All Shall Be Well

A surprise call at noon from the Mental Health Team of Woodfield Road, W9 inviting me to an appointment. My GP had written a letter expressing her concern. It would had inspired more confidence if the young man had had the appointments diary close at hand, but no, down at efficiency city he had to break away from the phone for a full three minutes “to grab the diary.”

More confidence would had been produced if he had known some of my history and even more if his manners were better by not interrupting when I spoke. But this is it, unless you’re a psychiatrist mental health is not glamorous, and unless you’re a psychiatrist or a drug rep it is not especially well paid. I wanted to say that his work depends on a willingness to ask questions of people who are better informed and much less powerful, but I wasn’t given a platform. I did ask for a home visit, on the grounds that only so much can be communicated by words and if they saw my circumstances, so much more about my mental state would be revealed.

An appointment for me to exhibit my pathology was made for Thursday 22nd May 2014 at Woodfield Road, W9. I wonder if the Survivor’s mantra of – No Decision about Me, without Me – will be observed. In case you haven’t worked it out for yourself I’m being facetious. Com’ on, I’m dealing with a man who calls to make an appointment without first having the appointments book to hand.


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London Evening Standard and NAPO

Monday 31st March 2014, a letter appeared in the Evening Standard from a member of the National Association of Probation Officers that advised: 70 per cent of prisoners suffer from mental health disorders and mental health services in prison and on-release are inadequate.

My reply printed on 2nd April went thus – ‘Probation officer Karen Kiil raises the issue of the numbers of prisoners who suffer from mental disorders. No one ever asks the mentally ill whether they prefer to be in prison or sectioned on an acute psychiatric ward. Every mental patient I have asked who has experienced both environments always plumps for prison for the following reasons: better food and accommodation; a wider range of activities; more respectful interaction with the staff; a regimen they can understand and, on release, better follow-up care.’

Subsequent to printing I can confirm that a retired psychiatric nurse concurred with my points and those who have experienced prison like the fact that in your cell you are provided with a TV and radio and with tea and coffee making facilities and that the mattresses in prison offer better support than NHS mattresses. One patient commented ‘they (the hospital management) don’t want to make the food in hospital taste nice, for if they did, the patients won’t want to leave.’

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Last night I stayed in a hotel at Central London rates. As someone who lives in Central London have I taken leave of my senses? Perhaps, but you see I hadn’t had a bath for a week and hadn’t washed my hair for even longer. My boiler is on the blink. And my Social Landlords have a big book of excuses. First excuse; after being on the telephone for three minutes the accusation that my talking was preventing my Support Worker getting on with the task of having the necessary repairs done. Next excuse; the Landlord’s engineer was denied access – an out-and-out lie. The engineer had attended my premises announced that the boiler needs replaced and before that can happen a surveyor needed to inspect. The timescale for a surveyor’s appointment? Seven more days.

This behaviour is typical of social landlords who turn regular maintenance issues into dramas.

A bit of Law – Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 places an obligation on the landlord to maintain the structure and exterior of the property, including installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity, heating systems, drainage and sanitary appliances.

The above means a Landlord has a Statutory Duty to ensure a home has hot water.

It may take time but I will be refunded by my Landlords the cost of the hotel. And this morning I do not smell. I know I smell as people move away from me on the underground! I have turned into a tramp…

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“we agreed.”

Recently with the many ringing of the changes in the care of the mentally-ill, I have noticed the controversial use of the wording “we agreed.”  What agenda lies behind the term “we agreed”? My take is: the professional (being the ‘pro’ he/she has the purse-strings) sets out a course of action and I, or others, as a mentally-ill patients have no powers to object. This lack of a voice is the rider to alleged like-mindedness. And since the reports of meetings are recorded by the ‘pro’ they naturally use language that suits their needs and not necessarily the patient’s. So can I say: we agree?

Monday 9th December 2013  I attended the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust Recovery Centre. Everyone is in recovery but no-one ever recovers. The Recovery Centre are proud of employing ‘peer support’ trainers who work in close collaboration with a mentally-stable professional.  As part of my recovery journey on arrival I tried to work out, whom of the two facilitators, was the ‘punter’, and who was the ‘pro’. Initially the conference room was in confusion, the room was filled with technicians trying to fix a fault with the DVD player. My eyes focused on a fat woman, power-dressed head-to-toe in a light brown trouser suit with matching accessories – ah, I said to myself, she’s the ‘punter’, a ‘pro’ would be slimmer, the medication does pile on the pounds – then I had a doubt, fat is the perfect disguise – this lady is colour co-ordinated as if she has benefitted from the attention of a stylist, and you don’t get that sort of attention on DLA, I swiftly changed my mind. I then focused on an overweight man with jeans whose cotton was of Primark quality – Bullseye, he is the ‘punter’. The Course was intended to teach ‘how to organise and chair meetings.’ Most of the knowledge imparted came from the comedian John Cleese in the form of a straight forward training video titled “Meetings, Bloody Meetings”. Followed by a twenty minute role play where I volunteered to be the Chairman. The feedback was good, I came across as being authoritative. There was a moment of insecurity from the colour-coordinated lady whose name is Robyn Doran when discussing the role of the Company Secretary, I piped-up with: in large corporations the Company Secretary can be paid more than one-hundred thousand pounds and often knows more about the business than the Directors – Ms Doran, a Director of the NHS Trust, was moved to say – she knew more about her organisation than her secretary! Ouch!

Tuesday 10th December 2013  At the Working Men’s College to hear an eminent physicist Professor Joseph Schwartz discussing Einstein. A special talk. Professor ‘Joe’ Schwartz also has a degree in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. By chance, in the audience, I was sitting next to his sister-in-law who I handed a copy of TWO THOUSAND YEARS in play format. Maybe after a reading the good Professor will e-mail me?

Wednesday 11th December 2013  I went to hear Dr Stan Ruszczynski talk at the world famous Tavistock and Portman Clinic on the treatment of offenders. Doctor Ruszczynski reflected on how the attitudes of the professionals hardened by adding these words; has attempted suicide to a patient’s notes, citing an example of one group who read a patient’s notes with the three words, and a second group who had read without the additional three words, both groups of highly-trained psychiatric professionals ending up at loggerheads. Tensions in the two fractions arose with wide differences in treatment options. It was illuminating to hear how passions and disturbances run within the professionals who will allow their emotions to spiral out of control leaving me very worried about the overall culture within psychiatry. I think I was the only ‘punter’ in the room and I would say I got under the speaker’s skin. It would be safe to say everyone in the room will remember me as I challenged Doctor Ruszczynski when I felt he was talking pie-in-the-sky nonsense as he invoked what the mythical, perfect Team would do for patients, this fantasy was not to go unchallenged. On the hard facts Doctor Ruszczynski lamented if only “we had the resources, the time, the staff, and the understanding.” The talk was only for an hour and I fear for my dissent I may be barred from future talks held at the Tavistock and Portman via a letter that says, “we agreed.”

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Two Thousand Years

Well, since seeing Dr Mike Crawford I have had a communication from the Waterview Centre with the correct address on the envelope. The first time in six attempts! But the letter contained bad news.

I thought our meeting went very well, we talked about my downstairs neighbour who is doing a 14 year stretch inside Her Majesty’s Prisons and my poor relationship with the Jailbird’s Missus. We also discussed our mutual experiences of the Church of Scientology then I made the estimable Professor of Psychiatry laugh with a joke about the PA (psychoanalyst) Winnicott. Come on, how patients could tickle the funny bone of a psychiatrist on one of Hampstead’s finest? All-in-all I thought our consultation went well but in his letter Dr Crawford did not make any references to these topics.

The Doctor confirmed that he will not be making any attempts to help me. No assistance in maintaining the cleanliness of my flat. And no referral to a Core Arts, an established creative arts project specifically for the mentally-ill. Well thanks Dr Mike Crawford, what did I come to see you for? Oh, also after doing his upmost in April to persuade me to join his group therapy, he, as previously reported, has changed his mind. I am no longer considered suitable as therapy fodder. And of course, no psychiatrist involved in my care has ever made an error.

Regardless of the lack of assistance I have written two chapters. My chapters are very short. Namely – Patient ‘X’ and Two Thousand Years. Two Thousand Years I have written in play format and will be performed for the first time at Mad About TC, Tottenham Chances, 399 Tottenham High Road N17 on the evening of Friday 6th December ’13 . Perhaps on the night there might be a literary agent present…

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Call Me A CAB

I am moved to blog again after seeing Professor Mike Crawford of the Waterview Centre, London W9. It had been a gap of seven months between our last appointment and this one. Seven months of no psychiatric care. I arranged to see the Professor with the purpose of joining his group therapy sessions. Last April, Prof Mike Crawford did his best to persuade me to be in his personality disorder group, at the time I declined, however, in the intervening period both he & I changed our minds. In the Professor’s eyes I am no longer considered a suitable candidate for group therapy. And it is the Professor’s opinion that matters. I feel like an American on their twenty-first birthday – still can’t rent a car, but I can get a drink!

Could my digital words be influential? While in the waiting room three members of staff came out, one by one, to say “hello” as if they knew me. I felt like a goldfish in a bowl. The Professor advised that my blog had been read by his staff, so are we in the arena where care is provided on the basis of internet output?

Friday I attended the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in an attempt to resolve a historic problem of rent arrears brought on by my five admissions to four different hospitals last year. If a welfare claimant enters hospital their Income Support payment is spontaneously stopped and then the Income Support computer sends an automatic message to the housing benefit computer stopping the payment of housing benefit without any human intervention. I am more than two months in rent arrears and that figure is significant as – two months is the figure required for mandatory repossession – and if my landlords went to court I could be evicted. A Notice of Seeking Possession has been served, the first step to eviction. I would join the ranks of the homeless all because I went into hospital. (And the failure of those who should have remedied the issue by ensuring my housing benefit was back-dated in full ensuring my rent payments are satisfied.)

Sunday I wrote a thousand word chapter – Call me a CAB – based on a previous encounter with an ineffective member of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. I am still writing my novel, I do it in fits and starts and have not established a routine of writing everyday nonetheless I am accumulating a body of work.

I requested of Professor Crawford to be referred one afternoon a week to a creative arts based project in Hackney called “Core Arts”. It is a question of funding. Do Statutory Services provide any form of support in the era of austerity?   

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Sitting on a cornflake

It’s April, the fourth month of 2013 and so far this year four care workers have been assigned to my care by my social landlords. I feel it is time to reveal Mirth’s real name, it is – Joy, and Mirthless’ real name is Joyce. Both Joy and Joyce have left the employment of my landlords. Now I have Jurgita and Fiona, both of whom, I met for the first time on Thursday. Jurgita is Lithuanian, ten years in London and Fiona is Northern Irish, recently settled in London with four years living in Edinburgh.
Fiona was most interested, overly interested, to learn how the consultation between Professor Mike Crawford the Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist and I went. “Oh Fiona,” I wanted to say, “don’t overlook the little thing of medical confidentiality.” Social landlords, I am told, value themselves as stakeholders in the care of the mentally-ill. Jurgita and Fiona drew up a five point plan of action. Why five points? Five points filled up one side of a single sheet of A4 paper and we were sticking to a single sheet of A4.
I talked of the misleading internet profile of Professor Crawford where it is claimed: he is – involved in the development and evaluation of psychosocial interventions for people with complex mental health needs such as those with personality disorder and psychoses.
Wrong – Professor Mike Crawford only treats (or should that be sees, for who am I to confirm anyone is beneficially treated?) those who suffer from personality disorders. Professor Crawford most definitely advised me that he is not involved in the care of sufferers of psychotic illnesses. Psychoses are outside the Professor’s remit.
Professor Mike Crawford’s Imperial College web profile informs that his current projects include – clinical trials of creative therapies, brief intervention for alcohol misuse and problem solving therapy. What are creative therapies? Does this bland description fall within the category of psychobabble?
I do ask myself, what is the point of doing one’s homework before a consultation if the details available are either insipid to the point of meaninglessness or are just plain wrong?

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