Saturday, 29 September 2007

Mental Health - Shock and Dread

Today I write in shock and with dread.

I have written previously about the eating disorder within our family but I have not given details whilst we are fighting for treatment. I must change this policy now. We fight on, with the help of an excellent local politician and a hugely supportive counsellor, but as door after door is slammed I must broaden our fight and so I need to give a few details.

We have, or have had, anorexia, bulimia, depression, self-harm, an overnight disappearance, an "accidental" overdose and an unsuccessful suicide attempt but yet the NHS offers only anti-depressants and a self-help book - not received yet. In fact the anti-depressants were withdrawn after the suicide attempt and we had to fight to get them reinstated.

Health professionals will not explain why there is no immediate crisis help although we have been demanding this for months.

The only feasible explanations are that they do not believe the symptoms are real but are simply escalating attempts to get attention; that their diagnosis is that there is no long-term cure and informing the patient of this would be harmful; or that treatment would be be so hugely onerous on a therapist that they must deny treatment.

If there is to be no treatment then at least tell us the truth. Despite our best attempts the truth remains hidden. The professionals will not address the issues. We are fighting without knowing the actual diagnoses.

A seriously ill patient has been cast out by the NHS as unworthy of treatment!

We can't even get a genuinely independent private opinion without a referral from our GP. The very professionals who have shunned the patient have the power to deny (or, at least, colour) a second opinion.

I have been pushed to write today because a well-respected mental health voluntary organisation has refused help because the support required is quite intensive and beyond their capabilities.

Too difficult for the voluntary sector and unwanted by the NHS!

How can this be?

How can a seriously ill patient miss out on treatment? Something is amiss.

We need the truth now.

We need treatment now and have needed this for months.

I say again: if there is to be no NHS treatment they, at least, owe us the truth.

But as I write this with anger, fear and tears I see no way through. The NHS, for reasons unkown, has left us alone with neither diagnoses nor explanations. I am struggling and I am the healthy one! What it must be like to be suffering I can't imagine but I can only admire the strength to get through each minute.

I never believed that the NHS - my national health service - could act with such callous disregard for one's health; for one's life.

I feel anger and dread I have never felt before and I trust and pray that, from somewhere, help appears. The future is unclear but somewhere, somehow I must find a way through.

I will not let the NHS win.

Imagine talking about winning. I'm talking about the future of our family, about one's life. The NHS should be falling over themselves to help but instead they're running away from us scorching the earth as they go.

This is life or death.

For God's sake, NHS. Choose life and help!!

Courage in Burma - Humbling

Today's Guardian carried, on its front page, an interview with a Burmese man who had taken part in this week's protests.

A small portion is appended below:

"Today was the first day I went to the protests on my own. All my friends were too scared to go out on the streets after being gassed and shot at over the last few days. I woke up feeling more depressed and less optimistic than I have all week, but I felt it was my duty to carry on protesting. I was frightened, but aren't we all? If everybody hid indoors, nothing would change, and we will never be able to draw attention to the hopeless situation our country is facing. I need to stand and be counted."

Whilst many of us witter on about left and right; Brown and Cameron, here is someone putting his life at risk for democracy.

How humbling to read of another's bravery whilst I am safe at home.

Unfortunately, I write this mechanically. I am moved but not uplifted as I should. I am consumed by the issues in my next post

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Do Our Heads Zip Up the Back?

No, of course they don't.

Why then do politicians - and those around them continue to act as though they did zip up? Why do they avoid telling the truth?

It's not as though telling the truth is difficult. It's easy: no stories to make up and remember; just tell it as it is. But still the half-truths, untruths ,evasions and lies come.

There's nothing new in this. We all know this happens and will continue to happen so why am I wound up now?

Yesterday, there were news reports - see for example the BBC - that rationing is rife within the NHS.

Again, there's nothing new here: we all know that rationing is part of the NHS - always has been and always will be regardless of the funding level.

The BMA and the NHS Alliance said respectively:

"There is not much honesty and openness about this. The NHS could spend whatever you gave it, but it obviously works wih a limited budget so we urgently need to have a debate about what can be provided. Trusts are already being forced into this but the political parties are not talking about it."


"Rationing is the great unspoken reality. The only people who refuse to mention the 'r-word' are the media and the politicians, who continue to want to promise everything for everyone in order to win elections."

A Department of Health spokesperson then said:

"The NHS had received an unprecedented funding boost in recent years but finance is not endless and hard decisions will always have to be made about which treatments to provide. Doctors and nurses make these clinical decisions with patients - not managers or politicians.

The last sentence is a downright lie. We all know that politicians and managers have a crucial role in determining funding and services with the health professionals working within the constraints imposed upon them by politicians and managers.

The truth - that's all we want. We can handle the truth. With the truth we can discuss what services to provide; we can push for increased funding in some areas. Hiding the truth denies us this opportunity. Hiding the truth denies us democracy.

The real problem is the politicians don't want us to have the truth; they don't want a true democracy; they want to retain the power for themselves.

They shy away from the truth like Dracula from sunlight.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Jena Six: More Thoughts

One of my sources for my first post on the Jena Six was Kevin at Life Has Taught Us. Kevin has posted again and I think that his post plus our interchange of comments is worthy of a separate post.

Kevin @ Life Has Taught Us
"..............My second concern with the increasing number of voices rallying in support of the Jena 6 is that there has been an increasing call to "Free the Jena 6" rather than for "Justice in Jena." These six teenagers stand accused of a violent crime. They are accused not convicted. They are innocent until proven guilty. However, if indeed they did commit this crime, there must also be justice for their victim. For no matter how vile the alleged racist taunts of their victim may have been, we as a society cannot accept violence as a cure for hatred. Violence only creates more violence. Once again, in the words of Dr. King, "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

What we should strive for in Jena is justice. Yes, there should be justice for the white teenager who was beaten in this case. If the Jena 6 committed this crime, it would be an extreme injustice to allow them to go free. But, there also needs to be justice for the accused. They must be treated equally under the law. The charges against them must fit the crime and must not be biased by race or any other discriminating factor. If found guilty, their punishment must also fit their crime.

Up to this point, there has been little justice in Jena. The teenagers who started this recent outbreak of violence by hanging nooses in their schoolyard never received a punishment that fit their crime. The subsequent incidents of violence perpetrated by both white and black teenagers have been treated unequally by the justice system. And, now, six teenagers stand accused of crimes that appear disproportionate in light of the actual incident and in light of these previous incidents.

But, there is hope. And, we can make and we have made a difference."

"I understand your disappointment at the call to "Free the Jena Six". I too believe they should face and receive justice for their actions but I can also understand why so many are calling for their freedom.

There are , as you describe, two aspects to justice: firstly the "six" must receive justice in terms of the charges faced, the case itself and the sentencing and secondly others who have committed similar crimes must be treated similarly.

Therefore, even if the "six" receive justice in terms of their own actions, if others are treated more leniently for similar actions then overall the "six" have not been treated justly.

I imagine that this is the perception among many: that the white youths involved have been treated more leniently. Under these circumstances where justice is seen not to have been done; where some have either not been charged or been charged for minor crimes demanding that the "six" be freed is not unreasonable.

Both aspects of justice must be seen to be done. Without that, I imagine, the calls for "freedom of the Jena Six" will continue and with some justification."

"I do understand where you are coming from, but I can't accept that we repay one injustice with another.

I think that it would be an injustice if in fact the youths did commit an assault and they would not be punished for it. It would be unjust to the victim in spite of how vile his words may have been.

We need to push for equality under the law and that is what we have to uphold or else we are going to start an unending spiral of correcting injustices with other injustices.

I strongly support justice for the Jena 6. That is, in the charges against them, in their having fair trials, and in a fair punishment if they are guilty or in freedom if they are innocent."

"I find this issue difficult. I believe the "six" should receive justice for their actions. It would be unjust if they were guilty but were freed.

BUT - a big "but" - it is unjust if the "six" receive the deserved punishment and others get off virtually scot-free for similar actions. I imagine that it is this injustice which will drive the protest and it is understandable if this were the case.

The protestors would have a stronger moral case if they were to ask for justice for all but, if I were in their position, I would want justice for all now. The option of justice for me now but with a long wait until all received justice would be unacceptable.

Justice for me but not for all is injustice for me and is worthy of protest."

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Jena Six

I was thinking about posting on the Jena Six but Ruthie's post on this subject prompted me to read more deeply and to write with a different slant.

The facts of the case and of the background are not clear cut – see the list of articles / blogs at the end of this post – and so an objective assessment is virtually impossible.

What can be said is that many believe the Jena Six to have suffered injustice and racism.

An ACLU publication carries the following quote from the Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union:

The racism and injustice endured by the Jena 6 has all the hallmarks of the Jim Crow era: school officials complicit in racism; prosecutors treading lightly when it comes to whites while throwing the book at black youth; and an all white jury convicting a black teen now facing decades in jail."

Is this statement true?

I don’t know. I can’t know.

But if people have suffered racism and/or injustice themselves they are likely to believe that the Jena Six suffered similarly.

If people believe the Jena Six to have suffered racism and/or injustice then they have every right to protest. That some or all of the Jena Six may be guilty of assault is irrelevant to the charges of racism and injustice.

The Jena Six don’t measure up to Martin Luther King’s standards but they don’t need to. However unworthy the six may appear, their case has grabbed the attention and if this helps in the fight against racism and for justice then that is an excellent outcome.

Ruthie says “These students are not martyrs or heroes. I agree entirely that the judicial process was (and is) flawed, but this doesn't excuse or justify the assault.

I agree with Ruthie here but just as we condemn the alleged assault we must condemn the alleged racism.

Ruthie also says, “This is just another example of the media-drenched, racially hypersensitive climate that we live in. Just another point of contention. Just another excuse to stir up divisiveness on all sides.

Is it wrong to be outraged at racism? Surely not!

Is it being hypersensitive to react against racism? Surely not!

Were the Jena Six subjected to racism and injustice? I don’t know, but, unlike Ruthie, “I am not tired reading about it”.

Racism and injustice must be confronted even if those subjected to it are deemed unworthy.

Background Reading:

Ruthie’s post

Wikipedia entry

Wkipedia discussion re the above entry

ACLU article

ACLU background info

Common Dreams article

Help the Jena 6 article

Blog by Life has Taught Us

Cheerful Iconoclast blog Part 1

Cheerful Iconoclast blog Part 2

Cheerful Iconoclast blog Part 3

Houston Chronicle article

Washington Post article part 1

Washington Post article Part 2

Monday, 17 September 2007

Not One Bloody Inch!!

Do NHS professionals tell us the truth?
Yes, if I ask for the truth I will be told the truth.

Can we trust the NHS to always do its best for us?
Yes, whatever is wrong with me the NHS will always do its best for me.


I have my own personal experiences where truth has been withheld despite repeated pleas for the truth. I fear that the NHS is withholding treatment for reasons I can only guess at. Now is not the time for me to go into details - unfortunately.

Might I be wrong? Yes, it's possible but I don't think so. I might even be paranoid but I don't think so.

Yesterday, whilst searching Google for the blacklisting of patients within the NHS I came across a website dedicated to helping those who have suffered as a result of (mis)diagnoses and who have struggled to get truth and treatment from the NHS.

The personal stories they recount are shocking. If only 1% is true we should be outraged.

If what they say about the NHS complaints system is true we shoud be outraged. They claim the system is rigged to make it virtually impossible for patients to win if the NHS decides to fight.

Some of the key issues raised by the site (
- "the dangerous myth of clinical infallibity"

- "the reluctance of any doctor to challenge a colleague - professional allegiance or the 'closing of the ranks syndrome' - which results in the near impossibility of gaining a genuine second opinion if someone has made an error of judgment"

- the fear of litigation being put before the need for patient care which ultimtely results in doctors withholding their medical expertise."

- "the nonsensical situation of lawyers, employed by Trusts and Health Authorities, whose salaries are paid by the tax-payer, and who are according to .... the DoH there to protect the patient and ensuer the patients get good quality medical care instead practice defensive procedures to protect the maangement and health professionals from potential litigation."

There is so much more information on the web-site. If you have time please visit them.

Me - I need health professionals but I don't trust the bastards.

Not one bloody inch!!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Anorexia: A Grandmother's Story

This heart-rending story appeared in Edinburgh's evening newspaper in April this year. Please read to the end.

"My 14-year-old granddaughter, Nicole, is the eldest of three much-loved children. But for the past 15 months, her family have been on an emotional roller-coaster as she fights a losing battle with anorexia.

We had a happy, smiley, liked-drama-and-dancing kind of girl before. Now it is as if she has been replaced by a stranger; a sad, depressed, frightened, stranger who shows no emotion unless it concerns her battle with food.

It all began in January 2006 when Nicole's mother, my daughter Sharon, noticed she wasn't eating right. She had always had a healthy appetite before but now she said she wasn't hungry, and she was cutting down on portion sizes too. But it was only when Nicole started losing weight that we became really concerned. We took her to the doctor, who weighed her and gave her blood tests, but couldn't find anything wrong.

As the weeks went, by Nicole's weight dropped further and she became weak. As things got worse we had to keep her off school - she had become a risk to herself. We were forced to put her in a wheelchair when we went out to save her energy. Going to the shops was a nightmare. Every pack, box, and tin was read back to front for calorie count.

In April last year, her mother was told she had anorexia, but as there was no specialist NHS treatment centre available, the only option was to send her to the young persons unit at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Morningside. She was only 14 and we were admitting her to a psychiatric hospital. It was devastating.
Even during this time we still saw glimpses of the girl she had once been. I went on holiday in June and she rang me from the hospital to tell me to have a good time.

It made me hopeful for the future. But then on one of her days out of the clinic, she locked herself in the bathroom. My daughter thought it would be best to phone the unit, who called the police. I was met by a patrol car as I drove up the driveway of my daughter's home after her frightened phone call. You would think there had been a murder, not an incident involving a frightened, anorexic girl. And all of this because she is terrified about being too fat.

It feels as if we are in an endless cycle. The doctors will admit her to the young person's unit at the Royal Edinburgh, feed her up, and then let her out again. It's not their fault, they have saved her life numerous times, but they are not a specialist anorexia unit and are unable to respond fully to her needs.

August came, and it was Nicole's birthday. She spent it at the unit, in a wheelchair being tube fed. Family and friends came to see her, but she showed no emotion at all.

And when she came on visits home, things were no better. She insisted on walking for 45 minutes twice a day, more if she could get away with it. But it was the meal times that were the worst. We would sit for hours trying to get her to eat, before being forced to take her back to the unit. The only thing she would take by this stage was hot water as it had no calories in it.

Nicole has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act for the past six months so she can be forcibly tube fed at any time. We hate that happening to her, but we know without it she will die.

Having said that it does nothing to deal with the real problem she faces either. She needs specialist psychiatric help. The unit do their best but they can't help her. Instead Nicole is on antidepressants, which I don't think have had any affect. And it doesn't seem right for a 14-year-old to be on anti-depressants.
I think the only thing that would have an impact is if Edinburgh had its own NHS eating disorders treatment centre.

At the moment doctors in Edinburgh have to refer the most extreme cases to two private centres, Huntercombe Hospital in Uphall, West Lothian and the Priory in Glasgow, but we haven't been given this option and the prices are well beyond our budget.

We feel as if we have nowhere to turn to. At every corner we have come up against obstacles.

Nicole was meant to be discharged in April this year but her condition has not improved so this has been postponed. She hasn't been out the unit for the past two months.

I'm Nicole's grandma, and I should be able to help her but I feel powerless. I just wish I could see the smile back on her face.

I'm going on holiday this year in June but, in a way, I'm dreading it. We're in exactly the same situation as we were when I went away last year.

And today is just another black day in the life of a family living with anorexia."

The last sentence is worth repeating:

"And today is just another black day in the life of a family living with anorexia."

This is not how life should be but, to our shame, this is life for anorexics and their families and will continue to be life until Scotland funds vastly improved services for the treatment of eating disorders.

Thanks for reading to the end.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Cameron: Foot in Mouth

David Cameron must be getting desperate to land a blow on Brown. Yesterday, before even the strain of the latest foot and mouth outbreak was known, Cameron came on very strongly. He said:

"I think there is a real question of government competence. We learnt that the first outbreak came from a government laboratory, last week the government told us the foot and mouth outbreak was over, and now we know that this is not the case." (


"The PM took pesonal control of this and now it looks as though it is getting out of control." (

Too easily the government can state that guidelines were followed, that 30 days had elapsed since the last case which, given the incubation time of 2 - 14 days, meant that there should not have been a recurrence.

There may well be examples of government inefficiency to be uncovered with this latest case but, with his very early intervention, Cameron did not allow himself the opportunity for those shortcomings to be uncovered. Instead Cameron has demonstrated a burning desire to put pressure on the government - nothing wrong with that - but not the judgment required to do so effectively.

Cameron needs to relax and wait for his opportunities: they will come.

A desperate Cameron will continue to miss.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Day Without End

If only today wouldn't end:

I wouldn't need to go to bed

I wouldn't need to go to sleep

I wouldn't need to switch off the TV

I wouln't need to switch of the video recorder

I would live and relive and relive and relive the game and the best result Scotland has ever achieved.




But I will go to bed.

And in the morning this will still be the best result Scotland has ever achieved.

And I will and relive and relive and relive the game.


Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Dancing Lessons for Brown?

Gordon Brown seems to have the measure of David Cameron but Alex Salmond is dancing around Brown.

Salmond's most recent wheeze to rename the "Scottish Executive" as the "Scottish Government" produced a plodding and so predictable response from Brown.

There is no doubt that the name change does improve clarity: there is a government in Edinburgh which governs Scotland albeit with fewer powers than the UK government and so "Scottish Government" is appropriate whereas the meaning of "Scottish Executive" is unclear.

The change was needed - and had been proposed previously but I don't doubt that the change was made primarily for political reasons.

Brown was on a loser from the start. If he accepted the change he believed he was giving credence to the SNP's determination to increase the profile and powers of the Scottish Parliament. If he rejected the change he would appear as being petty.

He chose petty.

According to the Times "a senior British Government source said, 'It's a confidence trick - an attempt to imply there is a government which doesn't exist.'"

It's a petty and stupid response which indicates how out of touch is the London government. Senior Scottish Labour figures have already talked about the "Scottish Government: Wendy Alexander - according to The Times - and Jack McConnell the previous First Minister.

McConnell stated in a First Minister's address to the Scotish Parliament in 2004, "This is a perfect example of devolution working at its best in partnership with the UK government. ..... And the Scottish government will ....".

So using the new name wasn't even an SNP idea but they've got political mileage because Labour have, as yet, no workable strategy for countering Salmond's deft touches.

Perhaps Cameron should give Alex a call.

Perhaps Brown should learn tap dancing!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Not Alone: Shameful "Deafening Silence"

Fighting for anorexia victims may be a minority activity but I am not alone. In July 2006 The Scotsman published a powerful leader entitled "Deafening Silence on Anorexia Victims".

I make no apology for displaying the entire piece here.

"Imagine a mysterious new disease appears. The condition strikes one in every 100 people and has a savage mortality rate of between 10 and 15 per cent. Relapses are a major problem. This disease is totally indiscriminate in whom it affects: men and women, young and old, and all classes. However, 90 per cent of victims are women, and the disease manifests a particular virulence among adolescent girls. Perhaps because this latter group has no political voice, their plight is sometimes ingnored.

This mystery ailment is reaching epidemic proportions in Scotland. Figures from NHS Scotland show that the number of people diagnosed with this disorder has increased by more than 15 per cent since 1999. Yet there is an alarming thing: NHS Scotland has no acute inpatient facilities with the specialist expertise available to treat this condition; not one consultant specialising in the disease is employed by any NHS hospital in Scotland.

If you are an adult suffering from this disease to the point where you need significant medical care, all the NHS can do is to send you for private care. Even then, it can take 12 months before a patient has hospital treatment. If this were any other disease, the public outcry would be deafening. The health minister, Andy Kerr, would be making reports to parliament.

The disease we are discussing is anorexia, a depressive condition in which patients starve themselves - often to death. But because the main victims are young girls, it is important to ask ourselves if there is some tendency in society - if only subliminally - to pigeon-hole anorexia as only an unwelcome cultural phenomenon brought on by the excesses of modern consumer culture; one whose victims we are tempted to treat differently from those with "real" diseases.

Let us give a name to one of these victims, although her case is far from unique. She was Lindsay Weddell, who died two years ago after losing a six year battle against anorexia. She weighed just six stone when she died, aged 20. For those six years, Lindsay sought help. But the local NHS lacked many of the facilities to give that aid so she was shunted between nine different treatment centres in Scotland and England.

This week, a report from the Scottish public services ombudsman, Alice Brown, upheld complaints about the standard of treatment Lindsay Weddell received from Lothian NHS Board. She concluded that "aspects of her care were severely hampered by the lack of integrated acute medical services and the limited options available". Also noted was a deficiency in mental care facilities for adults with anorexia.. In addition, the many medical units between which Lindsay was passed like a parcel failed to communicate adequately with each other.

As her mother remarked poignantly; "She has died in the place where she was meant to be safe. If that's the system, that's what has to be changed."

This is not a criticism of individual doctors and nurses. Rather, it is to note that there is a lacuna in the facilities to treat adults with anorexia: the system seems almost incapable of dealing with the condition as if it was a genuine disease.

Yet anorexia is not just "a phase" some impressionable teenager is going through. It is a killer, and it destroys families. The symptoms were first diagnosed medically in 1870. Clinical experiences of the condition began to grow exponentially in the affluent decades after 1950. It came to public notice in 1978, when the American psychologist, Hilde Bruch, published a book about the disease, The Golden Cape.

Anorexia is clearly identified with rich, western societies. The pressures on young women to conform to certain body stereotypes certainly play a part in triggering the obsessive compulsion to lose weight at any cost. That does not make anorexia a trivial condition, nor does it imply that there are not psychological triggers involved.

The likelihood is that anorexia results from a combination of chemicals in the brain and environmental factors. American studies suggest that genetic factors may contribute to 50 per cent of eating disorders and that anorexia shares a genetic compatibility with clinical depression. In other words, the trigger for anorexia is not simply cultural, although peer-group pressures play an intrinsic part.

In spite of uncertainties regarding the treatment of anorexia, one course of action is recognised as being vital: eating disorders need to be tackled speedily before the patient gets locked into a circle of depression and self-abuse. However, this is just where the NHS lets down the Lindsay Weddells of this world. Firstly, GPs generally lack the training and experience to recognise the illness. That must change.

Then there is the history of the NHS refusing - perhaps for cost reasons - to fund acute inpatient care for anorexics at private clinics until the patient is extremely ill and possibly already past the point of treatment. Dealing with anorexia is costly: treatment can last four months, at £4000 a week. But making anorexia sufferers go to the back of the queue is not just heartless; it probably adds to the long-run health and welfare bills by not nipping the condition in the bud.

As long as Scottish NHS hospitals lack specialist inpatient care facilities, most sufferers cannot be put in a safe, stable environment with expert practitioners - psychologists and clinical staff - who can try to cure the disorder before it comes to dominate. That, too, must change. Scotland should set itself the target of being a leader in taking anorexia seriously as a medical condition. There are immediate tasks to hand: appointing a regional consulting specialist in Scotland is top of the agenda and must be done before the end of the year. But the Executive should think about putting more money into researching anorexia and its cure.

In the days since the ombudsman delivered her verdict on the failure of the NHS to look after Lindsay Weddell, there has been a deafening silence from the NHS and the Executive. Some discussions are going on behind the scenes to improve the response to sufferers of anorexia but backroom discussions are no longer enough. The only way to make amends for Lindsay Weddell's death is for the Executive to put eating disorders on the political and health agenda in a very public way. That will not bring back Lindsay, but it will ensure that similar deaths do not happen in the future."
(c) 2006 Scotsman, The

Monday, 3 September 2007


I mentioned yesterday about the 12 - 14 month waiting list in Edinburgh for treatment for an eating disorder (ED) but this time starts only when a patient has been assessed by a specialist.

Before one can see a specialist one must be ill enough to go to a GP, be diagnosed with an ED, be referred to a specialist by the GP and then wait for an appointment. I think it's safe to assume that this will add 6 months, at least, to the process.

Therefore, before a patient receives specialist treatment she (most sufferers are female) has been ill with an ED for 18 months, at least.

Ill for 18 months before specialist treatment!! MADNESS

But it gets worse. Scottish Guidance for ED
refers to US data which suggests that 30 - 50% of patients go on to experience long-term chronic problems.

Despite knowing this we leave patients to suffer for 18 months before we treat them; 18 months in which their symptoms may worsen and, I bet, 18 months in which their chances of suffering long-term problems increase.


Eating Disorder - Lack of Provision: Repost

My post today is a repost: originally posted 3 months ago it is directly relevant to my decision to fight for better funding for the treatment of those with eating disorders. (Those who read Sunday's post may have read this post already - there was a link.)

"Ten days ago I wrote about the tragic story of Alan Mullin who committed suicide in prison when he should have been receiving treatment for his mental illness. Today I return to mental health but this time to the lack of provision within my health board, Lothian, for those with eating disorders.

I am close to one who suffers from an eating disorder, who has been diagnosed as having an eating disorder but who must join an obscenely long waiting list for treatment at a specialist centre:

Twelve to fourteen months to reach the front of the queue.

Twelve to fourteen months after formal diagnosis before treatment.

Twelve to fourteen months without treatment.

Twelve to fourteen months to continue damaging one's body.

Twelve to fourteen months to continue to suffer the psychological problems underlying the disorder.

Twelve to fourteen months to deteriorate.

One can jump the queue by increasing one's risk factors: if one loses even more weight or shows major changes to other physical or cognitive attributes. Therefore, make oneself worse, thinner, more dangerously ill; do oneself more damage and one may get earlier treatment.

Make oneself worse to get treatment? Those with a diagnosis are already very ill. They should get treatment without the delay. They must get treatment without this delay!

That those who are so ill must wait more than one year for treatment is obscene.

Obviously, there are insufficient resources within the NHS!

But why are there insufficient resources?

Is mental health not "sexy" enough; are there not enough votes in it?

Twelve to fourteen months!!

Does no-one in power care?

Do no MSPs care?

You bloody well should care!




Not only am I not going away I am going to pester the hell out of those who can change this situation until they do improve funding.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Back Blogging for What?

I didn't expect to be back so soon. Perhaps I shouldn't have come back.

I left blogging in June because I no longer had the time, the mental energy or the urge to continue. I wrote previously about the eating disorder within our family and about the lack of treatment available in Scotland. The stresses, strains and anxieties arising from being a carer, to taking over virtually the entire responsibility for the home and family and fighting for appropriate treatment left me able to do little outwith my principal functions (see here). Some may not understand why I should be stressed but I am.

In the last two months little has changed for the better other than the kids are
back at school and I am not parenting all my waking hours. In some areas we are worse off - but I don't need to go into those now.

I do what I do willingly and I would gladly do more if I could but I am struggling. I keep going because I have no option: I want to keep going; I need to keep going; the rest of the family needs me to keep going ... but it's so hard sometimes. I've got the much easier role - I'm not suffering from anorexia - but yet I struggle. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to live with anorexia or bulimia. In these circumstances blogging is an irrelevance and an impossibility. I hadn't thought about returning - not once. The few times I read blogs I consoled myself with the thought that, at least, I didn't have this burden too.

Why then have I returned? Anger and frustration.

Whilst I pursue treatment I have read lots of articles about anorexia and bulimia but a few days ago I was so stunned by a statement made by a health professional - the actual words are irrelevant - that I knew immediately that I had to use my blog to get improved funding for the treatment of eating disorders in Scotland. I won't blog to get early treatment within our family - I wil continue to explore less public avenues first - but the obscene delays imposed on seriously ill patients cannot be allowed to continue.

Although I know I couldn't write a blog in the same vein as previously, I hope my anger will give me the strength to blog for increased funding in Sotland. I don't know if the anger is sufficient to keep me going - we'll see - but this could be a short rebirth.

I make no bones about this: I am really doing this for me alone, to help me cope. I will benefit by venting my frustrations to the ether. I pray that others will benefit in some small way too but I can't hide behind that. I need to do this for me!

I accept that using my blog in this way is unlikely to make it a popular read - never was anyway - but, if I am fortunate, others with the same interest may find me and together we may drive politicians to increase spending. If I remain a lone voice, so be it. Releasing my frustrations will be enough.