Suffragettes threw themselves in front of horses, threw toffee hammers through windows and starved themselves. Do we need to do the same for mental health awareness? Or, would that add to the stigma that we’re “insane”.
I’m disgusted quite frankly. I’m disgusted that in two leaders debates, we’ve had a solitary mention of mental health in a single sentence that was quickly covered up. As strongly as the suffragettes and the less intense – for want of a better term – suffragists campaigned for the vote, that’s how strongly I feel on the state of mental health in this country.
Nicola Sturgeon seems to think the only people who cannot work in this country are the disabled. That statement has angered me more than I care to understand why. Whilst I understand it was an offhand statement, that’s the point. The mentally ill don’t seem to even be a blip on her radar. But it’s not just her and this is not an anti-SNP rant.
I’ve spoken a lot on this blog about my struggles with mental health. But I can never let you see into the mind of a mentally ill person. I can never make you understand the addiction to self harm. I can’t make you understand that I still can’t look at a pencil sharpener without wondering how quickly I could take the blade out of it and I’ve not cut myself in over 2 and a half years. Less than 5 seconds if you’re wondering.
When I say that depression has robbed me years of my life, I’m not over exaggerating. A side effect of depression that they don’t readily tell you about is the memory loss and the confusion that can come with it. There are significant chunks of my life I don’t remember.
My mum has to tell me about things of my life that happened that I don’t remember. Do you know how wrong it feels to be in your early twenties and to need to rely on your mother to tell you things you’ve forgotten? There have been conversations I’ve had with her that she remembers clear as day that I have no recollection of. It makes you question your sanity. I have to say that memory problems aren’t so much things I deal with now although I do struggle with memory recall when it comes to sitting exams.
I want to ask you a question. Imagine you’re an employer for a second. Would you hire someone who turned up to work with fresh, self-inflicted wounds, who forgot tasks they were meant to carry out, who sometimes didn’t turn up to work because they’d slept for nearly 24 hours straight, couldn’t do new things because they caused panic attacks, had random crying outbursts, who got angry for the most bizarre reasons (like toilet paper, don’t ask.) and who you could speak slowly and clearly to them and have them look at you like you’ve just spoken jibberish because nothing you’ve just said has entered their brain in the correct order?
No? Quite right. That was me. I was unfit for work. I was on ESA which replaced Disability Living Allowance. I had to go to an “assessment” where someone who was not a medical professional took my doctor’s line and then quizzed me endlessly on my depression and then enrolled me on a work placement programme. I turned up to that programme and spoke with the guy who listened to me for all of 5 minutes before going “You’ve been put on a work placement programme? Are you kidding? You’re not fit for work.” I’m still on that programme. It lasts 5 years. However it goes on hold whilst I’m in uni but they still phone me every 3 months to check up on me. I’ll be on that programme that did nothing for me because I shouldn’t have been placed on it for 5 years after my graduation from uni. I will be 30 before I’m taken out of that programme. That means for 5 years after I graduate from uni I have to tell them everything about any job I take. Thanks government!
To get back to my original point, however, when are we going to get the recognition we need? I can only speak for myself with my experiences with depression but I’m at the end of my tether. Suicidal tendencies aren’t a medical emergency, people with severe mental health services aren’t disabled so they can still work no bother. Not to mention how offensive it is to those disabled people who CAN work, as not all disabled people are unable to work.
Nobody is talking about this. Why? Because it’s uncomfortable. Because we’d need to educate our children on subecjts like self harm and suicide. Because politicians might have to listen to a loudmouthed girl in her early 20s talk with experience on subjects in which they have none. Because we’d need to acknowledge the brain gets sick just like any other major organ. Because we’d need to change our entire mental health care system to ensure we end up with one that works.
People with mental health issues are ridiculed and labelled “insane”. It’s said that Albert Einstein once said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” By that definition, it’s our government and our NHS that are dealing with insanity. We’re simply unwell and not receiving the care we need.