• Tom Robinson

Mental health & the importance of preserving a peaceful environment: can we stop trashing it please!

Updated: Jan 28

I’ve purposely backed off from writing over the last couple of weeks, while I withdraw from the antipsychotic medication ‘quetiapine’ (Seroquel).


I’ve done this to give myself the best possible chance of recovery because (as anyone knows who’s ever tried to get off these psychiatric drugs), it’s bloody hard and extremely unpleasant!


Things have settled down almost completely, but it really has been quite a mission to overcome the very powerful and worrying side effects of this vexatious drug!


As far as I’m concerned, it’s been by far the hardest of all them to withdraw from – and that’s saying something because I’ve been subjected to almost the whole continuum of psychotropic medications over the last twenty years, but I’ve never experienced anything close to the nightmare of dependence with this one!


It’s so unbelievably horrendous that a fellow campaigner and new friend that I spoke to this week, told me that he’s found it harder to withdraw from quetiapine than from heroin - and I can well believe it!


I will be writing a detailed post about all of this next week, explaining the whole sorry saga with this drug, including everything from: why I ever got onto this medication in the first place, to the reason I didn’t get on with it, and how I then had a NIGHTMARE time trying to get off it. I will also be including some information from a psychiatrist for those who want some more scientific info.


Anyway, I hope to be fully recharged and completely over this latest psychiatric catastrophe by next week, and then I can kiss it goodbye forever and never have to revisit it ever again!...


… For the sake of other people, I’m predicting I may have to though! Arrrgggghhhhh!









Virgo season – a time for inner reflection

As I have mentioned in some of my recent posts, I’m now convinced that the astrological patterns and shifts have a direct effect on our own energy levels and therefore our mental health too.


This is something that has become more apparent to me in recent months since my patterns of insomnia and low energy have paralleled the astrological shifts in the most remarkable of ways.


I realise that this won’t be for everyone, but I strongly believe that there are a multitude of factors that affect our mental state, and if we are going to start treating people in an all-around and more complete or ‘holistic’ way, then this has got to be an element of consideration too.


Anyway, whether you believe in this stuff or not, we are now in the earth sign of Virgo which is my own star sign, so this season holds a particular significance and relevance for me personally – it does feel like a definite turning point I have to admit!









Separating the ‘wheat from the chaff’


Virgo is all about inner reflection and learning, which is why it’s no wonder that this is typically ‘back to school’ season.


It is also the season of harvest; a time for separating the wheat from the chaff so that what remains is nourishing and nutritious.


When applying this to mental health it makes sense to be focusing on; reaping the rewards of hard work, while, at the same time, removing the elements of your life that no longer support or serve you.


Virgo’s motto is:


‘I discern’

So it’s all about distinguishing and separating those things that benefit you positively and being courageous enough to let go of the things that do not!


This, once again, is so relevant to what’s going on in my own life and I have decided that this is the time to gather in the things that are important to me (writing, reading, animals, nature, knowledge, learning, education, self-development, some people, and everyone in need), and rid myself of:




1. Unhelpful and destructive people (but also a time to forgive them).



2. Quetiapine and all other poisonous psychiatric drugs that don’t serve or help me!



3. Doctors who argue over treatments and remind me of the past


{Going to doctors can become a self-fulfilling prophecy ‘I must be ill, here I go again to talk to my shrink’ NO – sod that! I am well – I am helping myself in a positive way - plus of course, I want to be able to have the disposable cash to be able to afford to speak to my uber expensive doctor!}


I will do this at a later date!





The ‘north/south divide’ and its impact on mental health: some more thoughts from my mini break in Yorkshire


It was so refreshing to be able to get away from it all and go up to North Yorkshire last week for a bit of a break and a change of scene.


This is something that I would encourage anyone who is trying to withdraw from psychiatric medications (and/or recovering from an episode of mental illness) to do; prioritise self-care, take time out for yourself, and focus on the basics of sleep, eat, drink (water), relax, recharge, and rest.


One of the most striking differences between the north of England and the south is the pace of life; it’s noticeably slower in the north and feels far more relaxed.


People have the time to ask you how you are when you order something in a shop, and it doesn’t feel as ‘cut-throat’ and ‘dog eat dog’ as it does down here!


– I’m sure all of this has an impact on our mental health, in fact, I’d love to see some stats on depression and anxiety scores for particular areas north and south – I wonder if there’s a correlation?...









Preserving nature and green spaces


The other thing I noted was that (and this is certainly true for my favourite seaside town) it remains largely untouched, and nothing has been significantly changed, trashed, or developed.


The gardens, parks, and other green spaces have survived and not been swamped with buildings and car parks – if this was the south it would have been completely ruined by now, but somehow, its managed to hang on to its original layout, and therefore its charm and character too.


All of this has made me start to consider an escape from the south as everywhere I seem to look is being trashed with buildings and development projects which doesn’t sit very well with the media messages of preserving the environment and sustaining green spaces and nature to support people’s mental health!!!


Oxfordshire is now almost completely ruined; there are major roads and motorways knifing through everywhere, the towns are sprawling out of control, there are revolting distribution warehouses going up EVERYWHERE, and HS2 is now ploughing its way through both rural parts of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, taking ancient woodlands, habitats, and general wildlife with it as it smashes its way through.


This is a total contradiction to the ‘go back to nature’ and ‘preserve the environment’ messages that we’re currently receiving in the media, and its pretty hard to understand when everyone has realised that they can work from home remotely and therefore the need for travel has decreased anyway!


As is the case with mental ‘health’ vs mental ‘illness’, once again, the crux of the problem is being overlooked since the biggest issue is with overpopulation and GREED, yet people continue to have nine children and three different families - there’s too much pressure on everything – has no one noted the fact that we live on a tiny island? When are we going to realise this, stop being selfish and think about sustainability?!


I’m sure other people’s opinions vary massively on this issue, but for those who see how ridiculous the building of this railway is, could they please sign the following petition to make sure their MP speaks out against it in a debate on the 13th September – there is still doubt over it even though they are already trashing the countryside with their metal fences and road diversions!! – It takes seconds to do so please sign, sign, sign!


Link to HS2 petition









Psychiatric hospitals are being trashed too


Everyone knows that going back to nature and returning to the basics is essential if you are going to defeat a bout of serious mental illness.

Patients need tranquility in their lives, they need to simplify things and have as much stability and peace as they possibly can.


So, bearing that in mind, I was dismayed and APPALLED once again when I walked around the Warneford psychiatric hospital in Oxford recently after visiting my friend at Littlemore.


I have such an affinity for the Warneford Hospital, which I can’t really explain because it is the scene of so much suffering and some of the most traumatic and horrendous experiences of my life! Yet at the same time, I’ve met some wonderful patients there who have now become life-long friends - so I have very mixed feelings and emotions connected to it all!


Anyway, for whatever reason, I feel very protective of the place and apart from anything it’s a beautiful listed building (unfortunately it does not look like the picture that I've added above anymore).


It was created with such obvious vision, thought, love and care by Samuel Wilson Warneford and colleagues nearly 200 years ago now, after his own experience of mental illness through his wife’s history of insanity.


He refused to have his wife committed after he witnessed the appalling the state of psychiatric care, so he kept her safe in his own home and provided the best provision of safe keeping that he could.


After her death, Warneford was insistent that psychiatric care should improve and he donated a large part of his fortune to realising this goal; the Warneford Hospital being a large beneficiary of his considerable wealth.


So, it is especially upsetting that it has now been almost completely trashed by building departments of psychiatry in the garden, a disgusting eye sore of an old rotting ward (which hasn’t been touched in four years since I was a patient in my last admission there), two DISGUSTING modern and ugly adolescent wards in the wild flower garden, and now they are building all over what remains of it with what will no doubt be another hideous eye sore, and encroaching on the beautiful Warneford Meadow too.


How is this going to be the right environment for people’s mental health?! Its just more chaos and more mayhem!


It frankly, disgusts me because whoever are the ‘brains’ behind these schemes have not got the remotest clue about how to help people in need!

God help anyone in need of future psychiatric care!









Tom’s Place


One of my aims with all of this writing is to create a ‘Tom’s Place’ in memory of my friend Tom Searle who heartbreakingly lost his battle to the devastating effects of depression. I want something good to come out of something so catastrophically bad and I know that so much can be learnt from both of our stories.


Tom’s Place will be a follow-on from the other ‘Places’ that have been set up in other lost patient’s names and be a charity that supports people (in particular young men), offering a tonne of advice, help, and guidance to anyone who is struggling with mental illness and/or having suicidal thoughts.


After seeing all of destruction going on in the Oxford area, I have had a complete rethink about what I want ‘Tom’s Place’ to represent, and I’ve decided that it will be the absolute antithesis of what’s currently going on!


There will be no buildings, car parks, or disgusting eye sores at all, in fact, I want it to have a zero carbon footprint and here’s how it will work:


Tom’s Place already exists, it is everywhere and anywhere we decide it to be. Any money that the charity generates will go towards hiring beautiful, peaceful, and natural venues at which to hold events and to pay inspiring guest speakers to come and share their experiences for the benefit of others.


This idea was inspired in part by a friend of mine who has been repeatedly shoved through the current and chaotic psychiatric system – which hasn’t helped him in even the remotest way. He said to me last weekend:



“I need either a miracle, to be able to time travel, or extensive and immense healing.”


When he said this I thought, ‘Ok I can’t really do the first two, but I can work towards realising the third! So that is what Tom’s Place will aim to provide – AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF HEALING!!


So, the next thing I need to do is start thinking about setting up ‘Tom’s Place’ as a registered charity. I need to find out much more about all of this and that’s where my new friend James comes in who I am meeting up with this Saturday….









A 50km walk for charity


This post has ballooned out of control this morning, but I just want to briefly mention my new and incredible friend, James Crystal from the charity ‘Eeverse’ who is doing so much to raise awareness and promote education through his own lived experience of mental ill health.


I spoke to James late last week and when he told me about a 50km walk he was organising from Worcester to Birmingham I immediately said I wanted to join him!


With everything that’s going on, plus the fact that I’m starting my NLP course on Monday, I have decided to just do a 12km leg of the walk with him and the other members, but I’m really excited to meet them all!


James is so inspiring and has obvious passion and drive to help and support others. If you would like to know more about his work and story, then you can find details of his charity here.


I have also added a link to his JustGiving page for anyone who would like to support this important cause which you can access here.



I will report back with how it all goes in my next post at the beginning of next week!


Thanks for reading,


Speak to you soon,

TR

www.dyingtostayalive.com



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