I’m just sat on a train ready to go and film with SSAFA and thought I was finally in the right place to write this blog. I had planned to do it a couple of days ago but I was too angry. So here’s what happened….
I was commencing my rowing training, probably about 10 minutes in, music playing through my headphones despite music already playing from the gym speakers (it’s never to my taste). I had an eye on the TV and BBC News came on the screen. There was no sound so I was reading the subtitles and I started getting frustrated with what I was reading. Two pieces of news angered me during the show and I will talk about them both….
George Freeman, one of Theresa Mays top advisors made this comment in Parliament only two days ago: “Disability benefits should only go to “really disabled people and not those taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety”.
Oh my word!!!!! This enraged me especially as anxiety crippled me for such a long time. Let’s firstly look at the definition of disability which is: ‘a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.’ Anyone who has or is still trying to ‘live’ with anxiety, or indeed any mental illness will know just how debilitating it can be. At best, you manage to leave the house but too many triggers mean you are soon heading for home again pretty damb quick. At worst you remain in your prison crying at your Facebook newsfeed as you read what an amazing time your friends are having. You know you had been invited but you knew that the location and evening would have caused you too much angst. Firstly, the horrendous journey you would have to make, planning times to ensure the least busy route. Getting into the venue where you had to walk past people you didn’t know as they laughed and joked through puffs of nicotine or minty vape. Then you finally get through the double doors where your greeted by a a dimly lit room, people wandering around, clambouring past bags and coats strewn across the back of chairs. You notice your friends in the middle of the room somewhere but then you start thinking, it’s a bit cramped in there, what if I can’t get out, what if….what if… You take a deep breath and walk over to the table and warm a little at the vision of your friends smiling back at you and getting up to hug you. For a second or two everything feels normal. That is until people start barging past you to get through and others start crowding the area. You feel closed in and smothered…..you wait as long as would be acceptable before you make your excuses and leave. You then, feeling anxious and agitated, have to navigate either the traffic if your driving or the pedestrians at the bus station. I know a lot of you reading this can empathise. Just writing that got me a little worked up and I’m sat on a quiet train.
So, imagine how frustrated I was reading this comment. I’m frustrated that during the last general election, and this, more money and services had been promised. Yet it appears the very same people who promised that money are talking about how mental health is not considered a real disability. Tell that to the thousands of people who are afraid to go outside in case they have an episode. Tell that to those who have lost friends because their anxiety is that great, they find it difficult to socialise. Tell that to those who are frightened of being rebuked, or indeed are being rebuked in the workplace because they are not laughing with everyone else. Tell that to the ones who are frightened of having a relationship because you have been told your “too fucked up in the head”. Or that you don’t want to bring someone else into a world you don’t understand and is too messed up. Tell that to the many loved ones or carers who have to look after those trying to ‘live’ with mental illness. Or, tell that to those standing at the grave of someone who was that debilitated by their illness, the only way out was to take their own life.
Having a mental illness is like living a game of snakes and ladders. One day you can roll a good number and life appears to be moving forward. The next, you could roll a dud and land on a snake and your on your way down again. How is that not serious enough to warrant disability benefit and support?!
Another difficulty coming to the front more and more is the fact that people are now finding the courage to speak out, yet finding it almost impossible to obtain the support they need. Or, as I found out yesterday, people are not ill enough to speak out!!! I was appalled, yet not surprised, to learn of this. The work that my Foundation does to raise awareness, the work of Mind, Time to Change, Young Minds and most recently, Heads Together headed up by Royalty. All that is in vain if people cannot get the support they need. The system was already at breaking point, stretched to the limit with ever reducing funds, no mental health beds within their own counties etc. Now people are finding the courage to speak out, where is the help they need? All these celebrities and well meaning charities can only do so much to promote how important it is to get the help you need. What happens from there? Medication? Waiting lists? Visits to A&E? Travelling miles away from family and friends to find a bed you so desperately need? Nights in a cell because people didn’t understand you were in psychosis? Self harm? Suicide?
The other news peace that seriously angered me was the suggestion made that pedophiles should not be sent to prison. They should be sent on a counselling course to help them get rid of their disgusting behaviour!!!! Anyone who reads my blogs knows I was subjected to child abuse. That for me has been a life sentence to date because I have not been able to hold down a relationship. I’ve had trust issues, insecurities, low self esteem to the point I had an eating disorder….that has been a prison sentence for me and for so many others. For that reason alone, these sick individuals need to pay for what they have done with a prison sentence. I am grown up enough to know that there must be some serious imbalance in these sick people’s heads. However, they committed a serious crime and they need to pay.
They talked about how those who ‘only looked at indecent images’ should pay a lesser crime. Erm no!! For them to look at those images some poor child has been subjected to some lewed act. The fact they are requesting and downloading these images means they have taken some part in that act, regardless of any physical contact.
One of the reasons they talked about not sending these creatures to prison is because police are now overstretched and the cases are taking too long to go to court. They stated that over 50 percent of their workload was now spent on these cases. Well, deal with it, find more resources, these people should not be free to continue to ruin people’s lives.
So, it appears that speaking out about your mental health disability, or the fact you had been abused may not get you anywhere!!! Having said that, I was, and continued to be blessed with very understanding and supportive family and friends. If nothing else, speaking out means you don’t have to go through it alone.
For me, I will continue to ride this knifes edge and campaign to get people’s voices heard and I’m not taking no for an answer!!!!
Watch my story in pictures: