Tag Archives: Suicide

Psychotropic Snake Oil……

7 May

‘The Income of the pharmaceutical industry is huge. Much of that income comes from the drugs used to treat mental health. The chances are that at some point in your life you may be prescribed one of these drugs. If you thought that psychiatric medicine is based on sound scientific principles, think again and read on……’

 

Diagnosing Mental Health Illness……dsm5

Unlike any other area of medicine, mental health cannot be diagnosed through a blood, urine or any other scientific test. It is based on the way in which you answer the doctor’s questions and upon the way you are feeling. This is of course subjective. The range of human emotions is wide and covers the elation of child birth through to the sadness of bereavement and everything in between. In many cases there are multiple choice questionnaires, which can be found online. They contain questions such as “I feel sad”, with answers ranging from; not very often, once or twice each month, twice per week and every other day. Try one for yourself online and even if you are perfectly contented with your life you may discover that you have depression, anxiety or even bi-polar disorder (The pharmaceutical industry are often behind ‘self diagnosis’ websites in order to prompt a visit to the GP). The only other element in the diagnosis is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM), which categorises and matches your ‘symptoms’ with a known mental health disorder. With each new edition of the DSM come new diagnoses. In the DSM I, published in the 1950s, there were 106. The latest edition, DSM V, lists over 300……

 

Once you have a Diagnosis……

Before the 1950s talking therapies were the main way of treating mild to moderate mental health illness. More severe conditions such as Psychosis usually led to hospitalisation, possibly Electro-Convulsive Therapy and even surgical Lobotomy. Contemporary treatments usually involve the prescription of Psychotropic drugs. These fall into many categories but all are thought to affect Neurotransmitters, the main ones being Serotonin and Noradrenalin, although no one really knows how or why they work.

So, supposing you have suffered the bereavement of a long term partner and are feeling down, a little lost and have difficulty concentrating and sleeping. Then you are feeling what humans have felt since time immemorial, however, your doctor may well tell you that you have depression and, after a 15 or 20 minute consultation, you leave with a prescription for an antidepressant; a powerful psychotropic drug with potentially deadly side effects……

 

pills1Developing and Testing Psychotropic Drugs……

After initial laboratory tests for toxicity etc, human trials begin. They often last a maximum of eight weeks; some only four. They are only tested against a placebo and not any other drug. Providing the side effects are moderate in the test group which consists of carefully chosen, healthy people, they can be approved for public use. At this point the public become the guinea pigs, sometimes with devastating consequences……

 

Antidepressants and Suicide……

There are hundreds of well documented cases of people visiting their GP at a difficult time in their life, being prescribed antidepressants and committing suicide within days of starting their medication; remember these are powerful psychotropic drugs. But surely this would have been noticed in the trials? Not if the results are manipulated by interested parties; namely, the pharmaceutical industry that test them. Altering statistics is easy; when trialling the drug you simply leave out the question “Did this medication make you feel suicidal?” We are so used to answering multiple choice questionnaires that clever questioning can return either positive or negative answers depending on how the question was asked, that is, if it was asked at all. They may not make someone who is in perfect health feel that way but if you have been under stress and have a low mood, as in the example given earlier, they can have a far more powerful effect……

 

A Conflict of Interests……seven-pharma-logos-300x200

Any regular readers of my blog will be well aware of the close relationships that exist between industries, regulators, politics and money. It used to be called corruption; paying for politicians’ VIP days out, lobbying and making large donations to political parties. But it seems laws and ethics only apply to the likes of you and I. The pharmaceutical industries are more than happy to pay huge grants to fund research at universities; the same universities that the Psychiatrists who write favourable papers for medical journals work at. Doctors require patients and patients require diseases; diseases that require drugs to treat them. You get the point……

 

Finally……

There are some people with mental health issues that may benefit from medication, but they should be closely monitored and the cause of their distress identified and dealt with alongside medication. Unfortunately, an NHS with limited resources are not able to deliver a high enough standard of care, especially when it comes to talking therapies, so a large group of people get left on medication to numb the pain; medication whose side effects have never been tested beyond a few weeks and what long term damage they may do is an ongoing trial, one in which you may be taking part……

DT_Triangle_Banner‘I am still awaiting a reply to my letter to the Foreign Secretary but I’ll let you know when I do (see previous post “Correspondence with the Government”)……’

 

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Assisted Dying Bill to be put Before Parliament……

17 May

Lord Falconer who served as Lord Chancellor under Tony Blair and chaired the Commission on Assisted Dying proposed bill will again go before Parliament.  Lord Falconer, who tried to and failed to change the law in 2009, believes current legislation is in urgent need of an update. Three quarters of adults in England and Wales support the proposals in the bill, a YouGov poll for Dignity in Dying found earlier this week.

Although Lord Falconer’s attempts to change the current outdated 1961 Suicide Act are admirable, the amendments would not help people like Paul Lamb and the late Tony Nicklinson because the patient would not only need a prognosis that their life expectancy was less than 6 months but then require them to perform the action leading to their death unassisted.  In cases where the patient was physically incapacitated this would not be possible.

As is usual whenever the subject of self determination is discussed groups opposed are the first in the queue to make their opposition known.  One is forced to enquire as to the religious motivation of these people, most of whom are not suffering from a life altering, debilitating and painful condition, or care for someone who does.  Their opinions may be different if they were, God permitting.

Living in the 21st century we have little autonomy.  We are told where we can go, when we can go there and what documentation we will need.  The ‘free’ society in which we live holds details on almost every aspect of our lives and, as the declaration on the endless forms we are obliged to complete informs us, legal action can be taken against us for failure to give accurate information.  The only aspect of our lives which remains under our direct control is the choice to live or die albeit with many obstacles placed in the way and, for those unfortunate enough to have had a physical barrier placed in their way; even that choice is severely restricted.

In a society which no longer needs to invoke divine explanations for apparently mystical events is it not time to put death into context.  Before the evolutionary process which brought about your existence did you spend all of pre-existence contemplating the brief period of consciousness you were about to experience?  In the same way, do you believe you will spend an equal amount of time contemplating your non-existence once it ends?  The time you spend as a sentient being, hard though it is for some people to accept is the total of your conscious experience.

Ironically, in our politically correct society there are legally binding provisions to provide access to public buildings and adaptations to the workplace to accommodate people with disabilities, provisions which do not apply to self determination.

For some people who are unfortunate enough to have been deprived of the fullness of experience enjoyed by the rest of us, returning to the before or progressing to the after is for them a desire that you, I or any other well meaning person is not at liberty to dictate.  Life belongs to you, and you alone.  Should you not wish to take part that is ultimately your decision and should be the first of your rights as a Human Being……

Paul Lamb Continues Tony Nicklinson’s Case in the Court of Appeal……

15 May

‘Brave Paul Lamb and one other person simply known as ‘Martin’ have been given permission to continue the case of Tony Nicklinson who passes away last year shortly after loosing his case.  Tony was seeking immunity from prosecution for any medical professional assisting him to end his life.  Paul, like Tony, due to their medical conditions where not in a position to take this step without help due to the physical restrictions of their respective illnesses……’

Background……

Both Paul and Tony are the latest in a long line of people who feel that their quality of life has been so profoundly affected by their medical conditions that they feel either now, or at some unspecified point in the future, being able to end their lives with dignity and without pain is their right as autonomous human beings.  The premise behind making such a decision is based upon several understandable factors.  First and foremost is the pain many of them are subjected to on a daily basis.  Secondly, the quality of life they have to endure, in that they are not able to perform even the basic everyday tasks without assistance including going to the bathroom, feeding them self, moving around and some cases even communicating with loved ones.

There is also the question of deterioration in medical condition which the courts seem to take no account of.  If deterioration in health was a new factor, they would be faced with challenging the legal decision all over again.

Like so many before them and one fear many to follow, the steadfast judgements of the courts seem to operate within a ‘one size fits all’ methodology with one issue at its core.  That being the potential for abuse of the law and the vulnerabilities  of certain groups within society who, for whatever reason, may be ‘victims’ of a law permitting euthanasia under certain circumstances……

In the Real World……

Whilst the courts have to give consideration to vulnerable groups and any potential abuse of a carte blanche law permitting assisted dying, I feel we are intelligent enough as a society to make a clear distinction between people like Paul and Tony who are clearly capably of making their feeling known and vulnerable groups who may be acting under duress from others.

The law does not have to be ‘black and white’ and courts could employ the services of Doctors and Mental Health Professionals to establish the merits of each case on a one by one basis.  It is not beyond the courts to identify people who are clearly of sound mind to express when they feel their lives hold no quality and dignity, with little chance of improvement, and to humanly grant them their wish to end them, any more so than to recognise when the plaintiff is requesting such an action under duress.

I am not suggesting a change in law that makes possible the indiscriminate euthanasia of ever sick person but a simplified process under which a judgement can be made without causing delay and upset to those involved.

NIMBYism……

It seems that the opposition to a process which allows ill people the right to end their own lives has fallen foul of the nimbyism which is apparent in many other legal matters and works on the principal that individuals and Judges are not capable of reaching rational decisions.  This is clearly not the case.  Our humanity should allow us to accommodate special circumstances especially when people are suffering……

What can you do……?

 

I have written a ‘Living Will’ of ‘Advance Directive’ to give it its proper name.  It’s quite a simple document that lays out what you want to happen in the event that you should be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident and unable to make your feelings known.  They are quite straight forward and give instructions on resuscitation and artificial life support.  There is space for you to put a statement of your beliefs and allows you to nominate a proxy, to whom you should make your feelings known.  They can act for you if you are unconscious and not able to make your feeling known at the time.

Although an Advance Directive is not ideal if you feel strongly about this issue, it is a good thing to have in place.  Mine can be seen at the bottom of the post but it is important to print out and give copies to those concerned……

And Finally……

Until the brave battles being fought by Paul Lamb and that of Tony Nicklinson set any precedent in law there is little we can do.  I wish Paul, Martin, Jane Tomlinson and the many others fighting for dignity all the best and hope their tenacity pays off……

My Advance Directive……

ADVANCE DIRECTIVE – Blanks Left to Respect Privacy……

THIS LIVING WILL is made on the 12th day of May 2013.

I:  STEPHEN P_____ W_____ of 1, G_____ D_____, B__________ H____, L______, LN4 ___.  Born on:  3rd February 19__

Being of sound mind make this Advance Directive now as to my medical care and treatment directed to my family, my doctors and any other medical personnel, institution or authority in the event that I shall be unable to make my views known at any time.

I DIRECT as follows:

My life shall not be artificially prolonged and no life sustaining treatment shall be administered, if at any time my attending doctor, consultant or surgeon and one independent medical practitioner certify in writing that in their opinion:

 

a) I have a terminal, incurable or irreversible injury, disease or illness; or

b) I am permanently unconscious, comatose, in a persistent vegetative state with no reasonable chance of recovery; and

c) I am no longer able to make decisions regarding my medical treatment.

In the above circumstances I wish to be permitted to die naturally and to only receive such medical treatment as will alleviate any pain or distressing symptoms so as to make me more comfortable even if this has the effect of shortening my life.

EXCEPTING as follows:

If I have elected to end my own life and have taken steps to bring about this, in the event that I am found I wish to be allowed to die with no medical intervention whatsoever.  I believe this is my right as suicide is permitted in law.  The terms of the above directive shall also apply in this circumstance.

APPOINTMENT OF PROXY

I appoint S____ G______ of 11, S___________ H_____, S____ E__, L______, as my proxy to be involved in all decisions about my medical treatment if I am physically or mentally unable to make my views known. The wishes of S____ G______ should be respected at all times and I confirm that she is fully aware of my wishes.

IN WITNESS of which I have set my hand to this my living will on the day month and year first above written.

SIGNED by the above named in our presence and by us in his/hers.

 

Maker of Living Will

 

Signed:                                                 [Person making living will sign here]

 

Proxy

Signed:                                                 [Proxy sign here]

 

First Witness

Signed:                                                 [First Witness sign here]

Name: [Insert first witness name]

Address:          [Insert address of first witness]

Occupation:     [Insert occupation]

Second Witness

Signed:                                                 [Second Witness sign here]

Name: [Insert second witness name]

Address:          [Insert address of second witness]

Occupation:     [Insert occupation]

Human Rights, Morality, Dignity and Public Image……

20 Apr

‘I an returning to a subject which I have covered before and the original articles can be found at the 18 July 2012 entry “Tony Nicklison’s Right to Die” and, 27 August 2012 “Tony Nicklinson – A Fight for Dignity” – Enter “Tony Nicklinson” into the site’s search box to find the articles……’

‘The case of a paralysed man who wants the right to end his own life will be heard in the Court of Appeal next month and public health leaders in Brighton will consider recommendations regarding the treatment of drug addicts within the city.  Although apparently unrelated both of these issues remain unresolved, despite having clear solutions and are being held up by bureaucratic stupidity rather than any real concerns for the people affected……’

What do they have in Common…..?

Real people’s lives; real people, in real situations, that affect real quality of life to them and that of those who care for them.  Not the philosophical or ideological arguments about the morality and rights and wrongs of certain courses of action which bear no relevance to the issues of the individuals bringing the cases.  Whilst considerations have to be given to potential abuses of any changes made to laws there are quite clearly situations that arise and transcend legal, moral and political arguments.  Euthanasia and the treatment of addiction are two instances that have large amounts of scientific, peer reviewed evidence in support of the proposals.  However, instead of consideration of the individuals affected by these cases they are soon overshadowed by the wider arguments which claim the vulnerabilities of some groups in society and the potential for abuse are placed at the forefront of the debates, making the individual’s logical and well demonstrated cases being over ruled by what could be described as the legal professions equivalent of NIMBYism……

 

The Case of Paul Lamb’s Continuation of Tony Nicklinson’s Fight……

Paul Lamb

Paul Lamb

Paul bravely picked up the torch from Tony Nicklinson who died last year from complications related to his illness shortly after loosing the legal bid to allow a doctor to assist in his suicide, with protection from prosecution.  Tony, like Paul, felt that their quality of life was so profoundly affected by their medical conditions they simply wanted the choice to end their lives with dignity at some point in the future when they deemed it appropriate, with the support of their families.  Both incredibly articulate and intelligent men there was no questions that arose surrounding the possibility of outside pressure leading them to make such a brave and considered request.  Suicide is not illegal and those who are able bodied can take steps to bring about the end of their lives should they wish to do so, but due to Paul and Tony’s practical physical restrictions it would almost certainly require a degree of help from another person, whether a family member or doctor leaving them with the possibility of facing charges, including murder.  This is not a situation which Paul and Tony found acceptable, that someone close to them who had may have had to endure the pain of watching their loved ones suffering, may be put through the trauma of facing a public trial.

It is here that the politically correct version of NIMBYism enters the equation.  I completely accept that safeguards would have to considered when granting the sort of requests that Paul and Tony were asking for but, in both cases, even a layman can clearly see that their cases were in no way influenced by external pressures from the families in fact nothing could be further from the reality.  These articulate men were presenting an indisputable case for a member of the medical establishment to assist in what would be a painless act of mercy to end their suffering.  There are no grey areas in the hypothesis and I strongly feel that under such clear and indisputable circumstances a change to the regulations is workable.

I wish Paul every success in his challenge to the current status quo……

The Treatment of Addiction……

Although, these cases appear to unrelated they do share a number of similar institutionalised orthodoxies, which despite years of scientific peer reviewed studies, all of which draw very similar conclusions, they continue to be ignored by the medical services charged with delivering results; again displaying the politically correct NUMBYism that does not affect the people who are either, going through, effected by someone who is going through or as a part of the structure of institutions charged with producing results using a methodology which has been proven to be largely ineffective and they are unwilling to change.  All of this despite the fact that what is considered by science and medicine as the best practice, demonstrated by favourable results within the small scale trials which sometimes take place……

The National Approach to Dealing with Opiate Addiction……

A patient presents with an addiction to Heroin which is the ‘street’ name for Diamorphine Hydrochloride, commonly used in medicine for the management of post operative and severe pain.  The treatment given to all patients is a replacement therapy with either Methadone Hydrochloride or Bupronophine; both are Diamorphine substitutes but lacking in some of the characteristics of Diamorphine and, it is due to this subtle difference that the substitute medication regime fails in the majority of cases to prove effective.

The second contributory factor to the failure of substitute medication’s failure to prove effective is the delivery by whichever agency is charged with its prescribing.  The National Institute for Clinical Excellence list 8 key principals for dealing with Opiate addiction.  One of the first states that ‘the prescription of substitute medication alone does not constitute treatment and should be used with a psycho-social intervention’, or dealing with the psychological reasons for addictive behaviour.  This is simply not done.  The key workers a patient sees have little if any specialist training in dealing with patients physiological needs.

This approach has changed little in since the 1960s, which is when the prescription of Diamorphine was replaced by that of Methadone.  This was not done for the benefit of patients, rather as a result of one rogue doctor who was abusing his position and supplying drugs…….

What Does the Scientific Community Recommend……

 Over the past 30 years the UK Government have commissioned hundreds of studies into the most effective way of delivering the safest, most compliant method for patients and with the maximum harm reduction and every one has recommended the reintroduction of the prescribing of Diamorphine Hydrochloride; the drug to which Heroin addicts are addicted.  These studies show a compliancy of between 92 and 98% whereas with Methadone it is closer to 12%.  The tendency of users to carry on using Heroin on top of their Methadone prescriptions fuels crime, from local level to high end organised crime.  The need to make money to fund the patient’s habit again equates to crime.  The costs to the retail industry, criminal justice system and the cost of locking up offenders at a cost of £30,000 per year is completely false economics, especially as the solution to the problem is simple, advised in the NICE recommendations and falls within the legal framework already in place, it seems crazy to dismiss these scientifically quantified recommendations……

The Effect on the Individual Patient……

The patient is unable to control their drug usage (unless they were prescribed the appropriate substitute) and this leads to the crime, isolation from ‘normal’ life, depression and anxiety and the dangers of exposure to life threatening illnesses such as Hepatitis C and HIV.  There are also many inherent dangers with the 95% of the unknown substances with which the Diamorphine is ‘cut’ by unscrupulous dealers wishing to expand profits.  The damage caused by addiction to Opiates is not the Opiate itself, it is the behaviour associated with continued illicit drug use……

The Solution……

As has been proven by every scientific study into the best way to treat these people is to prescribe the drug to which they are addicted.  This has the effect of ending the destructive behaviour which causes the harm, giving the patient the opportunity to rebuild their lives after which they can be successfully detoxified and continue being a productive member of society.

Why is this not done despite recommendations to our Government that this is the best course of action?  Because of political motives.  Any government taking this approach would face accusations that they are supplying ‘illegal’ drugs to addicts when the truth of the matter is that they are supplying them anyway, albeit under a different name.  The initial cost may increase but the eventual outcomes would be more effective in reducing crime and relapse and, in reintegrating addicts into society.  It is not done for the same reason that people like Paul Lamb and Tony Nicklinson were not given the dignified options they needed; ineffective politicians, ineffective courts and the worry of the damage it might do to their public image and to hell with ‘real’ peoples lives.

There are several countries which have taken this approach including Switzerland, Canada, The Netherlands and Portugal.  All report positive results in both reducing harm to individuals and achieving abstinence……

‘Our political classes, many of whom have never worked or experienced the real world, should be ashamed of themselves for they do not care about individuals, they only care about themselves……

Tony Nicklinson

Tony Nicklinson

 

In memory of  Tony Nicklinson, 4 February 1954 – 22 August 2012……


An Altruistic Exit……

12 Apr

‘Altruistic acts are not uncommon in nature.  Humans display altruism as do insects, only insects don’t understand philosophy……’

Definition……

Al-tru-ismnoun

  1. The belief in, or practice of, disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
  2. Behaviour of an animal that benefits another at its own expense.

 

Evolution……

Acts of nonreciprocal altruism in humans proved difficult to explain in the early days of Darwinian evolutionary theory even with the consideration of the species to understand abstract concepts, philosophy and the ability to communicate them.  Understandably, before the dispassionate implications of evolution by natural selection were fully understood, altruism did not appear to fit within the theory.  This problem was amplified when nonreciprocal altruistic acts in insect colonies were observed.  Put simply, one can quantify why someone may put themselves literally ‘in the firing line’ to protect another; why an insect would sacrifice itself for the greater good of a colony is harder to explain.  However, an explanation of nonreciprocal altruistic acts has been well defined for humans and insects alike (I would recommend ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Professor Richard Dawkins, which gives a good explanation of evolution by natural selection; altruism included) but humans are the only animals, as far as we are aware, who can apply philosophy, logic and reasoning to such acts……

Considerations of an Altruistic Death……

On a personal level, despite having reasoned what the immediate emotional effects of an act of self-sacrifice would have on those directly affected would have, in evolutionary terms my death would, in totality, prove less detrimental, if not beneficial, to the genetic proliferation of my family ‘blood line’.  After all, the continuation of the strand of DNA from which I come is the ultimate goal of evolution by natural selection; survival of the fittest.  Absent the human ability to exhibit empathy and project a subjective emotion into the future any decision taken to persist in survival would become an equation with fewer elements and one with an easily calculable answer.  In short, my existence poses a threat, albeit indirect, to the persistence of the DNA upon which I am built……

Philosophical Considerations…….

Any parent would gladly sacrifice themselves to preserve the life of their child.  Although they may have the cognitive ability to rationalise such a decision there is, arguably, a predetermined mechanism within their DNA which may make it an easier choice than that of sacrificing themselves for someone else’s child.  Faced with no alternatives, an act of nonreciprocal altruism to save a genetically related child appears an easy choice.  However, if faced with an alternative, considerations of leaving the child without a parent upon which it depends would probably be viewed as the wrong choice.  If the direct impact of ones self-sacrifice for the greater good carries only emotional concerns it should be an easier choice for the protagonist.  Being the protagonist in an emotional decision between the continued impact one may be having upon those immediately affected and any potentially damaging longer term effect, taking the decision to make an altruistic exit must ultimately be the better choice……

Rationale…….

Although all emotive considerations may be telling you to continue with the status quo, practical realities dictate that an early exit is a better option, regardless of the accusation that it causes emotional pain to those directly affected.  Rationale dictates that your actions are logically less damaging, particularly when placed within the framework of a society which demands conformity…….

 

DT_Triangle_Banner‘To be, or not to be’; a question which has an easier answer than is immediately apparent…..’

When a Conversation Isn’t Enough……

14 Mar

‘Mental Health can have a devastating affect on sufferers.  A recent advertising campaign by time-to-change.org encourages people to ‘start a conversation, today’.  Although, this campaign has a value, it is not always straight forward and does not address some of the complicated issues that people suffering from mental health problems encounter……’

Lumps, Bumps and Behaviour……Scream_01

Mental health covers a wide and diverse spectrum of illnesses with an equally diverse range of effects upon those who suffer from it.  The medical profession, charged with diagnosing mental health conditions, have an expanding book of identifiable conditions from which to choose.  However, whereas many physical conditions often have a clearly identifiable abnormality, causing symptoms and correctable with surgery or pharmaceuticals, mental health conditions are often more subtle and rely on a patient’s behaviour to diagnose, often as a result of the answers they give to questionnaires, not that an underlying physical abnormality is absent, albeit harder to find without the advanced techniques of CAT or MRI scanning, more often than not discovered at a later stage when the symptoms persist and clinicians have failed to find a pharmaceutical solution.

Subtleties……

One of the problems with many of the common and, some no so common, mental health problems is the big variation in symptoms.  These can be attributed to other causes that are not exclusively the preserve of a mental health problem.  Even when several symptoms are taken in conjunction they do not necessarily indicate a mental health problem.  Therefore, diagnosis can take a long time, during which the sufferer may get worse.

Once a Cause is Identified……

The experience of each individual differs widely.   If you have an excellent GP who takes the time to listen to you, it doesn’t necessarily follow that further help will be available.  In the main your GP isn’t a specialist in mental health, so even if they correctly identify your problem their options are limited.  Depression is the most common diagnosis, although depression can be the result of suffering from other mental health conditions.  It invariably comes with some degree of anxiety attached.  If your GP chooses to address the problem themselves, you can be prescribed one of many different Anti-Depressants.  These come in many forms and often have the unhelpful side affect of increasing anxiety and, in the early stages have been shown to increase thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide and have many unpleasant side effects.  Any form of therapy is usually not offered even though most professional mental health advocates and practitioners would consider an element of therapy essential when dealing with depression and anxiety.

What is Depression……

And how can it affect sufferers?  ‘Depression’ is a widely used term and can cover a whole range of problems.  At the milder end of the spectrum it can be applied to somebody who may be under a lot of pressure from work, may have difficulty in sleeping and, for want of a better description, is feeling a little down.  At the other end of the spectrum it can be applied to somebody who idealises suicide, struggles to perform everyday tasks and experiences such chronic anxiety that they have overwhelming feelings of impending doom accompanied by the feeling that they are about to have a heart attack.  Two very different sets of experience with two very different outcomes for the patient.  Only a specialist in mental health is able to quantify the difference.  The problem can come from whether the patient is referred to the appropriate service.  With GPs time limited and the pressures placed on Community Mental Health Services, referrals can be subject to a ‘post-code’ lottery.

A Downward Spiral……

Scream_02If you suffer from depression everyday tasks become extremely difficult.  When faced with several things which need sorting out, sufferers can easily be overwhelmed and shut down under pressure.  This sort of situation is compounded by having to deal with the bureaucracy of government departments upon whom you are completely reliant for your income if you are unable to work due to your health.  The obstacles put in your way under the ever changing rules would challenge even the most intelligent and organised of people.  For someone suffering from mental ill health these can seem insurmountable, further compounding an already difficult situation.

Outcomes……

Feeling isolated, unable to cope with everyday life and perceiving the future only becoming worse, you can be driven to want it all to stop.  If this leads you to take the ultimate course of action and end your life all of the confusion, pain and inner turmoil will end.  If this was to happen and you end up laying on the coroner’s slab doubtless the cause of death will be registered as suicide.  There will be no mention of the circumstances that led to you being there; no mention of the fact that you have knocked on ever available door to tell someone just how bad things have become.  No mention of the pressure you have been put under by the bureaucracy who made your life a misery, jumping through hoops just to survive and no blame apportioned to the agencies who failed to recognise the seriousness of your situation.  Simply, suicide; an act carried out by you upon yourself by choice.  Choice that you feel you were denied whilst you were alive.

‘Start your conversation today’ is what the latest campaign tells you.  I started my conversation 20 years ago and, for the moment, I’m still talking although nobody seems to be listening……

Squeezed Out of Existence……

24 Jan

Globalisation and Homogenisation……

Take a look at the ‘society’ we have become, or more accurately, we have been moulded into, from government departments to banks, insurance companies, utility service providers, in fact almost every aspect of contemporary life has been given the blanket approach to dealing with the public.  All of the 0845 non-geographical telephone numbers that connect you to an efficient, cheap to run and impersonal call centre, used by almost all large companies and government departments, only have the ability to cope with the most simple of enquires.  Anything that doesn’t have a box to tick is beyond the scope of the badly paid and highly pressured staff to deal with.  Escalation to a higher power usually returns little and I’m sure there is a majority like me that simply cannot bare the stress of attempting to resolve their problems and quit, having had their mental illness tested to  breaking point.

You are left feeling, anxious, demoralised and unable to cope.

If, for example, you have a hearing impairment, legislation dictates that the organisation have to provide access to services or, should you be a wheelchair user, ramps  are a legal requirement for access.  However, if you suffer from a mental health condition such as chronic bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, feature on the Autistic Spectrum or have a complicated combination of mental health issues which is not unusual, you are at the mercy of the machine.  Sadly, mental health services have fallen victim to the machinery of statistics and the ‘tick box’ culture.  The very people charged with supporting you are effectively paralysed.

Driven to the Brink……

I have some personal experience of mental health services and know others who have.  A friend with a history of suicide attempts; she genuinely wanted to die and was not ‘crying’ for help, was in the throws of an incident when she felt she could not cope and was planning another attempt, was fortunately lucid enough to call the Crisis Management Team of the local CMHS and was advised to ‘go for a walk’.  Thankfully, somebody happened to call on her during her attempt and was able talk to her and defuse the situation.  This does not absolve the Crisis Team of responsibility.  Stretched they may be.  Working with budget cuts may feature but what use is a Crisis Management Team who’s idea of managing an imminent suicide attempt from someone known to them with a history of serious mental health problems is to, ‘go for a walk’ does not cut it……

A Policy of Persecution……

A mental heath problem can be debilitating.  It may not manifest in the same way an outwardly obvious physical health problem but is just as serious.  In their drive to save money on the welfare bill the government have taken to persecuting some very ill people through the £100m contract they have with Atos Healthcare, a French IT company.  They are finding thousands of people ‘fit for work’ based on a brief interview and without any information from the doctors and consultants that are treating them.  Recent figures have shown thousands have died within 3 months of being told they are ‘fit for work’, or before their appeals against the unprofessional decisions have been heard.  This clearly demonstrates the reality of process.  They have been tasked with reducing the number of claimants and to ensure they keep the lucrative contract are obliging.  This was exposed by Channel 4s Dispatches program when a doctor went under-cover to the Atos training camp, where they were told in no uncertain terms that, in one case, if you have one are and one finger on that arm, you can press a button and are therefore fit to work.

The most sickening part of this whole debacle is that the money they save pales into insignificance when compared to the industrial scale tax avoidance which the legislator do not seem to be dedicating many resources to stamp out.  Far be it from me to insinuate that they have a vested interest in protecting these huge multi-national companies, even though many ex-MPs become consultants and lobbyists for them when their political careers are over.  The political classes, with the exception of a handful, are completely out of touch with the realities of life and akin to a corrupt mafia as has been demonstrated by the Leveson report and the exposure of the close relationship between bankers, the media and the police.  The tip of a sycophantic iceberg is all we see……

One More Push and a new Statistic will Appear……

My own mental health ranges from states of being catatonic to manic, via obsession and punctuated with addiction.  The argument that addiction is a choice is not invalid; however, my addiction to Valium, Opiates and other depressant drugs is as a result of the lack of intervention when I pleaded for it.  Having had absolutely no help, I began ‘self medicating’ to switch off the mania and anxiety that was driving me toward an early death.  Referral to Drug and Alcohol Services is a joke as they fail to follow even the most fundamental rules set out by NICE and the NTA.  In 20 years I have been stuck on a maintenance prescription with little psycho-social intervention which is a prerequisite in the treatment advice given and the occasional meeting with a key worker does not meet the threshold required in the guidelines …..

Everyday I die a little more and become ever further detached from society.  The black and white I see is a choice to carry on fighting a loosing battle with the establishment, to no avail or, to take the other route out and die so I no longer have to wake up every day and within a few seconds of opening my eyes, realising the untenable nature of living for livings sake.  When I am found dangling from the end of a rope I will have a note that explains the failings of all the many and varying services that were supposed to help.  They will doubtless chalk it up to my mental health and not the failings that lead me here……

‘Only time will tell if and when I defer to making an exit but I have an idealised plan which could be put into action at any time, maybe after taking that walk’……