Archive for October, 2013


Coincidence

I can’t remember if I have written this already, but a few weeks ago I was on a train back from Nottingham and I sat next to a man I got talking to.  He seemed very nice, and he had just started a new job as a salesman.  Near the end of the conversation it came about that we found out that his grandmother used to live where I live now.  That is something, isn’t it?

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24720069#TWEET937913

This prison is exactly like psychiatric hospital acute wards in the UK, except for the electric shocks, the acute wards don’t do that.  They call people’s credibility into doubt as well in the same way that doubt is cast on a psychiatric patient.  The news story this links to shows a guard being interviewed and acknowledging that electric shocks were given and that inmates were forcibly injected.  There is a man who says he wasn’t a danger to anyone and my own experience gives me no reason to doubt him.  The fact that he is a criminal doesn’t mean his testimony about this isn’t reliable.  A man was injected for complaining about the food.  The guard says that inmates had to be made afraid of them because they are few, even though they knew it was against the law.  Psychiatric hospitals are the same.  Most compliance comes from the fear of the consequences of not complying.  It is torture and terrorism.  Someone has to help us.  Please.

Update 27.10.2013 – Hospital and Housing

I’ve been obsessive about my stats recently and it’s been an obsession that has pushed everything else out.  I could have kept my blog up to date but I haven’t, so here is a bit more.

Last Saturday I sat down and filled in an application for housing with a housing charity, and at the moment I am waiting to hear what points I’ve been allocated.  I am hoping very much that things will move quickly.  There were boxes for six separate area codes and I filled them all in, but even that might not be flexible enough.

Life in the residential hospital is not too bad.  The main thing for me at the moment is that the fridge-freezer is easily big enough for a family, but not for four individuals.  It looks to me as if two of us are doing a weekly shop, and there just isn’t sufficient space really.  It is frustrating that we are doubling up on things and I’m sure there is a lot of wastage because things don’t get eaten quickly enough.  I’m not the one with the least space, apparently, and the one who thinks she has the least space keeps putting her stuff on top of mine, and it annoys me.

Also people doing big sharp knocks on the door and asking if I’m all right when I am trying to relax.  It jolts me out of it.

About two or three weeks ago I had a problem with one of the residents who keeps staring at me when I am focusing on something else.  I asked her why she was doing it and she said she wasn’t, I was being paranoid.  Then she told me to shut up and said I was kicking off when I didn’t like that, so now I’m not talking to her, nor she to me.

The nurses I encounter are nice, usually, but I daren’t talk to them about how I feel about my diagnosis and medication, normally, because I fear they won’t understand.  I’m keeping a low profile at the moment about the things I don’t like which I usually see towards other people on occasion.  I don’t want a repetition of Rowan 2 and other places.  When I become aware of it, normally in the shower (and I’ve self-neglected a fair bit recently), I suppress an urge to scream.  I guess screaming isn’t allowed or looked on very favorably, and I have an iron grip on myself to make sure I don’t scream, I daren’t put myself in that situation here.

That’s all for now.  Thanks to my new followers for following.  Welcome aboard.  I hope it won’t get too boring for you.  I’m pretty monomaniacal at times.

In a sermon called ‘Final Words’, David Shearman’s last sermon as the Senior Minister at the Christian Centre in Nottingham, David talked about a man who had come to Talbot Street several years before claiming to have a message from God that was to be delivered to the people and not run past the leaders first.  David would not let him speak without first telling him, and when he tried he was drowned out.  He left in anger shaking the dust off his shoes, literally, saying the Spirit had been quenched.  David or another leader said yes it had, but that it was his spirit, not God’s.  He went to another church where, apparently, he caused a stir, because he was allowed to speak without checking it out first.  Eventually the man came back to Talbot Street apologising and asking for forgiveness and David said of course he forgave him and said ‘let’s pray’.

What worried me was what David said next.  It worried everyone else as well, because it was followed by several seconds silence.  I don’t know that it worried everyone for the same reasons.  What he said was, ‘he didn’t live very long after that’.  It seemed to me that he was saying that God had judged him by ending his life early.  He didn’t say that, but the suggestion seems to have been there.  Someone said to him in the past that he had noticed that if anyone opposed David things didn’t go well for them after that, and David told him he had learnt a good thing or that he had done well to notice it.

The Bible has stories of people’s lives ending early in judgment, even in the New Testament, so it isn’t easy to oppose the idea of it happening today.  But I do think it is rather dark and unhealthy if David was putting that idea out in relation to himself, especially given that the man had come back to ask for forgiveness.  I also think it is dark and unhealthy to be trusting the church to new leaders with the impartation of such an idea as his parting gift and reassurance.

I’ve thought about this several times since hearing it.  It is only over the last day or so that I have thought I might have misunderstood, and read something in that wasn’t intended, but in light of what he said before it isn’t unlikely that I understood it right the first time.  And if that is what he is saying about a man’s death, it makes sense that that belief will translate also into how he treats the living.  Some of the living he treats as though they were dead, as do other ministers.  Faced with ministers who behave that way the ideas of love and forgiveness have become inadequate for resolving and mending relationships.  This has been my experience.

As well as this, I was in a meeting where he preached and talked about where God had said something like heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool, where is the house you will build for me?  He interpreted it as God challenging the hearer to build Him a house.  That didn’t make sense to me, although now I can see the possibility that that was the right interpretation, but I thought God was saying He didn’t need a house and trying to stop the would-be builder.  The only reason I am doubting my own interpretation is because we could be said to need a house in which to worship God in peace and safety.

Like the writer of this blog, I sometimes feel as if I have nothing valuable to say about the mental health system and my experience, but the article referred to and linked to here is something I think is worth reading, in spite of or because of its length, you decide. It portrays the American DSM-5 as dystopian literature and the writers as blind and obsessive.  http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/book-of-lamentations/

This blog needs more windows

I hope I’m not speaking too soon, but the second half of today has got me thinking (hoping!) that I might be coming out of my month+-long funk*! I still have a sinus infection, which makes me grumpy, but I feel lighter today and I actually have been slowly progressing through the edits I have to do. A couple of small but notable happenings that have made me feel so hopeful:

1) I went to the mouth doctor today (forgive my lack of knowledge of medical terms) for my bi-annual monitoring of a hole in my jaw (I don’t know the proper term for this “condition” either. All I know is it’s rare but no big deal as long as it remains benign). Anyway, the doctor said that since my biopsy, the hole appears to be filling in with bone (apparently a good sign- yay!) This is good, but the…

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Actually, that’s not how I think.  I have what I believe to be a really unhelpful habit of looking back and blaming myself for so many things.  The way I think, it sometimes seems as if I must hate my younger self.  I feel as if I can see that I was totally wrong.  There are people who would rejoice in that, people who have already told me it is all my fault and take no responsibility for the inhumanity of their own words and actions towards me.  Some church people have been so strict and confrontational with me you wouldn’t know it was church people you were dealing with.  Those people, according to what has been said to me, still don’t want anything to do with me and are insistent that I stay away from them.  The Shearmans, the Coleses, are only two examples.  At the Christian Centre, Nottingham, one of the pastoral staff told me I was welcome to come to church but that I had frightened the Shearmans with silent calls about 16-17 years ago and I was to stay away from them. First of all they and their staff had frightened and angered me, and I was just being frightened, angry and confused OCD with my first ever mobile phone.  I’m sorry that I frightened them but they and their staff had also frightened and offended me.  They were targeting me from the platform.  I know this because one day one of them approached me and told me to leave because I wasn’t doing what I was being told to do.  As I remember it it was only coming from the platform, they weren’t talking to me otherwise.  And I think what the Coleses and their staff did to me was really nasty.  I was angry without any sign of violence, and it seems they have such an exalted idea of their position that they thought it was OK to pronounce sickness over me.  That was Moira Knight, one of their trusted few, in John Coles’s presence.  He didn’t say she was wrong.  I couldn’t believe what she had said to me, and it exploded in my mind how far they were prepared to go to resist me and keep me under.  It was a very effective double bind, which R D Laing said was operational in a lot of people called schizophrenic.

Knots by R D Laing

I bought this book recently from the internet, I think Amazon.  It was delivered this morning.  I was first introduced to it by one of my English teachers at 6th form.  She read something that went:

I know
He knows I know
I know he knows I know

and it is full of things of the same ilk that I just get lost in.  I tried to be with it and stay with it but in the end I just ended up believing he wanted us to laugh at the convolution of it all.  People say that laughter is the best therapy, and if he just wanted to wear us out with all the permutations to make us laugh at ourselves and with each other – I thought it was a bit like reading Zen koans.  One of the poems says that what they want from each other is generosity, not one thinking the other is greedy while the other in turn thinks the first is mean.  I think laughter opens the door to generosity, especially the laughter that can arise when you realise you are beaten by the representation of what is going on in the relationship.  That is, unless he is much more intelligent than I am and there are others who manage to keep up where I can’t.  Sometimes I experience a little breakthrough in understanding what he is portraying, and there are places of identification, especially identification from the past of how I used to think and feel in relationships.  I was surprised to see something I went through a few years ago represented, where I thought, basically, that I wasn’t entitled to anything so I was stealing everything I had, or getting it by trickery.  Part of that was the belief that all money is dirty by association somewhere along the line.  Another was being afraid that if someone loved and respected me they were wrong, because I was awful, and the only people I could respect or trust were those who didn’t seem to respect me.

Anyway, I haven’t finished it.  I’ve got about half way through.  There was one poem in particular which really made me throw my hands up in despair of being able to understand it.  It was written in about 6 parts.  Maybe it was meant for performance.  It seems it might be the only way to keep up with it.  I have no idea how much was him having a romping good laugh and how much was a serious unfolding.  I feel sure its main purpose must be to make us loosen up.

Loss, Mortality And Related Issues

I learned something I didn’t know yesterday.  I was watching ‘That Was The Life That Was’, about the late Sir David Frost, and I learned that ‘That Was The Week That Was’ had its first broadcast on my 2nd birthday.  A year later, 2 days before my 3rd birthday, President John Kennedy was assassinated.  I remember watching News at Ten on that day and I was aware that something serious had happened.  I felt very sad and shocked when I heard that David Frost had died.  I think the first I knew of him was when he presented ‘This Is Your Life’, which I always liked to watch.  I found myself wishing last night that my dad had watched TW3 and introduced me to it, but I was only 2.  The programme last night was followed up with ‘Frost on Satire’, and it showed clips from ‘Spitting Image’.  In its time I never watched it and wouldn’t have known who all the characters were, I think I might have seen it twice.  I recognised some of the characters last night though.

Hearing of many people dying, some of whom are not much older than me, makes me feel bereaved, and also aware of my own mortality.  I know I’m only 52, 53 next month, but I am feeling the fact of my own death coming up and it isn’t the best feeling in the world.  I keep feeling there have been so many missed opportunities.  I keep seeing people who have grown up, in the media, and wishing I was like them, that someone had fought properly for me to be educated when I decided that I didn’t like school so I wasn’t going, after my father died.  I feel no one really fought for my family.

I’m sitting in Costa at the moment.  I’ve just had a large mocha and downloaded the two Frost programmes I’ve just been talking about.

I was aware of David Frost partly because I knew he was a Christian.  I feel really upset writing this.  ‘That Was The Life That Was’ showed clips from things that formed a fair bit of my memory.  I remember the President Nixon thing, I saw ‘All The President’s Men’ when it came out.  I remember being in a prayer meeting at Talbot Street when the Watergate Scandal erupted and Gerald Ford took over.  In the meeting people were praying against sin and for righteousness and I wanted to pray that God would help Richard Nixon and his family, because I felt very sad for him, but I didn’t dare pray that way.  No one else was.

I’m not sure how much of this is sadness, really, over these past events and memories, and how much of it is just displaced sadness and grief over my present situation.  Feelings can re-attach to anything.  I admire people like Ian Hislop so much but know they don’t know me and probably wouldn’t be interested in me if they did, because the truth is I have nothing to offer.  Maybe that is what idolatry is, attachment to so many people who don’t even know I exist and might not be interested if they did know.  It is miserable, painful and embarrassing and fruitless and pointless, maybe that is why God commands against idolatry, because in the end it is so painful.  I am nursing a hope that Ian Hislop and so many others will see this and care.  How silly is that?  But what if?  THAT would be fun . . . !

Maybe that is the skill of the programmes I saw last night, hitting on so many memories for so many people, and bringing them to life again.  I feel a bit left behind and I’m crying for someone to help me catch up.

I’m missing Tommy Boyd as well.  I met him properly once.  We tried to have a proper conversation.  He’s deleted his blog and left Facebook and Twitter.  I never thought he would do any of that, especially not deleting his blog.  I feel lost without him and I feel attached to him.  I thought he was trying to help me.  I never thought he would leave broadcasting, but from the lack of information about him on the web at the moment it seems he has done jut that.  A lot of my stability and courage, when I had it, came from him.  I went to his house a few months ago, after I absconded from Macmillan Close, ad his wife was there and we had a conversation in which she told me he probably wasn’t interested and reminded me of when they had called the police.  I am grieving because I thought he wanted to help me.  I feel hopeless and helpless without him.  He told the story of a gorilla that was castrated for raging and throwing stones at people that used to taunt it.  He said that was what they were doing to us as well.  I identified with that with regards to my situation with the mental health services.  He said he thought it was wrong, that people should have been told not to taunt him and a proper environment maintained for him.  Anyway, he is inaccessible now.  I don’t know if he will ever be accessible to me.  I thought he was going to be.  I thought he wanted to be.  I never thought I would have to abandon hope with regard to him, and indeed I dare not.  I wonder what is going on with him?  I wonder if he is OK?

Christianity and Veganism – Either/Or?

Today I went to a Zizzi restaurant in Newark.  All I wanted was a glass of wine but I thought I had better at least buy an Italian bread bucket, as it is a restaurant not a pub.  As a vegan I was not thinking that the fining process for the wine had probably involved the use of animal or fish products.  I wasn’t thinking, all I wanted was a glass of wine after over two weeks not drinking anything.  In the end I had two glasses of wine, sea bream and tiramisu.  Some vegan I am?  Yes, absolutely.  I keep wanting to ‘eat normally’, ie, not vegan, and sometimes I give in to the urge.  The last two or three months I have given in a few times.  Until tonight, over the last two weeks I have been OK and stuck to the straight and narrow path of being a vegan.  It’s been better for my digestion as well.

Today, before this, I was thinking that the reason I am a vegan is that eating non-vegan harms animals, even just using their products, given the farming methods used, and that it brutalises people, especially at the extreme end of those who work in slaughter houses.  I wanted to be a vegan because I wanted to affirm myself as a human being who does not harm or cause suffering to animals and is not in any way involved with it.  There are people who say they would never harm a fly who eat meat and fish and their products regularly.  They are in denial.  Other people are being paid to do the dirty work for them and they buy the sanitised product at the end, and obviously recognise no link between themselves and any harm or suffering caused to an animal.  If they say they would never harm a fly and mean it, their thoughts and feelings lack clarity.

At the moment, though, I could joyfully abandon veganism.  I often crave foods that are not vegan, the vegan equivalents are just a bit harder to get hold of and a bit more expensive, and there have been times when I have eaten seitan when I have wanted to cut into some real flesh.

Christianity and Veganism – either/or?  Apart from two years in my teens I have always considered myself a Christian.  Even during the first years of being hospitalised I sometimes had difficulty seeing myself as Christian, but in those days I considered myself to be in a bad place in my life.  In my teens I embraced a life without God for two years.

The one thing we know about the things Jesus ate, if we believe the Bible, is that he ate fish.  For a few years now I have held to a position in my thinking if not always in my practice, that abstinence from all things animal is morally superior to indulgence.  So I was asking myself earlier today, where does that leave Jesus?  If it is better not to eat flesh or any of its products, where does that put the Saviour of the world, morally?  I get embarrassed when I don’t eat vegan.  I would be embarrassed to give up my vegan position, and have often seen my slips as sin.  If my slips are sin, did Jesus sin in eating fish?  Yet I have seen my veganism as part of my Christianity.  I have thought a great deal of the vegans I have met, robust and beautiful people.  Is it enough to say that Jesus was a man of his time and ate flesh without sinning?  I think vegetarians and vegans existed in those days as well.

I don’t know about veganism, but vegetarianism is an important part of some Eastern religions.  When the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans he recognised that some people did not eat meat and saw them as the weaker brethren with weaker consciences, and said that if his eating meat caused any of them to stumble he would never eat meat again.  There is no reason in the text to believe he did not mean this and it seems possible that he might have become vegetarian himself, because undoubtedly there were people who would have been stumbled by his eating meat.  I’m wondering if I am making too big a thing of this in believing that holding to a position that veganism is morally superior and preferable is incompatible with me calling myself a Christian in the traditional sense.  The kind of Christianity I have believed in says that Jesus was sinless, yet He ate fish, at the very least.

Paranoid?

One of the questions I used to get asked by psychiatrists was ‘do you think anyone is trying to harm you?’  My answer now would have to be ‘yes, I do.’  The man who viciously slandered me saying I had chased him up the street with a knife obviously has done something injurious to me.  I did not chase him up the street with a knife.  I didn’t chase him, and I never had a knife in my hand when outside my flat.  Other things have also been made up, presented out of context, or exaggerated.  Yes, someone has been trying to harm me, and has succeeded.  He is not the only person.  Other people have spoken and acted injuriously also.  I know what they have said and done, and have documented some of it in this blog.  It isn’t paranoia and shouldn’t be called paranoia.  That is bad practice and a miscarriage of justice.

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