Allies from afar

Two Norwegian voices on their experience of Cornwall A Disorder for Everyone!

On 13th February A Disorder for Everyone was held in Cornwall and attended by over 120 people.

Two of those who came were two allies from Norway. Siv and Inger-Mari share their thoughts about the day here.

I want to thank you all at AD4E and the Women’s Centre in Cornwall, for a great conference. I hope to be able in some way to contribute to a conference in Norway where the AD4E team can come and share their thoughts and ideas.

Drop The Disorder Roll Up BannersFor those of us who have had medicalised explanations imposed on us rather than painful experiences acknowledged it is an opportunity to come together to challenge the existing paradigm. I have always believed that it’s a lie and I have struggled to contain the frustration that I have felt for so many years. After participating in the conference, I can say: I will no longer accept not being heard. The time has come for change.

In her introduction to the day Jo pointed out how ubiquitous the biomedical model is. It is there in every direction we look and hard to escape from.

One thing that really resonated was a quote Jo shared from a survivor who said..  “They put labels onto me that acknowledged nothing about what happened and who was responsible. Then they gave me drugs which cemented my belief that this illness was the cause of my struggles. No one asked me what had happened. No one!”

I am continually frustrated – why don’t people working in mental health services meet people’s need to be empowered by asking: What do you need and what has happened to you?

Presentation 1 CornwallToday’s regime in mainstream psychiatry with its symptom-focus has to come to an end. Medicating human reactions and experiences to adversity, poverty, racism, bullying, attachment difficulties and abuse must stop.

Thank’s to Viv: You really touched my heart with your poems.
Thank’s also to Bec, Maggie, Kate, Pat, Matt and Akima and Michelle for the inspirational and empowering contributions to a day that left me with a renewed commitment to fight for change.

Siv Helen Rydheim – Writer, Activist, Survivor

Hurdal, Norway

Siv works in Norway’s first Recovery-oriented Medication-free hospital. Robert Whitaker visited Siv’s workplace in 2019, which resulted in this MIA report, published December 8, 2019:

We are not mad, not ill - but we need our stories to be heard and validated!

I want to thank you for such a great day with you all in Cornwall! 

Presentation 2 CornwallJo Watson started with an introduction to the day where she spoke generally about the culture of diagnosis and disorder and how emotional distress is pathologised and stories are unheard.

Viv Gordon came next. She made me cry with her powerful survivor poetry that challenged what we have been told by psychiatry about women. 

From the time of Freud with his theory about ‘hysteria’ to today when the vast majority of those given a diagnosis of ‘BPD’ are women survivors. Listening to this gave me strength since when I first encountered psychiatry I have found that the voice of women has been difficult to find.

Then Maggie Parks the CEO of The Women’s Centre Cornwall speaks! She reminded us of classic feminist literature, and told us about the work that the Womens Centre in Cornwall does.

The day continued in the same vain with strong voices: Pat McAardle, Matt Ball, Kate Atkinson, and Akima who spoke about the the HER model. 

Workshops were on the Power Threat Meaning Framework facilitated by Matt Ball from Australia and a critical discussion about trauma informed practice taken by Akima Thomas and Michelle Springer-Benjamin.

Presentation 3 CornwallBec Bayliss was with us throughout the whole day as compare – what an energy! I loved her!

When the day was over I was so full of enthusiasm and I have returned to Norway with a renewed fire to fight against the pathologising of people’s lives and pain. 

The biomedical model of psychiatry must go! 

Thank You everyone involved! We are not mad, not ill – but we need our stories to be heard and validated!

I hope that people in Norway working in psychiatry will wake up and join us in the fight! In Cornwall I met survivors and professionals all working and campaigning together! 

Inger-Mari Eidsvik – Trauma-psychotherapist, Activist, Survivor
Ålesund Norway 

Inger-Mari works in outpatient clinic in multidisciplinary team in Norway.