Untold—an excerpt from “Shut up and keep taking the pills!”

From Mad in the UK comes this excerpt from Hazel Amanda Jones’ recent memoir, which tells of her work counseling people—in this story, a teenage girl—too often harmed by current psychiatric practices: 

“Her parents brought her in.  Voluntary admission.  Marie was seventeen, thin and pale.  She looked more like a ten-year-old.  Her clothes were not what you’d expect of a teenager.  Short skirts and short coats were all the rage.  Marie’s coat was unfashionably long.  A baggy jumper attempted to hide an underweight frame.  Her parents were smartly attired but mute.  What was there to say?  She was ‘under’ the professionals now and they felt they’d done the right thing by bringing her here.  So, they didn’t say anything, at least, not when I was there.

Their address had suggested that they came from a side of town that was reputed to be quite well-to-do. They seemed to be consumed by concern.  Frowning.  Hovering anxiously… but did I notice that their daughter flinched ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly when her father attempted to put his arm around her shoulders?

I was not privy to what the parents had said, nor did I learn any words of wisdom from the psychiatrist’s intervention.  We were told in a handover, during which information was given about patients, before staff changed shift, that she was self-harming (cutting criss crosses on her wrists) and hearing voices which were threatening her, as well as telling her to perform even more injurious behaviours on herself.

Hearing voices?  The psychiatrist had diagnosed schizophrenia.  Inevitably, the drugs that would quieten her were prescribed and zealously administered.  The Charge Nurse liked a peaceful, orderly ward. He was ‘paternalistic’ but could be strict and stern with a ‘no-nonsense’ approach.  The Charge Nurse had simply said,

‘She’s a troubled girl,’ but I privately wondered if that should have been ‘She’s a girl in trouble?’”

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