To Theresa May

Via a Rethink Mental Illness campaign. The bit in italics is my addition. Yes, I did send it.

Dear Prime Minister,

Why do you hate mentally ill people like myself? Are you doing this to push many of us over the edge so that we won’t be such a burden on hard-working taxpayers? I used to think that sort of belief was paranoia but I’m not so sure any more. You’ll never know how terrifying that is. Believing your own government hates you so much that they’re actively reducing your support in order to encourage you to kill yourself. I guess this is what passes for Compassionate Conservativism.

I am writing to ask you to reverse the changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) regulations, which came into force last week.

I am deeply concerned that these changes undermine two recent Upper Tribunal rulings, which would have broadened the reach of PIP. This will prevent people with mental health conditions from accessing financial support to carry out daily tasks such as planning and making a journey – potentially risking isolation.

This is in stark contrast to your Government’s welcome commitment to delivering parity of esteem between physical and mental health.

Please will you reconsider, so that people with mental health conditions have access to the same vital financial support as those with physical disabilities?

Yours sincerely,

Me

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Updating an anxiety meme

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“My anxiety: Something’s off
Me: How so?
Anxiety: Something’s wrong
Me: What?
Anxiety: Something
Me: Like can you give me a general idea?
Anxiety: Something’s off”

A friend posted this and it got me thinking. My anxiety definitely does this but it also has other methods of attack.

Like this one:

Anxiety: *snores*
Me: I’m not anxious.
Anxiety: . . . !
Me: Why am I not anxious? Actually this is rather pleasant.
Anxiety: *wakes up*
Me: Er . . .
Anxiety: Did you miss me? By the way, something’s wrong.

And this one:

Anxiety: *snores*
Me: I’m not anxious.
Anxiety: *snores*
Me: Why am I not anxious?
Anxiety: Did you say something?
Me: What have I forgotten about?
Anxiety: Panic stations! Red alert!
Me: Argh argh argh!!!

Anxiety is a nasty bugger.

TW: Mental illness and suicidal thoughts

“Disability benefits should go to “really disabled people” not those “taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety”, a key Theresa May aide says.
No 10 policy unit head George Freeman said personal independence payments (PIP) reforms were needed to roll back the “bizarre” decisions of tribunals.”

Disability benefits: PIPs should be for ‘really disabled’

Bizarre. Awarding disability benefits to mentally ill people is “bizarre.”
Acceptable disabilities according to the Tories’ own press release: visual impairment, kidney failure.
Unacceptable disabilities: “psychological distress” meaning anxiety/mental illness.

I don’t think they understand what pathological anxiety actually is. It’s not feeling sick and terrified before an exam. Apparently that’s pretty common and fairly normal. This anxiety is waking up most mornings and feeling so sick to your stomach about, well, when barely awake I’ve no idea what caused it, that you cannot face getting out of bed because you feel like you’re going to die if you try to do anything at all. And actually wishing you hadn’t woken up and had died in your sleep instead. This is me four or five mornings a week. And almost every night. Could be worse. Could be all day, every day. I do get some respite. Not much but some but I generally have to spend that either recovering from the rest of the stuff or fixing all the things that got left behind when I was too ill to do anything and that’s exhausting and makes the anxiety come back with a vengeance . . .

I’ve tried various things to get over it like thinking about my friend’s adorable kids but all that does is make me associate the kids with the anxiety. Every thing else I’ve tried either doesn’t work or makes it worse. I just have to ride it out and hope it will pass before I need to leave the house.

I know I posted the government’s press release on this subject a couple of days ago along with a rant but this aide’s comments needed destroying.

UK government promoting mental illness stigma and discrimation

Changes to personal independence payment

Tory ministers have rewritten the law to deny increased disability benefit payments to more than 150,000 people

This press release has just confirmed that Tories don’t think mental illness is anywhere near as bad as physical illness. How on earth are we supposed to eliminate the stigma and discrimination that goes along with mental illness when our own government actively encourages it? These privileged people have zero understanding of just how debilitating mental illness can be and no empathy. We’re doomed.
 

Do not trust JobcentrePlus staff – they do not have your best interests at heart.

I turned the broken beyond repair door into an art project for our Out Of Sight Out Of Mind exhibition at Summerhall as part of SMHAFF 2016.
DWP Calling

I’m in the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance so I have to talk to a JobcentrePlus person at least every six months. At my last “interview” the JobcentrePlus employee, “P”, lied about where it was supposed to take place. He told me I was supposed to have attended the Jobcentre itself which is a lie because I got it changed to a telephone appointment and my MP’s assistant remembers me making the phone call to make that change. P is a liar.

P then tried to force me to take medication and therapy against my psychiatrist’s advice. My psychiatrist says I’m as well as can be expected and I’m not to rock the boat. Medication does not help me and there is no specific therapy available for my condition in my area. P thinks he knows better than my psychiatrist. P also gave me incorrect information about the Mental Health Information Station at the Walpole Hall. He told me they do therapy there. They don’t.

By the end of the “interview” he’d harrassed me so much that he’d pushed me into suicidal ideation. Instead of ascertaining where I was and who I was with (he knew I wasn’t at home) he sent the police round to my house. The police broke down my door leaving me out £150 for my insurance excess as the door was beyond repair. He did this to me despite my warning him just how fragile I am. I felt bullied and threatened and intimidated and I still feel that way. I freak out whenever I hear someone with a similar accent to his. The police were furious with him too. He wasted their time and by not giving them complete information he potentially jeopardised my life. He didn’t give them my mobile number, just my address and he knew I wasn’t there. The police only found me because my mobile number was on a crime I’d reported back in 2002 and I hadn’t changed it. If P had asked where I was and if I was alone he would have discovered that I was with my carer who is capable of dialling 999 if necessary. My carer chose to talk me down rather than needlessly escalating the situation. It would have worked if Jobcentre P hadn’t been so incompetent.

I’m terrified I’ll be sanctioned because I refuse to disobey my psychiatrist. I cannot comply with JobcentrePlus demands because my psychiatrist will not give me medication. What am I supposed to do? Buy random psychoactive substances on the street? I’m terrified. I honestly don’t know how much more of this I can take. I’m fighting suicidal thoughts every single day but the actions of the DWP/JobcentrePlus just make it worse. They claim they’re doing this to help us but they’re not. They’re making things worse. Much worse.

Brexit and consequences…

Paul Bernal's Blog

Yesterday morning I tweeted about Brexit (as I’ve done a fair number of times), and it went just a little bit viral. Here’s the tweet:

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-09-48-14

It was an off-the-cuff Tweet, and I had no idea that people would RT it so much, nor that it would provoke quite as many reactions as it has. I’ve replied to a few, but, frankly, it’s not possible to reply to all. The responses, however, have been quite revealing in many ways. As usual, people read Tweets in different ways, and of course this particular Tweet is far from unambiguous. I was asked many times what is the ‘this’ that I’m saying is the fault of the ‘Brexit people’. And who I meant by ‘Brexit people’. I was told I was wrong to lump all Brexit people together. And that we should be looking for unity, not stoking the fires of division.

Some thought…

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Are we OK, you and I, after you voted to destroy my dreams?

This is beautiful.

Andrew Reid Wildman, artist, photographer, writer, teacher

I feel like someone has taken something dear to me, my identity, my connection to my continent, and they have killed it. If you voted Leave, I hope you are prepared to take responsibility for what you have done, and that you do not regret it. It is over to you now, to sort out. Some friends view my reaction as an affront. That I am ‘dissing” them. It is not. It is just that you have killed something that was precious to me. You have created a country around me that I do not recognise, which feels broken and insular. That was your right to do that, you voted the way you thought was best. And you won and I lost. But in so doing you destroyed something. Many of you are now regretting your vote. Save your tears, I do not want to hear them lest I scream…

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Some thoughts on bubbles

Given the 75% of Edinburgh wanted to stay in the EU and that most of the people I know live in Edinburgh it makes it harder to find people who disagree. And as most of the Leave voters I’ve had the misfortune of meeting have been of the racist variety, why on earth would I maintain contact with them? The “bubble” concept troubles me. In my experience the people who go on about me living in a bubble or echo chamber usually have a hell of a lot more privilege than me. Maintaining contact with someone who hates PoC or immigrants or perceived immigrants is not good for my mental health. The same goes for any other minority group. It’s not like we’re hiding away from those views. We can’t. The right wing media is full of them and online comments are full of those bigoted opinions and our coworkers and random people at bus stops come out with them. We know how the rest of the country thinks. We just need to look after ourselves. So before you chastice us for choosing to live in bubbles remember this, many of us do it in order to stay alive. It’s not that we’re not open to opposing viewpoints but when those viewpoints say that we should be afforded the same rights as everyone else or shouldn’t even be allowed to live in this country or live at all then they and the people who espouse them can FUCK RIGHT OFF!

Mental illness is real

All the snide comments about nut allergy warnings not being comparable to “trigger warnings” got me thinking. This is not complete but I had to get it down. Please be kind. I can’t take much at the moment.

0.05 – 2% of the population have experienced anaphylaxis. It has a mortality rate of around 1%. Borderline personality disorder has an incidence of between 1 and 2% in the general population but 10% of us will complete suicide compared with 1% of the general population. 70% of people with BPD have attempted suicide and many of them have made multiple attempts which could result in morbidity. It’s commonly accepted in the psychiatric profession that it can take very little to send someone with BPD into a crisis state where suicide attempts are much more likely to happen. (That’s even part of our diagnostic criteria!)

Knowing all of that, can anyone explain why warnings for things that might be likely to trigger someone with BPD (or any other mental health condition) are so despised? Or should I just assume that people who hate trigger warnings also hate people with mental health conditions?

I’m miserable and I’m tired and I almost wish I understood why some people are so nasty that they’d rather put lives at risk than live with a few extra words in front of some things. There’s part of me that doesn’t want to know because I’m not sure if I can deal with that much hatred.