An Email just sent to a fellow female mental health campaigner, mother and carer:
“I can see it from both sides.
As a psychiatric survivor I can understand the pain and injustice of an abusive system, having been subject to it myself, on many occasions, because of the label they pinned on me. And my carer role has been compromised in psychiatric settings due to the “family history of” in the notes which tries to lay the blame for mental illness at the mother’s door. Rather than at a patriarchal system which infantilises the conscripts.
I was a carer before I was a psychiatric patient. A young carer. My mother had “nervous breakdowns” and I remember aged 15 having to support my father when he had to put my mother in the mental hospital, because there was no other way of keeping her safe. Between the devil and the deep blue sea. My father also had been a mental patient so knew the score. I do believe you have to go through it yourself to “know the score”. Lived experience.
However I know how annoying it is to have to listen to another person’s pain and agitation. I agree that some of the things that ……. (man’s name, a husband and carer) says in Emails are out of order and unacceptable. I’ve had them said to me by VOX board members. One man said I was doing the devil’s work, and told me to Shut up and Go to bed. A man who had an MBE. Another man with an MBE backed him up. I spoke louder, forwarded his Email to MSPs, and blogged about it. Members of the bullying empire. They still have their MBEs.
So on one hand I agree with you but on another hand I don’t. Because we need agitators and civil disobedience. If I didn’t have caring and family responsibilities then I would be more of an agitator and civilly disobedient but I am constrained by circumstances. I would much prefer marching and protesting, taking to the streets and speaking out on a megaphone. Instead I have to do it in blog posts and Emails, with a certain degree of civility. In a “punchy” style. I’ve been called a “pistol“.
Therefore I am in solidarity with both you and …… (woman’s name, a psychiatric survivor). I’m a feminist so my first response and defense is to and for the women. From when I was a girl. The men are more able to take care of themselves. Although I have always stood up for my sons in psychiatric settings. Advocated and supported when they asked me to.
So all the best to you both.
Blog post 20 December 2012: free speech? not in Scotland’s mental health world