This Week in Mentalists – Pooping the Colour Edition

Evening all. This week’s TWIM contains triggers for suicide and mucky fighting.

Being Mentally Interesting and Other Stories visits her consultant.

What is it about psychiatrists which make you a) forget half your own history and b) turn you into a nervous wreck? I have a substantially different view of psychiatrists now due to my work. Whereas before they were something akin to gods floating richly on massive clouds formed out of all my psychic shortcomings, now, having sat and had tea with them, shared my biscuits with them, having had them ask me my opinions on stuff and tell me stories from their childhood, they are FUCK ME! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! people. Same goes for psychologists, one in particular who was incredibly funny and humane, and who likes Care Bears more than is really sane.

Mental Health Cop looks at situations where people query whether a mental health issue is a job for the police.

I have three responses to these situations:

1.A lot of policing is about officers intervening where a variety of other social controls or institutions have – for whatever reason – not worked. Some parents do not take responsibility for their children and bringing them up in a way which prevents them shoplifting or abusing neighbours; sometimes lapses of security by the Prison Service mean there is an escaped prisoner that the police have to find; individuals go out on many evenings and fail to exercise the personal responsibility needed to prevent alcohol related crime and disorder. I can’t help but wonder why any potential disgruntlement with mental health issues, may be different in nature?

2.Right here, right now is potentially not the place for this conversation: if a mental health patient has absconded from hospital, all the arguing in the world about why someone did not keep the door shut, or exercise a nurse’s holding power under s5(4) MHA is doing nothing at all to find the patient. Let’s get them found and safely returned, let’s put that argument towards managers who control our partnership interface and let them sort it out.

3. These frustrations tend to build in officers who cannot see police shortcomings: we know that police responses to reports of assault by patients against NHS staff is inconsistent and sometimes way short of what is required; and we know that sometimes a correct police instinct to resist involvement in something is taken too far and sometimes NHS staff or patients end up being exposed to risks. Let’s do the right thing and argue later if it remains an issue.

Neuroskeptic reports that ADHD is not on the increase.

The results showed that today’s kids scored pretty much the same, on average, as the 1983 kids. The average age-standardized scores were extremely close to the 1983 means, across the board. Children diagnosed with ADHD, as expected, scored much worse. Oddly, kids with an Autism Spectrum Disorder did just as badly as the ADHD ones.

One of the researchers on this study is none other than Michael Gordon, who invented the GDS and, one assumes, makes money selling it. (Each GDS kit costs $1595, so someone is making a killing here.) So perhaps we should take this paper with a pinch of salt, because it’s kind of an advertisement for the reliability of the GDS.

Still, these results seem pretty solid. That’s good news for American children… but bad news for people like Professor Susan Greenfield, who thinks that the internet and videogames are causing an epidemic of ADHD, and all kinds of other problems.

These data suggest rather that, while ADHD diagnoses are certainly rising, children as a whole are not getting less attentive, suggesting that the rise of ADHD is more of a cultural shift.

Struggling with the Elephant in the Room has been self-isolating.

After talking  to a friend tonight, I realized why I have been avoiding numerous  aspects of my life- I’m afraid of going to my new group tomorrow. I know I wrote about this subject last week, however,  I never actually made it to the group.  Unfortunately I succumbed to my anxiety, got myself sick and convinced myself to not go (I had three chances and I  missed all three). However, on Thursday I saw my therapist and he made me promise him I would go to the new group. That was the easy part, in fact I was enthusiastic about going; telling my therapist  I was really looking forward to getting out of my apartment and meeting new people. The enthusiasm did not stop, as I saw my mom later that afternoon and told her I would not miss the group. In fact, when I was finally alone, I convinced myself that everything was going to be ok and that the group would be a great opportunity to push myself towards further stability.

Well, as I realized tonight, I was not ok.

The Masked AMHP weighs in on the idea of suicide as self-determination.

Monica states that “suicide is the ultimate act of self-determination”. If I knew that I had a terminal illness, and the quality of my life became worthless as the result of this illness, then I would certainly want to be allowed to end my life without undue interference.

Many people feel the same; those that can afford to, go to Switzerland for an assisted suicide. Others have challenged the right in the Courts to end their lives and to have someone to assist them – so far, with little success. I don’t think such people should generally be considered to come within the remit of the Mental Health Act.

But there are many occasions when otherwise physically healthy people express the desire and intent to end their life as a direct consequence of mental illness or mental disorder. People with serious depression or psychosis may hear voices that tell them to kill themselves. They may develop the delusional conviction that their loved ones would be better off if they were dead.

The point is that when they are in that state, such people lack the capacity to make an informed decision. Suicide in these cases ceases to be an “act of self-determination”. I believe that it should then be the job of a humane society to protect them, and to try to bring them back to a state of mental wellness such that they no longer believe that they should be dead.

There are times when admission to hospital is the only means of ensuring people’s safety. Ignoring their need is not an option.

Beauty from Pain offers a post of gratitude.

  • I’m grateful that I am alive. That might sound like whatever it might sound like but I mean it. And I’m grateful to myself for keeping myself alive when that was a desperately tough thing to do.
  • I’m grateful for the presence of my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) in my life. Over the past couple of years I have had contact with several GPs, several psychiatrists, at least five counsellor or psychologist type people of some sort, several pharmasists and several other severals but my CPN has been my one constant rock during that time, and I’ll be eternally grateful for her presence in my life.
  • I’m grateful to every single person who reads my blog.  I love my blog but there would be no blog to write if there was nobody to read it and I am very grateful to each and every one of you.

Over at the Not So Big Society, Ermintrude reports on the Commons debate over the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill.

Barwell makes the point that there is no equivalence of consideration between mental and physical health concerns in relation to recovery and this feeds into the broader stigma associated with mental health.

I suspect the stigma is related to fear about the ‘unknown’. Speaking out and identifying periods of needing support with mental health should not be something that is considered differently from other physical health needs but  there is still, I think, in some contexts, an element of seeing a mental illness as a defect of character.

If you ‘pulled your socks up’ you could see yourself through the period of depression. If you thought more logically, you would know that your anxiety isn’t rational. These are some of the common perceptions that i have come across. They can be enormously damaging as can any shift of the ‘blame’ narrative when trying to push the move towards recovery. Health – physical and mental – is something enormously personal to us. I tend to think that the two can’t be separated either. Just as we accept that people may respond differently physiologically to ‘treatment’ so we have to more broadly accept and understand there are different responses psychologically to ‘treatment’.

Mental Political Parent reflects on her progress in therapy.

The bloody, painful, distressing, protracted battle with NHS Fife for the ‘right help’ was awful but I’m so glad I did it. The ‘right help’, the therapist isn’t somehow magical, she just knows what she’s doing and what she’s done is help me to see that though my life is often painful and difficult, I have the skills and tools I need to keep going. Accessing these skills can be difficult, frustrating, exhausting, frightening and confusing. The right skills for the occasion aren’t always available, they are often not willing to do what they need to do, the wrong skills sometimes volunteer but they are there- all of them.

I have multiple opinions on multiplicity, having DID is hard for so many reasons and I still think if I could choose I’d choose not to have it.

I’d choose not to have needed to have it.

I’m glad I do have DID.

Only a multiple could cope with multiplicity. We have all the skills we need to do what we need to do, all the knowledge, all the experience, courage, tenacity, compassion, empathy, curiosity, humour and emotion. We are the ultimate self-contained, self-help units.

Now I have the right help and guidance I’m gaining confidence, learning about my condition, learning about myselves. I’m often uncomfortable with what I’ve learned, but knowledge is power and having spent the last two years or so feeling increasingly powerless and hopeless it feels good to get some of that power and hope back.

For this week’s Wildcard, here’s an incredibly realistic fight scene. In fact, I think it might be a documentary.


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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.

2 Responses to “This Week in Mentalists – Pooping the Colour Edition”

  1. Hi Zarathustra.

    Great post.

    Thank you so much for the mention. Very much appreciated!

    Some of these I already follow, some I do not and will do, but I look forward to reading up on all of these :)

    Amanda xxx


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