Archive for November, 2010

Having Difficulty Articulating Fear

November 24, 2010


November 23, 2010

My current diagnosis has been confirmed by my new consultant : schizoaffective Disorder.  For the benefit of adherents to the Dalrympian worldview, I’d like to emphasise that I’ve never knowingly broken the law, I did reasonably well in school, I’ve never touched street drugs, I am not promiscuous or violent or in any way a danger to others, I have no children and I’ve managed to hold down reasonably well-paid jobs. Now, tell me what did I do to bring mental illness upon myself?  I did everything right. Explain that Dalrympians and Daily Mail Readers.  I’d be ever so, ever so grateful.


November 20, 2010

‘New Consultant’

This is not an article. This is a temper tantrum.

Nobby (the war veteran/ the former commando) said, ‘Oh bugger Dalrymple, he talks a lot of nonsense. When was he born? It sounds like he just missed national service. Pity. it would have done him a lot of good. The army would have shown him what vulgarity was.’

And besides, remember which nation vomited forth Le Corbusier.

A Bridegroom Brings His Bride Home

November 19, 2010

A minister of state navigates
Peasants and citizens travel on the same road
In box carts, eating dry bread and drinking ersatz coffee
Round faces at the window fleeing perpetual turmoil
They reap death from those fields. It is winter now
And they endeavour to escape it. And these
Are the rough hewn rocks that will be her foundation

The Black Stallion physician tends to her
The princesses play with a solid gold ball, batting
It from hand to hand. Bathing in cool fountains
There is a grand brass band. She meets the servants
From scullery maid to butler, from cook to housekeeper
Downstairs is where they dwell
The inhabitants of that country remain a mystery

The maids’ heads bow as if they are ashamed of their existence
The doors of the bridal sweet swing wide open

New Consultant

November 16, 2010

I saw my new consultant psychiatrist for the first time yesterday. There is to be a change in my medication. I am to be prescribed an atypical anti-psychotic called Quetiapin. But not until my GP has returned from holiday. I told her about Dalrymple, about the lies he is disseminating. She told me that she had trained in the same hospital as Anthony Daniels and she doesn’t recognise the picture he paints. Pure and unvarnished truth, my derriere. She cannot understand why it upsets me so much. ‘It doesn’t make any difference to what we do here, to the way in which we treat our patients.’

‘But don’t you see, he speaks at the Tory party conference. That means he could influence policy’. Much of what he says cannot be true of course because that would render psychiatry itself obsolete.

And this is the cause to which he has devoted the latter part of his working life. When he could
have been doing something useful such as brain surgery. Or maybe he couldn’t and that’s the whole point, isn’t it.

In Response to…

November 16, 2010

I’m sure Dr Dalrymple (aka Dr Anthony Daniels, former NHS psychiatrist) is flattered by your rather gushing praise. However, it would have been more rooted in sincerity if you had taken the trouble to equip yourself with a few salient facts about the good doctor first. Firstly, while he worked in a prison for two afternoons a week, he spent most of his working life in a Birmingham psychiatric hospital in which he was not ‘working with the poorest of the poor’, he was working with the mentally ill, and simultaneously holding them up to ridicule by the readership of The Spectator. He has stated that the reason he chose psychiatry as his medical specialism was because he wanted to ‘plumb the depths of human folly’ and has implied that he does not believe in the existence of mental illness. I’m having difficulty seeing how any of these things helped ‘the poorest of the poor’. Perhaps you could enlighten me.

The Naturalist

November 4, 2010

As a naturalist
I was struck with certain facts
The naming of things is my main occupation
I speak of this at The Royal Society
And of our last voyage around the world
In my waist coat and my gold fob watch
I recount the crossing of continents
From sea to sea, an enterprise viewed
With almost universal foreboding
Driven by storms to a land of snow and ice
We abandoned the coast. We travelled inland.
We daubed our names with the blood of others
Across the face of the highest mountain.

We saw Snow White in her glass coffin
A flat silver lake made the scene complete
In the density of the forest we carved patterns
In the trunks of trees. The table was set for tea
Delirious, laughing, frantic. We were filthy.
Hidden deep, sealed from the grand sweep of history
And we heard mythical creatures
Moaning on the wind
Another party of explorers was dispatched
They concocted a nightmare
‘We’ll say you nearly died,’ they said.
‘We’ll say the natives kept you against your will.’
‘And then our fame will be assured and so will yours.’

Beyond Class

November 4, 2010

It is said that child abuse occurs mainly among the lower socioeconomic groups in society. This makes me think of Sue B. a 23 year old university student. She was charismatic and admired by everyone. She sparkled. She was an outstanding conversationalist. I think of her soft pink features and blond hair. She resembled a porcelain doll. We were both on the same ward and we were both bulimic. We bonded over a binge. She confided in one of the groups that she had been sexually abused by her grandfather. She came from a well-to-do family of academics. She had been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder but, as far as I am aware, her abuse was never addressed.

After six months in hospital I returned home for the rest of the academic year. Sue B. and I exchanged addressed (this was the mid ‘90s when people wrote these paper things called ’letters.’ but we never wrote to one another and I never saw her again. I found out after I had graduated that she had hanged herself in the bathroom of the local psychiatric hospital (my alma mater too) when she was supposed to be on ‘five minute obs’ . So I know that abuse can occur in middle class families. And that when they confide in the authorities they may be the people who are least likely to be believed.

Having said that there are those who cast their net too wide and increase the definition of the word ‘abuse’ to such an extent that it becomes invalid. It is possible to ‘over identify’ abuse. But I shall deal with that on another occasion.

The Frog King

November 3, 2010

The old queen said
To her beautiful daughter
You must marry the frog king
Across the water
For she knew that fondness
Could be taken to excess
But it was love that caused
The most distress
And so she was despatched
By steamship to a far off land
And was delivered into the hands
Of her future bridegroom
On her wedding day
She rose before dawn
She was given gold and jewels
And a fine diamond-studded gown
She was so beautiful, they say,
That she eclipsed the sun
She was the girl with the golden eyes
They mesmerise
She promised her prince
That she would be there for him
In peace and in war
They would sit side by side
On their thrones
Worshipped by peasants
And ancient crones
Until one of death’s minions
Snatched him from her.

In Stitches

November 3, 2010

There was a letter in The Daily Mail/Hate/Fail/Misogynist from someone who claimed that his sister had ‘the worst possible case of depression’ and managed to get up every morning to go to work. That’s funny but when I had my ‘worst case of psychotic depression’ I could barely move off the couch. I could do nothing but rock backwards and forewards, shaking and crying while a disembodied voice in my head told me that I was an ugly, evil witch and that, by rights, I should burn at the stake. I was eventually sectioned and taken to hospital. I wonder if that Mail correspondent suggests that people who have been hospitalised for depression should get up from their hospital beds and work.

I’ve lost the appetite for doctor-bashing but I downloaded two free books written by young doctors on my ipad. Now these newly qualified doctors seem as though they are sweet, sensitive little souls but they can’t write for toffee.

From In Stitches: The Highs and Lows of Life as an AandE Doctor [Paperback]
Nick Edwards (Author)

‘Patient says : I’ve got a personality disorder’
Patient means: ‘I used to be known as an attention seeker. Now I am medicalised by a hippy psychiatrist and you have got to be nice to me.’

Oh, well, I guess humanity has always needed its scapegoats and for the foreseeable future the personality disordered is it.

Here’s another little tidbit:

Chaviest/ugliest girl ever: someone spiked my drink.
Doctor: People only spike your drink if they want to sleep with you

I expected something a little more sophisticated from a doctor. At least Dalrymple is laugh out loud funny, charmingly self deprecating (on occasion) and he’s also a damned good writer.

%d bloggers like this: