Thursday, 11 October 2012

tales of the unexpected - how many fish?

Yesterday I had an appointment with a psychiatrist to go over my advance statement and met with him in the local psychiatric day hospital, situated in the community.  The purpose being to discuss what I'd written and to make it clear that if I ever happened to have another nervous breakdown or be mentally incapacitated then I definitely didn't want to be forcibly treated or to be given anti-psychotic drugs.  

In addition I wanted to make another attempt at getting the schizoaffective disorder label removed from my medical notes.  Having been given it back in 2002 when I refused to accept the bipolar disorder one.  The lesson being that to disagree with a psychiatrist is a risky business and the results will show up in your medical notes.  And used against you in future psychiatric engagement.  

Now I'm not keen on psychiatric facilities in the community.  They're not and cannot be community resources, as I understand it.  And I've worked in community centres for over 30yrs and know the difference.  Community work is all about empowering communities, to speak up and take charge of the resources at hand, to improve their quality of life and to fulfill their individual and community potential.

On the other hand a psychiatric facility/day hospital in the community is a place where compulsory treatment is meted out, psychiatric drugs are dispensed and blood tests taken to measure toxicity from these drugs.  Care in the community, described by Thomas Szasz as coercion and control.  And In 2002 I attended this day hospital for these reasons and also to sit with other patients, attempt quizzes, do colouring-in and exercises in the garden.  Most of which I couldn't do very well, being in a medicated state.

So yesterday's appointment in the day hospital, masquerading as a community resource, wasn't likely to go smoothly.  But as always I live in hope.  And entered the building with a positive attitude.  Gave my name at reception and sat down to wait for the psychiatrist.  The place was quiet as there were no patients in on a Wednesday.  Then a horn peeped and a fish van appeared at the front door window.  Reception staff went away to tell their colleagues who subsequently went out and bought their fish.

It was the same fish van that had been on my street outside my home just before coming out for the appointment.  I wondered if next there would be a Tesco delivery or ice cream van (I'm being ironic).  So that staff could get stocked up on foodstuffs.  But there is a Co-op across the road so probably no need for these.  Although they don't have fresh fish there.

The psychiatrist eventually came downstairs to where I sat, tweeting about the fish van.  We went upstairs to his room, to discuss my *advance statement.  I was still going on about the fish van.  Trying to make sense of it.  As if the day hospital was a home from home, when in fact it is a psychiatric facility where people are prescribed drugs, diagnosed with mental illness and socially controlled.

[*more about the advance statement in another blog post, hopefully]


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