My health and my life have been destroyed by iatrogenic harm from benzodiazepines and antidepressants. I therefore spend my time campaigning to raises awareness of the extremely damaging effects of these drugs in order to prevent harm to others. I believe this is an extremely valuable thing to do particularly as I am in bed most of the time, having been left physically disabled and cognitively impaired. After all the medical profession seemed largely unaware of the immense problems associated with antidepressant and benzodiazepine withdrawal or the widespread nature of these problems. As patient campaigners, we have liaised with the British Medical Association, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prescribed Drug Dependence, we have petitioned the Scottish Parliament and contributed to many other aspects of a very valuable campaign. Public Health England is currently carrying out a year long review of prescribed drug dependence and will report in 2019.
I recently responded to a tweet by The Bipolar Doc as can be seen from this thread. I very much appreciated the kind response. I always appreciate kindness and understanding from a medical doctor even if it is only on Twitter and would hope I always express my gratitude.
I responded to Bipolar Doc in good faith. I have been very distressed in recent years by the lack of honesty, empathy and compassion from a series of doctors I have consulted locally about the disastrous consequences to my health from prescribed drug withdrawal which have left me so very disabled.
The next day I was astonished to find that Prof Clare Gerada had sent me the following tweet and that she had blocked me on Twitter. I had not directed my comments to Prof Gerada and any suggestion that she is responsible for the behaviour of my doctors in Scotland is quite ludicrous. She said:
“Your tweets are affecting my mental health. They distress me. You appear to blame me for things outside my control. I am sorry but I am going to block you.”
I have criticised Prof Gerada for the fact she downplayed benzodiazepine withdrawal on national radio and proceeded to do the same in a recent Royal Society of Medicine podcast with regard to SSRI withdrawal. She has a great deal of influence and the prescribed harmed community has struggled hard to get the issues around withdrawal taken seriously. She could have used her position to assist us instead of making things more difficult for us. Prof Gerada has shown no empathy or understanding towards those of us who campaign to prevent further harm to patients and this of course replicates the behaviour of most of the doctors I have consulted locally. I find it baffling.
I was then made aware that Emily McKee, dietician, had joined the thread and had posted the following comment.
“Block and delete lovely, When people are so set in their views, you have no chance of changing them, its not worth your emotional labour. Save that for people whose minds are open at least a little, enough to listen and consider.”
Emily, a healthcare professional, knows nothing about me. She has never communicated with me. She knows nothing about the campaigning work I have undertaken. Yet she has decided I am “set in my views” and I am not worthy of “emotional labour”. Her mind is so closed that she proceeded to block me so I cannot even respond. I doubt she even realised what she was doing or how closed her mind appears to be. She has also blocked a fellow campaigner, Andy d’Allesio, himself subjected to appalling treatment by psychiatry.
Is this really acceptable behaviour for a healthcare professional on social media?
Emily has made snap judgements about people she knows nothing about and has made derogatory comments to boot.
Or perhaps she has been following our campaign for a long time. Perhaps she could let me know. I would be interested in her views even though she is clearly not interested in mine. I hope she does not judge her patients in the way she has judged me.
I would appreciate an apology from both Prof Gerada and Emily McKee. They know how to unblock me and I am ready to communicate with them. Or they can respond on my blog.
I cannot for the life of me imagine blocking someone on Twitter when I know nothing about them and have never communicated with them unless I suspected some sinister purpose. Closed minds indeed. The irony of it all.
I have received two responses from Emily McKee.
“As people who have also experienced trauma, I would have thought that should be quite understandable to you and Fiona. I suggested that Clare do the same for her mental health with the same sentiment. I don’t tell you how to deal with your trauma. I’d appreciate the same courtesy”
“You don’t seem to realise that I was not responding as a professional but as a patient. I choose to block some topics from my timeline that remind me of my own trauma within the mental health system as a PATIENT. I avoid certain triggers for my own wellbeing because of trauma?”
I can understand why people wish to avoid triggers if they have been traumatised and everyone can take measures to protect themselves. However, this can be done without criticising others who are expressing genuine opinions. It is possible to mute a thread for example without making negative judgements about the other participants. I remain disappointed that I and others have been judged without good reason. I also remain baffled about why my tweets about my doctors in Scotland should be distressing to Prof Gerada. Perhaps Emily is unaware that Prof Gerada prefers not to engage with campaigners so I am not sure how it is possible to have a dialogue in those circumstances. But apparently it is we the campaigners who have the closed minds.
Were the above exchanges contrived, I suspect they were, I do not find any of the above genuine. I see things much more clearly now that I am not on prescribed medication, the drugs clouds one’s judgement greatly. Traumatised patients do not generally denigrate other traumatised patients as Emily McKee has done without good reason.