Archive for January 2013

Manna from Heaven

January 31, 2013
Hiding from the Wreck

Hiding from the Wreck

Or, rather, from my loft (same difference?)..

I very sensibly arranged to have my loft insulated lately and today is the day that the event will take place. Indeed, I am writing this just 40 minutes prior to men entering my home to find that preparation for their work has turned my home, which had lately begun to look quite civilised, into wreck of the hesperus – not that I’ve ever read that poem, but it’s entered daily parlance so I’m assuming that the overwhelming chaos in which I daily find myself is a fitting tribute to that concept.

Not that I had or have ever wished to make such tribute. It seems that my life has been predisposed to the matter. No sooner do I exert myself to the huge effort and commitment of a mega clear up than something comes along in my life that undoes all my good intentions and returns me to this whirling disorder.

I’m not, at the best of times, the most domesticated animal ever born, so maintaining simple dignity is a challenge even then, but when my life is turned upside down like this, it’s like beginning to drown in life’s drivel..

I maintain my sanity by ignoring it and sitting down to write. It hardly answers to the demands of the occasion but it answers to my need to hide from ugliness by living inside my mind.

It is, perhaps, one of my more crazy habits.

Still, in recent years my crazy habits have been very kindly tolerated and accommodated by an ever growing circle of true friends who seem to acknowledge, accommodate and forgive them all by focussing on what virtues I possess. If it weren’t for these dear friends I dare say I would still be living half my life in the loony bin, drugged up to my eyes on anti psychotics and hardly able to walk in a straight line, so deleterious are such drugs upon one’s co-ordination, hope factor and social opportunities.

I was reading a very interesting account by Jan Wallcraft in her recently initiated blog – I can’t recall it’s name now, which is infuriating – I’ll get back to you about that.. She was writing about ‘recovery’ and her attention was focussed on the use of that concept, and the bending of it, by psychiatry. Psychiatry has taken the concept of ‘recovery’ on board by emptying it of any meaningful content. They have to because, as dealers for pharmaceutical companies they must, perforce, continue to peddle the crappy idea that people who have intense life crises that see them ending up in front of a psychiatrist will probably need to be held down with drug addictions for the rest of their lives.

Jan has a very good point. The concept of ‘recovery’ has been utterly corrupted by these idiots. And around the country, certainly in Worcestershire, the regional mental health trusts are ‘leading by example’ of identical idiocy. Pernicious idiocy is what we’re talking about of course.

Still – there’s a case for re-claiming the proper meaning of the word. In the last couple of years I have been ‘reclaiming’ – and ‘recovering’ the identity of ‘Janie Greville’ as it had been ‘identified’ prior to `1997 when I fell foul of my ex husband’s good will and thus the mental health services.

Little by little I have noticed that I am addressed as an intelligent, creative, productive and affectionate if impulsive human being. This would fit nicely with the ‘Janie’ I was prior to meeting my ex-husband. I managed to sustain something of that identity even during much of my relationship with him. When it became impossible to ‘be myself’ with him I ended the marriage.. And apparently my entire edifice of being. His temporary blind rage ignited the mental health services in 1997 to an energy of purging. The intent, it would appear, was to purge me of my identity, my personality, my character, my aspirations, my earning power and my reputation. It all fitted in well with how my enraged ex-husband would like to see me punished for the crime of ending the marriage. It barely fitted in very well with my purpose of improving my – and my children’s – lives, however.

So I kept rebelling. Each time I rebelled I found myself back in hospital drugged to a state of bare consciousness. A steady stream of psychiatrists and cpn’s and one very silly social worker, ‘maintained’ this despicable culture. May I name a few people? I’d better not, I’m not wanting to excite trouble I can avoid.

I’ll name those who stand innocent of this fiasco, though. Verity and Fez, social worker and cpn respectively, who have intervened in my life in only beneficial ways.

There is a Dr Dhaya in the background, also, who doesn’t appear to have input much harm into the situation. He has stayed in the background, exactly where he belongs. To that extent he must be praised. It’s just a possibility that he is notably less dogmatic and arrogant than so many of his colleagues.

There is also a man called Dr King, now largely if not entirely retired now, I think, who ‘saw me’ in ways that were not merely hopeful but positively flattering. I like being flattered, don’t we all? Most of all, though, I like it when I am treated as a person I can recognise as me. He had that capacity. He occasionally addressed the part of me who saw me in my potential even hypothetical best possibilities. That tended to make me feel a bit nervous – I always fear disappointing others and prefer to underplay my abilities rather than the reverse, though at times I too see the possibilities, fear of failure has held me back.

But I support the attempt to paint my picture in as optimistic a light as possible – after all, it’s encouraging and hopeful. And a huge contrast to the kinds of portraits offered to me by his predecessor. I feel I owe him a tribute for this; partly because it held me for a few years in a state of survival instead of probable death; partly because he may in fact be somewhat a designing architect of the identity I now approach.

After all – we, none of us, are ‘islands’. This cliche needs to step out of its space as simple cliche. We are in fact less islands, or lands, than junctions into which and from which energies move and flow, or become stuck. Everything that encourages flow enhances the self, everything that inhibits flow or excites explosion, is to be condemned as destructive of the self. Every successful achievement is the achievement of a community of goodwill and support and input – even those achievements that appear to be the production of a single person are in fact the achievement of a community of this kind.

It is true, likewise for destructive as well as noble actions. None of us act alone however lonely we may feel at times. This knowledge tends to support the idea that we should choose our friends carefully for undoubtedly we shall in time become the measure of the friends we spend most time with and the values we nurture most in our minds.

Well! What a splendid way to avoid the clearing I need to do to turn my wreck back into a home, and the loft insulators are still not here, they were due 15 minutes ago – gosh I hope they haven’t forgotten!!!

By Janie Greville 2013.

January 17, 2013

Beneath the Throne

at the University of Birmingham is an annual season of teaching and learning that crosses professional boundaries to bring together training psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses – but sadly this year no occupational therapists.

It also brings together a group of people who have long standing experience of using the mental health services as a patient or as the carer of someone suffering mental health distress.

And, of course teaching staff at the university covering the disciplines mentioned, barring always that no-one teaches ‘life’s hard knocks’ so there isn’t a tutor actually paid to proliferate and skill up patients and carers. Lol.

Although: I believe that the very concept of ‘narrative medicine’ which is at the heart of the presence of we ‘service users’ and ‘carers’ in teaching positions contains a kernal of conviction that we would be very careless to ignore.

This kernal is the conviction that first hand…

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The Collaborative Learning Initiative

January 17, 2013
Oasis at the University of Birmingham -

Oasis at the University of Birmingham –

at the University of Birmingham is an annual season of teaching and learning that crosses professional boundaries to bring together training psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses – but sadly this year no occupational therapists.

It also brings together a group of people who have long standing experience of using the mental health services as a patient or as the carer of someone suffering mental health distress.

And, of course teaching staff at the university covering the disciplines mentioned, barring always that no-one teaches ‘life’s hard knocks’ so there isn’t a tutor actually paid to proliferate and skill up patients and carers. Lol.

Although: I believe that the very concept of ‘narrative medicine’ which is at the heart of the presence of we ‘service users’ and ‘carers’ in teaching positions contains a kernal of conviction that we would be very careless to ignore.

This kernal is the conviction that first hand experience stands as valid knowledge and that ignoring first hand experience is to imperil all knowledge and activity relating to anyone being ignored.

This may yet prove to be a difficult nut for the health professions and the academic professions to swallow, let alone digest. Tokenism becomes impossible once the ramifications and logical consequences of such a statement are thought through.

Yet again I have begun a talk in mind of narrating a tale and instead issuing a sermon and an advertisement. If you hadn’t noticed the advert – worry not – it’s coming up next.

The ‘shared humanness model’ provided by Tracey Holley sets parameters within which the knowledge of first hand experience may begin to be positioned within the nexus of medical theory. And social theory. And educational theory. And much else.

Human Aesthetics is my particular additional contribution to this model. It is not yet developed to a hybrid model, nor an integral model of both theories.

Human Aesthetics refer to those parts of our appearance and behaviour which we apply the greatest of detailed care to, in refining and polishing our skills of interaction.

Human interaction is seldom seen as in need of such attention.

I beg to differ. I believe it is the primary purpose of our living. After all – if we lived alone on an island like Swift’s Robinson Crusoe we’d yearn most desperately to find a Man Friday to save our bacon: I know I would. So if our very survival depends on each other and our capacity to co-operate for common good, isn’t it incumbent upon us to take the matter of social skills more seriously than we do?

The history of mental health services and the tragedies within its sagas is a trail of social skills problems. It begins with distress becoming distressing and it ends with abuse traumatising someone already distressed. It would be hilarious if there weren’t so many lost lives involved in it.

Fortunately the times they are a changing. Be the light of change and the changes will settle more quickly and easily for everyone.

Art & Efficiency

January 16, 2013
from small acorns do great oaks grow.

from small acorns do great oaks grow.

Art is highly efficient in every zone of life it is true art, but its effects are not swift to appear.

It reminds me of the mantra Gordon Parsons taught me a couple of years ago. ‘Hurry Slowly’ he used to say to me, and on occasion he still does. It’s a slippery concept. You have to meditate on it for quite a while before it eventually slides into place.

Fittingly so. After all – nothing worth having comes easy. And this particular epithet is liquid diamond in its capacity to bring ease into a stressed life.

Translated it reads: Take all the time in the world. You’ll get there quicker by relaxing.

The key is in the concept of ‘relaxing’ with all of its’ connotations and associations.

Not fearful. Not rushed. Not averse. Not anxious. Not avoidant. Not rushing. Laid Back. Easy Going. Confident.

Not too big a step now towards that qualitative addition ‘happy’ is it?

The next parts of my recounting to you this essay on the topic of ‘art and efficiency’ will be published tomorrow (and possibly beyond). It will include attention to art and artists and how everyone is an artist. It will investigate the difference between a shoddy artist and a fine artist. Eventually it will lead back to efficiency and it will lead doubly back to a previous blog about money.

But for now: it’s been a long day, I’m tired and I’ve not yet eaten.
Enjoy your evening, I know I shall.

Art & Economy

January 14, 2013
fighting over toys

fighting over toys

A letter I was writing today in relation to the death of my father led me to develop some more thoughts about a topic that has been swirling a little in my inner mind of late.

Money to adults is as toys are to children. Not the objects they represent – well, that’s a lie – even these aren’t lost on the adult kid.

Money is all about ‘having’ and ‘being’. ‘Having’ a source of regular in come is called ‘I’ve got a job’. It’s the first hall mark of the satisfied customer – my income comes from me is what this statement say’s – ‘i’m independent’.

It’s quite funny really: in the 19th century ‘having a job’ and ‘earning your own keep’ was the hallmark of poverty and lack of social status.

Even in the novels of PG Wodehouse this marker of the older system can be seen hanging on by the faintest of threads and an amused Jeeves.

Then there’s the ‘I’ve got a jaguar’ – usually by men, lol, boasting about their ‘what I do and how much I get for my job [=earn my own keep]

Of course there are people who don’t appear conscious of or make reference to their ‘possessions’ but where this is completely genuine they are so used to it they don’t notice it and it is the landscape not the object of their living.

As it should be.

Aesthetics by all means converse on and if something of beauty comes within range of the conversation or even triggers it – then discuss it at length if need be.

But ‘monetary value’ what’s that about? To discuss the issue of monetary value by any means do it immediately. But to judge a thing by its monetary tag appears to be a little bizarre.

The wonderful thing about money is the way that when you have some you are happy in the knowledge that at your whim you can go and exchange part or all of it for something you want.

It is like having a vault of possibilities stored easily in a tiny box outside the house.

And we need to remember that, some of us, in case we get carried away.

That is: we should remember that some children are greedy and selfish and boastful because they haven’t been brought up very well, some children are very naughty and jealous and deceitful because they’ve been brought up badly – and some children play by the rules dutifully without love or mercy… a few play by the spirit of play – and enjoy the fruits of their labour 🙂

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