Thursday, 20 July 2017

The truth about psychiatry revealed...

After my disastrous consultation with that psychiatrist I got chatting to my amazing therapist Debbie Banks and she opened my eyes to a world that I was unaware existed. A world where notable, clever, informed psychologists and Doctors are challenging the world of psychiatry and psychiatrists. I was blissfully unaware, or perhaps just hadn't given it the rightful consideration that psychiatrists are purely work from a perspective of 'their opinion'. They have little actual proof of their diagnosis unlike medical doctors do. Blood tests, x-rays, etc do not come into psychiatry do they? Instead they rely on their own opinions as guided by a book commonly referred to as the DSM.

The DSM, or  the American Psychiatry Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. classifies mental disorders. For example, in the current fifth edition of the book, the first new edition for two decades, it classifies manifestations of grief, temper tantrums and worrying about physical ill-health as the mental illnesses of major depressive disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder and somatic symptom disorder, respectively.

The British Psychological Society's division of clinical psychology (DCP) has in the past issued statements declaring that, given the lack of evidence, it is time for a "paradigm shift" in how the issues of mental health are understood. Their statements have effectively cast doubt on psychiatry's predominantly biomedical model of mental distress – the idea that people are suffering from illnesses that are treatable by doctors using drugs.

Dr Lucy Johnstone, who is a consultant clinical psychologist supports the DCP and says it is unhelpful to see mental health issues as illnesses with biological causes.

"On the contrary, there is now overwhelming evidence that people break down as a result of a complex mix of social and psychological circumstances – bereavement and loss, poverty and discrimination, trauma and abuse,"

Some of the fifth edition of the DSM's omissions are just as controversial as the manual's inclusions. The term "Asperger's disorder"does not appear in the  manual, instead its symptoms now come under the newly added "autism spectrum disorder".

The DSM is used in a number of countries to varying degrees. Britain does use an alternative manual, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) published by the World Health Organisation, but the DSM is still hugely influential – and controversial.

This perspective came as a bit of a revelation to me after I had endured Mr Psychiatrist labelling me as an alcohol dependant individual after I admitted drinking alcohol to him most evenings over the last six months. I have argued my case with him that I take drugs every day, co-codamol and antidepressants,  therefore am I a drug addict? He never answered that question. But based on my responses to several very closed questions he concluded I was alcohol dependant.

I being indoctrinated, like a lot of you I'm sure, felt that someone of his standing and qualifications must know what they are talking about and I even started to doubt myself. Was I alcohol dependant? On the basis I haven't drunk since, (now 2 weeks) I sincerely doubt it but it did bring me around to thinking that if he can jump to that conclusion based on very little evidence then what other warped presumptuous conclusions can and do these so called professionals jump to?

I have to of course remember my psychiatrist was employed by the police service, at £350 an hour, to prepare a report for them as to my current mental health. Do we think he has therefore been entirely unbiased? Would his opinion do better to suit his employer or me I wonder? For instance he has concluded I have PTSD symptoms? I have asked for him to expand upon this and his answer was as follows,

" I feel that you have “PTSD symptoms (she may have historically suffered from the disorder but is improved but still has residual symptoms.)” I feel you have improved and thus the whole disorder is not currently present."

Now call me cynical but if I have PTSD symptoms do I not have a diagnosis of PTSD? I mean if I had chicken pox symptoms I would have chicken pox! If I was paying him I suspect he would have diagnosed PTSD but as the police service would prefer for me not to have that diagnosis he can skirt around it because he's an expert and only has to rely on his opinions.

As a cop this whole concept of being able to rely on opinion seems utterly bemusing. Can you imagine if each cop could arrest people based on their own opinions of what was right and wrong! We have the law and legal precedents what do the world of psychiatry have? The DSM?! A book which listed being homosexual as a mental disorder up until 1987?!

Yes you heard right until 1987!

Prior to seeing this psychiatrist I had a notion that he would be a paragon of mental health virtue, compassionate, unstigmatised and truly understanding. What I got was a bully with a fist class degree in 'I know better than you', pompous, arrogant and very quick to make assumptions based on limited information. How concerning is this when these so called professionals are dealing with the most vulnerable people in our society? I left his office feeling, ashamed, guilty and extremely low if not quite desperate. I have pulled through it and risen above his nonsense, but some people surely will not, some will accept his labelling of them as gospel and to what further cost to their health?

Even I felt like I was taking on a giant when I challenged his opinions of me,  he did however soon back down and altered what he was planning to say about me, which begs the question as to its validity in the first place surely?

Dr Thomas Szasz's is an American doctor who is an advocate for the idea that psychiatry is currently way off the mark and that human behaviour has reasons, not causes.

Dr Szasz says:

"Myth of mental illness." Mental illness is a metaphor (metaphorical disease). The word "disease" denotes a demonstrable biological process that affects the bodies of living organisms (plants, animals, and humans). The term "mental illness" refers to the undesirable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of persons. Classifying thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as diseases is a logical and semantic error, like classifying the whale as a fish. As the whale is not a fish, mental illness is not a disease. Individuals with brain diseases (bad brains) or kidney diseases (bad kidneys) are literally sick. Individuals with mental diseases (bad behaviors), like societies with economic diseases (bad fiscal policies), are metaphorically sick. The classification of (mis)behavior as illness provides an ideological justification for state-sponsored social control as medical treatment. 

"If you talk to God, you are praying;
If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia."

(Quote from Dr Szasz)

Dr Szasz believes that in recent decades, American medicine has become increasingly politicised and politics has become increasingly medicalised. Behaviours' previously seen as virtuous or wicked, wise or unwise are now dealt with as healthy or sick--unwanted behaviours' to be controlled as if they were health issues. The modern penchant for transforming human problems into diseases and judicial sanctions into treatments, replacing the rule of law with the rule of medical discretion, leads to the creation of a type of government that Dr Szasz calls pharmacracy. Medicalising troublesome behaviours and social problems is tempting to voters and politicians alike: it panders to the people by promising to satisfy their needs for dependence on medical authority. Dr Szasz believes people thus gain a convenient scapegoat, enabling them to avoid personal responsibility for their behaviour.

The government in turn gains a rationale for endless and politically expedient wars against social problems defined as public health emergencies. The health care system gains prestige, funding, and bureaucratic power that only an alliance with the political system can provide. However, Dr Szasz warns, the creeping substitution of pharmacracy for democracy--private medical concerns increasingly perceived as requiring a political response--inexorably erodes personal freedom and dignity. Pharmacracy a word created by Dr Szasz to encapsulate his beliefs:

"In as much as we have words to describe medicine as a healing art,
but have none to describe it as a method of social control or political rule,
we must first give it a name. I propose that we call it pharmacracy, from the
Greek roots pharmakon, for ‘medicine' or ‘drug,' and kratein, for ‘to rule' or
‘to control.' ... As theocracy is rule by God or priests, and democracy is rule
by the people or the majority, so pharmacracy is rule by medicine or physicians."

This concept that psychiatry is therefore a tool for the state to control people makes a lot of sense to me. Had you asked me several weeks ago I would have laughed at you, but after the significant experience I had. I would have to say the psychiatrist I visited was clearly used to controlling people  regardless of the evidence. What a worrying concept.

Another advocate of this way of thinking is a Dr Terry Lynch who has over 30 years experience as a medical doctor; 15 years as a psychotherapist; 15 years as the provider of a recovery-oriented mental health service; and is the author of three books on mental health, including one bestseller.

Over the years he states:

"I have learned that the prevailing understanding of depression is seriously misguided, seriously flawed"

Dr Lynch states that there is much myth, mystery and misinformation surrounding what we have come to call “depression”.

He says that there are facts not commonly understood in relation to depression and that this is primarily due to the fact that misinformation has regrettably been regularly churned out regarding depression for over 40 years, and he feels this is a pattern that needs to stop.

Dr Lynch makes ten assertions about depression in this regard which I find wholly fascinating:

1. Depression DOES NOT meet standard medical criteria for a disease. 

The criteria for and the definitions of disease which have been employed by the medical profession for decades are well established. Depression does not meet these standard medical criteria for a disease.   

2. Depression IS NOT a known brain disorder. 
A number of sites include comprehensive lists of all known brain disorders. One such example is the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a US government-backed Institute, an institute within the umbrella US National Institutes of Health. Their list of neurological disorders is so extensive that it includes many disorders I have never encountered in more than thirty years as a medical doctor. Depression is not included in this comprehensive list of all known brain and neurological disorders. Other sites that contain lists and overviews of all brain and neurological disorders include The Brain Foundation (Australia) and WedMD. Depression is not included as a brain disorder on these sites either. 
3. Depression IS NOT a chemical imbalance. 
Contrary to the common understanding, no pre-existing brain chemical imbalances has ever been reliably identified in depression. It follows that antidepressants cannot – and should not – truthfully be claimed to work by correcting brain chemical imbalances. Some people report being helped by these substances. But not by balancing brain chemicals.

4. Depression IS NOT a known genetic disorder. 
Within the medical profession, the acid test by which a disease or disorder is concluded to be known to be genetic is the reliable laboratory identification of a genetic abnormality. No such abnormalities have been reliably identified in depression.

5. Depression IS NOT a medical illness just like diabetes.
A common perception about depression is that is a medical illness just like diabetes. Actually, from a scientific perspective, diabetes and depression are poles apart. To give you just one example of why this is the truth; while diabetes is never diagnosed without laboratory investigations that confirm the diagnosis, depression is always diagnosed without laboratory investigations that confirm the diagnosis.

6. The experiences and behaviours that become labelled as “depression” are very real.
The five facts about depression I have listed above do not in any way imply that the experiences and behaviours that become labelled as depression are not real. They are very real. These experiences are often excruciating.

7. Depression can be understood through understanding how six important themes occur and interlink with each other. 
These themes are:- wounding; shock; distress in many forms; defence mechanisms and coping strategies; choices and decision-making; and trauma.

8. Trauma is often a core feature of depression.
There is a strong link between psychological trauma and depression. Because the importance of psychological trauma is regularly underestimated, the frequency and extent of psychological trauma and its relationship to depression is frequently missed or underestimated.

9. Some features of depression are coping strategies.
Although not commonly recognised as such, many of the experiences and behaviours that come under the umbrella term “depression” are defence mechanisms and coping strategies. Shutting down and disconnecting, for example, can be understood as a person’s attempt at what they see as their best and most trusted available solution.

10. A reduced sense of self is a regular feature of depression. 
Throughout the fifteen years in which I have provided a recovery-oriented mental health service and even in the years before that when I worked as a GP (general practitioner/family physician), I have consistently noticed that people who become depressed and diagnoses with depression generally have a reduced sense of self. They tend to have an often greatly reduced sense of self-empowerment; self generated security (I use this term to describe our ability to make ourselves feel safe and secure in the various situations we encounter); self-expression; self-belief; self confidence; self-worth; self-belonging. Another related consistent finding is patterns of feeling, expressing and dealing with emotions that are frequently the person’s best solution as they see it, but that often cause considerable difficulties and distress for them in their lives.

In summary then :-

I guess what all these experts are saying is that depression and it's symptoms are wholly real but are more likely the bodies response to trauma than they are as a result of any specific medical illness.

So by that reckoning we as a society in the west are currently medicating more and more people for depression which is probably becoming a self fulfilling prophecy isn't it? If we try throwing anti-biotics at infections constantly they cease to be effective and the body loses the ability to fight such infections on its own. By over using antidepressants our bodies and our emotions will never learn how to be at peace with themselves. Our current world is clearly traumatising us, our style of living is actually triggering our flight or fight response to such an extent that we are losing the ability to regulate ourselves.

So short of escaping to a desert island we all have to learn how to process traumatic events, or even accept the basic concept, especially us cops, that trauma needs decompressing somehow. Left alone trauma becomes like an infected wound festering in the brain causing no end of issues such as depression and PTSD.

With the police service in it's current state of decline, command teams around the country need to understand that without better mental health provisions the current epidemic of anxiety and depression will only increase.

De-moralised, depleted officers cannot and will not stay healthy for very long.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Is leaving the police service for another job a viable option? 

The question was raised today whether leaving the police service for another job was a viable option?

When I joined the service in the late 80's it was recognised as a career for life,  you joined for the 30 year stretch. You made a life long commitment and I for one felt proud and compelled to make it. I never for one minute doubted my choice despite being thrust into a turbulent unknown world from my humble middle class background. I was na├»ve in the ways of the world and I embarked on a learning curve enviable by some of the worlds biggest roller coasters.

I wore a skirt, a white stiff collared shirt, a tie, a tunic and the stipulated Marks & Spencer's barely black tights! I was issued with a black long mac, a black anorak, a thin black V neck jumper to wear under my tunic if it were to get cold. Then there was the obligatory ladies hand bag, a pair of metal hand cuffs, their leather pouch, oh yes and a black belt! Plus epaulettes, chrome numbers and the pins to secure them.

I wonder what I would have made back then of what the service has become in the last 28 years?

When I joined the 'old sweats' were still bleating on about that damned new legislation called PACE and lamenting for their familiar judges rules!

My very first piece of PPE other than the cuffs came about 18 months into my service when I got issued with a mini wooden baton, (half the size of the men's)  In time I then watched the long 'Arnold' baton come and go before the issue of extendable batons called ASPs. I've watched utility belts arrive only to be replaced by 'tac' vests. I saw the introduction of rigid cuffs to the exclusion of the old chain versions. I've watched stab proof vests be introduced as a station resource, before then becoming personal issue. There were NATO jumpers that appeared as tunics became relegated to stalwarts of the court room before ultimately being ditched altogether in some places.  CS gas arrived and was then replaced by pepper spray. From no computers at all,  to the basic ones with a dot matrix printer, to the high tech internet beasts of today.

There were canteens with friendly staff looking after officers and police bars a plenty. Heading to the bar to let of steam after a late shift was common practice. There were meals and teas/coffees provided when on courses, all these little extra financial compensations have all evaporated.

I started with a basic Motorola UHF pack set radio, with VHF sets in the cars.

Image result for motorola police radio

I recall being the first on the shift to have a mobile phone and being laughed at that they wouldn't catch on!

Then came trousers for us women, they were those itchy woollen goddamn awful things but they were trousers. Now of course the military like combat trouser is king.

So many, many changes over the years. But the biggest change of all?

The loss of morale and the loss of feeling like you were part of a large family that got through the shite together, on or off duty. There was a feeling back then that the bosses had our backs, generally speaking politics had no place in policing and that the job was about locking up the bad guys. 

Back in those dark ages the public respected their police service and the media didn't seem to jump so quickly and avidly to stamp their disapproval upon us at every turn. We felt valued and that made the most enormous difference.

The police service of 2017 is depleted, under resourced and vilified by the press. Politics is at the forefront of policing and catching the bad guys has to be done to fit a political agenda!  God forbid we upset a crook!

What is to become of this changed police service?

Officers are leaving in droves to find work elsewhere regardless of the pay drops they are taking. What price peace of mind they must be thinking. If you can see your family more than one weekend a month, escape the horrific pressures, the dangers and regain your mental health why not? Life is for the living surely? Officers are expected to work so many unsocial shifts, so many cancelled rest days, lose their hard earned leave and for what?... a wage that is in real terms falling? Why would anyone want to work in that sort of environment?

Career chasers' can be heard talking the leavers down, uttering abusive insults about flipping burgers and the like but I can't help but feel they've used these hard working officers backs to climb up to the lofty heights of their high horses, grinding them down and breaking their spirits in the process. We need more than lip service, we need more than someone saying they're supportive of their troops. We need evidence of that support. There is no use talking the talk without walking the walk otherwise it only serves to be an exercise in ticking the boxes of their ridiculous policy books.

Perhaps the governments ultimate aim is to drive us all out before they employ a private company like G4S?

I'm sad, I grieve for what was. I don't feel I have any place in the shambles the service is becoming. It's broken me, it's taken away my spirit and like any bully it just laughs at me for it and denies all responsibility. I'm not alone, there will be many more like myself that are broken irreparably by their service to our country. The pressure, the dangers, the thankless task it has become.

So, the question raised today was whether leaving the police service for another job was a viable option? I'd have to say that's a big fat yes wouldn't you?

Friday, 14 July 2017

Friday 14th July 2017

Its that time of year where change is in the air isn't it?

Summer holidays for the kids, change of routines all around for those affected families as a consequence. Seaside towns like the one I live in becoming inundated by some of those families looking for some well deserved rest and relaxation. Whilst at the same time we look forward with some trepidation to the new school year and what that will bring. I'm feeling the winds of change too, I'm not sure I can put my finger on precisely why but I can feel a shift.

Since the last blog I wrote and left posted... I've had a bit of a roller-coaster ride with my emotions. A week ago today I visited a psychiatrist at the request of my force. They say to establish what treatment I should be receiving but I have my doubts that their grounds were quite that compassionate! Especially as they've not been the source of any treatment to date over the last seven months!

The encounter was not a pleasant one and the professional was overbearing, jumped to conclusions and put words into my mouth. I was so distraught throughout the consultation that I was continually crying and at times incapable of being coherent. The consultation was an hour in total and cost the force £350. There was about ten minutes of administration, thirty minutes of very closed questioning which was then stunted further by him contemporaneously recording everything I said. Then he used the last twenty minutes of the session to dictate his letter about me! He says he does it that way so that people know what he will be saying but I have to say it felt more like a time saving exercise to me!

I left the appointment feeling very low and ashamed as he'd made some wild assumptions that I felt stained my character and I spent the next two days feeling really quite distraught about the whole experience. Quite a joke really bearing in mind he is meant to be a mental health specialist and advocate!

After forty eight hours of feeling terribly downtrodden and utterly beaten by the system I had an epiphany. I recalled him saying to me that I could withdraw my consent for him to share his findings with the force at anytime. So I did! This resulted in some squirming, an apology and the letter he'd so hastily dictated being re-written to better reflect my case based on the facts as opposed to his snap assumptions. I have now reinstated my consent for him to share it with the Occupational health department and in turn my force.

Anyway what I have found in the last week is that I have been through a whole array of emotions. From the down trodden beaten feelings of despair to the incensed fire to stand up for myself. Now I'm feeling that I'm almost grateful he treated me so badly as it lit a fire under my butt and forced me to confront the issues head on if you'll excuse the pun!

The psychiatrist reached the following diagnosis for me in his letter:

1. Moderate depressive disorder
2. Generalised anxiety disorder
3. PTSD symptoms

I've had to email him back again and ask if No 3 is a PTSD diagnosis or if just having symptoms isn't quite going that far? Or does it take longer than thirty minutes in a one off session to reach that sort of conclusive diagnosis?

As an aside, he quotes a passage from the force's referral to him in his letter. Apparently they made the following statement "she is reluctant to return to work"? Now I read that as she's swinging the lead or can't be arsed to come to work as opposed to she's unable to return to work or she's too poorly to return to work. What do you think? Have to say it got under my skin somewhat. In his letter he refers to it as a poor prognostic factor!

Another odd comment in his letter is this one;

"perhaps either contributing or perhaps clouding diagnostically is her fibromyalgia"

How does it cloud things? If he knows his stuff and one is assuming he should, it's well documented that PTSD and Fibromyalgia often go hand in hand, in fact my last blog looked at just this area so why does he feel my Fibromyalgia clouds a diagnosis?

Anyway that letter will be winging its way to the OH department, as to what benefit it'll have for me I'm unsure! Does it take me any further forwards? I'm not sure. Was it worth £350?? Probably not! Any decent detective could have taken a far better, all encompassing witness statement from me gathering much greater detail. He could definitely learn a thing or two about listening and compassion because the way he went about things was seriously flawed. Plus detectives don't earn £350 an hour! It certainly brings it home how professional we are as a service for what essentially is peanuts in comparison to what that monkey is earning!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Thursday 29th June 2017 - #PTSD

Feeling very low today, the weather knows as its reflecting my mood. Dreary and dark, raining where I'm crying.

The affects of the Fibromyalgia are very evident today, or is it PTSD causing the symptoms? My head is swimming like I've had three pints of strong lager, my joints ache like I've run a marathon, my emotions are out of control, there's a ball of utter panic in my chest pulsating its evil to the whole of my body. Breathing is laboured and the feeling of dread is looming large...

This week has been tough, Baby Bear away in London with the school has stupidly after recent events up there meant her safety has been playing on my mind.

Today I'd promised to drive to meet with someone but after a massive panic attack this morning I have had to pull out. This makes me feel so weak and pathetic. Self loathing floods every fibre, as I now realise how insipid I am and its heart breaking.

I used to be a strong, confident career woman. I used to meet new situations head on. I had nerves yes, but I could always lock those feelings in a cupboard and get on with it. Gradually though as depression takes hold, just like blasted bindweed, it chokes the confidence out of you, eventually totally masking your old self. It happens so gradually you'll be half gone before you know it.

I spent so many months and years trying to cover it up, pretending I was fine that by the time I finally acknowledged it I was already a shadow of my former self.

I feel so physically overwhelmed by my symptoms today it's like I've been poisoned, but I suppose in an odd way I have.

Yesterday on twitter there was some suggestion that PTSD could be linked to Fibromyalgia or even that the diagnosis should be PTSD and not Fibromyalgia? So I had a dig about on the internet.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder has only been recently recognized as a mental illness. It is not like depression or schizophrenia as it is wholly accepted that the reasons for developing the illness are external. Exposure to trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
That trauma may come on the battlefield, in an abusive relationship, a bad employment position and so on – in other words, as it is now recognized that a huge component of post-traumatic stress disorder originates in the body’s stress reaction in response to a stimulus the trauma that can cause it is seen as anything.
Every person has a different capacity for stress and will respond to varying trauma differently too. In PTSD, the person exists in a constant state of hyper-vigilance that results in an imbalance in stress hormones and cortisol levels in the body. They may be subject to flashbacks, nightmare or general anxiety as a result of the initiating event.

Who is at risk?

Any one from a young child to a senior adult can develop PTSD. It is not uncommon for people to develop and recover from PTSD, but this then puts them at a higher risk of developing the disorder in response to a new event.
Anyone suffering a trauma – such as a traumatic event, surgery, illness or high levels of stress is also at risk. As are persons who live with chronic pain or who have an impaired immune system.
Those in high stress and high emotion environments are also considered to be at risk. The new diagnostic criteria now recognizes that there are several levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and offers appropriate treatments for each level of severity.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that is characterized by a cluster of symptoms. The most common are chronic pain, stiffness, brain fog, depression and disturbed sleep. There is no specific known cause or cure for fibromyalgia, but there are very many treatments that have shown to be effective in controlling symptoms.
Fibromyalgia often sets the stage for other disorders to occur because of how the immune system is affected. Irritable bowel syndrome and migraine syndromes are common as well. There are now tests that can help determine if you are suffering from fibromyalgia.

Who is at risk?

Originally considered a woman’s disease, there is more awareness now that men develop fibromyalgia as well. It can come on any time after the 18th year, but children have been diagnosed with it as well. The suspected causes of fibromyalgia are many.
There may be a gene component, which means if someone in your family has the disease you are at a higher risk. Traumatic brain injury has been related to it, as has major illness, disease and surgery. Emotional and mental trauma is also thought to play a key role in activating fibromyalgia in the body too.

Which is the cause of what?

As more is becoming known about how fibromyalgia affects your sympathetic nervous system, the easier it is to see how it relates to post traumatic stress disorder. It isn’t so much that one will cause the other, but that the presence of one may increase the risk of the other.
The action of PTSD on the immune system may very well set up the environment that welcomes fibromyalgia. Vice versa, fibromyalgia may create an amplified body syndrome that can then escalate into post-traumatic stress disorder given the right circumstances.

If you look at each disorder separately and then compare their common recommended treatments, you can see that there is a great deal of overlap. Both are treated with anti-depressants to help control serotonin levels in the body, and they may also be treated with anti-anxiety agents.
Both also recommend life style changes as a long term management system such as diet, exercise, meditation and other habits.

The problem with post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia is that there symptoms are very similar. They are different in a very important way though – which is that the post-traumatic psychiatric effect which can lead to flashbacks and anxiety.

So I think my conclusion is that clearly there is a link but essentially they are still different diagnosis

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sunday 25th June 2017 - It's okay not to be okay

The feeling of impending doom, does it ever go away? That constant niggle at the back of your mind that you have something you should be remembering. The inability to sit at rest for fear that you should be doing something constructive...but what was it? The churning stomach the constant looking over your shoulder to see who's there.
In the run up to the end of the school term there are so many events and things going on with baby bear at school that I feel as if I'm balanced on a knife edge, scared stiff I'll forget something as my brain is just a complete mush of madness and consternation.

Last week I lost my house and car keys for forty eight hours, only to find them outside on the wheelie bin lid on full view to every Tom, Dick or Harry car thief and burglar that might have happened past my way.

I stand for minutes on end wondering what I'm meant to be doing or even thinking. I know some of you will say this is just down to age but trust be it borders on dementia. The Fibro fog pads out my brain much like a teddy who is filled to bursting with kapok. I'm like an iPad that needs a software upgrade, slow to respond and freezing up a lot!
Worse than that though I'm constantly cross and agitated which means baby bear is having a rougher ride of things than normal as I seem to be nit picking at her over the smallest details of life. Every time I see her crest fallen little face it chips my heart a bit more. This damned illness, be it the depression or the Fibromyalgia it's got a lot to answer for, which in a world where I'm trying to learn to like myself and give myself permission to exist just leads to more self loathing which isn't at all healthy.
Mental Health is like the spiders web, and I'm the fly stuck in its clutches, struggling for freedom, panicking that I'll never be free.

I used to be confident, capable and a force to be reckoned with, yet now I'm a wreck, a mere shadow of that former self. Things that I wouldn't have blinked twice about doing in the past now cause me great angst and self doubt. The racing heart, the shortness of breath, the dizziness, the mental fog and that's before we even start discussing my swollen and seized up joints. What a sorry state of affairs to get oneself into.
The more I try and focus on what I should be doing the further away the idea seems to float, it's like when you can't remember a fact that's 'on the tip of your tongue'  the harder you think the less likely you are to recall it. Well that's just life in general inside my brain these days. What's even crueller in some respects is that I still sound and look normal because I feel anything but. I feel disabled, I feel mentally challenged, I feel diminished. I think I'd need an appropriate adult if brought into custody. What a state of affairs!

 I've been wondering if I had listened to myself more down the years, if I'd paid attention to the depression and anxiety instead of  ignoring it,  would things have gotten this bad? No probably not. Should I have spoken up sooner? Yes of course, well I kind of did but it wasn't the politically correct thing to do so I just made jokes about myself being mad.

If you're suffering you have to do something about it. I spent two years driving to work hyper ventilating and crying through the anxiety of being at work. I battled on but to what cost to my health? When you leave the police service and we all will what are you left with? Yourself and without your health you're screwed. A good friend said to me last week, 'Don't give them any more of your sanity'

'Don't give them any more of your sanity'

and she's so right. Battling on, hiding the symptoms, self medicating on booze or pills, eventually something will give and I think there would have been less damage to my health if it had been a controlled melt down as opposed to just falling flat on my face! 

It's okay not to be okay

Think about that statement a while. When I first admitted to myself I had depression it felt good, it was as if a burden had been lifted. The hiding of it will only seek to let it fester. When I went back to work after my first break down two years ago I talked about it openly and although some people were very uncomfortable with that it made me feel good. In fact the less they liked it the more I shouted my mouth off! It's not a cure though, there was part of me that couldn't fathom out why it didn't bugger off once I'd acknowledged it. But accepting it does mean you can look at methods of dealing with it. Much like with addiction, the addict has to admit the problem before help can be sought. It's okay not to be okay.

Even now I've learnt about lots of self help tools I'm not going to kid you, it's a struggle. The black dog is that weighted bag around your neck whilst your swimming, dragging you down, trying to put you down. But you have to keep fighting, I need to be here for baby bear, although she deserves better than to have a broken mum.
Try not to get as far along the line as I did before admitting you need help. Hopefully the sooner you get help the lighter your weights will be.


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Thursday 22nd June 2017 - Self Compassion

 Today I've managed to get out with the dogs for a decent walk. We went for three miles down around Lorton Meadows in Weymouth.

The nature reserve consists of woods, meadows and beautiful wildlife. There are web cams and all sorts of lovely information on the web site, however I'm lucky enough to be able to walk there very quickly and take in the majesty of all it's glorious nature first hand.

Today I played at being a wildlife photographer as it eases my troubles, calms my mind and makes me focus on something other than the rubbish banging about in the empty cavity that is my brain!

If you suffer with depression you have to identify your observant self and tap into what he or she is telling you. Some people like to run, some paint, some make music...basically you find something that will focus your mind and give you pleasure and a sense of self worth.

There are several things I've identified recently that help my depression.

Walking is one but it can be hindered by my Fibromyalgia and how swollen my joints are and how painful.

Taking photographs is another, and of course my dogs.

Woodlands with their dappled sunlight and calming rustling leaves. The shady glens and pockets of peace hidden away from everyone. Its so tranquil to stand still and let your senses be assaulted by the sounds, smells and sights.

Then there is water in its many guises, paddling pool to babbling brook to shimmering sea...they all float my boat. 

The best one probably for me is writing, pour your heart out to the public, or to one person. It matters not but talking about mental health is paramount. Please do not suffer in silence, it makes things worse and like a piece of metal rotting with rust you get further and further away from being healthy. Seek help early do not let it fester...

It's okay not to be okay

So what do you favour? What makes you smile, what swells your heart and lightens your burdens?

Find the sensible observer within yourself, listen to them, or tune in if necessary or if you've muted them in the past please do unmute them for goodness sake. Your observant self could be your salvation, offer you insights into your own psyche. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time to indulge your emotions and strengthen your mental health.

Self compassion is something I'm learning about but have a look at the works of Dr Kirsten Neff, there's a link below. She even has an audio book with beautifully narrated meditations and sessions to listen to that make the world of difference. Trust me have a look. (Ignore the demons crowing about soft and fluffy crap being for social workers not cops)

But today I am indulging myself by posting  my creations, the photographs I took at Lorton Meadows today when I was out with the pooches. They're just snaps but in allowing myself the pleasure of taking and sharing them, I am showing myself that I am worthy and I am enough. Just me, raw and rusty, learning how to be a civilian, fighting tooth and nail to get myself healthy.

My therapist said you have to cultivate emotional resilience and that's why I'm trying to use the things I've mentioned above. You need to find what floats your boat?

To be mentally healthy we need to have self esteem and if you're compassionate to yourself and 'feed' your mind the things it loves you can become stronger.

So my fellow sufferers try and be optimistic, use your courage, of which you'll have oodles if you're still plodding through life with that damned black dog. Try and find the hope you need for the future, use your observing self,  look at yourself from the third person perspective. Find something that means something to you and not only will you help yourself physically but you'll bolster your mental health.

So putting my money, or photographs where my mouth is...

Here follows my Wildlife Gallery from 22/6/17!!!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

1140 hours Sunday 18th June 2017

It would appear that summer has arrived in the UK!!

Looks like we will have a 'week' of sunshine! Yea! I will of course eat my hat should we get further prolonged periods of sunshine this year!! (makes mental note to buy edible head wear!)

So a few things to catch up on, 'The Case Conference'... the night before the conference was due to take place my boss emailed me with a jovial, 'is everything okay for tomorrow?'


As I had said to you all, I was already working myself up into a frenzy and found myself firing back a 'no I bloody well ain't' type email before I could take too many breaths!!  I detailed my symptoms and asked him why it was necessary to hold a meeting at a juncture where I was still awaiting a psych. referral and had only two days previously been seen by the FMO. Her report detailed my current state of mind quite eloquently, as 'low'!. They hadn't actually seen the report yet, so I forwarded it on to them as supporting evidence of what I was saying about my mood and the way attending the meeting on top of that was making me feel. The boss then returned fire with short shrift saying it needed to go ahead as there were things he needed to discuss!' I was not amused...

The day of the conference dawned and my joints were so swollen and seized that in order to get out of my bed I had to roll myself out and off before then needing to bum shuffle down the stairs as my knees wouldn't bend well enough or hold sturdy enough for me to safely descend in the normal manner. In fact, I was a quivering wreck.

I decided to take the dogs out prior to getting washed and brushed up for said conference, when lo and behold I had another email. This time my boss capitulated, he had found some compassion, and offered to have a telephone conference instead of dragging me into a police building. I felt such relief. He also luckily gave me a specific time that he'd ring to alleviate any further strain and I insisted on my fed rep being with him in his office throughout the conversation. I still got worked up as I hate phones, but sometimes its a question of accepting the lesser of two evils isn't it?

The email summary of the conversation is detailed below...

Good morning Leasa

I hope you are well It was good to speak yesterday.

To confirm what was agreed during our conversation:

·         We discussed your recent consultation with FMO
·         You confirmed that you would continue to receive full pay for 3 more months.
·         You informed me that you are finding the ongoing treatment through ‘Save our Soldiers’ (via Safer Horizons) beneficial

Psychiatric Assessment

We had considerable discussion around this and the fact that you were frustrated that it had not yet happened
The following summarises the discussion and how we would progress

·         Welfare has requested that a referral for a psychiatric assessment is made
·         You have agreed that it would be good for you
·         FMO has recommended the referral is made psychiatric assessment

I informed you:
·         That the force would fund the referral
·         That Welfare had tried to make the referral but had not been able to because Occupational Health were awaiting written consent from you.

You stated that you had not been provided with a written consent form and we agreed that you would write me a letter consenting to the referral.

Supportive Management Action (SMA)

·         We discussed the previous arrangements agreed in March
·         I informed you that UAP would not be considered at this stage but will be discussed in 3 months time
·         We agreed that you were not fit for work at this time and you updated me with the fact that your that your current ‘Fit Note’ expires on 8 July 2017
·         When asked about what supportive measures would help your main concern was the psychiatric assessment referred to above.

Actions agreed:

·         I would maintain regular contact with you – every 2 weeks – where I would text you and, if you are feeling well enough have a telephone conversation.
·         You will maintain regular contact and attend appointments and treatment as advised
·         You will send in a consent form re Psychiatric Assessment (DONE) which I will forward to Welfare to facilitate the referral (DONE)
·         Welfare will ensure, via Occupational Health, that the referral is made.

So there you go that's where we are currently up to!

Moving swiftly on from such depressing things!

Over the last couple of days I have found that being near water seems to quieten my mind and bring about some peaceful feelings. I have gotten baby bear's paddling pool out to lounge about in! But it isn't quite the same as the pool in Turkey!! What do you think? I've considered painting the Turkey view on my back fence but I'm not sure I'm skilled enough!!

The last twenty four hours have been lovely as baby bear has been with her dad and I could just look after myself. Very selfish I know but the space to breathe seems to make a world of difference to me.

I'm dreading a couple of things this week... Have a meeting tomorrow at the school as to whether the Year 6 Leavers, Baby Bear included,  should continue with their plans to spend a week in London the week after next. Trip as been planned for over a year and paid out £350 for it. People have demanded a meeting and lots of kids parents have already pulled them out saying it is not safe for them to go!

Whilst I know I'll worry all week about the 'what if's' I do feel that I cannot let her learn this early in life that giving into these people, no these terrorist losers', is the way forward. It is not a message I want her to take to heart. at 11 years old.  I've therefore decided that if the school do go ahead as planned then she should go with them. With less kids it'll be more fun anyways!! So that decision is at the school is tomorrow at 5pm ...

Then on Wednesday afternoon, 1315 hours, it is school sports day. Two hours of trying to stand around, being in pain, being near people and also... being near that foul woman and her family who I fell out with. She has a large family around her wherever she goes versus little old broken me plus they are school governors, on the PTFA etc. and they all glower at me for having 'upset' their poor daughter, wife, mother etc. just because I admitted my #mentalhealth issues to her whilst we were having a heated discussion! She said they were irrelevant to her and I lost interest from there onwards.

Right I'm off to catch some rays....