Voice Inside Madness
Blog: by Saeed Dezfouli
Monday 13th October 2014
Open Day at Forensic Hospital
Friday October 10 was the NSW Mental Health Open Day. Between 11am to 2pm, the psychiatrists and most of the psych nurses of Justice Health in the Forensic Hospital actively treat us with respect, dignity and courtesy. Overall, the day was enjoyable and appeared successful. It was positive to see patients, nurses, doctors, and representatives from Justice Health and the Mental Health Review Tribunal all enjoying a day together. It was as though everyone was on equal ground for a fleeting moment.
The forensic patients who have behaved themselves were allowed to invite two visitors to share the day with them. This year, I invited the Coordinator of Justice Action my primary carer, Brett Collins, and one of Justice Action’s caseworkers, Dion.
From 11am till 1pm, there was a speech by the Director of Service, Vince Ponzio, about how wonderful life is inside of this maximum-security mental hospital, according to him. Some patients shared their feelings in poems about the ‘Snake and Ladder’ game that is the NSW Mental Health System.
There was music and entertainment, which made me feel sorry for those patients who were not allowed to share the day with two of their friends. One female patient who had no visitors was allowed to sit at the opening ceremony for one hour, while four nurses escorted her. She has been in strict seclusion for a year now because she reacted to nurses pressing her buttons, by hitting them. It is a shame she was not allowed to enjoy the entire day.
At 1pm, lunch was served for about 200 patients and their visitors, as well as about 50 nurses. The food was good- it is the one day of the year the patients in here get the opportunity to eat like human beings. You can eat as much as you want with your visiting friends and loved ones. This kind of social gathering and activity is therapeutic- they should do it at least once a month.
I really enjoyed having lunch with my friends, Brett and Dion. We talked about the nature of the NSW Mental Health system, which was designed and set-up decades ago and hasn’t changed since then. We also talked about how it hasn’t been changed because there are no votes in it for the politicians in NSW.
After a long chat with them, they left, and it was back to reality for me in this unproductive, depressing, inactive boring, and maddening environment for another year. I’m already looking forward to the open day next year.
Thursday 24th July 2014
New Hospital Standover
Hi, its Saeed again! I am finally able to update my blog after several delays. There has been resistance to my posts by my treating team, a group of people who seem unwilling to be open and accountable for their actions. Despite countless meetings over the last twelve years, I still feel trapped and isolated, but continue to fight for my concerns to be heard. I’m lucky I have support. Others around me just keep their head down and watch. See some earlier correspondence with authorities.
The last meeting was on the 30th of June with Barbara Sinclair the Psychiatrist in Charge, Dom Seric the Registrar Psychiatrist, Liz the Primary Nurse, Gemma Weeks the Occupational Therapist and Brett Collins, my primary carer. This meeting was held to discuss whether the promises from 6 weeks ago had been implemented. The discussions left me frustrated and in disbelief; you can read more about this below. I saw once again how difficult it is to get them to listen to me as a person.
The team was aggressive and treated Brett and me with contempt, hostility and rudeness. It was clear they felt we were insignificant and “passive” stakeholders in the process rather than intrinsically involved. Brett asked why he was not kept up-to-date, even though as my primary carer, he was entitled to be informed as under the Act.
Barbara Sinclair has said that she won’t “respond to emails because they could be used against her”. Dr. Tobias Mackinnon, the Statewide Clinical Director of Forensic Mental Health, emailed Brett, displaying empathy that had little substance. He resorted to the default response that they will try to ‘expedite … the meeting as soon as we can.” Still waiting… While he says that the Forensic Hospital would never work to “crush a consumer”, their actions suggest otherwise.
Dom said he wanted to talk about this blog. He questioned whether Brett had permission from the Mental Health Review Tribunal. They failed to acknowledge that such permission is unnecessary. Dom said that this blog is “all lies”. Brett asked “Where?” Dom said, “You do things other than sit around. We wouldn’t force people to get up”.
Come On! There is no question of force. If we were given a choice to do something else, we would take it. But it is always nice to know of new readers of my blog. Hi Barbara! Hi Dom!
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What about the two things promised by the Mental Health Review Tribunal on May 2nd 2014? When this was raised at the meeting, we were told that I hadn’t been provided with access to a computer because I hadn’t asked directly! Gemma didn’t think it necessary to let me know. Come on! Secondly, no consumer workers have come to see me, another blatant disregard of the Tribunal’s recommendations.
The third failure was in relation to my Management Plan, their official statement about me and how I should be treated. At the May 15th meeting, they agreed to fix some false accusations, but no changes were made! The treating team also refused to correspond with Brett about the plan, arguing that it was “private.” Brett as my carer challenged this. Their actions are at odds with Dr Mackinnon’s email, which states that they are “committed to engaging with consumers and their families, carers and advocates”. This just shows the continual struggle to obtain information and hold those in charge accountable for their actions.
The treating team says I should trust them and stop being dependent on Brett, but I can’t when there are 12 years of bad history and they dismiss my concerns and make decisions that are not in my best interests. The biggest shock was when Barbara said she “wanted to double the dose of the medication” and “preferred to use Clopixol” injections. She mocked my horror and previous “zombie” experiences with Clopixol and remarked, “We don’t want you to kill anyone.” Clearly 12 years of treating me, and my proven gentleness has meant nothing and in their view, there is no room for forgiveness and trust.
This meeting was the first time the team had mentioned increasing my medication, which flipped the idea trusting them on its head. For them, trust seems to be a fleeting concept that is trumped by bureaucracy and procedure. Brett said that my trust has to be earned, not compelled out of me. Barbara and Liz both laughed and ridiculed Brett in response to this, telling me that I “shouldn’t expect to be treated specially” and to accept the treatment I receive.
My references to s 68 of the Act protecting my rights led to sarcastic remarks as well. “Don’t get paranoid,” Barbara said, despite acknowledging my right to a copy of my Management Plan turning on my mention of s 68. My treating team continues to single me out only when it is to their advantage. They said that they wanted to do psychometric testing on me. This is inappropriate, not only because I am the highest functioning person in the unit, but also after 12 and a half years in the system, they have only now decided to do these tests.
Their resistance to label their new approach “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” rather than their term ‘psycho-educational’ further highlights the continual pill popping attitude to mental health. This is a concession, but not real.
No additional friends have been permitted to visit me at the hospital. Their contact details had been provided, but the hospital hasn’t approved anyone. The only contact we have is with the nurses that occurs everyday at 8am and 8pm when we get our medication. Other than that, they just continue to fill out their days completing paperwork.
This ‘sit down, put up and shut up’ regime still reigns supreme. But despite this, I will continue to update this blog regularly.
I have so many more stories to tell, and they will be heard.
Thursday 22nd May 2014
Hi I am Saeed, I’m very happy to be the first to start a blog on iExpress! I am currently living in the maximum security hospital. Today, I would like to ask you to please come into my world and see how I live.
The experiences I have gone through have made me feel that the way inmates are being treated in this particular maximum security hospital, is not an appropriate way of being treated. The obligations the hospital needs to comply with under section 68 of the NSW Mental Health Act 2007 are not being met. The process followed by the hospital is simply physical and mental torture, as well as constant medication and confinement. The hospital medicates the patients for the purpose to simply force us to comply with their sit down, put up and shut up policy.
The daily routine in this hospital is waking up at 7:30am, have breakfast at 8:00am, we are then sat down to watch TV till lunch, which is at 12pm, after lunch we are back watching TV till 6:00pm, which we have dinner and once again back to TV till we go to bed at 10:00pm. Also included in our routine is our twice a day nurse visits, which are at 8:00am and 8:00pm. The visit to the nurses is the time we are given our medication. We are treated like zombies for 7 days of the week.
July 2013, I wrote a petition to Health Case Complaints Commission (HCCC) – The complaint was about the lack of interaction between the nurses and the patients. This was a concern because at the end of the shift, the nurses are required to wright notes in our medical file about mood, thoughts and behaviour. However the notes are superficial and untrue. The notes are given to the doctor, as they are now the clinical notes. The petition was signed by 28 patients in the ward, but did not interest the HCCC, as they handed the complaint back to the Justice Health. The petition worked against me, as the psychiatrist wrote in my treatment and case management plan that I was manipulating other patients to sign the petition, and I was delusional. It is quite clear, if you complain about what is going on in here they accuse you of being delusional.
How is someone meant to feel better, if they are always putting you down?
Let me tell you a tragic story of how the system is causing people to commit suicide. On 3 December 2013 the patient next to my room committed suicide by cutting his throat, which is the only way out of this destructive system. The patient who committed suicide was subject to walk with a walking frame, he was losing his ability to walk due to the side effects of the mediation. I myself have a heart condition, high blood pressure, have diabetes and have gained 30kg. I cannot have a relationship or have children anymore – this is all side-effects of the large amount of medications that have been pumped into our body.
Once every 6 months we appear before the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal, which basically rubber-stamps the recommendations that the psychiatrist recommends to them in 5 minutes.
I was representing myself from February 2002, until 2011 at the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal, my review would only last 5 minutes. This occurred even though section 46 of the NSW mental Health (Forensic Provision) Act 1990, requires them by law to review my case, treatment and detention thoroughly – That is what is NSW Mental Health System is all about, while they fill their pockets with taxpayers money. The only thing we get is a large amount of psychotic medications and their policy of sit down, put up and shut up.
Check out my iExpress page here. You can use it to send me an email.