10 July 2010

Yesterday I wrote to you all and for some strange reason only half of what I had written ended up being posted. Therefore I apologise for such an abrupt ending. To briefly fill you in, I had meant to tell you about the appeal and tribunal process and to conclude with a request for you all to keep your fingers crossed for me and hope I would have my chance to have my case heard fairly, be discharged from the section and subsequently from the hospital so that I could try and get back to some normality as well as address the issues I still have at home and work.

Wasted wish

If anyone had wished me good luck yesterday it would have been a wasted wish as the whole hearing was a shambles.

The process should have been as follows:

  • The case would have been heard by an independent psychiatrist, a judge and a lay person.
  • The psychiatrist would have interviewed me before the hearing and three reports would have been presented to the panel: one from my named nurse, one from my psychiatrist and one from Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) social services department.
  • My solicitor would have presented my case to the panel and cross-examined the three professional bodies who wrote the reports
  • The panel would have heard all the evidence and then have made a decision about my detention and/or have recommendations about my care.

This is what SHOULD have happened!!!

In reality, this is what did happen:

I met with my solicitor following a stressful interview with the psychiatrist. He had looked through my nursing notes and the report from my named nurse. So far so good! He was very positive about how I had been on the ward despite all the stresses I had had to deal with due to NCC social services.

Bonkers

The hearing was scheduled for 14.00. At 13.30 we had still not had a copy of my psychiatrist’s report or the social services report. My nerves were mounting and I felt like my stomach was in knots. I had had very little sleep the previous night as I was so worried about the appeal. At 13.50 my psychiatrist’s report was given to us and the ink on the paper had hardly had time to dry. As I cast my eyes over the first paragraph my blood ran cold and the feeling “I’m doomed” entered my head at a 100 miles per hour. As well as mistakes with timelines, dates, names and places, the report read more and more negatively. Had the report been about someone else I would have interpreted it as meaning that the patient was seriously ill, in fact – dare I say it? – “bonkers”.

No social worker

I was stunned to read at the end of the report that my consultant’s recommendations were that I remain on a section 2 with a view to being put on a section 3 (section 3 is for treatment and lasts six months). At 14.00 my solicitor and I made our way to the room where the tribunal panel were waiting to hear my appeal. We had still not received the social services report and, lo and behold, there was no sign of any social worker.

No social services report

I walked into the room and was instructed to sit in the middle of the row of chairs with my solicitor to my left. Opposite me on the other side of the tables was the judge with a panel member to either side of him. The judge introduced himself and the panel members and asked what I’d liked to be called. So far so good! Everything felt very formal, although the judge did say that the hearing would be informal. The judge then said he had discussed the psychiatrist’s assessment of me, read the nursing report and also my consultant’s. He then raised the question as to where the social worker’s report was and, indeed, where the social worker was. No one could answer.

Ignored

I then found myself sitting helpless while everyone else decided how to proceed. I tried to speak, but the judge completely ignored anything I had to say and also had the ignorance to speak over the top of me. Six people in the room were battling about whose job it was to do what and how. I began to feel as though I didn’t exist and when I said, “Social services has made several important mistakes over the past two weeks,”  the judge flippantly said – without making eye contact – “Well, that happens sometimes!” Basically, he had a “get-used-to-it” sort of attitude.

Blood boiling

By this time my blood was boiling. Yet again, services – especially NCC social services – were letting me down, which again was  having a huge impact on my future. The panel had to decide whether they could hear my appeal without the social services report. The judge said it clearly stated in his book that for the appeals procedure to be valid those three reports were required. We were all asked to leave the room whilst the panel decided whether to continue with the appeal or not. Feelings of distress started to manifest within me, and  feelings of  abandonment and hopelessness were creeping in.

Still ignored

Ten minutes passed and we all reconvened. The judge informed everyone that the appeal would have to be adjourned until the social services report had been written. Then a debate took place on who was going to initiate the report and who the appropriate person would be to write it. On several occasions I tried to speak. I wanted to inform everyone who I felt would be the best person for the job. I was stunned by how I was completely and utterly ignored by the judge as well as everyone else. Then dates for the next appeal were discussed and everyone but me was asked if  next Tuesday was convenient. I raised my hand to try and say it was no good for me, but yet again I was ignored. Tuesday 13 July at 14.00 was agreed between all parties and booked.

Rudeness

I put my hand up and asked the judge if I could raise a question. The answer I got from him was “Wait!” Eventually, after he had concluded and the tribunal closed, he addressed me with “So what is your question?” By this time the hairs had stood up on the back of my neck due to the judge’s rudeness and lack of manners. I said, “You asked everyone if Tuesday was OK for the hearing but failed to ask me if it was convenient.”

Had to cancel operation

The judge responded in a really defensive manner, informing my that the appeal is a part of deciding on my civil liberties and it’s not for me to decide whether times are convenient or not. I was livid with his attitude, and really raised my voice, telling him I wasn’t willing to argue with him. I merely wanted to let him know that I was due to have surgery on my hand that day. He wasn’t interested, and said his goodbyes. Therefore I would have to cancel my operation.

Emotional abuse again

My childhood memories played in my mind all afternoon. There is a strategy meeting about me on Monday and Tuesday morning which I’m not involved in and the hearing Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday is a Multi Disciplinary Team meeting where my care is reviewed. These meetings were triggering painful childhood memories of case conferences, reviews and school meetings where I was excluded. Mental health and social services seem to be allowing history to repeat itself and are inflicting emotional abuse all over again. I felt they were being so inconsiderate of my feelings by excluding me, abandoning me and letting me down. Surely someone would see this and realise I can only take so much and I’m not as resilient as they think? I felt bullied and harassed by the whole system, and unimportant to anyone.

Positive

Last night I felt quite low and worn out with the emotions of the day’s events. When I make entries on the blog I feel its important I do so when I’m in a positive frame of mind. Last night this wasn’t the case, so I felt it would be unfair for you all to read negativity as this can have an impact on the mood of others. If anyone reading my blog had been feeling low I could have exacerbated their feelings and emotions. That’s why I delayed updating you until today, when I’m in a more positive frame of mind.

Gardening therapy

The sun is shining and Andrew is in the garden tidying the flowerbeds. We have decided to spend the day together, enjoying the weather and our surroundings. Today I feel my medicine for creating positive feelings will come through achievement and enjoyment. Therefore I’m going to help Andrew with the garden and make it look pretty and ready for us to sit in tonight and relax together as a family.

I will try and report on my day’s events tonight, and I hope you all have a lovely day in the glorious sunshine.

Take care everyone (especially with the suncream) and I’ll be back soon.

Love and best wishes

Angela x