Young People and Mental Health

My son has been meeting regularly with a psychiatrist assigned by the Children and Young Peoples Mental Health Service (CHYPMHS) in Kent which is now commissioned by the North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), a recent takeover from the Sussex NHS Partnership that happened in the  summer of 2017. I have battled for the last two months to get him his follow up appointments. I’ve also complained to the patient liaison services (PALS), just to get a letter sent to our GP, so that my sons medication can be prescribed in the community by the doctor. On one occasion the GP refused to prescribe the meds as she had not had a letter from the psychiatrist. The medication he takes isn’t one that you can just stop taking. My sons regular psychiatrist has long term sickness and we have now been seeing a locum psychiatrist.

In my experience of adolescent mental health, psychiatrist have become “pill pushers” and over the years the amount of medication prescribed to my son has slowly increased. The most recent prescription was for Risperidone, an anti-psychotic drug which was prescribed for his agitation. Over an eight week period his dose was gradually increased to 3mg per day. His blood was tested for various functions and the psychiatrist asked the GP to prescribe. My GP was reluctant. My sons circumstances in life changed dramatically for the better and he and I made the decision not to take the Risperidone any more. I explained to him that his anger was a part of who he was. When he was born he came into the world angry, his fists were clenched, his brow was frowned and his scream was loud. I explained to him that his anger would be something that he would have to learn to live with. He could take medication to suppress it. His mind would be stable but what about his thyroid, kidneys and liver?  Very slowly I reduced the amount of medication and told the psychiatrist I had done so. She made no attempt at helping him reduce the medication.

The labels my son has or has not been assigned by our child and adolescent mental health system are not useful when discussing our experiences as a family. Labels only become useful in mitigating circumstances in a court of law when attempting to understand particular behaviours such as deviance. My son knows and understands the difference between right and wrong but when he has what we call an “episode”, an other part of his “self” comes into existence. This self cannot be reasoned with, this self is the one that makes my life very challenging. My extended family broke down many years ago and my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins that I once grew with as a child no longer exist. It’s all gone, disappeared into oblivion and now I’m here fighting my own battles alone, literally, with no one helping me fight my corner. How many others are there like me? My father always said “it’s better to have loved and lost that never loved at all”. I am lucky enough to have loved and lost them, my children are the ones who never loved at all. And the really sad thing is, they are completely oblivious to the life they lost.

In just over a week he will no longer be considered an adolescent. Our options are to be referred back to the GP for care or to be referred on to adult mental health services. At this moment I am waiting for his final appointment with Kent CHYPMHS which I have had to battle for as once again I have received no follow up letter. The psychiatrist told me that he would be referred back to the GP, my next battle is to get him referred to adult mental health service as he has had a recent episode which has made him very vulnerable. I have to begin a whole new journey and manoeuvre my way round the adult services for mental health.

Over the years I’ve contacted a couple of news desks, of well known national newspapers to highlight the challenges I’ve had on my 12 year journey as a parent of a child with mental health needs. Sadly none have returned my emails. I’ve highlighted my issues with Health Watch and the then Minister of State for Care and Support, Norman Lamb.  As you can imagine I’m left feeling a little lost and not very listened to. This account of our experience is my final attempt at being heard. I find my strength in the love I once had and although I now walk this part of my journey alone I am lucky enough to have been loved by parents who gave me the inner resources to battle for what is right. Meanwhile, I’ll walk through the trees to escape the life I didn’t choose but was given to me.

  • Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call on the phone. This number is FREE to call. ☎ 116 123 (UK) 116 123 (ROI)
  • MIND, the mental health charity: Website ☎ 0300 123 3393
  • Rethink Mental Illness: Website ☎ 0300 5000 927

 

 

 

Sustainable Consumption

I grew in the hilly, leafy suburbs of South East London where trees scattered through the high rises and Victorian homes. Up high the London skyline lingered with St Paul’s and the Post Office Tower dominating the horizon. It was a time when petrol was leaded and rosewood and mahogany furniture filled my parents home. The world was small, London was less developed and I didn’t think about my future, let alone the children I would one day give birth to.

That was in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. My home now is very different to my parents and most likely very different to most of the middle classes, especially those who drive their Discovery Land Rovers. I am conscientious of my material, land, carbon and water footprint, unlike my parents but probably like my grandparents.

As a consumer my greatest dilemma in the philosophy of sustainable consumption is that it feels unclear whose role it is to ensure that the limited resources on our planet are used with the care and understanding that the air we breath, the water we drink and materials we extract from the earth are finite.

Capturing carbon is virtually non-existent in the square mile of the City, with a few trees fighting for survival between the concrete and paving slabs. The main roundabout at Elephant and Castle in South East London has a brick wall dedicated to carbon capture but it is the only wall I’ve noticed. London’s ability to clean the air we breath is stuck in the Victorian era where horse drawn carriages once transported people.

There are few water fountains too, my thirsty self always ends up with a new plastic bottle of water to quench my thirst, part of our throw-away culture where it will end up in a land fill or depending on the London borough your in, will be recycled. I’m always mindful of the fact that the bottle has been created from the resources of Earth. I struggle with buying a bottle of water.

This blog is a record of my life, living in a culture that struggles to live sustainably. It’s a micro analysis of how I try my hardest to preserve the limited resources of planet Earth. I have rejected greed and made lots of sacrifices in my life to be a responsible consumer in the hope that corporate greed will one day realise that although humanity is, at the moment infinite, the resources of this planet are not. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

Micro-beads

no micro beadsIn May 2014 The Independent newspaper were the first to report on the micro-bead ban. In November 2014 I took to the shops to find out which facial products contained the little blighters using the Beat the Micro-bead App. The products to my left are a breath of fresh air to the sustainable consumption movement as in 2014 they contained micro-beads. Today, I’m happy to announce they don’t. For a more comprehensive list of products containing micro-beads, you can either download the Beat the Micro-bead App or email info@beatthemicrobead.org.

As an advocate for everything natural I think it’s important to recognise that I don’t use exfoliating products. Superdrug sell facial sponges that will remove any excess skin from your face, you just need to use it with a facial soap. If you wanted to really think about your material footprint, you could always use the skin buffer with organic, unrefined coconut oil which I also use as a cleanser. And for convenience you can purchase this in your local supermarket. It can be found with all the other cooking oils rather than in the beauty section. Supermarkets haven’t cottoned on yet to the fact that it’s also a beauty product.

Will Geo-engineering Save Planet Earth

This film is my attempt at mitigating climate change. On my six mile hike across the North Downs I came across this forest and I filmed my journey through it. I began thinking how the trees capture the carbon from earth’s atmosphere, with the M25 in the not far off distance. My life is busy and I dashed through this wooded area. Next time I will move slowly. This was the first time I’ve filmed in a wood and it won’t be the last.

Trees are the greatest technological resolution to reducing carbon emissons. I’d like to say, surround your home with them, so they may cleanse the air that you breathe. Don’t leave it up to someone else to rescue you from Earth’s changing climate, be proactive and lets keep the fate of humanity moving.

 

 

Bumble Bees Bumbling

This was one of those hair raising moments that could quite easily replace retail therapy. I could have quite happily followed that bumble bee all day, all week even. It was a moment where nothing else mattered, the world was at peace with itself and bees will live forever.

As it flew away I felt abandoned, I wanted to scream “come back here”. But I didn’t for fear of looking crazed. It had gone, forever and I was left with a nice piece of cinematography that I will cherish forever and ever.

The reality is, humanity is not at peace with itself and bees existence is very much in danger. For a moment in time the bee which I am forever grateful to, fed my inner world, my existence was meaningful with purpose. I didn’t need to suffice my inner desires with consumption, nature did it for me, the best therapeutic moment I’d had in ages and I didn’t need to spend a penny. Possessions please, the poppy was my possession, I’d grown it in my garden. I’d planted the seeds, watered them and watched them grow. I didn’t need retail therapy because I was feeding my soul with the buzz of a bumble bee.

Ecotherapy

p20140429-180557When I joined the University of East Anglia, on a master of science in international development and water security, I had left behind me, three years of studying to become a psychotherapist. My psychological interest in the earth, led me there. I wanted to understand humans geopolitical and economic relationship with our planet. After a year of studying, my mind felt more confused and left university not really knowing how I could apply all the knowledge I had gained.

The one certainty I left with was the integral relationship between our psyche and capitalism and the environment and our economy. Ecotherapy is a tool that has the potential to develop a new relationship which can bring together our psyche and our environment and reject aspects of capitalism and the economy. I am not an anti-capitalist, I do however take a political ecology approach to the environment and believe there are many unnecessary inequalities that exist globally. These inequalities need to be acknowledged and understood if we are to resolve the issue of climate change. A political ecologist will question everything and believe nothing. For example, I recently highlighted on Twitter the relationship between the luxury leather business and deforestation in the Amazon. Greenpeace ensured me they were happy to speak about their climate and agriculture campaigns and confirmed they receive no corporate donations. Another contentious issue is the chocolate industry and the inequality between the amount of money made by the farmers and the amount made by those who import the chocolate into the West. I will explore this further in another post. I am sickened by the divide between the rich and the poor. I am neither rich nor poor, just a humble individual trying to preserve this planet for my grand-children and their children.

I graduated in 2013, since then I have been attempting to reconnect with my earth. I have been a conscientious consumer, purchasing second hand where I can. I’ve thought about the chemicals I use to clean with and I have attempted to not pollute my waste water. I have an allotment which is rich in alluvial soil, here I grow my own vegetables and fruit. I make my own aromatherapy products too which has given me a great sense of connection to my ancient past.

For me, ecotherapy is about discovering aspects of our self through our connection with our natural environment. Trees and their roots, fungi, grass, mountain ranges, plants, flowers, bees, they can all help us to find our self in a chaotic world that sometimes, we have no control over. Being in an ancient forest gives me a space to feel at home in when I am feeling unloved in the world. Stay with me on this journey. I’m not here to make money, just share my experiences of the natural world, my inner self and how I understand the chaotic world we live in.

 

 

 

The River Thames Meets C G Jung

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This photograph was taken on the south side of the river Thames at Greenwich. When it rains, London’s Victorian sewage system floods into the river, sewage ‘n all. The rivers tide will take the raw sewage out to sea eventually, it usually takes around three weeks.

The changing climate means London has received it’s fair share of rain and the EU directive on cleaning our rivers has seen the building of a new mega-structure, deep below ground. The Thames Tunnel, built along side the river Thames will carry London’s overflow, not into the river, instead it will travel to a water treatment plant where the water will be cleaned. The sandy beaches of the river Thames will see people paddling in the water without the danger of disease. Thames water have already said there will be an increase in water bills to help pay for the tunnel. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, almost 20% of Thames Water is owned by foreign investment as well as an array of pension funds from across the globe, including British Telecom. Every time a Londoner now turns on the tap, those baby boomers who lunch will have another round of golf on a glass of water which is supposed to be a human right.

p20141205-202020 wThis picture was taken from under the river Thames. We stand in a Victorian tunnel that once transported people from Greenwich in south-east London to Millwall on the Isle of dogs (docklands), on the east side. My paternal great, great grand-father spent his working life in the docks as a tea blender while my maternal grand father spent his time there supporting Millwall football club. The shadow lurking behind is the shadow, according to Jung, that we all possess. The unacknowledged darkness will eventually project it’s way into our society, usually through violence and man’s inhumanity to man. London in 2015 is not the London I grew with as a child. Homelessness makes me feel powerless and I’ve noticed the rich, privileged and grammar school educated get the best jobs and the divide between the rich and the poor appears to be widening.

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