This week I was called a “pistol” in an online Skype conversation with a former psychiatrist and it made me laugh. I took it as a compliment. The memory of the cowgirl outfit I got for Christmas, aged about 10, came to mind, the holster and guns, the sheriff’s badge and shoot-outs with pals in the wasteground outside Pomarium flats, Perth, where I lived through the 1960’s.
More recently I remembered how, not long after I’d started getting “meaningfully involved” in Scotland’s mental health world, an NHS employee participant at the WRAP Facilitator training in Edinburgh, June 2008, said I was “scary”.
An NHS worker and not a fellow psychiatric survivor. For I’d got involved in the recovery movement that had been hijacked by government to get folk off welfare benefits and back to work. Or so it seemed.
On the one hand my recovery story was useful to the government funded Scottish Recovery Network, on the other I was a threat because my story was also about recovery from psychiatric treatment. Added to which I was an unbeliever in mental illness. You might say, a heretic.
I’d shared my “recovery story” on the SRN website in 2005 then updated it early 2008 when I’d given up work in the real world to enter the mental health world, starting up Peer Support Fife and Chrys Muirhead Associates, voluntary sector work and independent training respectively, organising and facilitating WRAP and PS workshops, in tandem with others.
That was the plan anyway but soon was scuppered due to various forces at play. I had to stop doing paid work to be an unpaid carer while eventually putting the voluntary work into an archived news resource when funding dried up.
I increasingly became aware that the powers that be didn’t seem to want an independently minded person who might speak out and not follow/toe the party line. No different from psychiatry who at least will stand by their “severe and enduring mental illness” diagnoses and sign the form that says “unable to work“.
For if people have been disabled by psychiatry or mental illness then they are not able to do paid work and should not be hounded off their welfare benefits. If the system can’t or won’t heal the person then the system has a duty of care. Equally as with physical health problems.
[Parity of esteem article on RCPsych website]
I didn’t get involved in the recovery movement to be a foot soldier or a camp follower, to sell a product or to get an empire medal. I thought the movement signalled a change in attitudes and a levelling of the playing field so that the stories of the people, the survivors, would be heard.
What was the point otherwise of us spilling our guts on to the SRN website, in stories, if it was only going to be more of the same? Hierarchical shenanigans. Cronyism. Animal Farm.
And then today I hear about an article in the BJPsych which is based on rat studies, written by a conglomeration of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and academics.
In the final paragraph proposing a “single therapeutic intervention targeted at reversing the biological effects of childhood maltreatment”. (blog post to follow)
[likely a pill with “eat me” written on it and in small letters “take it with a pinch of salt”]
To conclude, being called a “pistol: sharp, spirited and energetic” is no bad thing and the powers that be, in mental health matters, only have themselves to blame if mothers become dynamic in defence of their family.