This Week in Mentalists – Serial Insomniac Go Sleepy-Bye Edition

I’d like to begin this edition of TWIM to pay tribute to Pandora, co-editor of this blog, who this week called an end to her award-winning Confessions of a Serial Insomniac blog. The archive of the blog will remain online, and Pandora will continue to co-edit TWIM.

Pandora wishes to make it clear that any recent online discussions are not the reason for this decision. She’s simply moving on to other things.

Pandora concludes the three years of the blog as follows.

In the years since my most recent breakdown, I’ve often cursed my psychic misfortune (aside from the fact that no, I still probably wouldn’t flick the sanity switch were I offered the option). Further, I’ve cursed this blog(sometimes for valid reasons, sometimes just in rage-fuelled piques). And yet…look what both my madness and my blogging have brought me.

  • A half-credible chance to use my afflictions to facilitate a respectable career, whilst simultaneously advocating for others in the same shitty boat.
  • Most importantly, I have met some of the most wonderful people in the entire known universe – people who (God/Buddha/Allah/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Richard Dawkins willing) will be lifelong friends.

Throw in the gratifying fact that I’m in a long-term – and, more crucially, happy – relationship with a loving, accepting partner. Multiply that by the other genuinely meaningful and life-changing friendships I have managed to forge throughout my life – Dan, Brian, Aaron, lots of people that are not close friends but that are certainly more than acquaintances. Minus the disastrously dysfunctional family, but add to the list a loving mother – something that not everyone is fortunate enough to have.

When I think about things thus, when I examine my life as though it were the Bayeux Tapestry, looking at the ‘bigger picture’ (I hate that fucking term) – well, I feel privileged.

And at the risk of repeating myself, in these circumstances, I find myself sometimes thinking, “do you know what, Pan? You ultimately did well, girl. You did well.”

She did indeed do well. I was privileged back in November to attend the Mind Media Awards as Pandora’s guest, where she had been nominated in the New Media category. She was genuinely surprised when she actually won, but I wasn’t.

Over the past year I’ve come to genuinely respect Pandora. In that period we haven’t just been co-bloggers. We were caught up in a bizarre and distressing saga which meant we had to stay in regular correspondence. After a relatively trivial internet argument, somebody went to extraordinary and expensive lengths to try to take revenge on people in the real world. The respect I have for Pandora is borne out of difficulty and its eventual overcoming.

I hope the antagonist involved gets to read the passage I’ve quoted above. If she is reading it, I say this; You have failed. All your effort and money has been wasted. The madosphere remains a cluster of brilliance, and we continue to be primary enablers of positivity, empowerment and the challenging of stigma.

Anyways, on with the rest of TWIM, which contains triggers for child abuse.

Mental Health Cop discusses an important case in the European Court of Human Rights, in which a mentally ill man spent three days in a police cell before he could be transferred to a psychiatric unit.

This blog is longer than any other I’ve written, but I’d argue it is such an important case, I wanted to give it due coverage.

I’ve actively monitored this case almost from its beginning – I heard of the incident within a month or so of it happening as I first starting working on mental health issues. When posted to headquarters in 2005 to work full-time on mental health, I started using it as an example of why we surely need s136 provision in NHS establishments during an early period of work on ‘places of safety’. It is even more important now that the case has been won (subject to any appeal).

Made With Awesome gives some cautionary advice that just because someone is able to do well academically, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not ill.

I think a lot of mental health care professionals have branded me with borderline personality disorder or malingering because I did still manage to do well in school. Mental illness severity is determined, in part, by how disruptive the symptoms are to one’s everyday life and, for students, one easy indicator is school performance. If I have ace school performance but claim to be very very severely ill, that probably looks a little contradictory. A full schedule of successful extra-curricular activities probably didn’t help my case. I can see how this might be confusing to a professional initially, as a first impression. But there were many professionals who spent enough time with me to see that schoolwork was a major coping mechanism of mine, that I am a really bad liar, and that every other aspect of my life was in shambles; they should have been open enough to revising their initial impressions of me to figure out that their impression needed revising. My complete and total desperation was seemingly understood as a perverse plea for pity and attention from a mildly depressed, but generally successful, girl. For a very long time there was no professional who was willing to accept my desperation as primary and try to fit in all the successful parts of my life in as secondary details, the rest started with the successes and filled in my expressed desperation as a detail.

Chaos and Control writes a memo to herself.

Dear Me

I was abused as a child.

It was not my fault, I did not deserve it, I had no other options.

The symptoms I have experienced are a result of my childhood and because I zoned out and suppressed memories; I had no other choice. The symptoms I have experienced include dissociation, flashbacks, nightmares and low mood. Because of what happened to me I fragment bits of myself off. These bits of me need nurturing too.

Sometimes I get into a bit of a pickle and this is what’s happening at the moment. Of late my sleep has been broken and my mood lower. I was feeling very well and decreased my medication – this was a perfectly natural thing to do. Unfortunately as a result of this decrease in medication, I have experienced a lower mood and an increase in anxiety. To help me deal with this low mood and anxiety I have restored my medication to its full dose and increased my daily mindfulness practice. Living with the memories that I do have is difficult but not impossible. To help me cope I have taken short cuts – it is easier to think and talk in terms of worms rather than face, acknowledge and accept the full reality of the abuse.

Digital Mental Health interviews One in Four Magazine editor Mark Brown about the NHS and social media.

Social media is a boundary fucker. We talk so much about confidentiality and protecting patients then you look and find people tweeting from inside inpatient wards while ill. We find people who a trust will see as patients writing blogs that many more readers than the chief executive of the trust that provides them services. Social media, by its nature, puts together people who would never have met. It creates strong public voices which didn’t get there through traditional routes. It creates stories that appear from odd angles and at unexpected times. It makes public issues of things that might once have remained behind closed doors. It doesn’t let things stay where policy makers have traditionally put them.

It also creates a situation for mental health where it is less ‘them and us’ and more ‘just us’. There is something hugely satisfying in seeing someone who offline would be seen as a ‘patient’ discussing online with someone who would be seen as an ‘expert’ and both learning from that experience.

Incidentally, I’m also in the process of interviewing Mark Brown. The interview will be published here on TWIM soon.

For no particular reason, the Wildcard is this year’s Israeli entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.

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About Zarathustra

Trained as a nurse, currently working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Co-editing the Not So Big Society blog. May possibly be an incorporeal being called Phil Dore. All views expressed are in a personal capacity and not necessarily the views of my employer.

6 Responses to “This Week in Mentalists – Serial Insomniac Go Sleepy-Bye Edition”

  1. You’re a bit obsessed with that Israeli song :)

    You have failed. All your effort and money has been wasted. The madosphere remains a cluster of brilliance, and we continue to be primary enablers of positivity, empowerment and the challenging of stigma.

    Love it x

  2. Aww, Z – what a nice (potentially thermonuclear) tribute :) Thank you!

    And re: the saga – the greatest story never (so far ;)) told…well, the cluster of mentalists have been, I think, thoroughly enabled to continue stigma-busting for “BPD’s” [sic]. Just like Prometheus, we will champion and defend the wronged.

    Thanks again :)

  3. Good roundup…I have to admit to being curious about this saga, even though it is none of my business. Curse this nosiness!

    • Oh, I’d so love to tell you ;) I think we’ll have to keep schtum-ish for now, as although our part in the whole thing seems to be over, I’m not sure that all matters are resolved. But maybe one day :) x

  4. Thanks for the mention and for notifying me of that awesome song!


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