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What do I think employment figures mean?

Seems like every time these figures come out, if they are preferable, the government takes credit.

That's as bonkers as DEFRA claiming that, if the weather's nice, it's down to the government. I'm surprised they haven't tried that one yet.

The Tories have done precisely nothing to positively affect labour market conditions, how can they? They would argue their policies favouring low tax and no regulation (i.e. no workers rights) make Britain attractive for employers. But the truth is that it is demand that drives employment; no boss is going to hire people just because he has less red tape to deal with and less corporation tax to pay because that would eat into his profit margin.

If there's increased demand for his commodity then that is the most likely - but by no means guaranteed - stimulus for taking on more staff. But even then it is just as, possibly more so, likely that he will simply cut his wage bill (again, the issue of curtailing workers rights and pu…

Experiment 2 - Class War!

Another opportunity to stare at an overgrown reed bed - this time with added fencing!

You can also listen to me rant some more about that bizarre human mantis aristocrat, Mogg, as well as the recent nonsense about falling unemployment, and the general class war that I think we're in (were we ever out?).


Thanks for watching, I intend to look into the unemployment thing a bit more.

Experiment 1 - Moggadons All Round

I thought I'd try something. I made a Youtube clip while I was out on walkabout. Please enjoy an incoherent rant surrounding by dying plants. Feel free to like (or not), subscribe (or not), or ignore, or whatever. This is just, as they say, a test.


Experiments in Sound and Vision

Youtube is all the rage these days - that is, there are a lot of angry people on Youtube spreading rage, and indeed outrage.

However I'm posting this as an experiment: I'm tempted to dip my toe into the Youtube water. I've participated in Hangouts (conference calls on Youtube using Google + accounts) before and now I'm interested in finding out if there's enough interest in hosting such things, with a view to discussing the sorts of issues I talk about here.

Of course that means addressing such issues as anonymity and privacy since no one should be forced to show themselves on camera or risk being doxxed. People that do that are just bullies and I want nothing to do with them.

There's a lot of angry right wing trolls on Youtube, they spread a lot of bullshit from the comfort of their Patreon-fuelled armchairs. It would be interesting to hear, in a respectful space, a discussion of how things can be different and better in our broken country.

One day I'll g…

U.N. and Them

What are my thoughts on this?

It's a humanitarian crisis. Is that a phrase we should only reserve for famines in Africa or force majeure? We seem to have a blind spot to these things when they are on our own doorstep - it couldn't happen here, could it?

Yes.

Seven years of the most brutal selfish and greedy governance, not to mention the least competent, has brought us to the point where the United Nations are telling the Tories they are causing a 'human catastrophe' amongst the disabled and the sick. This is not the first time, and even that doesn't include their comments on the hated and spiteful (not to mention ineffectual) Bedroom Tax.

Do the Tories persist with these policies because they actually believe they are correct or even moral?

Or is it because they have no other way to appease the media attack dogs and/or the braying Shirefolk that delight in persecuting the poor as they do torturing foxes and badgers?

Is it both?

We have a government, in a first wor…

Diagnosis

It occurred to me, on the way back from Tesco earlier (always fun), that the notion of mental health diagnosis is completely wrong. Or at least inflexible.

As those who follow this blog may recall, I've been chasing an ASD (autism spectrum disorder) for several years; specifically in regards to Aspergers syndrome.

My diagnosis was based on a mode selected by the diagnostic team with a binary outcome: either I 'pass' or 'fail'. That is to say: either I meet their criteria, or I don't. I didn't and so they dismissed me as being 'ok' and leaving me to the tender mercies of societal expectations and norms. Something that I (and one of the reasons for seeking a diagnosis) find difficult.

This binary approach seems to me incredibly flawed. It does nothing to address the reality of the patients experience - even if we consider whether or not that experience is 'real'. What does it even mean for an experience of mental health to be real? If I feel t…

The New Support...Same As the Old?

So I've taken up with a new social enterprise; they are called Team North Somerset (or something - it's hard differentiating actual names from buzzwords and slogans). They get lottery funding until the end of 2019 (Brexit? Coincidence?) with which to help.

And to be fair, so far, they seem pretty decent. I'm not going to lie - they are certainly a vast improvement over previous agencies. I think that's because it doesn't come with a DWP pricetag. So far they are not holding my ESA to ransom, unfortunately the government are.

I should caveat that this could change at any moment. It's been my experience with these agencies that, at first they are willing to put you at ease. But later on they stop caring. Again this might be because of the connection of these groups to the DWP and a payment by results motif. But one must always be guarded dealing with these groups. That's unfortunate, but necessary.

However the fundamental, structural, issues remain: this grou…

Hell Bound for Kekistan

What is happening in the world?

It seems there has been a noticeable lurch to the right. Not just under the Tory jackboot of austerity, but in general, across the western world, for a lot longer than seven years.

It seems the systems that exist are being challenged such that what we are now seeing with the shiny whitey faces of the so called 'alt right' is the screaming voice of aggrieved privilege. These are people who think they are entitled to be the dominant group; white makes right, apparently. So that when other groups in society speak out and say "what about us?" the response isn't to address the systemic oppression and inequality they face, but to call them entitled and castigate them for daring to even speak.

We are told that multiculturalism has failed. Of course it hasn't. How many times during the day do you interact in a society that has a diverse melting pot of peoples? How often during that day do you suffer because of it? If you got cut up by …

That Time Again

All it takes is one snap of the letterbox, a single envelope glides onto the carpet, and there it is...that time again.

I knew what it was even before I picked it up. I could tell by the shape and size of the letter, even the amount of creasing at the corners. Another ESA form to fill in; the precursor to another WCA.

How I've gotten this far I don't know, but I really don't fancy my chances this time.

The machine never sleeps. There is no respite.

I have a month to fill it in and return it and then who knows how long before the second letter appears telling me to attend at their pleasure. Whatever the time, whatever the day or month. That's how it works. You have absolutely no say in the matter, you don't have any voice in how this process is carried out. That's the level of intrinsic distrust that operates in this society. Why should we accommodate your needs, they say, we think you're taking the piss. 

And then after that ordeal, the gnawing tension of w…

More Support?

Perhaps my cup runneth over. Another social enterprise has appeared; they are called Team North Somerset. They have lottery funding that lasts until the end of 2019 (at which point...who knows).

I had a meeting with one of their "wellbeing and work coaches" the other day. She seemed nice, but then they all do. The person I saw years ago from Working Links was friendly at first, and then, once you're on board, they completely flip. Will that be the case? Who knows. I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not confident.

To be fair, they are not beholden (as far as I can tell) to the DWP so there can be no threats of sanctions or penalties unlike on the Work Programme or any of their vile subsidiaries. But the fundamental problems still remain: these organisations at best mean well, but they can't address the root cause of people's problems caused by structural oppression.

What I suspect is that it will be the usual mild mannered mood mus…

Support - an example

So the latest instance of support predictably didn't materialise.

One of the more pernicious aspects of the 'doctor/patient' relationship (by doctor I mean any relevant authority) is that if you don't try whatever is put in front of you, you are deemed to be feckless. This of course isn't the sole purview of the mental health 'service'.

What makes it so pernicious is that, deep down, you just know that you are wasting your time. When it comes to actions intended for mental health, it is even more counter productive.

And so it is with the last piece of advice given to me by the 'Wellness Advisor' from Positive Step (the local sole purveyor of simplistic mental health solutions - ugh, solutions, what a word). In respect of help regarding a bus pass, which I sorely need given how isolated I am, he agreed that I needed one, but refused to sign off on one. Instead I was to speak to another social enterprise knowing full well that they couldn't. Guess…

Why Anarchy Is Needed 1

Firstly, thanks to the kind peeps that responded to my last post. It's gratifying to know people are interested in what I have to say, even though there are far more informed people out there than myself. All support is muchly appreciate.

So, I came across this the other day:

A serving firefighter, London fire Brigade: On Friday I went to see my local MP, Crispin Blunt to ask why he thought it appropriate to continue to vote for a 1% pay rise for Public sector workers. He explained to me what austerity meant and why we all had to do our bit. I asked him how he was doing his bit by claiming over £20,000 a year for 5 years on a second home which proved to be his main home given his kids lived there and they went to school round the corner. How did claiming over 2k for airbricks and another few thousand for fireplace repairs was contributing to saving the country money? He seemed at a loss how to explain the 5k he claimed for DFS furniture. He sold the second house, bought a bigger hou…

Anybody Out There?

Just so I can be sure this is being read at all and decide whether it's worth continuing, please shout out in the comments. Even if you think I'm talking barmy bollocks, it'd be helpful to know if there are people reading this and not weird bots from phishing sites or Russian hackers or some weird sentient algorithm.

Apologies if you are none of those things, but I'm considering what to do with this blog.

Thanks

Our Crisis

So that's it; six months of waiting for an appointment, being seen, and receiving absolutely nothing. It was summed up in a phone call. With a voice message I am discharged from the frontline mental health service that has offered nothing in all that time. They tell me they have nothing to offer. I say they haven't even tried.

I was on the verge of tears when I made contact in January. The thought of having to wait 8 weeks to be even put on the list was unbearable. Now it's July and what is there to show for it? All they have done is send me questionnaires asking me my mood and deciding their level of interaction on the basis of a number. Doesn't that just say it all? That a person's mental and emotional well being can be reduced to a number and a number is the difference between what they perceive as well or not.

This is what we have come to. Despite a list of promises as long as Jacob's ladder, there is nothing for people like me. There is no support, just an…

Stepping Off

So that's that.

After 6 months, my 'treatment' at the hands of the appalling Positive Step ends with a phone call (missed, thanks to our shitty network coverage). All I have to show for it is a message that amounts to thanks very much, goodbye.

The guy apparently had a pow wow with my GP wherein they both agreed they had nothing to offer and nowhere to offer it. Sure they can agree that it would be great if someone else could offer help - such as signing off on a bus pass - but neither of them will actually do it themselves because...reasons.

That's that. Cut loose.

I've spent more time waiting for appointments than actually in them.

Not once have I been offered any form of scheme, treatment, method or approach. Not a single thing - though I'm sure they would take great umbrage at that, because that's all these people seem to be good for. Even the talk of social phobia was scotched. This was because I was attending a very casual 7 week creative writing cour…

Stepping Out part 8

I was supposed to have an appointment last week. The 'wellness advisor', who has yet to advise me of anything wellness-inducing, was supposed to be talking to my GP about my need for an Aspergers diagnosis, or similar. Of course that didn't happen. I rang up Positive Step and was told it was instead scheduled for tomorrow.

More gaslighting; that is not what was arranged. They will swear blind that was the original arrangement so there's no point discussing it.

That's two weeks without any contact or appointment. At this point I'm about ready to make a formal complaint - if I thought doing so would make any difference. Unfortunately there is no alternative; there are no other services. No one is listening.

In six months I have received no support, no help, nothing. This cannot go on.

Stepping Out part 7

After an unexplained two week absence my latest appointment lasted all of about five minutes. He hadn't had the opportunity to speak to my GP, not sure how or why but there you go. This is apparently going to happen next week after which, at some random time, he will contact me. This will be a waste of time since nothing will come of this. Why, because he is the person who's supposed to be helping me according to the service the GP referred me to.

An absolutely spot on example of this came when he finished by telling me he had an idea of how I could obtain a bus pass. Remember, this is something he agreed I should have access to (important point). He had discovered another patient, with similar issues, had been referred to another social enterprise called Alliance Housing. I don't know much about them, but they do much the same thing as he does and the rest of these groups.

You might think, ok fair enough; give them a call. That's fine and I did (six week waiting list …

Capitalism's Inferno

Some people might think it poor taste to 'politicise' or make political 'capital' out of a tragedy.

Those people are wrong.

They are also usually the sort that defends the system that, demonstrably, leads to the deaths of innocent working class people lashed up in firetraps such as we have seen.

Make no mistake this is political. It always was and, if things inexplicably don't change, they always will. Not since the miners strike - and perhaps not even that - will you see such a verdant example of how not only capitalism fails but communism works.

It is capitalism and nothing else that has created the conditions wherein ordinary human beings, citizens of this mean malfeasant land.

The drive for profit encourages the kind of corner cutting that leads to sub standard workmanship performed on the very homes people are forced - and make no mistake no one chooses to live in high rise deathtraps - to live in.

The capitalist class structure allows those who cut costs to j…

Stepping Out 6

Didn't post after last week, which was stupid, as now I have to remember why I wasn't impressed afterwards.

I think it was because in so many ways this kind of mental health support feels like gaslighting. Previously he had asserted strongly I have social phobia, getting me to fill in a qustionaire. Next thing he's telling me that's not the case in such a way that I feel I've had my time wasted. I don't think that I don't have a degree of it either, but because I manage to do a thing, such as go to an increasingly racist* support place (1in4, weston super mare), therefore all the inner struggle involved in achieving that counts for nothing. That isn't helpful at all.
So today's appointment isn't happening. In fact neither is next week's - they tell me this quite matter of factly. It's as if the support isn't needed, and this is just a minor inconvenience. Oh there's nothing in the diary for next week so no appointment. It's a…

Stepping Out 5

You know I find these phone consultations to be hard work. I don't know whether it's the format or the endless questionnaire that I have to fill out every week, or the constant need on their part to reassure themselves I'm not going to slash my wrists. What would they do with a patient that said they were going to: have them arrested? Sectioned? I can't imagine many people in that positoin feel compelled to be honest. That's the problem with our system: it's not there to help you, it's there to impose a particular authority upon you. You WILL be made well.

Apparently my questionnaire response was slightly more positive this week. So what? Doesn't really mean anything. Assigning numbers to questions on a piece of paper is a poor reflection of real life. It doesn't address or assist with any of the issues at hand. Of course helping with those issues, social isolation, financial insecurity, the reality I am never going to find a career, and the cost of…

Stepping Out 4

Been a little while since last we 'stepped out', but as of last week I see to have a stable service, albeit on the phone.

Over the phone is a little difficult. It makes interaction difficult. Even though social environments can be tricky for me (I tend to tire when I'm asked lots of questions, especially ones that are devoid of necessary context), the telephone is much more of an effort. I feel I have to speak even when I'd rather not because that's much more necessary. I have to acknowledge every spoken word much more. It's harder work.

That said they seem to have found someone who, despite the service's unfortunate propensity for endless endless questions and questionnaires, has a better understanding of my situation. Of course he doesn't personally have the power to solve these issues, at least he recognises that social isolation is a major problem and that without recourse to affordable (preferably free) public transport nothing he offers will be wo…

Every Day is on Shifting Sands

Just read the local rag. The headline: an ex serviceman commits suicide. He couldn't cope.

Who can live like that?

There is no security in this society. One day you can be financially secure, the next you are dependent on the generosity of aggrieved millionaires who, for long ages in this country, have cornered the seat of power. They control the education establishments that are little more than breeding pits for government. They learn the special handshakes that move them, like fat chess pieces, across the board that is our society. Guess who the pawns are.

Who can live like that?

If you are out of work every day is on shifting sands. You are running just to stand still, just to stay in place. Yours is the lot of people who would otherwise be peers and comrades were it not for artifical barriers that separate us. These are the administrators of a system they do not control that keeps them frightened. To process that they must persecute us. They must make us jump through the most …

Yet Again, There Is No Help (part infinite)

How many different ways are there to say the same thing, and make the same point?

There just isn't help.

At all.

At.

All.

After a night of no sleep, and a sweaty subconsciousness pricking and intensifying my fear of a Tory majority, I decide to make a GP appointment to get a referral to the Primary Care Liaison Service for mental health. These are supposed to be the experts, unfortunately the GP can't guarantee they will listen. The main reason for this is that Positive Step (see my Stepping Out posts) have been given monopoly over provision.

I fully expect that, as I'm not schizophrenic or psychotic, so they won't be interested.

What is most frustrating is that, the more limited the options, the more disinterested the doctor. They have less to offer and so the less they seem to care. This is a weird and disturbing corollary.

The message here is: depression (aka "low mood") is not a serious issue. The pervasive level of stress in our society has increased suc…

Oh Snap! part 1

So there's a general election.

Again.

Which means there will be a Tory government.

Again.

Let's face it, Britain is lost to the right wing screaming xenophobic aristocratic pauper hating desperadoes who use deception and mendacity to ascend to power.

There really is no choice: as much as I would like to see revolution in this society, led by the people for the people (no Chairman Mao's thank you), it isn't going to happen. We weren't going to have that happening in 2020; we certainly ain't gonna get it in six weeks.

We must therefore do whatever it takes to oust the Tories. What they have wrought in 7 years, with or without LibDem help, has proved more than enough. We cannot take anymore. There must be an end so that we can stop the bleeding.

To that end it's got to be, where possible, a Labour vote. Of course since our system is such a blighted mess that won't always be possible. It may even be necessary to return one of those vile yellow bellies. I ha…

Stepping Out part 3

You know the more this continues, the less interesting and helpful it becomes.

After last week's bus related detour and this weeks annual leave, I was contacted by Positive Step to find out that next week's appointment is also being cancelled. This because of complex internal reasons...maybe. I don't actually know because they wouldn't tell me.

I did complain and got a call back from a manager today who told me, having been appraised of the situation (itself a surprise!) that I was offered telephone appointments by my 'not-a-doctor' person. This is news to me. I decided I would pursue this path as it seems far too a herculean task to actually get to and complete these ridiculous appointments.

I suspect half the appointment will be taken up with them having to go through their assessment form with me over the phone. Since they can't give me the form and have me do this at home it is going to prove to be a complete farce. You might think they could just, I do…

The Sun Never Shines

Liverpool has the right idea...ban Scumbag reporters from football matches.

I'd go a step further and throw them off a cliff  and ban the Sun altogether. Free speech is a wonderful dream, but in our society it just doesn't work. We don't let people shout fire in a busy marketplace, etc. Why should we let millionaire news barons taint the public psyche?

And yet we do, as evidenced by the seemingly consequence-free hateful hijinks of Kelvin Mackenzie, a professional bigot and arsehole who, while lambasting the unemployed for their perceived fecklessness, accepts no responsibility for the shit he spews.

However it seems a recent 'article', vomited from his own hate glands, has landed him in 'hot water'. It won't last though, there is no way the Scum is ever going to sack him. Why would they? This is all part of the plan. These articles are not published accidentally, nor are they written so. They are all according to the vile agenda these vicious rags have…

Jobcentre Minus?

Came across this article in the Mirror, regarding plans to 'divest' or close Jobcentres.

Of the two centres near me, one is listed as planned for closure. Ironically it is the one that, thanks to the bus service previously 'divesting' its service from that route, I can't get to with any reliability (unless I want to sit on a bench for two hours either way). This doesn't really help me because it happens to be a preferable (i.e. quieter) choice; the other one is in a bigger town and is thus a lot busier.

I don't like busier anymore than I trust the ageing overweight security guards to keep me safe if it all kicks off.

When I was last there, it was to pay off a budgeting loan (they don't exist anymore) from the DWP. I had previously rung the Budgeting Loans department to ask and was told that I could attend and make a payment in person. I happened to have the means to pay it off and thought it was the best course of action (you may well ask why I'd wa…

Converations with Men in Ill Fitting Suits

So it's ridiculous enough that Bristol has a mayor (because he's a complete waste of space), but now there's to be a 'Metro Mayor'. Another pointless position to milk the gravy train, invented by god knows who. Jobs for the boys. This boy in particular is former LibDem scumbag, and Bristol MP, Stephen Williams.

Now that the Coalition has dissolved, and the Tories turned on their former lackeys, Mr Williams wants to get his snout back in the trough. He was outside College Green today with a sad little stall and a couple of students handing out equally sad leaflets. No one really wants a Metro Mayor, other than the people who want to be Metro Mayor.

I asked him some questions. I mentioned the Bedroom Tax as a hideous legacy of his party in government. He wasn't best pleased, but bizarrely tried to defend it claiming that his constituency was filled with people inadequately housed in accommodation too small for their needs. This is utterly bizarre: if people are i…

Stepping Out Part 2

This isn't going to be much of an entry. Reason being there wasn't a part 2.

Thanks to our wonderful public transport system the bus route was cancelled due to roadworks that noone bothered to make public. I only found out when I got on the bus and asked for a ticket. No notice nor sign.

So I had to cancel. Then I found out that there are also roadworks next week as well. But that's ok because the 'I'm-not-a-doctor' adviser is on annual leave, which I didn't know about until I rang to tell them I couldn't do next week either. Their communication is as poor as the bus service's ability to inform me of planned service changes.

So it will be 3 weeks until I'm seen again. By the service that's promoted as the only means for people to get help.

I don't really see this going anywhere. They still owe me two quid from the letter they wrote but didn't bother to pay postage on. That turned up with a demand from the PO for the postage. Until I …

Anxious Anarchism

Originally I called this blog 'Quacking Plums' for reasons best left unexplained. I think it had something to do with Alan Partridge, though I've long since forgotten what the connection is.

For equally oblique reasoning I'm now calling it Anxious Anarchism, since it's likely going to focus on mental health in the age of Tory slaughter (which is to say, not the slaughtering of Tories, more's the pity - don't sue me, I mean that metaphorically. Although..) under Prime Minister Razor Mayhem's reign of terrible incompetence.

By 2020, if any of us survive that long, this country will be as unrecognisable as the reason behind 'Quacking Plums'. At that point, if you see me in the psyche ward, just nod and pass the pills...

Stepping Out, Part 1

(As mental health support locally is so shit, I've had to go back on the tiny carousel of help that comprises Positive Step and nothing else. PS are a company specialising in regarding every mental health problem presented as 'low mood' and a single quick fix in the form of CBT. Let's listen in...)
So I had depression and anxiety before I went to see 'Positive Step' for the first (by which I mean second) appointment.
But now I have depression and anxiety - AND HOMEWORK!
How could this not be a 'Positive Step'!
By the way, the reason it's the second appointment is that the advisor couldn't get her train in time last time, so it had to be conducted telephonically. NOt that it seems to make any difference; this is what she calls 'guided self help' (that is, homework). It doesn't seem to make any difference whether it's done in person or not since you aren't actually given any concrete help. Plus, I seem to have filled in the same me…

Moving On

I'm posting this so those brave and kind souls who do me the honour of following me can know where I am, should they want to.

Right now I'm in counselling for depression and anxiety. I've had two appointments, and unfortunately I'm not terribly convinced. I'll stick with it, but the counsellor nearly gave up when she felt I wasn't sufficiently open. I told her I wasn't deliberately obstructive, but that vague questions such as "tell me about your childhood" are so open that I genuinely struggle with them. I mentioned to her that I have tried to get a diagnosis for aspergers, interestingly she was sympathetic and said she felt that I was indeed displaying such traits. Unfortunately that won't do any good, partly because, as with all mental health, there is no holistic connected service. If we had that, she might be able to communicate directly with the diagnostic service and add testimony.

This lack of connection is a real problem. She has no a…

The Dark Year Begins (2017, day one...actually day five)

This is the Dark Year; 2017. Last year took it's toll and started the trend, but I think the trouble we could see this year will be worse, with President Trump, the increasingly hapless (sigh) Jeremy Corbyn, the Tory onslaught continues, the rise of the right, the increasingly inflammable middle east.

That's not what I'm going to talk about.

Unfortunately this year I think my health is going to diminish.

What a massively self indulgent thing to say, you might, reasonably, be thinking. Of course; there are 7billion other people on this planet and a considerable portion of those are worse off than me.

But that's just capitalist propaganda; if we ignore our own problems then how do we come together to solve the greater problem of an oppressive system?

Who knows. All I know is that my hypoglycaemia, or whatever the fuck it is, has completely knocked me for six. My sleep is terrible, I'm riddled with constant hunger pangs, and when I miss a meal (I say when, but I do my…