign as chairman of Emory’s psychiatry department after Senator Grassley’s investigation revealed that he failed to disclose to his university more than a million dollars in drug industry income. All total, Nemeroff had earnings of $2.8 million from drug companies between 2000 and 2007, but failed to report at least $1.2 million.

A complete list of academics who should to be investigated can be found among the authors of the SSRI papers and studies highlighted in the 2006 Third Edition of, "Essentials of Clinical Psychopharmacology," described as "a synopsis and update of the most clinically relevant material from 'The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychopharmacology,'" by none other than Drs Schatzberg and Nemeroff.

Keep Following the Money

On July 10, 2008, Senator Grassley extended his investigation to include psychiatry's top industry-funded front group with a letter to Dr James Scully, Medical Director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychiatric Association, asking for "an accounting of industry funding that pharmaceutical companies and/or the foundations established by these companies have provided to the American Psychiatric Association."

The Senator wants records from January 2003 to the present. According to the July 12, 2008, New York Times, in 2006, the "industry accounted for about 30 percent of the association's $62.5 million in financing."

A factor rarely discussed in this debate is the amount of money doctors who prescribe SSRI's make during brief office calls charged at regular rates. This practice has taken a tremendous toll on public healthcare programs and has resulted in higher insurance premiums and overall healthcare costs for all Americans.

In fact, the bilking of public healthcare programs is what led to the current investigations by the Finance Committee, which has the responsibility of overseeing spending in Federal programs. When doctors prescribe drugs for unnecessary uses, public programs not only have to pay for the drugs, they must also pay the fees of the prescribing doctors and for the medical care for injuries caused by the drugs. Government spending tied to the prescribing of psychiatric drugs has gone through the roof in the past decade.

While testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 9, 2007, Lewis Morris, Chief Counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General, discussed kickbacks to doctors and told the panel:

"Kickbacks potentially increase the costs to Federal programs because they encourage overutilization and may encourage the prescribing of more expensive drugs when clinically appropriate and cheaper options (such as generic drugs) may be equally effective."
Mr Morris explained that, "kickbacks offered to prescribing physicians by pharmaceutical manufacturers take a variety of forms, ranging from free samples for which the physician bills the programs to all-expense-paid trips and sham consulting agreements."

Vermont is a rare state in requiring the pharmaceutical industry to disclose the money paid to doctors. On July 8, 2008, Vermont’s Attorney General William Sorrell released the state's annual report on "Pharmaceutical Marketing Disclosures," which lists the payments made by drug companies in 2007. Of the top 100 recipients, once again, psychiatrists received the highest payments. Eleven psychiatrists received a total of $626,379, or about 20% of the total value of payments made, according to the report.

Shrinks on the take are so addicted to industry money that it's impossible to embarrass them. Last year, the press ran major stories when this report came out, highly critical of how much money they were making. This year, the average amount rose by 25%.

The report also analyzes the payments based upon the drugs being marketed. Of the top 10 drugs for which disclosures were reported, five are used to treat mental illness and include Lilly's Cymbalta and Forest Lab's Lexapro. Ironically, Cymbalta sales are also up 25%, according to Lilly's latest SEC filing.

Overall, estimates indicate that the drug industry spends $19 billion annually on marketing to physicians in the form of gifts, travel, meals and other consulting fees, according to a May 22, 2008, press release by Senator Grassley's office. In the November 1, 2007, New England Journal of Medicine paper, "Doctors and Drug Companies — Scrutinizing Influential Relationships," Dr Eric Campell, associate professor at the Institute of Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, writes:

"Individual physicians can take some steps to maximize the benefits for patients and minimize the risks associated with their own industry relationships. They can start by recognizing that such relationships are designed to influence prescribing behavior and by carefully considering the potential effects that their own associations may have on their patients."
"And they can bear in mind," he says, "that the costs of industry dinners, trips, and other incentives are passed along to their patients in the form of higher drug prices."

Antidepressant prescribing is more rampant in this country than any other. The US accounted for 66% of the global market in 2005, compared to 23% in Europe and 11% for the rest of world, according to a December 2006 report by Research and Markets.

A June 2007 survey by the Centers for Disease Control of doctor and hospital visits in 2005 showed that the most commonly prescribed drugs were antidepressants, with 48% of the prescriptions issued by primary care physicians. They have remained in the number one position ever since. Last year, 232 million prescriptions were filled for antidepressants worth nearly $12 billion, according to a March 2008 report by IMS Health.

The top dogs in the pharmaceutical industry are literally laughing all the way to the bank. For example, in 2007, Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler's pay package was worth $9.5 million, according to the March 14, 2008, Wall Street Journal. A previous CEO, David Shedlarz, left last year with an "exit package" worth over $34 million. In 2007, the total value of Wyeth's then-CEO Robert Essner's pay package was $24.1 million, the Journal reports.

In the meantime, state Medicaid programs are going bankrupt as a result of the mental illness epidemic occurring only in the US. Attorneys General all over the country are using consumer fraud statutes to sue the drug giants to recoup the money lost due to the illegal off-label promotion of psychiatric drugs and the concealment of their side effects.

For instance, Baum Hedlund has been litigating Private Attorney General consumer fraud class-action lawsuits against Glaxo since 2004, on behalf of individuals and entities such as insurance companies in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio and Washington.

The cases are based on documents showing Glaxo promoted Paxil for kids, fully aware that Paxil failed to out-perform a placebo in the clinical trials and had higher suicidality rates. A national class settlement of individual claims was reached in April 2007 in which Glaxo agreed to reimburse parents for all of the money paid for Paxil prescriptions for their children. A national class settlement on behalf of third party payors (insurance companies) was just approved in September 2008.

If not for the few law firms willing to stay the course, the truth would never have been revealed. Baum Hedlund has been pursuing the SSRI makers for nearly two decades. Most recently, it has taken up the fight for babies born with birth defects caused by SSRI's.

Because the industry was so successful at keeping the original SSRI trial data hidden, the drugs’ most serious side effects largely became public only as a result of the bravery and integrity of such medical experts as Dr Healy, Dr Glenmullen and Dr Breggin, who could not be bought and could not be bullied.

For fifteen years, the SSRI makers fought against adding a warning about an increased risk of suicidality, knowing all the long that the risk existed. Now, the companies are making the irresponsible argument (in defense of lawsuits claiming they failed to warn doctors and the public of the risk) that the FDA did not require them to add a warning, so they are immune from liability.

Worse yet, the industry-controlled FDA under the Bush Administration is supporting this audacious preemption defense and siding with the SSRI makers against private citizens in courts all over the country, telling judges to rule in favor of the drug companies and throw out the SSRI cases before they even make it to a jury.

Although not an SSRI case, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case involving federal preemption, in Wyeth v Levine, on November 3, 2008.

Twangy Ear Syndrome

There must be a more scientific name for it but that is the closest I can get to one!

For a couple of days I have experienced this in my left ear. It actually sounds a bit like a plectrum strumming on a guitar string and it is accompanied by a tight feeling. Weird eh?

I do suffer with sinus (EN&T) probbies but usually I get problems in my right ear, which often fills up with fluid and leaves me feeling like I am trying to listen through several layers of cotton wool.

This is so typical me. There should be a psycho-scematic illnesses section of the NHS. I would be down there weekly. Whatever the cause of these continual and ever changing symptoms..they are real enough to me. Like with the migraines. I haven't had one for over a week now. The headaches prevail but they are the lesser of the 2 evils. So now whatever it is that manifests in physical distortion has moved to my left ear.

I really can't be arsed to go the the GP's and not sure that they would be able to give me anything to ease it. Actually, it isn't that bad so much as bloody irritating. Maybe, if I wait long enough will get something like a tune coming from it (Hank Marvin eat your heart out).

I could try a steam with menthol crystals. If you have never tried them, they are quite effective but if you don't use them sparingly they blow your socks off!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Saturday Morning Reflections on Friday

Yesterday was a good day.

I always wake up weird. I don't think I have woken up feeling the joys of life and happy to venture forward with the day ahead for a very long time. I accept it goes with my territory.

Was no different today but having a good day to look back on is something. Actually, having a busy and active week (where I did what I set out to do and more)has certainly made living in the now a bit easier.

Had a couple of horrid troughs. One last Sunday and another on Thursday. I felt so physically wrecked and mentally unable to pull through so I let it be and survived as I have to date. How I got to Dad's well, it was a case of gritted teeth but actually when I was there I was able to relax and enjoy being there.

Yesterday was a goodie though. Hayley came and we made cards. I only made 2 but it is not about quantity so much as enjoying the experience and the talking and eating and listening to music was power for the cause.

After that got text from friend who is suffering with Sciatica - poor honey- and had her grandson (the lovely Kynan) with her but was really struggling as she couldn't walk about much so I went over to help out. I don't mind at all, in fact I thoroughly enjoy it. His little face lit up when he saw me and he came over and gave me a hug (totally reciprocated). We then played silly sods for a few hours and I fed thim and changed his nappy and then we played silly sods some more before he went to bed. It is much easier to enjoy babies when they aren't your own (personal comment not general). That aside and not pushing it quickly aside but I have visited and re-visited my role as an absent mother many times and now accept it was what it was and I want to make the most of the relationship I have with my daughter now.

So my plans for the weekend are pretty non existant. Not that my weekends are usually a hive of social activity but want to plod through this one. Going to take Dad's washing to him and have a chat and have a food shop being delivered..apart from that not much going on but the tv (particularly 'Strictly Come Dancing' which is the highlight of my viewing) and some music. Hayley bought me a Cyndi Lauper cd yesterday and also have the new Razorlight cd. Oh and the DVD rental company have sent me 'Benny and Joon' and I have wanted to watch that for ever.

Time for a cuppa, a cig and a track that is on the Cyndi Lauper cd. A fav of mine:

Friday, 7 November 2008

Sorry it's late

As in the Messiah of the Week Spot.

Was going to hunt round media land to see if there was anyone worthy enough in the past week's news. Only, haven't got the stamina.

One person who I think warrants some kind of Messiah status is Katie Price, AKA Jordan.

I should admire a woman who is on top and making vasts amounts of money on her own accord (an accord that requires 2 talents and they are more obvious than a service user at a Trust Board meeting) and, well, the public gets what the public wants and it seems to want her. BUT I don't admire her. I think she epitomizes and reflects all that is crass and oblivious in this country

She is the opiate of wannabe celeb female classes (along with the likes of Victoria Beckham)

In the absence of anyone who has genuinely earnt their place through climbing the greasy pole of bureaucracy, politics and sucking up....she has earnt her place by dancing round a few of them (greasy poles) and making no talent going way beyond itself.

And yes, I am a bitch, but for heaven's sake when will people wake up and start dealing with reality?

So much for confidentiality!!!

Alarm over psychiatric report sent to business
9:27am Friday 7th November 2008

An investigation has been started after confidential psychiatric reports about a troubled teenager were accidentally faxed to a businessman.

The two reports were produced by mental health bosses after the youth threatened to rape, shoot and stab his family and friends.

But in a blunder which mental health charities described as “deeply troubling”, youth workers sent the six-page document containing the detailed personal history of the teenager, including his home address and telephone number, to a businessman’s office instead of the housing organisation it was intended for.

The business partner of the man who received the report has a child at the same school as the 16-year-old and knows him.

The Hove-based businessman, who asked not to be named, said: “It is outrageous that a very personal document like this could be sent out to me by mistake.

“You would think they would be far more careful about whose hands this sort of report gets in to, but that obviously isn’t the case.”

The reports describe how the boy has been “cruising” websites looking for “fellow gun aficionados” and claims he has had access to firearms in the past.

One of the reports was written by Dr Julia Sheeran from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services across the county.
In it she wrote: “I was asked to see the boy as an emergency after him making persistent and worrying threats to shoot/stab/rape his family and pupils at his school.”

The report goes on to say the teen, from Hove, does not present an immediate risk to society but does need help from a number of organisations.

The document was faxed by a social worker from Brighton’s Children and Young People’s Trust, a partnership organisation led by Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday morning last week.

It was meant to be received by a worker at YAC Housing, a branch of the YMCA in West Street, Brighton. The council has promised an investigation but said it is unlikely the individual who sent the fax would face disciplinary action.

A spokesman said: “We take this very seriously. It is letting confidential information on a vulnerable young person be seen by people who should not see it.
“We will investigate thoroughly and ensure that a lapse like this does not happen again.”

A spokesman for Sane, the mental health charity said: “It is essential people with mental illness are able to place their trust in the professionals and institutions charged with their care. “Therefore, it is deeply troubling that sensitive, confidential information regarding someone’s mental health history should have been accidentally faxed to a member of the public.

“It is vital that healthcare professionals have clear guidance regarding the data they are handling, and we would hope that better safeguards are put in place to prevent this happening again.”

Hove MP Celia Barlow described the situation as “disturbing” and urged the council to investigate urgently.

A family night and taking the complaints procedure to the next stage

In my quest to help Dad to some kind of quality life, I spent the night at his place.

Am really looking at different things that are in my power to do that might help him. I have not a clue whether they will or not but gotta try.

Before that I contacted his CMHT about the GP appointment the care co-ordinator told him she was going to make. That was over a week ago now and neither Dad nor I have heard anything back from the team. Here we go again..chasing pavements!!! The care co-ordinator wasn't around so I left a message for her to ring me.

Anyway, went to Dad's and we walked to the chippy and local shops and back and then listened to the Spurs match on the radio. Now, I am not the world's biggest footie fan and with my team likely to be relegated out of the football league am rather down on the FA but Harry Redknapp has recently taken over being the manager of Spurs and I like him. I think he is a good manager and he seems to be working wonders for Spurs. Granted they are still bottom of the Premiership but in the 2 weeks Harry has been at the helm they have beaten Liverpool and won their international game last night 4-0. So I enjoyed it. I do enjoy listening to footie on the radio as the commentary is lively and often really witty too.

This morning when I got up, I made us both a cuppa and we listened again to the radio, before I came home. Dad is not the most vocal of people, anymore, but being with him (us sharing time together) is what counts. Before I left he did say that he enjoyed my company and the time we spent so I said we should do it again and he seemed to want to. Perhaps once a week. Will see how he feels about that.

Have rang the Practice Manager at the GPs to say that although I was not happy with the way the blood test results situation was handled by the staff that I was pleased by her assurance that things would be put in place to stop this happening again. However, I had been advised by the ICAS rep that I need to follow protocol as part of the complaint's procedure and would be seeking a local resolution meeting between the surgery rep (her) and MH Trust, myself and advocate.

Am now waiting on a call from the person covering for the Complaints Manager at the Trust, although based on my last communication with him am not sure he is going to take on board what I say. The subsequent e:mail he sent to my MP's secretary pretty much said that I was dropping the complaint. Er no! Anyway, I will follow up my call from him (that is if he does get back to me) with an e:mail confirming what I am seeking, from the Trust, copied to the Complaints Manager and other MH staff involved in this complaint.

Last night I did wonder what the point was...and I got a throbbing headache contemplating it all BUT the point is that things should be dealt with efficiently and with the service user aware of what is going on. That hasn't happened and I am doing my bit to make services more accountable to the people they provide care for. Something the MH Trust has yet to comprehend as an important part of what they do!

Soon Hayley will be here and we will make cards and I really feel the need to lose myself in cutty outy bits and materials. :>)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The Case of the Missing Blood Test Results and the aftermath ..

Today, I got a written response from the GP Practice Manager, basically saying that the surgery doesn't get blood test results, sent to them, from MH services and that when they finally got a faxed copy (after a month of me being pushed from pillar to post by the MH Trust) I requested, they couldn't read it so they waited for another copy to be sent. It didn't occur to them to actually let the Trust know they couldn't read it!!!!! The Trust didn't send another copy (why should they..they didn't know the copy was unreadable) and then when I complained again...that is when the results were hand delivered from the Trust to the GP surgery.

The PM did acknowledge that there was a problem with communication and following their own protocols (although not quite sure what those are from here) but very much put the blame in the court of MH services.

What I am picking up on here is that ultimately it was the MH service's responsiblity to let me know my blood test results..which they didn't. Now perhaps they don't have a policy of informing patients what their blood test results are but I think they should. They should certainly make it clear whether or not they are going to notify patients of their blood test results.

I am waiting to speak to the PM as I do wish to make a formal complaint about the way this has been handled. I am doing this for 2 reasons 1) So I am treating them and the Trust the same in regards to the complaint and 2) Because if I take this to the Healthcare Commission....I reckon they will need to see where both NHS organisations were involved (or not) as the case may be.

I contacted ICAS, who were kind of helpful. I have to go through another layer of bureaucracy with them and their advice (once I have signed the consent form) is to have a local resolution meeting between all parties (with them involved). I am okay with that...only explained that I suffer with agoraphobia and so it would be difficult for me to get to a meeting on my own, using public transport. They don't provide support for that but reckon that the MH services should because it is linked to my mental illness.

From what the ICAS adviser said the responsibility seems to be with me for making NHS organisations accountable. I have to do all the footwork and ultimately (Certainly initially) The Healthcare Commission will only look at how the complaint was dealt with not the actual complaint itself. So who, exactly, deals with the reasons why the complaint was made in the first place (the underlying problems in organisations)? I don't know and maybe nobody has responsiblity for that. I think that is pretty barmy even for a barnpot like me.

Everything is so complicated isn't it?

So I now have to liasie with the PM, the person covering for the Complaints Manager at the MH Trust and ICAS in order to follow protocol.

Atually, what I want these organisations to do is become responsible and acknowledge that responsibility as well as making positive changes so that somebody else (or myself on another ocassion) won't come up against the same communication barriers and lack of accountability. I do wonder, at this point, whether the way complaints procedures are set out are done deliberately to give the complainant a hard time and encourage them to drop their complaints.

The sheep are bleating again. Bah! Bah! Bah!

And now it is back to me

Have clocked that I haven't written much about my personal stuff for a while. Some of that is because I have been pretty active these past 3 days. Some of it is because I am acutely aware of the many blogs out there (all making a better job of having mental illness at least seem more interesting or perhaps it is that they are actually more interesting people than me). I can live with that but I don't want to feel this is some kind of competition for awards and prizes.

When I started the Lifeboat it was more an act of desperation because there were very few places for me to belong or express myself or where I felt I belonged. I needed, and still do, a space where I can get stuff out with a level of interaction but not the OVER demands or shite agendas that go with being part of other arenas in life.

When I sunk the lifeboat, I wasn't sure I would return to blogland but the need remained and it wasn't being met anywhere else in my life.

Why am I writing this? Well I was emailed yesterday by someone who told me a lady at the BBC was trying to get in touch with me...actually access the Lifeboat but couldn't. I am always surprised when big organisations contact me in regards to my blog. Perhaps they do it because I am honest to the point of 'live and direct and not sparing the horses'. I dunno. I have made contact with the woman at the BBC and said although it is good to be contacted there are many more blogs out there, with varying views and I do believe it should be a democratic thing when people are included in whatever media activity is going on. Also I really don't need that particular limelight as it doesn't really do me any favours. No disrespect to organisations but my ego doesn't need for me to be articled left right and centre.

What I need is more practical support to access things that are good for me. Places to go that are not going to compromise me or place demands on me I can't meet and most probably to spend more time with people who do not drain me emotionally. Don't get me wrong. I will do all I can for my Dad and I want to be around him and help him but sometimes I need a bit of looking after. Sometimes I need what I need first!

I think what often gets lost when the media do articles about people's blogs (MH) is the fact that their lives are still harsh. Their illness still dominates them and the support they get (from services) is limited. The approach to blogs, in my view, from the media is one of "Oh, look how well they ar doing" in a rather patronising way whilst mainly missing the main plot!

And I have come to the point where I neither need to part of that kind of circus or want to.

As for what has been happening lately, I will get round to an update..or I might get destracted and write about something else. The real plusses were going to town by bus (and by myself) yesterday. That is a mega achievement for me. The other plus was getting to a firework display last night. Fireworks displays are one of my favourite things and it was worth the effort because the display was superb.

Well there is some good news to be had by getting migraines

I had tried, in vain, to find one before but have heard (literally a few seconds ago on Three Counties Radio news) that women who suffer migraines are less likely to get breast cancer...30% less likely.

Now I have something to celebrate when the aura and nausea kick in and I can't see clearly enough to find a bucket and then crawl off to a dark room!!!! Ha! Ha!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Have the Americans set a precedent with their new president?

I didn't stay up all night. I was listening to the radio but got sick to death of all the debates around exit polls and what might be. I wanted to cut to the chase and as nothing was looking much like anything by 1 o'clock decided sleep was more important to me.

I awoke to the news that Barack Obama is the new president. Now I don't like politics. It is a dirty world but, I reckon, he is the best of a bad lot. I could very well be wrong. I am pleased that America has a black president because it says something to me on a symbolic level. There is hope that prejudice can be broken down and to quite a big extent it has been for him to become president. America has been predominantly right of centre (although it likes to see itself as moderate..ho hum). Not just that but the history of prejudice has prevailed until recently so for me it is quite a big shift for Americans to vote in a black man.

And there is hope. Okay that could be short lived but in a world where everything is in flux and in quite a mess - a bit of hope, for however long it lasts, has to be a good thing. Well, on some level. And yes, false hope can be a negative thing but no hope is a bad place indeed.

Looking at our political history...the comparison..the only one that bears any relevance is Margaret Thatcher as the first female prime minister. Oh dear! One could argue she wasn't an ordinary woman (I could argue she wasn't a woman at all). Most women I have spoken to in this regard view her as setting womens' rights back years (as in for a role model and example of positive female qualities she did no favours). That said I have spoken to women who think she is some kind of wonderful.

Then again should someone's colour, sex, or sexuality be a reason to vote or not vote for them? In itself, no, but there is something kinda ground-breaking when people who traditionally wouldn't accomplish becoming leader of a country do. It shows the mould can be broken and it puts my faith back in people that they can change their views and overcome prejudices.

I was going to write something about disablity being a barrier to getting on and the lack of disabled people in much of any position of power but as a loony, that could be seen as biased.

Will Mr Obama make a good president? Well, you have to look at the whole system rather than an individual and I think the system will prevail but like to think he will do more good than harm. Is a nice thought.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Mind of like mind (makes a change for me)

Patients who will be subjected to new compulsory powers under the Mental Health Act from today (3 November) face being denied access to critical support and protection, says mental health charity Mind. Under the new laws, patients detained or subject to a community treatment order should be legally entitled to an independent mental health advocate, but the Government has delayed the roll out of the posts for six months and is illprepared for their proposed introduction next April, leading to fears that patients could be left without support.

Community treatment orders (CTOs) which will for the first time extend compulsory treatment beyond hospital and into people's homes, are one of the most controversial new aspects of the Mental Health Act. Health practitioners will now have the power to force people with mental health problems to undergo treatment in the community against their will or face being returned to hospital. However, while practitioners are free impose CTOs on patients from today, access to advocacy is not yet in place - and could face further delays.

Last year, the Department of Health came under criticism when it announced that implementing access to advocacy would be delayed until April 2009, but Mind is deeply concerned that the Government will miss its target and patients will have to wait even longer for protection. With the deadline for introducing a fully-operating advocacy service less than six months away, the Department of health has yet to publish commissioning guidance that will give commissioners the tools to design the service and build it into their budgets. Mind is concerned that without clear guidelines, services will not be planned and a workforce will not have been trained in time for patients across the country to have access to an advocate by April.

Mind's chief executive Paul Farmer said:
"Mind has long had serious concerns that Community Treatment Orders will not only fail to benefit patients, but risk casting the net too widely and subjecting people to compulsory powers when it is neither necessary nor appropriate. In light of this, it is vital that people have access to an advocacy service that will stand up for their rights and safeguard them against the misuse of potentially oppressive powers.

"Mind welcomed the Government's pledge to provide advocacy for people deprived of their liberty, but we are yet to see a strong and clear commitment from them to ensure advocacy will be budgeted for, advocates will be trained and patients nationwide will be able to access them by April. Without any commissioning guidance, trusts lack the tools to prepare to deliver the service. The government need to make their action plan public, so vulnerable people don't go unprotected."

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Appointment with Neurologist.

It went well. I was at the hospital for a couple of hours. First of all it was taking down my details and lots of questions about how the migraines affect me and the other types of headaches I am getting. Then I had a physical examination. Not a complete physical but blood pressure was checked, eyes, my balance, reflexes and she listened to my heart (baddoom baddoom baddoom).

Then I was sent off with a slip of paper to x ray department for a CAT scan. I was chuffed that I had it on the day rather than coming home and having to wait possibly another month or so to have it done.

They managed to find my brain and nothing abnormal (as in physically abnormal) was evident....So I haven't got a brain tumour and that is a relief.

It is a case of how to treat the migraines, which have no physical cause. The neurologist is sending a report and suggestions of the types of anti convulsant medication that might help me, to my GP. I just hope the surgery staff don't misplace that report!!!

Have been advised to cut out caffeine and drink decaf tea...also to do relaxation techniques and exercises that work on releasing tension in the neck.

What neurologist did say was the medication I had been given by the GP was inappropriate and should only be used on rare occasions. To take it daily can make the migraines worse and more frequent. DOH!

I reflected back on all this and my life situations last night. The headaches (constant) and migraines started around May time. Nothing specific happened then but I think with Dad in hospital and seeming to be getting worse rather than better..and then discharged whilst I was in hospital and ever since then he has been in a pretty dire psyche is in some kind of overload. I have to find ways..somehow..within myself to allow personal space where I feel comfortable and can have solace (a quantom of it would be good...cue Bond Theme):

Actually, I don't like the new Bond Theme so putting up my favourite instead: