Sunday, 24 June 2012

24 June 2012 - Does Compulsory Treatment Aid Recovery? My Opinion

[in response to a recent Scottish Recovery Network article 'Compulsory treatment in Scotland:can restriction aid recovery?' which was a follow-up to Mary O'Hagan's SRN piece 'Legal Coercion: the elephant in the recovery room']

"Compulsory treatment in psychiatric care can and does lead to restraint, seclusion and the use of force. In my experience. Episodes of mental distress become diagnoses of mental illness. Being unco-operative is labelled as non-compliant. Becoming a patient rather than a person. At risk and vulnerable. 

In 1978 and 1984 I went voluntarily into a Lanarkshire psychiatric hospital with postnatal distress or psychosis, separated from my babies. Forcibly injected until compliant I was not sectioned so managed to avoid ECT although under pressure to conform. Both times it took a year to completely recover by taking charge of my own mental health and coming off the psychiatric drugs.

2002, in Fife and menopausal, I experienced another ‘psychosis’ and went voluntarily into a psychiatric acute ward where I was immediately sectioned and forced to comply with taking psychiatric drugs. Did my medical history influence the use of compulsory treatment? Robbed of personhood and the ability to make decisions I remained in a twilight world of drugged flatness until taking back control again.

I believe that compulsory treatment and the subsequent trauma hindered my recovery. Natural resilience and non-conformity got me through."

I wrote this short piece for our latest Peer Support Fife June News Byte, having got very annoyed when reading "some Scottish views on the use of compulsory powers in recovery focused systems", according to the recent SRN article by Heidi Tweedie.  The psychiatric system I know has little to do with recovery and much more to do with social control.  It's been about trying to make me accept their way of looking at my mental distress, telling me what to do and labelling me with a lifelong illness.  What does that have to do with recovery?

To recover I had to not listen to psychiatry and take charge of my own mental health.  Taper and come off the psychiatric drugs.  I had to make my own decisions about this.  It wasn't easy because the neuroleptics, in my experience, took away my decision making abilities.  It was the getting back into society and the doing of activities that increased my confidence and enabled me to take back control.  To become a citizen again.

There are many other folk in Scotland who think like I do about the psychiatric system.  I know because they've told me.  There should be a place for all opinions in this conversation.  Especially for the testimony of those of us who have been forcibly treated under a compulsory order, restrained and secluded.  Locked in rooms with no toilets or water.  Not allowed pens to write with or other means of self expression.  No access to 'time out' unless we have 'behaved' ourselves, conformed and took the drugs.  Because we were compelled to.