Hello guys! I’m so sorry not to have been around much for the last six weeks or so. I guess you could say that I decided to take a spot of annual leave from the blog; also known as getting on with a few pressing things that have cropped up taking my mind away from the clouds and this keyboard. I have loads to tell you!
I suppose my main news is that I started my new job as a human rights teacher, specifically in relation to mental health in a collective advocacy context. I have talked about my own lived experiences here in previous posts, specifically postpartum/general depression, anxiety and phobias and so this job is a dream, not only because they were looking for people with perspective on the issue, they were also looking for educators with a firm grasp on current debates and legal process around the subject matter. Having studied human rights at law school many moons ago, it really felt like the role had my name written all over it and so I just had to apply. My role is centred around a completely new project and so my new colleagues and I are getting our teeth into pulling together content and multi-media stuff and I am really enjoying meeting many in-patients at the psychiatric hospital that I am based at and collecting their lived experiences around loss of dignity and the stigma they encounter around their circumstances. We want to deliver a true-life scenario based workshop to the medics collecting CPD and all the other stakeholders who might not give the day-to-day minutuae of a sectioned individual a second thought when cutting activity budgets or cramming in extra beds. We want to get these voices heard, and by doing so hope to continue to infiltrate and conquer stigma around mental sickness and health. We all have mental health after all – one day it could quite easily be any of us waking up feeling helpless having lost our liberty for an indefinite period of time as we rely on the system to rehabilitate us. The very least we can hope for is basic dignity, kindness and supported decision making; sadly this doesn’t always happen at present and some stories feel more like the kind you would hear in a criminal justice system rather than a hospital.
Separately, but I guess on a similar theme, I have been working my other job as a lay rep in our national public health service. In this job I fill an advocacy role of a different sort; mainly acting in a capacity as the sole non-medic on committees and panels that all appraisals, interviews and audits are conducted fairly and consistently across all the individuals crossing my path. I also love this job because I learn so much about what goes on behind the scenes amongst the medics at hospitals all around the country. oooh, the politics! In my case, I am there to support the equality of process is applied to trainee medics at all stages of their journeys. I think the system works really well. Of course, these juniors probably have no idea how long and hard we discuss each case to ensure they get the right graded outcome in line with their peers.
Thirdly, tying all of this together is the fact that I have started a part-time evening course at the University of Edinburgh in social anthropology. Most of you know my love of people-watching and introspective thinking and my decision to shell out for this course has been a great one, not least given my two day-jobs allowing me to meet so many different types of people from all walks of life in the patient and medical profession. I wish I could tell you some of the stories! Perhaps versions might come out in my fiction.
Oh and I’m slowly indulging in catching up on the missed posts by you that happened whilst I was away. I have missed you!