Monday, 31 December 2012

For Auld Lang Syne, Here's To A Guid New Year

[Mad in America blog post 31 December 2012]

It's the last day of 2012 and I for one am glad it's passing.  It's been a challenge and at the same time interesting.  Being at the end of my tether on many an occasion.  Thinking things could get no worse and they did.  And yet, surviving the experience, I remember with gratitude the acquaintances as described in Auld Lang Syne by Rabbie Burns.  While trying to make sense of the meaningless and the reason as to why force has to be used on the mentally distressed.

Here's to all of us who are working together to bring about change in the psychiatric system, even transformation, a different paradigm.  "And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!  And gie's a hand o' thine!"  What an encouragement to think that we're not alone in the battle or on the journey.  The Mad in America community and website bridging the "seas between us".

It feels like "we've wander'd mony a weary foot" on our roads and byways.  And yet "we'll tak a cup o' kindness" for the sake of days gone by and the once upon a time of our lives.  Stories and testimonies that matter.  That make sense of where we find ourselves, rooted and strengthened.  Resistant and standing firm.

I'm looking forward to a good new year and more of the same, in terms of writing, activism and campaigning about mental health matters.  I want to continue speaking out about the use of force in psychiatry that happens because of compulsory treatment.  It seems obvious to me that if the system is allowed to coerce then it will.  Alternative ways of working with people in mental distress has to be the answer.

I want to see the abolishing of forced ECT/electroshock.  In Scotland two thirds of women to one third men get ECT (71%/29%), according to the Scottish ECT Accreditation Network (SEAN) annual report for 2012, and of these one third get it against their will.  And half of women over 60yrs old getting ECT, are given it involuntarily.  They are deemed to be without capacity by professionals.

Then there is the NMD, neurosurgery for mental disorder, or brain surgery for mental illness.  The Dundee Advanced Interventions Service perform these operations in Scotland.  The mental health charity Mind says "people who have the surgery are likely to need continued psychiatric support afterwards, even if the surgery is considered to be successful.  The procedure cannot be reversed.".  The criteria for NMD includes having had two courses of ECT and being treatment resistant, or useless treatment in my opinion.

I am not happy about the psychiatric drugging of women and children, in particular pregnant women.  I had puerperal psychosis in 1978 and 1984 which I managed to recover from.  If it was nowadays I think it would be a lot more difficult with the 'perinatal psychiatry' focus.  Where the trauma of childbirth and pregnancy is pathologised, potentially tying a woman into a psychiatric history and stigmatising labels.  This is another area of concern.

Therefore I am still pressing on and looking ahead with hope to a guid new year.  Remembering the struggles and overcoming in the auld year, the helping hands along the way.  When the doing of it was the making of it.  Let's raise a glass and toast each other for the work we've done and the work we're going to do, in 2013, ringing in the changes.  Cheers!

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