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Showing posts from 2017

How Will Support Be Next Year/2018?

As this year ends and the consumerist oblivion that is Christmas is a memory ago I have to ask this question moving forward. This is likely to be my last blog post for the year (a statement as melodramatic as it is vacuous).

Right now I'm waiting for my third attempt at the spectacular shit show that is the Work Capability Assessment. They have had two chances to do their job and failed each time. While the stone-faced receptionist was on the phone the HQ to find out why my second appointment had been cancelled, it didn't cross her mind to perhaps arrange someone there and then to see me. Whatever; they didn't. So now it's back to sitting by the door looking at the letterbox as if Jack Nicholson was about to smash his way through it and stab me to death. It doesn't feel much better.

In the midst of all this, where is my support? I work with (as a client, or 'customer', or whatever the correct term de jure is) a group who seem increasingly to fade into the b…

So That, Too, Just Happened...Again

Ah, sweet memories.
Remember the good times we had when I attended my WCA way back in the day (or at least November)? All the stress and anxiety worrying about coping in the waiting room, being made to wait for ages to be seen by someone who, despite not being a mental health professional, would ask a series of questions ignoring your health all just to find a tiny sliver of capacity they can use to completely deny you an income? Those good times?
Well...they're back!
So the not-a-doctor who saw me back then had decided that, in case she got sued or something, I'd have to be seen an actual doctor (but still not-a-doctor, because if you were a doctor you'd be a proper doctor, not working for the Gestapo here). Consequently, despite attending in good faith, and ignoring all the ensuing anxiety and dress, I had to tootle off back home like nothing had happened (which ironically is what happened). 
She did say that she would try and get me a home appointment, but I had assumed…

"I'm not a colour therapist, I'm trained in the therapeutic use of colour"

Yes, that's what she said when I went for my social enterprise-booked appointment with a colour therapist (or not, as she seemed to say - presumably to come across more amenably). A colour therapist who was dressed completely in black.

So what is colour therapy and why am I doing it?

CT proper is pseudoscience. It's a 'complementary therapy' (which means it isn't therapy) based on the existence of Chakras, the ancient Indian metaphysical system of bodily energy points. Each has its own colour and so the purpose of CT is to balance and align them. Only problem is that there's no evidence Chakras exist. It's a lovely worldview, but I see nothing that makes it real. Sorry. I can't afford to invest in fictional ideas.

CT as advocated by a colourless, if friendly (and she was, don't misunderstand me), not-a-therapist therapist involves the notion that we respond to colours in the way people respond to horoscopes. They make us feel good (which in reality …

Loneliness

There may be a ton of other, perhaps even more serious, subjects that do not get discussed. But in my view, and or the purpose of this piece, there aren't many quite as pernicious as being alone. Whether in a crowd (which can sometimes be worse) or genuinely alone.

In fact now that I reflect on this, I'm not entirely sure how to proceed. In so many ways this is something that feels, to me, something that one cannot admit. Whether or not this is a cultural attitude, or an expectation born of gender ("boys don't cry y'all").

The truth is.

Insert enormous pause.

That I am lonely.

It has taken an awful lot of effort to type this, of course that will not come through here.

I am not sure I should be posting this. But if you are reading it then you know that I have and the hell with it.

I have no idea what I want to achieve from this. It is seen as the least attractive thing, it seems to me in our culture, to admit this. In so many ways it is the ultimate sign of we…

Insultation

Government harassment continues unabated. There's this, apparently.

It is a strategy called, ironically, Improving Lives. It seems to be another effort by, ostensibly, the capitalist class, to prod and poke at the sick. It will, it seems, never end. I don't see any input from those it affects - as per usual. What does that tell us about these people? They can talk about us, over us and speak for us. But not once do they deem it necessary to actual ask us or even listen.
It sets out the steps government will take to transform disability employment over the next decade and progress so far as we build a country fit for the future.  Steps that will of course not include any compulsion to employ people and treat them properly since that would immediately be shouted down as threatening profit. What does a country fit for the future look like? Is it built on the frozen corpses of the homeless, whose number has exploded in recent years? Is it built on the single mothers who starve to f…

So That, Too, Just Happened

And so another DWP letter comes through. Again, I knew it as soon as I saw it from across the floor. I just fucking knew.

So they've given me another appointment, this time a week before Xmas - because nothing says festive spirit like being made to wait in a hostile environment for god knows how long before someone, hopefully qualified, sees you.

Ridiculous. I was told I would get a home visit, but that obviously hasn't happened. I suspect that, if I try and ask for one, they will just say tough shit.

Because that's how it is isn't it. Tough shit if you're struggling. Tough shit if you've already turned up, in good faith doing what was asked of you. Tough shit all round. Now the stress begins again.

This is our world. A system that can't and won't care. If you get screwed up because of some 'adminsistrative error' oh dear how sad. Do was we say and if you can't then tough bloody shit.

Well fuck this. I'm seriously tempted not to go. I ca…

So That Just Happened

Or didn't.

Woke up stressed because I was supposed to be haveing my WCA today.

Yes, you heard that right. Supposed.

So what actually happened: turned up at quarter past nine for a 9:25am appointment. During the subsequent 35 minute wait (because they refuse to book accurate appointments), a guy with crutches has to beg to be seen and not sent away because of some confusion regarding his ability to safely exit the building. Two other people leave for a time because they realise they are going to be waiting for ages.

It's not a happy place. The guy with crutches says his appointment was the same time as mine, so I guess they are double booking people as well. They know how long the appointments take (on balance, of course there are always exceptions), yet they still adopt a completely unworkable structure: without thought for the fact people attending do have problems, particularly with mental health and the stress of appointments and waiting rooms.

So when I'm seen, the ass…

Into the Mirror

So tomorrow morning is my WCA. Needless to say I am not looking forward to it, and that would be an understatement. It's currently sitting in my mind, refusing to leave, cooking up a stultifying negativity. That's the thing with depression; it's a presence that, even if you manage to distract yourself for a time, it returns with hammer-like vengeance. That feeling alone is enough to make the problem of depression the horrible reality it is. Sucker punched by your own thoughts.

Logically - as if we live in a logical society - I should pass. My situation is unchanged from last year. However that is exactly why I won't pass. You might think it reasonable to simply report that fact, but the simplicity of doing so, the ease of process, is exactly why you can't. Instead I will be seen, likely by someone different, and asked the same questions; some of which will not be relevant but part of the deceptive nature of the process. For example, being asked 'how did you get…

That Word That Begins With S

This isn't an easy topic, and so given the nature I'm giving a trigger warning for discussing suicide. It is not my intention to make people uncomfortable, god knows there's enough of that in the world already; but I'm not one of these right wing blowhards who thinks 'triggering' people is funny either. Please be careful.
Essentially what I want to say is as follows, and it is not based on direct experience. It comes from what I have observed about how mental health support works in this country, plus the role of the police in dealing with the collapse of support structures.
It seems to me that, if you present with what I believe is termed 'suicidal ideation' then you run the risk of having your problems ignored in favour of preventing harm - ostensibly to yourself. Conventional wisdom posits this is a favourable outcome - generally speaking we don't want people doing themselves in. But in the context of an authoritarian society that thinks it knows…

No More

Today on the TV you can watch a live performance around the Cenotaph, because it's that time of the year. You will watch, as if it were spectacle, the current elderly representative of a monarchy hopelessly entwined with the fascists of Europe. You will see politicians, who claim to represent us, lay wreaths of plants at the foot of a statue before returning to the business of depriving the heirs to the legacy of those they just 'remembered' and selling arms to other despots because profit.

So watching this morally bankrupt spectacle serves what purpose? Are we so far gone that we cannot see the rampant hypocrisy on display?

This spectacle will be, as it has been for decades now, repeated up and down the country. The great and the good, who otherwise care little for the lives of people around them, will participate in this process. For the most part they will be throwing their weight behind a moral ritual rather than living out any lesson one might learn from the sordid bu…

The Frame (edited)

I spent much of the other day refreshing the stupid news sites in the hope that a pro-torture, pro-murder politician had been sacked by a useless PM. Said politician also went on record calling the British workforce, by default the entire cohort, "lazy". A statement so egregious that it is as offensive as it is stupid. A statement that could only come from a cosy member of the ruling elite.

How do we live in this world? These people are our gods, if not by choice. Certainly by their incessant demand for fealty. The rest of them seem to have their own private foibles and scandals; whether economic or due to some weird repressive trait. When they aren't putting it away in a tax haven nowhere British, they seem to be putting it away...well you get my drift.

However, the rest of us have to slouch along only to be told we shouldn't slouch. Shoulders back stand up straight and look the world in the eye. Big boys don't cry, they just shoulder the increased burden of the…

After the Trust Has Gone

I feel I should play something sickly-sweet by Peter Cetera to underline so melodramatic a title.

Maybe not, I don't think my psyche could cope with that level of schmaltz.

Why has the trust gone?

It's about a relationship with the people who support you. So far the people I'd been seeing at Team North Somerset had actually turned out to be pretty helpful - certainly compared to the dismal experiences with other agencies and social enterprises (or however they identify themselves). This must be understood of course within the context of the prevailing systems that dominate our society (insert standard reference to capitalism). In other words, they can do something, but not really enough because they can't change the government, it's ideology and it's policies to that end.

Initially I was told they (the North Somerset people, not the bloody government) were hoping to get a 'wellbeing' programme of some kind in place. I was told this a few times since I s…

Journey to Jabba's Palace

Sometimes I think living in the Star Wars universe would be more appealing than this shitty old world; despite the prevalence of death stars.

So today is the day. I knew it as soon as I saw the postman hand me the letters. One of those 'I just knew it' moments that represent a sort of mundane clairvoyance.

They don't use brown envelopes anymore, I guess. But the big black "THIS IS NOT A CIRCULAR. THIS IS IMPORTANT!" slogan emblazoned on the front confirmed it; the same as the ESA50 form when that came a few months back.

The 16th of November is the date for my next WCA.

Curiously, and likely the only positive thing so far, is that I now no longer have to dread the post each day - until the next time, when I have to wait for the result of the assessment. A pointless affair really since the outcome is 99.9% preordained. I'm only surprised I passed last time, I certainly can't see lightning striking that favourably twice - and I have to act as if it won't…

The Fucking Cosh

This is the fucking cosh.

Over our heads, for the sake of some dosh...

What agitates me the most: the thought of losing my income and having to go to the local foodbank. I would starve. I can't eat that kind of food, no matter how kindly the hand that gives it to me. Even then their packages are only intended to be an emergency stopgap for a few days. Sugar is no answer to a nation starved by a ruling elite that doesn't give a damn.

I don't even think they could, were they so inclined. Stones don't bleed.

The local foodbank. Hah! Even that's a lie: without an income how do I get to the foodbank? is the bus service going to be made free for victims of Tory sanctions? Somehow I don't think so.

If this happens I am fucked. That would be it.

This is the black hole people like me - the thousands facing this ruinous pernicious government - face. If you stare into this hole, something very dark stares back and it is the shape of a non existent future. It's a void …

Universal Chaos

You sometimes think it can't get any worse.

Universal Credit proves you wrong.

What more evidence is required to show, clearly, that we are not governed. We are oppressed.

This is beyond hypocrisy. This transcends incompetence. This is ideology.

Way back when IDS was at the levers of control he was told that this system would not work. It cannot work: how can you possibly combine, into one single system, a variety of different benefits each unique to specific circumstances. This cannot be done in any way that could possibly simplify the system. All that you would do is make claiming for one reason, whether unemployment or sickness, as difficult as claiming for ALL of them at once, since that is effectively what you are doing.

And consequently the system has failed. As, over four years, since that man promised - with fist pumping certainty - that it would be delivered "on time and in budget". That date was October 2013.

Quelle surprise; it never happened and now, after a …

Mental Health Manifesto 1

It seems apposite that I set out what I think should be done regarding mental health and the wellbeing of our society, instead of simply bemoaning the lack of either. Ok fair enough, says I.

Anyone else that wants to add to this list, a set of ideas that will have zero influence politically and will be read by precisely no politicians ever. Oh well!

The support that exists, that I have experienced, feels like it is intended simply to keep people "off the streets". It borrows from the "idle hands" model: keep people occupied to keep them out of trouble, specifically keep them from realising the truth of their reality. That life in modern capitalist western society is, for the vast majority, shit. This is what I mean when i say that these places institutionalise people. Out of sight, out of mind - literally!

Now clearly there is a place for peer support, but that must not be at the expense of providing proper support, by which I mean offering a framework, or at least…

Eleanor Rigby's Lament

As the Chancellor dines with business bigwigs and mandarins, at a £400/head function, I am left wondering how different our worlds are.

How can anyone fail to notice the cracks in our society? The streets are like a warzone now; there's bodies littered all over the place. These were real people once, they still are despite what austerity and capitalism has done to them. Yet, despite their increasing presence, they are growing ever more invisible. I've never seen anything like it.

And yet everywhere I go there is damage and suffering. I attend a mindfulness class with people that also have the scars of a life forced upon them by this miserable system. People like this are everywhere that it seems the norm. It's only the rich ruling elite that seem to be the exception. Unfortunately they have power; the power to ignore us.

I have a facebook and twitter feed full of the casualties of this war on humanity, waged by profit. At what point does enough become enough - for all side…

Mindfulness

I have a feeling this may drag on. I want to be concise here because there's a lot to cover and, unfortunately, my concentration fades easily.

Mindfulness - the fashionable practice of meditation on the breath or other sensation (hands in the lap, movement of the belly, sensation of body on seat, etc) to stimulate well being, but ultimately the process of becoming aware of the present moment. At the fullest it is rooted in a worldview I'm not entirely sure is as helpful as it is positive sounding. It is my understanding it stems from buddhist meditation practises along with the accompanying worldview of compassion. That's a lovely quality to have, but, at the risk of being crass, it doesn't pay the bills.

Breath meditation is something I have tried for a while, on and off. I usually do it in the morning for about ten minutes. Recently I signed up for a Mindfulness class and the experience of it is oddly more formal than I would like, and I'm not sure that's for…

Everyday Crapitalism 1: The Guy on the Bus

Isn't it fun when there's an awkward bugger before you in the queue for the bus? Wouldn't life be easier if these difficult people would just disappear? Well now there's a means to that end, friend: it's called CAPITALISM!

So there I am with my bus ticket and the guy in front of me, with a pair of crutches, presents his ticket to the driver. Unfortunately it appears it's the wrong ticket. He wants to get back to Bristol, but the driver is having none of it because - according to him - the ticket is not valid in Weston super Mare. It's a Bristol zone ticket which doesn't cover the journey he's making. In response the guy makes an appeal to ignorance: why was he sold the wrong ticket then when he asked to go to somewhere that the ticket he was sold won't allow.

It doesn't really help that First Bus' ticket system is a complete nightmare. But that's the price of profit I guess. You might reasonably think the solution would be to just ha…

Welcome to Little England Where I Ride The Highest of Horses!

I think that's a suitably pretentious title. Also note, this is (and not for the first time) the pettiest and shrillest of rants you are likely to ever hear from me. Enjoy.

So I take a walk usually two or sometimes three times a day. I follow the same route which takes me across the local cricket pitch. Technically this field is privately owned, though I don't respect those rights. Why: because I don't agree that the earth should be subject to private property rights and because these are communal resources. That's not an invitation to vandalism or neglect of course.

I walk across the middle of the pitch and someone shouts at me. I can't hear him, which no doubt provokes him. Apparently he's 'scarified' that part of the field, despite it looking like a muddy puddle with no fence, signage or obvious indication of groundwork. Had that been the case I'd have avoided it, it's not an imposition to do so.

What then ensues is a ridiculous argument that…