With my teddy when I was a baby

With my teddy when I was a baby. It listened to me far more than the appeals panel did today.

Hi, everyone.

I hope you’re all well and enjoyed your weekend.

Unfair and traumatic appeal

Some of you may be wondering how my appeal went today. To be honest, it was a foregone conclusion. Sadly, I lost it and the panel (the same as last week’s) decided not to lift the section two. I won’t bore you with all the details of today’s appeal. However, I do want to discuss how unfair and traumatic the process was.

Whilst I accept the possible reasons for my original detention under the Mental Health Act, I do not understand why services can only provide containment instead of therapy for me, and support and help to maintain a healthy environment for me and my family.

Today, the appeal consisted of the three panel members (an independent psychiatrist, a judge and a lay person), plus a social worker, a ward nurse manager, my consultant and my solicitor. I might as well not have been in the meeting. Let me explain why I feel like this…

Everyone asked… except me

Before entering the room, my solicitor asked me to keep my cool. We entered the room and sat in the same seats as before, the judge opposite me. He started by clearly stating that no one was to speak unless spoken to, nor interrupt people as they were speaking. He introduced himself  and his panel again, and then asked everyone for an opinion – with the exception of myself.

Contradictory evidence

I sat in silence and listened to the judge and had to keep my mouth shut. Each party was questioned by the panel and then questioned by my solicitor. A good fifty minutes to an hour later, I was still silent. My consultant shocked me with some of her answers to the questions she was asked. To summarise:  her report and verbal evidence were contradictory. On the one hand, she wanted me to remain on the section due to the alleged risk “I posed to myself and others”. On the other hand, she was the one who allowed me to have section 17 home leave for five days last week.

Hurtful and inaccurate

Much of what the ward manager said was what my consultant had written in her report and what she had said to the panel. (A lot of what my consultant had written in her report had originally come from my book, Disruptive.) Meanwhile, I remained silent while they made some very hurtful comments about me, with many inaccuracies, as they recounted traumatic events.

Errors and miscommunication

Then the nurse was questioned, and all he really  did was repeat (parrot!) my consultant’s answers to the questions, with the odd comment about me absconding from the ward last week and a few nursing comments to the effect that I had been compliant with treatment on the ward. My solicitor was really good at this point, and delved deeply into my absconding, pointing out the reasons for it. The nurse in charge eventually confirmed the cock-up made about my contact with the girls and explained that I’d been caught up in various errors and miscommunications.

Social worker had only met me once

Next it was the social worker’s turn. The panel asked him questions and he agreed that because he didn’t write the report he couldn’t comment an awful lot. He also confirmed that he didn’t know me very well and that he had only met me on one occasion. He then rabbited on about risk and safety and said that it had been confirmed by the children’s and young people’s service that if I were to return home it would not be deemed to be a child protection issue. What then became confusing was that he continued to bleat on about risk and safety and how Andrew couldn’t look after me or protect the girls properly as he has to sleep at night!

Making no sense

I glanced across at the panel and saw the psychiatrist’s eyes closing and his head dropping. He was obviously bored as the social worker was making no sense. My solicitor asked him various questions about him knowing me, care in the community and what the needs of child services really were. The social worker had real difficulty in committing to anything, and it was evident that he really hadn’t got a clue about my case, just a judgemental view on it.

Misquoted my husband

Within the social circumstances report there is a section about the nearest relative. According to the report, Andrew had said he wanted me to remain on the section. Seeing the report before the meeting, I had been horrified until I had spoken with Andrew to clarify things, a fact that was revealed to the panel, my solicitor making it clear that he too had spoken with Andrew before the hearing. Andrew, incidentally had also been horrified when I told him what was in the report, because, in fact, Andrew had said that “if remaining on the section means Angela will get the treatment she needs, I will agree to it”. However, Andrew had also said that he wanted me home as it was disruptive to the family my being in hospital and he was willing to care for me.

Only solicitor positive

I felt so frustrated sat in the middle of all the so-called experts, not being able to challenge any of their theories or opinions. This silence triggered so many unpleasant feelings for me, and at one point the whole thing really felt like abuse all over again. Because I had to remain silent for so long, the “silence message” was ingrained on my brain so that when questioned by my solicitor I struggled to answer – I just knew I’d lost before I’d started. Not one positive comment was made in that room by anyone but my solicitor when he did his summing up. He did say I was willing to remain a voluntary patient and was even requesting further help (which wasn’t forthcoming from the services). He also questioned “the risk” expressed by the experts, and challenged my consultant as I had had a period of five days’ leave prior to the hearing.

Hospital assessment of dissociative state not practical

Leave was challenged as I’d been honest and said I’d had some difficulties with dissociating on the Sunday night and problems connected with this. Little did I know, this would be held against me at the time of the hearing. My consultant stated she still wanted me in hospital for “assessment” so my dissociated behaviour could be assessed… Pretty difficult when it normally happens at home and with limited company as opposed to on a busy ward with lots of people!

Not going to lift section

At 16.30 the hearing drew to a close and we were asked to leave the room. We were instructed that the panel would deliberate and make their decision and would inform us as soon as they had reached it. One representative from the hospital had to be present as well as me and my solicitor. At 16.55 we were called back in, minus my consultant – amazing how she was able to cause such a fuss and leave such carnage behind and then not be there for the verdict! The judge instructed me that after listening to everyone and having taken a while to reach a decision they had agreed that they were not going to lift the section. They said their goodbyes and we left the room.

Expected to let them abuse me all over again!

I was disappointed but not surprised as it felt like a foregone conclusion from the outset. I had a brief chat with my solicitor who said he was going to come back and see me in a few days. The social worker disappeared and so did the nurse. To say I posed such a risk to people that I needed to remain locked up seemed ridiculous. Up to this stage, I have been allowed to go off the ward whenever I feel like it and not one nurse has ever asked me how I am and if I need to talk. It seems I’m still expected to remain silent, and sit back and let services abuse me all over again!

Andrew has visited tonight to tell me of another hurdle to get over. The police want to interview me tomorrow at 10 a.m. with a view to charging me, if they can, for threatening to kill. My job is still hanging in the balance and had it not been for my husband, my daughters and this blog, I would be very ill, if not dead. This blog is allowing me, like my book, to break my silence.

I will be in touch tomorrow and let you know how the day’s events pan out and what my future holds.

Take care everyone, and thank you so much for listening to me.

Love and best wishes