Chrys Muirhead Writes blog

"helping them through rather than blunting feelings" in support of #BBCPanorama

My response to a blog post on Discursive of Tunbridge Wells about the BBC Panorama programme 'A Prescription for Murder?':

"I thought the Panorama programme was very difficult to watch from the psychiatric survivor perspective, having been prescribed Venlafaxine in 2002 after being clinical depressed when coercively drugged with Risperidone, following a menopausal psychosis and voluntarily entering Stratheden psychiatric hospital, Fife. Without thinking it through I swallowed a bottle of Venlafaxine on impulse and was rushed in an ambulance to Ninewells Hospital Dundee, on oxygen. No-one had said about suicidal impulse being a side effect of this drug. I didn't know until around 2013 and for all these years I was ashamed at having tried to kill myself, although it was more of a cry for help. I'd never done such a thing before or since. I eventually managed to taper a maximum dose of Venlafaxine and 800mgs/day Lithium to zero, in 2003/4, making a complete recovery from the Dx label Schizoaffective Disorder which was in my "notes". It's still there.

I've warned my sons not take antidepressants as I think they are riskier than even antipsychotics (these drugs depressed me), because of my own personal experience. And I've heard from other people, one a good friend, of their negative experiences, trying to take their own lives when tapering antidepressants. Fortunately I was able to advocate for and support my sons in and out of psychiatry, for all 3 of them experienced psychosis after leaving home for university in the big city. I took my sons into psychiatric wards and had to advocate for them at meetings, helped them taper drugs, did my best to advise and protect, when they asked me to.

However my youngest son was physically and mentally abused in the locked seclusion room of Stratheden IPCU in February 2012. This has been the toughest experience yet. The flashbacks were hard to cope with, he lives with me, has done since before 2005 when first engaging with psychiatry. They made him into a revolving door patient until the 2012 abuse when I contend they did their best to make him retaliate as other patients have done in the past, ending up in medium or high secure forensic psychiatric wards. I can name some of these men and know their stories. [I have know one Mother since 2003, who has stood by her son for over 25 years, many of them as a Stratheden Hospital inpatient, broken bones, inhumane treatment. It has taken its toll on her, she's now in her 70's, recently had a fall, her son is 49.]

I think that psychological therapies need to be on offer more, that therapists and psychologists need to develop more skills, be allowed to practise them more, to work with mentally distressed people so that less antidepressants will require to be prescribed, reducing risks of self-harm due to the drugs. This will mean improving cognitive interpersonal approaches, using a variety of mediums, to listen and engage with people who are anguished or in extreme emotional states or psychosis. Helping them through rather than blunting the feelings with drugs which in some cases, maybe rare or uncommon, isn't effective and makes things much worse. Antidepressant prescribing is continually on the increase, even the fish in the sea are now showing traces of them, according to research. We are a nation of pill poppers it seems and this Panorama programme raised a number of questions which rather than dig trenches could help us all reconsider how to manage or work better with people who are depressed or disconnected or suicidal."

FifeGame 2017 04 02 raw footage: Daniel Muirhead

'The medical untouchables' on Hole Ousia

"The following is a recent opinion piece by Dr Des Spence published in the British Journal of General Practice. I had been lined up to do the media interviews on BBC Scotland in relation to petition PE1651. However, on the day, due to changed travel arrangements, I was not available. Dr Des Spence was interviewed instead and did a better job than I could have done.

As an NHS doctor and specialist, I fully support this petition (PE1651) which calls on the Scottish parliament "to urge the Scottish Government to take action to appropriately recognise and effectively support individuals affected and harmed by prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal." ..." 'The medical untouchables' on Hole Ousia

The official Scottish Parliament page for Dr Gordon's petition can be accessed here.

A Sunshine Act for Scotland page on Hole Ousia website includes the "petition history" of PE1493 and all the "written submissions" made on behalf of this petition.

Open and transparent from omphalos on Vimeo.

Staying Well After Psychosis

'Staying Well After Psychosis: A Cognitive Interpersonal Approach to Recovery and Relapse Prevention' by Andrew Gumley and Matthias Schwannauer, 2006, John Wiley & Sons.
Thanks to Matthias for lending me a copy.

27Jan17: resuming #StayingWellAfterPsychosis Ch7 Paranoia; maintaining strength & resilience




History Beyond Trauma

History Beyond Trauma (blog page link): Whereof one cannot speak, therof one cannot stay silent, Francoise Davoine & Jean-Max Gaudilliere

"In the course of nearly thirty years of work with patients in psychiatric hospitals and private practice, Francoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudilliere have uncovered the ways in which transference and counter transference are affected by the experience of social catastrophe. Handed down from one generation to the next, the unspoken horrors of war, betrayal, dissociation, and disaster in the families of patient and analyst alike are not only revived in the therapeutic relationship but, when understood, actually provide the keys to the healing process. The authors present vivid examples of clinical work with severely traumatized patients, reaching inward to their own intimate family histories as shaped by the Second World War and outward toward an exceptionally broad range of cultural references to literature, philosophy, political theory, and anthropology. ..." Amazon

Another text I'll be using on my PhD research into safe haven crisis houses and alternatives to psychiatric inpatient treatment for people experiencing psychosis, altered mind states, emotional distress.

avoiding ECT when hospitalised in 1978 after first postpartum psychosis; then Krypton Factor 1980

"Remembering my first psychiatric hospitalisation, 13 weeks after the birth of my second son. A painful experience, induced with chemicals to bring about the birth when the day staff were on duty. Little pain relief, it was a cottage hospital, and like 'bite on a bullet' time. I was living with in-laws and this brought its own pressures. And ended up going voluntarily into Hartwoodhill Hospital, Lanarkshire, with my first puerperal (postpartum) psychosis. It was September 1978, I was 25 with a birthday at the end of the month.

The psychiatric acute ward environment wasn't what I'd expected and the regime required taking psychiatric drugs which I didn't want to do. But I had no choice and these were forcibly given until taken orally with no resistance. I'd been breastfeeding and had to be bound, to stop the milk coming. This was very painful, more so mentally than physically, for I enjoyed feeding my son and didn't want to stop doing it. But I had no choice for my baby was back home and I was hospitalised. Also the drugs meant I couldn't have fed him myself anyway. ..." Read complete Blog Post

memories of peer support in the psychiatric system circa 1984

"Looking back to my psychiatric hospitalisations in 1978, 1984 and 2002 it was peer support that got me through the traumatic experience of forced treatment and disempowerment. And continued on after discharge, helping me on the recovery journey and back to real life. The experiences of fellow travellers, mostly women, who knew what it felt like to be incarcerated and to be limited by the psychiatric drugs or mental illness label.

I remember in particular the 1984 episode, only one day out of the maternity hospital, after the birth of my third son, and being in another place mentally. It wasn't a negative experience for me, on the contrary, but for others it was alarming as I wasn't myself. The fact that I'd had a previous puerperal psychosis would have alerted the doctors and no doubt they were looking out for it. So, in very quick time, I found myself a voluntary mental patient in Hartwoodhill Hospital, Lanarkshire. Separated from my baby who I'd been breastfeeding.

I was in an acute psychiatric ward, female sleeping accommodation and mixed gender dining/living spaces. My clothes locked away in a cupboard and having to wear pyjamas, a few layers of them, for it was late November, winter time, 'Do they know it's Christmas?' by Band Aid on the radio. Strangers wanting to give me drugs, which I refused then being grabbed and jagged with them. Then when they thought me compliant gave me liquid Largactyl, found out later it was Chlorpromazine, and finally pills when I could be trusted. ..." Read complete Blog Post

old photos

from events I organised voluntarily under the banner of Peer Support Fife