The following story shows how the fight to help my son, who has become embroiled in, and ultimately let down by, the British National Health System, has led to the setting up of a new Charity. This experience has convinced me that there must be ways to treat mental illness other than total reliance on drugs.
It was a typical family Christmas day when suddenly, about four o’clock in the afternoon, we realised that my son was missing. A search of the house and outside proved fruitless but at eight o’clock he arrived home, soaked to the skin, wearing someone else’s sweatshirt and his muddy trainers oozing blood. He appeared nervous and very anxious, repeating over and over that he had failed. When asked what he had failed, he said he was supposed to kill himself and use his blood to cleanse the world. He had met an old school ‘friend’ who gave him some LSD, a ‘cleansing meal’ and showed him the film ‘The Lost Labyrinth’. The local minister’s wife, who did community work helping the homeless & drug addicts, spent some time with him and felt that he had been subjected to a black magic ritual!
We looked after him for three exhausting days and nights before eventually managing to get him to the local psychiatric hospital. Unfortunately he tried to leave and had to be restrained – the police became involved and he was injected twice through his clothes. We were told that, as it was an open unit, he could not be kept there and had to be moved by ambulance to a larger secure unit which was 50 miles away. I was told he would be unconscious for hours and, as it was late, I should go home and phone the hospital in the morning. For the next 11 days, I phoned at least 3 times a day but was told I should not visit as he was very ill and very frightened. Initially I felt relief as it had all been very stressful and thought that at least he would now be treated, get better and come home. How wrong I was!!
That was in 1989 and since then he has been hospitalised 14 times, the last being more than 16 years ago, and is still in a medium secure unit with an eighteen foot wire fence around the building. In those 16 years he has been sent to three different hospitals, one of which was 250 miles away, making visiting very difficult and expensive. He has been subjected to ECT as well as a medication dosage double the manufacturer’s recommended maximum.
I was told by a consultant psychiatrist that drug treatment was the only solution but I wasn’t happy with that. Taking LSD, a mind altering chemical, had contributed to his problem so how can pumping him full of more mind altering chemicals help. There had to be another way to help my son!
There were meetings, locally and further afield, promising more help from psychiatric nurses and crisis teams but nothing really changed. However, my interest was stirred when I read a book written by Patrick Holford (Founder ION & Brain Bio Centre) on orthomolecular/nutritional medicine. I attended one of his master classes, then various conferences in London, Oxford Univ., Belgium and eventually Canada, conducting my own research and assembling the facts and figures to show that there are viable alternative treatments.
In time, I attracted a group of interested people and formed a committee to introduce the Chy-Sawel Project. We have organised several conferences featuring internationally renowned speakers to show that there are other ways of helping sufferers. By targeting NHS and health professionals, as well as carers and service users, we aim to persuade the authorities that, where antipsychotic drugs are clearly not improving a patient, they should at least make available the choice of alternative treatments.
We are all shocked by reports of abuses in Care Homes but how much do we really know of what goes on in our psychiatric institutions. Ultimately we hope to open a Centre where patients can be treated with an holistic and nutrition based regime, dispensed with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Chy-Sawel has recently been granted full charity status which will give our campaign further impetus. You can see more about us here