Comments by Kate MacFarlane

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  • Thank you for this excellent article. I have recently published my memoir Blue Remembered Sky in which I examine my father’s role both as a psychiatrist and as an abusive father who diagnosed my feelings as symptoms of mental illness, and subjected me and my younger brother to a regime of medication and hospitalisation. After the birth of my first child, I was encouraged to take anti-depressants and did so, half-heartedly, during the first year of my daughter’s life. I successfully weaned myself off the pills after taking them for 6 months. When my daughter was 18 months old, I took her with me to scatter my father’s ashes in Zimbabwe, where I grew up. When I returned to the UK, I fell ill. My GP diagnosed me as suffering from post-natal depression again, when, in fact, I was ill with malaria. If I had believed him, and not insisted on a blood test, I may not have lived to write my book! Paternalism within psychiatry and the medical profession is dangerous for women. It’s so important to tell our stories so that more people learn about the dangers and speak out. Thank you Antonia – I hope that you are able to wean yourself off the medication. I have occasional bodily withdrawal symptoms but now I know what they are, they in no way affect my daily enjoyment of life nor my ability to sleep well. Admittedly this has involved sleeping on my own, away from my husband but it is a small price to pay for the peace that I’ve found in having my own safe space in which to settle down at night. Being a well-functioning woman is something I treasure every day!

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