When I switched from clinical psychologist to author, I couldn’t help taking some of my professional life with me.
As time passed, the attrition of being in ‘services’ for so long took its toll on me. I would stay in my room for weeks on end. The conveyor belt is a long, slow and complicated process. Some never get off of it. Some get processed and dumped in the waste bin so to speak. Some simply are unable to endure it and commit suicide.
I ended up admitted to a psychiatric hospital without being involved in that decision. At a time of stress and vulnerability I expected genuine support. Instead I had the police on my doorstep and I was locked into a building for three weeks. Forced hospitalisation was a serious trauma and I continue to suffer post-traumatic stress over a decade later.
Having one’s rights and freedoms removed is inherently degrading, no matter how nicely or correctly the procedures for enforcing and managing those removals are implemented. When one’s ability to act autonomously and in personally meaningful ways is significantly undermined for an extended period of time, it is soul destroying, and for me, it certainly contributed to my escalating mental distress.
It’s World Mental Health Day as we publish this. On this day, while we think of how it is good to talk and that 1 in 4 of us (at least) will experience mental health problems, let’s try to remember some other people too. Let us try to remember the people for whom we pay £200,000 a year to keep out of sight and out of mind. Let us consider whether life at all costs is worth forcing people to live in hell. Let us ponder whether our care can harm people.
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