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I wrote this post a while ago, but decided not to publish it. I have changed my mind after seeing that people do stop by here and read my story now and again…

So this is part 10 (phew it was never meant to take this long!) of my account of what happened to me when I experienced a severe withdrawal reaction to Effexor. Previous posts can be found on the ‘Mental Health Story‘ page. This posts describes the Mental Health Review Tribunal, which led to me being released from Section 2 of the Mental Health Act. Unfortunately I was no more sane than when I arrived. My freedom eventually proved to be short lived, but that is another drama entirely, to save for another day.

Time plodded on, but never linear, it whizzed around in a most precarious manner on the unit, speeding up, slowing down and sometimes going backwards. Nevertheless the day of my Mental Health Review Tribunal finally came.

I had managed to keep out of trouble, no incidents, no therapy and most importantly no drugs. Smiles and ‘yes thank yous’ were my armour.

I met with my key nurse the day before, who needed to fill in her report for the tribunal. I kept up the pretense that I had been very sick when I had come to the clinic but I was feeling much better now. I bitterly regretted the ‘incidents’ that I had had with staff in the first few days, acknowledging that it must have been very scary for them, but protesting to her that I had not intended to hurt them. I told her I wanted to go home so that I could sort my life out, that I hated it at the clinic. The reason that I don’t talk to anyone is because I am so damn happy and well and so on. To be honest I don’t think that she was buying it, that everything was as rosy for me as I was making out. She scribbled things on her note pad…

The night before the tribunal, was unremarkable in this context. No sleep and an acutely distressed patient shouting and raging until the early hours – her islamic faith distorted into her personal battle to save us all from all our hideous attitudes and behaviours. I was told to stay in my room as the night staff tried to reason with her, – just go to sleep. It started with her wanting one of her cigarettes that were locked in the staff room – it ended with talk of teams coming down from other floors and injections. I desperately wanted her to be quiet, her shouts about the voice of Bin Laden and everyone perishing were scaring me.

I hid under the quilt in my room trying to read the ‘Flower expert’ book that I had with me, brought in for me by my parents. As I read, I realised that this manual had been written specifically for me and that I was in telepathic contact with the authors. They were filling my head with nurturing thoughts, explaining how to look after myself – water regularly, full sun and provide nutrients.

My neighbour eventually gave in and went quiet. She had goaded them for a while daring them to “get your team and your injections”, but she seemed to think better of this and thankfully the screaming and shouting stopped before any possy arrived. Then I had work to do, to cleanse the time line of the possibility that my neighbour’s declarations and visions of the future would come true. My symbolic tool-kit at the ready – out came the toothpaste, chewing gum and cleaning products

Sure enough morning came. With sun light, the fear that the darkness brought lifted, encouraging me to have hope and courage. The morning staff came on shift and I made myself presentable for the tribunal. I was called to meet with the Tribunal’s doctor. We met in the TV room of the men’s part of the unit, GMTV chattering innanely in the background as we discussed my mental state and my problems. Well when I say discussion, it was more of a game/quiz whereby the doctor would look at file notes, tell me what was going on in my mind and my life and then ask me a question. I would then put it into my own words and repeat his pet theories back to him. Fairly quick and painless, nothing too probing or demanding.

I then met with my solicitor. The fourth one from the firm that were dealing with my case. He had all the notes taken by his colleagues in front of him and had about ten minutes to talk to me and figure out how we were gonna play this. He asked me what had been going on – so I told him. As he was on my side, an agent from a secret organisation that were trying to help me and save planet earth, I gave him the truth. He struggled to gain any sort of grip of the parameters of the conversaton and I became more and more animated, grateful to offload to someone who knew what was really going on in this clinic. I guess he could see that I was frightened and that suggesting none of this was true was making no difference to what I believed and felt. So he tried to make me feel better, telling me that the computers and TV in my house had been sorted out and that I was no longer being bugged and manipulated. He knew I needed to be calm and quiet in the tribunal if we had any chance of ‘winning’. He told me not to speak in the tribunal unless I am directly asked a question and he suggested that I let him field the questions. I don’t think that he had high hopes of the outcome being to let me go home. As I got up to leave, he suggested to me that I ask the staff to borrow a hair dryer. I looked at him quizzically, hanging on his every word, my saviour. He said “Your hair’s wet, its just that I don’t want you to get cold.” It wasn’t until much later that I realised or even cared that I had become so frail and why I provoked concern in people’s faces.

It wasn’t too long before I was finally taken off the ward, along the corridor, down the lift and into the clinic’s reception area. Many long days and nights since I had made the reverse journey. My mum and a friend had come to support me and we waited as people milled around. I stayed quiet, confused by what was happening. I looked at my mum and friend, they smiled at me, reassuring me that everything was going to be ok.

A gaggle of us sat around a huge table:

  • three on the panel- the chair who was a legal eagle, the doctor that I had met earlier and a lay person
  • Dr Teddy – my psychiatrist
  • A Nurse – the one who had lent me the hair dryer
  • My legal representative
  • An empty chair – which should have been occupied by someone from my Local Auhority’s mental health team ….
  • My Mum, my friend and me

I don’t think that I said more than a few words and my legal guy may have beaten me by a smattering more, but not by much. We didn’t seem to be in there a long time and I didn’t really understand what was being said. My ears pricked up when Dr Teddy spoke, telling everyone that I had suffered a psychotic break but that I was on the road to recovery. He felt that I should be transferred to an open ward, for further assessment and support. He then said something crucial – that I was not displaying any symptoms of a mental illness at present. The nurse confirmed and corroborated it, saying that apart from in the first few days, there had been no big issues or problems with me or my behaviour.

The chair- persons attire dazzled me, a real natty dresser, with his braces and purple shirt which seemed to glow. I tried to understand what the head of the Freemasons was saying, he was very wise and had many old books that he read from – rules and regulations of how a Freemason should conduct themselves. I cocked my head, leaning in to listen, trying to make sense of what he was talking about. I looked around the room at people, they all gave me a little smile to pep up my spirits.

Then all of a sudden the Grand Master told me that I was being released from section 2 of the Mental Health Act. He was grinning and smiling at me, I looked back at him, confused, I had only one question – “does that mean I can go home right now?”. He confirmed that I could, again beaming at me warmly, that guy really loved his job.

Although I was still in acute withdrawal from Effexor, and wildly delusional and manic, I had successfully hidden it from the staff team and therefore the tribunal. This meant that I did not satisfy the two grounds for detaining someone under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act. I was behaving within ‘normal’ parameters. The wording of the Act is that a person:

  • is suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree which warrants the detention of the patient in a hospital for assessment (or for assessment followed by medical treatment) for at least a limited period; and
  • he ought to be so detained in the interests of his own health or safety or with a view to the protection of other persons.

FREEDOM.

We were kept loitering in the lobby for a while before we were taken back up to the ward so that I could collect my things. I burst into my room, with my mum and friend following me. A big male nurse came up to me and tried to interrupt my super quick packing, grunting at me in that ridiculous prison warden stance that many of the staff have: “patients aren’t allowed to have visitors in their room”. He seemed unaware that I had been in a tribunal or perhaps robotically dedicated to his role as rule enforcer. His tone of voice and my plan to leave immediately, resulted in me snapping at him something like “I’m not a patient anymore, so yes I can, I’m getting out of here”. I was no longer afraid of the staff here, with their cheap voodoo tricks and their bullying ways, no further need for politeness and smiles, I did not hide any of my contempt. He shuffled off and left us to it.

I crammed my clothes into bin liners, exclaiming that the rancid smell coming off the dirty ones weren’t down to me, the horrible staff must have come in and done that to them when we were downstairs. I was getting mouthier by the minute. We didn’t hang around. We stopped when we had some food in a cafe close by. The freedom left me giddy and excited, I chattered at my Mum. Pontificating about the world, what was wrong with it and what was wrong with her. Not what you would call polite dinner conversation. Delusions upon delusion began to leach and then crash into my brain. Today is the end of the world, judgement day. All these people have come to see me and hope to have healing from being near me. They all know who I am, I am the second coming. I was not confused any more. I kept my more wacky thoughts to myself, but it was obvious that I was still very disturbed. I was determined to go home, so my mum reluctantly agreed that my friend would drive me. She returned to her home miles away with my soiled clothing to take care of instead. I, on the other hand was very excited – I would be safe as soon as I got home and there was a lot of work to be done to prepare for the new world.

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We have just started blogging again after a break of four months. Upon our return we checked our handy wordpress stats and we were delighted to see that many people were still visiting our blog. We were pleased but perplexed. So we have written a short survey to find out a bit more about the interests and needs of people who stumble across our blog.

We would be most grateful if you could fill in our survey, and we will try to take these views into account. Thanks.

http://simplesample.org/take_survey.php?id=223

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I came across this article on the website The worlds Healthiest Foods.

This is only a small part of the article click here to read the rest.  You might want to take a look around the rest of the site, it’s well worth checking out.  

Can organic foods really improve my health?

Yes. Organically grown food is your best way of reducing exposure to toxins used in conventional agricultural practices. These toxins include not only pesticides, many of which have been federally classified as potential cancer-causing agents, but also heavy metals such as lead and mercury, and solvents like benzene and toluene. Minimizing exposure to these toxins is of major benefit to your health. Heavy metals damage nerve function, contributing to diseases such as multiple sclerosis and lowering IQ, and also block hemoglobin production, causing anemia. Solvents damage white cells, lowering the immune system’s ability to resist infections. In addition to significantly lessening your exposure to these health-robbing substances, organically grown foods have been shown to contain substantially higher levels of nutrients such as protein, vitamin C and many minerals.

Research Suggests Organic Food is Better for Your Health

Rats fed organic food were significantly healthier than their peers given conventionally-grown produce, shows research reported by the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, February 2005.

During the experiment, 36 rats were divided into three groups. All were given potatoes, carrots, peas, green kale, apples, rapeseed oil, and the same vitamin supplements. One group was fed organic food, another conventionally grown food with high levels of fertilizer and some pesticide, and the third group received minimally fertilized conventionally grown food.

Although pesticide residue was measured and found to be below detection levels in all groups, the scientists found that the rats fed organically-grown produce were measurably healthier, slept better, had stronger immune systems and were less obese.

Lead researcher, Dr Kirsten Brandt, of Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, was careful not to overstate the findings, but noted: “The difference was so big it is very unlikely to be random. We gave the food to the rats and then we measured what they were doing. We can say the reason why the rats have different health was clearly due to the fact that there was a different growing method, and this was enough for this result. If we want to understand how and why, we need another study.”

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jpggardenframe.jpgjpghatandglove.jpgjpgburtssunflower.jpg

Simple to use these, just right click on the one you want and click save picture as, direct it to where you want it on your computer, then print it off.

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Wilko’s has an excellent sale on seeds, 75% off!

We went yesterday, it must be a popular place with allotment folk.  We saw 3 other plot holders hanging about in wilkos whilst we were there.

They also have 75% off of seed trays.  One of the other plot holders said soon they knock all the gardening stuff down to 75% off.

We bought :  Sweet Pea Blue Velvet  44p was 1.79

                        Sweetcorn miracle  37p was 1.49

                        Exhibition onions  81p was 3.25

                        Echinecea 54p was 2.19

                        Calendula   39p was 1.59

                        Courgette   62p was 2.49

We are off up  there again today as we didnt know until we got to the till that there was 75% off.       

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I just read keeners post Magic beans…..

Thats correct they are magical beans, they must be to have survived the sudden invasion of dreaded blackfly we have encountered.  Although im now pleased to say ladybirds are out in force on our plot feeding away doing there job. The thing is it seems, as the ladybirds are munching the blackfly the ants are just bringing back more and loading the plants back up with them quicker than those little ladies can eat them.

Mother nature is a wonderful thing. I find it amazing sat watching the broad and runner beans alive with various insects all feasting on each other, using or helping each other out in some way.

Anyways im drifting a bit…..Back to keeners post.

Is our allotment rubbish? No it blinking isnt!

Its easy to get caught up in the competative crap that I have learned that can go on in allotmenteering.  I wont go on about this in detail, as I really do like all of my fellow plot holders.  But It can be a little off putting when you got someone constantly compairing your plot with theres. Who has the nicest soil, who has the longest beens, oh god I could go on but as I said I like the other plot holders at our allotment, dont want to go pointing fingers and offending people.  Sometimes you just wanna get up the allotment and chill out, have a little walk around, look at your insect city on your beans maybe do a bit of weeding and just relax.  Its hard to relax sometimes though when you feel like your being watched and judged by  fellow plot holders.

What I try to remember when I look our allotment is we have only had it 6 months, in that time we have transformed a massive 110ft of brambles and solid compacted clay into a workable plot, roughly 3/4 full now.  We still have so much to do but its slowly taking shape. It is a big plot we have, having it 3/4 full with lovely veg 6 months after getting it keener is pretty damn good going if you ask me.

Yes we have delicious broads beans, but your forgetting the lovely ripe white currants we both eagerly scoffed, the blackcurrants, the strawberries from the greenhouse, the spinach and not forgetting all the lovely herbs ready for the picking including sage, purple sage, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, chives, lemon balm, spearamint, peppermint, orange mint and the wonderful (but small) chamomile lawn.

As for the veg we have growing, we have brocoli, cabbage, runners, broads, peas, mange tout, swiss chard, rocket, lettuce, courgette, pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsnip, potatoes, asparagus, carrotts, melons, raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries, cranberries, and an apple.

Now that to me does not sound like a rubbish allotment keener!

Besides all the veg we have 2 lovely mixed borders contaning herbacious plants, bulbs, and bedding. We are also trying companion planting using marigolds, nastursiams garlic dotted amongst the veg. 

So keener for 2 people in 6 months I reckon its safe to say NO our allotment is not  rubbish.

Im going to stick some photo’s on here tuesday for you all to see, so hopefully you too can reassure keener our allotment is not rubbish.

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Yet another article espousing the benefits of gardening to vulnerable people, in this case young people with learning difficulties – Growing into the role, in the SocietyGuardian newspaper.

This article caught me eye because it looks at the economic viability of these projects. This is interesting in the wider context of increasing numbers of people needing the support of ‘social care’ type organisations, an increasing strain on budgets and an increasing emphasis on projects having to demonstrate that they ‘work’. The latter whilst unequivocably being a good thing, in reality means that projects have to be ecomically viable (which often means cheapest, rather than best value/best quality) as well as having to spue out increasingly complex (perhaps meaningless) outcome indicators, with the actual task of collecting these statistics munching up precious time and resources…

There is also a huge emphasis on getting people into work – with an increasing backing and funding for projects that can ‘prove’/demonstrate that their punters get grafting.

The article neatly shows that horticultural therapy type projects are able to compete with the best of ’em in terms of society’s definition of what helps the ‘vulnerable’…

Growing into the role

Go Gardeners is leading the way when it comes to helping young people with learning disabilities

Mark Gould
Wednesday April 25, 2007
The Guardian

Employees of Go Gardeners tend the green spaces of Ravenswood Village, a sprawling community of self-contained houses and flats for people with learning disabilities in 120 acres of verdant Berkshire. And the social enterprise company, which employs nine young men and women with learning difficulties, is providing a profitable solution to a growing problem that has massive social and economic implications.

Many hundreds of thousands of people who, even a decade ago, would have died as children are now, thanks to medical science, living long into adulthood.

There are around half a million people with learning disabilities in the UK; many require complex and expensive care which the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities estimates costs £4.6bn a year. Around 65,000 of these people are young adults and this age group is rising by 1% every year.

But for all the good work of some local authorities, and companies such as Go Gardeners, to ensure young people with learning disabilities are fully integrated into work, friendship, relationships and gain a degree of autonomy and self-sufficiency, there are thousands for whom the transition from childhood to adulthood simply means that the name of the organisation “caring” for them changes. Go Gardeners addresses a crucial aspect of this – and ticks all the right boxes. It was set up a year ago with a view to providing genuine paid income for people with learning difficulties. It won the tender for gardening and landscape maintenance for Ravenswood in open competition against other landscape gardening companies.

Stuart Rowbotham, head of learning disability services at Wokingham borough council, Berkshire, will relate some of the success stories when he speaks today at a conference in Birmingham hosted by Dimensions, one of the UK’s largest providers of support for these young people.

Rowbotham says of Go Gardeners: “They have a real sense of achievement. It’s great for self-image and inclusion as they all contribute to society and pay taxes. As all nine employees were previously in day centres, the scheme is great because we don’t have to pay for support at the time they don’t need it.”

In Wokingham alone, 22 children every year transfer from children’s services to adult social care, while just three adults a year leave either because they have moved out of the area or because of deaths. Rowbotham says that in an average year his client base grows by 18 people with very particular disabilities who require extra services and support that is expensive.

“It’s really challenging for the social care economy,” he says. “We have 460 clients on our books and a budget of £19m. The client base is growing every year and we don’t get a yearly uplift of funds to reflect that. So it’s about how we can make the money and resources that we have got go further.” Care services rely on costly locum or agency staff with, sadly, variable quality. Wokingham has set up an in-house social enterprise employment agency, Support Horizons, which has 50 freelance general social care staff on its books and people with learning difficulties on its board of directors.

The company eliminates the fees of commercial agencies and ploughs any profit back into services.

Local authorities also need to change their usually somewhat frosty relationships with the services providers into one where they actively share responsibilities for keeping a lid on budgets.

Wokingham works with New Support Options, a company providing support for people with learning difficulties in the Berkshire area. Rowbotham says: “Commissioners like me have kept ourselves at a distance from providers. We pass a budget to them and they have to tell me exactly what they are spending it on. Sometimes there is a sense of mistrust on the part of commissioners when the providers ask for more. Now we work with NSO on a shared budget basis and have been able to drive down costs.”

In some cases, totally redesigning a client’s care package has seen amazing cost reductions of up to 50%, but more commonly, Rowbotham says, redesigns deliver savings of between 10% and 20% and clients have a service that reflects their specific needs as young adults.

When two young men decided to share a flat, they eliminated the need for two sets of 24-hour support workers. In another case, a young man who had been living in residential care as a child – which cost £123,000-a-year – is now cared for by NSO at £60,000. As Rowbotham explains: “We asked him: ‘How do we work with you within your budget to meet your needs?’ Costs have come down because he just pays for the care and support he needs at the time he needs it, rather than round-the-clock, whether he needs it or not.”

http://society.guardian.co.uk/socialcare/story/0,,2064500,00.html

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