Archive for the ‘discrimination’ Category

The policeman is your friend (unless you’re diagnosed mentally ill of course)

March 9, 2009

I’ve not had much contact with the police over the years. That’s more through luck than judgement if I’m honest, along with an ability to run fast when I was younger. As a child, the local bobby was a fatherly type man, who came to school and told us not to get into the car with the stranger. On the betamax video he showed us, the car was easily visible as it was flashing red. For years I thought that all the bad men had flashing red cars and I’d be safe as long as I avoided those. I’ve since grown up and learnt that bad men are usually to be found in nightclubs on over 25’s night, or perhaps that’s just sad men?

As a teen I did once trip over a police dog whilst protesting against the Poll Tax. Rather than being arrested I ended up sleeping with the dog’s trainer on his next shift off. Oh the joys of bpd inspired one night stands. Waking up next to someone who looks and smells a lot less appealing than they did after ten pints. Or in this case, halfs, as Mr Copper didn’t think women should be seen with pint glasses. It’s not feminine apparantly. I didn’t see him again.

Anyway, back to the point in hand. The policeman is your friend. I always thought that to be true. I grew up on a fairly middle class estate, where a visit from the police was tantamount to social suicide, and the Turkish family who moved onto the street were suspected to be terrorists because they had natural yoghurt delivered with their milk. I always thought that if someone committed a crime against me, one phone call would have them promptly arrested, charged and sent to prison, whilst I would be commended by a tearful Judge for my outstanding bravery in giving evidence in court!

Then 10 years ago I moved into my first council flat. Oh the joy to be given those keys. The knowledge that in one quick move I had disappointed my father (who still had a lingering hope I would get my head together and become the next Poet Laureate or Nobel Prize winner), annoyed the hell out of my Tory brother by paying a subsidised rent whilst he worked 24/7 to pay his mortgage , and finally got out of the horrors of shared accommodation (myself and 4 aussie men, all of whom I’d slept with at one point over the years). I’d only been on the waiting list for 5 months. There must be a catch surely? Oh yeah.

Meet bad neighbour number one. A scrawny, ponytailed, jobless lout who spent his days playing Emimem on his stereo and having his friends round to get stoned. Obviously his days weren’t fun filled enough because within weeks of my moving in he realised the lone female in the flat below him was easy prey. Cue two years of harrassment in the form of death threats, vandalism, loud music and eggs. Yes, eggs. Remarkably difficult to scrape off the front door. I gave up in the end and just revarnished it. It took two years for the police to arrest him. At first I put it down to the intricacies of the law and the lack of evidence. It was my word against his as none of the neighbours were brave enough to give statements. Eventually he was arrested, and the discovery of a drugs factory in his flat helped add to the charges. Harrassment, Threats to kill and producing cannabis. I fully expected him to be sent down or at least evicted.

But then the police found out that I had a history of depression. Overnight my credibility was shot. The threats to kill charge was dropped with the excuse that I was ”too mentally unstable to give evidence in court”. The neighbour ended up with a fine and a years restraining order. I had to move home. That in itself was a battle, and only the threat of going to the press would make the council agree to a transfer. Ten years on and I still feel bitter. No one asked if I felt able to give evidence. No one suggested that I make use of the services of Victim Support, who would have helped me through the trial process. When I went to make a further statement at the station, there was a noticeable difference in the way I was treated. Sympathy and a promise to help became raised eyebrows and condescension. Officers became unreachable on the telephone to me. No one even saw fit to keep me up to date with the court appearances. I only found out the outcome when I opened my door to find the neighbour coming up the path with his belongings. He’d been forced to live with his father until the case was over. Once he pleaded guilty he was allowed to live above me again.

I try not to think about bad neighbour number one anymore. Shit happens after all, and he did cite depression as the reason for his anti social behaviour. I’ll take that with a very large pinch of salt if I’m honest. Anyway it’s in the past. I didn’t even realise it was ten years ago until I started to write this post. Another reminder of how I’ve drifted in recent years. However, I’m currently embroiled in the ongoing saga of Bad Neighbour Number 2. I’ve posted about him previously and did hope to have something more positive to report by now, (perhaps his sudden death from chronic nastiness) but nothing has changed as yet.

My local bobby is fantastic when it comes to giving out assurances. Unfortunately, actually visiting either myself or the neighbour seems to be beyond her capabilities. The estate I live on is fairly rough I suppose, but not quite a no go area yet. The local teens do like to play chase the community support officer on occasion, and my culdesac has become the in place to abandon the stolen car on a Saturday night, but other than that we’re a pretty friendly lot. Think ‘Shameless’ with a Yorkshire accent and no pub (shut down for frequent brawls on the street outside).

It seems that my local plod can only communicate via email at the moment. In other words, I send them frequent updates (as requested) on the notes my neighbour is still placing in his window. In return I get the occasional reply saying how shocking it is and how we must come down hard on him, but unfortunately we’re off shift for the next few days.

Perhaps I’m a little paranoid here, but I have a suspicion that my name has been run through the computer and the Mental alarm has gone off. Either that or my council estate manager has warned the police of my past problems. I nearly got evicted prior to hospitalisation after forgetting about things like paying rent or letting workmen in. As before, nothing I say seems to carry any weight anymore. It seems that this is regarded as a problem between two nutters and the police are happy to step back and take bets on who cracks first. I wonder if they would react in the same way if I lived on a middle class street or didn’t have a number for the crisis line stuck on my fridge. Yes ok, I should have taken that down before she came to take my statement.

So we’re in limbo at the moment. He puts up the notes. I write down a copy. His wife gives me dirty looks and I check that neither of them are out in the street before I leave the house. Dad thinks I should just ignore him and I know he might be right, but be fair, could you walk past that window and not read what rubbish he’d put there? My whole reason for going to the police was that he hassles my other neighbours who are elderly and good friends of mine. And as the weather gets warmer and we go back to sitting in the garden again, I know from experience that the situation will escalate again. He can’t stand to see us out there. But I still feel sorry for the guy. There’s something very wrong going on in that flat and, whilst I don’t fear him (I will not become like the general public and assume mental illness equates to violent sociopath), I do fear for the well being of his young daughter, who hasn’t been seen by anyone for weeks. But the more I complain the more I feel myself getting sucked into an obsession. He is starting to be the focus for all my low moods and angry feelings. The person I can blame for why I have trouble getting out of bed or doing the washing up. And that’s not right. Perhaps I need to step back from the situation, but I hate losing! But really that’s what I should do. I have enough to worry about at the moment.

An update on Dad. He was hospitalised for a few days last week, after his blood tests showed a low platelet count and he also had a temperature. He’s back home now but it did mean he couldn’t have his chemo, and will have to have a milder dose of it from now on. So it’s a knock back. His hair also started to fall out this week, which has really brought it home to me that he is frail. I’m trying to play the role of attentive daughter, and it does feel like an act, because cancer doesn’t delete all the crap from the past. Something which Jade Goody should also realise. But I think I’m doing a fairly good job of hiding how I feel from him. I limit the visits to a couple of hours which helps me to rein the feelings in. It’s bloody tiring though.

So that’s what’s going on with me right now. I’m coping ok, if drifting through the days without any real sense of purpose. I take my meds. I behave myself. The fact that I don’t feel like a real person most of the time is incidental. Tomorrow I will be interviewed by some doctors, after agreeing to take part in research into BPD and psychosis. A chance for me to feel listened to for once. I know I crave attention, but honestly, most days I only have the cat to talk to and he doesn’t like me very much. 

And lastly, a shout out to Fairy’s mum, who I understand likes to read this blog. Your daughter hassled me into posting again. Hope you enjoyed it lol xx

The unneccessary heirarchy amongst the mentally ill.

February 5, 2009

Firstly, let me say in advance that I know this post will piss some people off. I’m writing it whilst in the middle of a bpd funk, having being riled by someone else’s musings on mental illness. So I guess I’m just passing those feelings along lol.

So, there are plenty of different mental illnesses. Or rather, plenty of different diagnosis. One in four people will experience mental distress sometime in their lives. That’s a fact. It can range from grief induced depression, postnatal depression, an eating disorder etc, to psychosis, bi polar, schizophrenia etc. And there’s the bit which has made me angry.

We, all of us have had to endure discrimination from the general public. Whether it be a job we haven’t got, or not being invited to a party. A relative who tells us to grow up and cheer up, or a doctor who blames our moodswings on being fat. You’d think though, that within our mad community, we’d be able to get along. But no. Because my mental illness is worse than yours. So there! Or maybe yours is worse than mine? I used to have a diagnosis of depression. Then it was BPD. Now it’s BPD with psychosis. Does that mean I’ve moved a few rungs up the ladder? Do I now look down to mock the depressives? And should I look up and feel jealous of the schizophrenics?

When I was an inpatient I noticed a definate heirarchy in the smoking room. You received kudos for having multiple stays. Total respect was offered to those who’d spent time upstairs on the infamous Ward 3 (plastic cutlery and no matches allowed).  Superficial self harm injuries were laughed at. Cigarette burns were oohed and aahed over. You didn’t say no when the person who’d thumped a nurse asked you for a cigarette. Gossip about diagnosis was rife. The schizophrenics were special. Cool people. Ours had a guitar and nipped outside to buy dope whenever he was allowed off the ward. Then came the manic depressives. After that the depressives, although they generally stayed in bed all day and didn’t make it to the smoking room. Bottom of the pile were the personality disordered. It was almost considered an insult to whisper that another patient just had a pd. Perhaps the patients picked up on the negative vibes from the staff? We were definately regarded as taking up a bed which didn’t belong to us that’s for sure.

I spend quite a lot of time over on the Rethink forum. Rethink used to be a charity specifically for people with schizophrenia. It has since modernised and now campaigns for the rights of all people suffering from a severe mental illness. But the forum is still mostly run by the schizophrenics. And boy do they like to hammer it in that they are the most poorly, the most discriminated against, the most misunderstood. I don’t think that does them any favours. This perceived longing to be special, to be held up there as completely different to any other mental illness. Yes I don’t doubt that schizophrenia is a hellish illness. But so is bpd. So is bi polar. So is post natal depression. So is any mental health condition which causes you severe distress. Why do we get so hung up on diagnosis? Surely we should concentrate instead on how the symptoms make us feel? How they affect our ability to function? Whether recovery is possible and to what extent. Yes it’s true that the general public still mistakenly associate schizophrenia with violence, but having said that, the general public still mistake a diagnosis of mental illness as meaning the same as schizophrenia. I’ve been called a variety of things over the years. Schizo, mong, nutter, wacko, retard,fuckwit (i quite like that one), weirdo, madcow. We’re all lumped together so perhaps we should all stick up for each other and stop this infighting.

Yes there is a massive difference between a short lived, one off spell of depression, and a life long condition like Sz, bi polar or a pd. But the majority of the public won’t experience the latter. The closest they can come to understanding what it is like to be us is when they themselves experience depression or a relative or colleague does. The ad campaign called Time To Change is currently trying to change people’s perceptions of mental illness. I applaud them for doing so. Yet they are criticised this week by The Times, who’s columnist is angry that their ad does not include schizophrenia and is too positive, focussing as it does on recovery. In my mind this ad campaign is long overdue. There are still generations who’s understanding of the mentally ill is that we are all loons who used to be locked up for life but are now roaming the streets like rabid dogs. Anything which changes that view is a good thing.

So please, schizophrenics, stop putting yourself on a pedestal just because your condition has an organic cause.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/sathnam_sanghera/article5663115.ece Times column on schizophrenia and Time To Change

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64EWjvxqbYg  Time to Change Ad

Feeling like I’ve let the side down.

January 20, 2009

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been having some problems with a neighbour. It’s my opinion that he suffers from some sort of psychiatric problem, perhaps paranoia or maybe the early onset of dementia as he’s in his seventies. After years of unsociable behaviour towards myself and other people on the street, he has taken to posting notes up in his window about us. The lastest talks about his struggle to deal with the conspirators.

So the upshot is that I have spoken to the police this weekend and they will be visiting him shortly with a view to getting him assessed under the mental health act. However, they doubt the CMHT will agree to assess him because a) he hasn’t been charged with anything yet, and b) he isn’t violent. So that leaves them with the options of either arresting him for harrassment and then sectioning him once he’s outside his house (it can’t be done on his property) or contacting social services because he has a young daughter living with him.

I feel like I’m betraying one of my own kind. However unpleasant he is, if he is mentally ill he is like me. And I would hate it if someone tried to have me assessed against my will. There’s a kind of them and us attitude between the mentally ill  community and officialdom, and I don’t like going over to the other side. Also, I have friends who have suffered at the hands of overly zealous social workers. Friends who have lost access to their children because in the past they have had a breakdown. If my neighbour has managed to get through life without being picked up by the CMHT so far, am I really doing him a favour now? Let’s face it, an assessment doesn’t automatically mean he will get help. It might just make him even angrier to us all.

The police were meant to keep me updated and should have rung me yesterday, but so far I’ve heard nothing. I’m wondering if they’ve looked me up on their system and realised that I’m also flagged up as mental. In which case, anything I’ve told them will be taken with a pinch of salt. They may not mean to be prejudice but you tend to see that look in their eyes as soon as you disclose it. In my last neighbour dispute I had to agree to drop some of the charges because I was deemed unfit to give evidence in court. So a man who threatened me on almost a daily basis for two years, received a years probation for harrassment rather than a prison sentence for threats to kill.  This latest dispute is nowhere near as bad, yet I wonder if my past experience is impacting on it. I’m coming out fighting this time, rather than being a victim. Perhaps as a result I am being too hard on him. Damn I wish I’d never had group therapy. Decisions were so much easier before that lol.

Dad gets his scan results today, so I’m rather on edge. Another reason why I’ve spoken to the police perhaps. I needed to transfer my anger onto someone else.

Today is a good day though. A new president in the USA. A black president no less. A president who doesn’t make me cringe and turn over every time he speaks. Hopefully the mood of optimism and change will reach over to the UK too. We certainly need it.

Trying to see the GP

December 10, 2008

My local surgery looks amazing. It moved out of the old, rather squalid and prone to flooding terraced house and into a superduper purpose built surgery last year. There’s a nice big waiting room, plasma tv showing Jeremy Kyle, and a special screen to book yourself in without having to annoy the receptionists. There are 9 gp’s in the practice, along with three nurses and several care assistants. They even have a new agey type bloke come in to do alternative health sessions. Fantastic! But if you want to get an appointment you’ll have to join the queue on the phone at 8am.

Now, on one side, releasing appointments on the day is a great idea. No more having to wait five days to see a doctor when you’re dying of flu. But ask anyone on anti psychotics what they are doing at 8am and they’ll tell you they are either fast asleep in a pool of drool or trying to do a runner from A&E before the on call pdoc finishes his breakfast and arrives to section them. The last thing they will be doing is ringing their gp.

But what about reasonable adjustments I hear you cry? Or perhaps not if you’ve never heard of them. Well, Gp surgeries are supposed to offer these adjustments to any patient with a disability. That means that, where possible, they provide a quiet place to sit and wait, an understanding that talking to yourself doesn’t mean you’re about to stab the receptionist, and flexibility when it comes to making appointments.

Unfortunately the computer at my surgery says no. So it looks like I’ll be staying up all night on Thursday in order to see my own doctor the next morning. He only works Friday at my local surgery and I’m really not up to making two bus journeys to find him at the other one. He is insistant that I see him rather than another doc, and this is the last chance I’ll have for a chat before Xmas, a stressful time for me. So this week I shall be going to see him armed with a booklet from Rethink, entitled Reasonable Adjustments and your local gp surgery. Perhaps between us we can persuade that computer to be nicer to me in future.

Employment & Support Allowance aka let’s pick on the weak.

October 28, 2008

This week sees the implementation of the new benefit, ESA, brought in to replace Incapacity Benefit and Income Support for all new claimants. Supposedly it will focus on what work disabled people can do, rather than what work they can’t. The government tells us this is a fantastic opportunity for the two million disabled claimants, who would love to work but haven’t been given the support to enable them to do so in the past. No doubt, the 6 out of 10 employers who have stated they would not give a job to a mentally ill person, have miraculously changed their minds. The governmet has a target of removing one million people from incapacity benefit. There are currently 600,000 job vacancies, so we’re already short of 400,000 jobs for the newly recovered. Add to that the fact that the recession is causing more and more job losses every day, and that those 600,000 spare jobs must be pretty bad if the influx of Eastern European immigrants refuse to take them, and I think it’s safe to say this isn’t a good day for the nutters amongst us.

But if you’re genuinly sick, you have nothing to worry about! So say the ministers. Hmmm, ok then. So the target driven advisors and assessors of the DWP will focus on ridding the system of fraudsters will it? They’ll go after the ex coal miners who haven’t worked for 20 years and are close to retirement, and who were told by the dwp to fake bad backs in the first place, so that they didn’t add to the jobless figures. They’ll target communities where 4 in 10 are unemployed and all local industry has gone to the wall? They’ll go after the true fraudsters who know every trick in the book, how to get through the medicals with the right answers, and how to sue if they don’t get their benefits?

No. They will target those of us who struggle to fill out their forms. Who have enough self respect to dress nicely for the medicals. Who feel so ashamed already at relying on benefits that we hide how ill we are and try to please the assessors.

I used to work. I’ve held down a full time job the majority of the time from 18 – 32 years of age. I’ve lost each of my jobs to BPD, either by being sacked for sick leave or attitude (mood swings), or theft (stealing chocolate to binge on), or walking out of the job because I thought everyone hated me. I’m impulsive like that. Self neglect is a huge problem for me, as is socialisation. I chose to work night shifts, preferably on my own, where it wouldn’t be noticed so much that I hadn’t washed my hair or ironed my clothes properly. One employer called me in to his office to tell me I needed to shower more. Embarrassing for him and humiliating for me. I don’t even like admitting it here. But getting up and getting to work was as much as I could manage. I spent my time off asleep or drunk, lurching from one breakdown to the next. I was never popular with my colleagues. Apart from not being very fragrant, I was also very argumentative. I hated myself for it.

The text books say that BPD symptoms fade away from your thirties onwards. I’m 35 and have found it to be the opposite. And I’ve come to realise that my ability to work is not how I should define myself. Being sat at home alone 24/7 is not good for me. But neither is full time work. It brings out every paranoid feeling and leaves me drained of energy. In the past I have found occasional voluntary work to be therapeutic. Unfortunately, the DWP see this as indicative of an ability to get a full time job, so I have to stay at home rather than lose benefits.

To those of you who are disabled and want to work, good for you. I hope ESA helps you with that. Perhaps some time in the future I will be like you. But not now, and not soon.

I came across some info about BPD which the decision makers look at when they decide on how much benefit we get. By the looks of it, I will be screwed at my next review, because I don’t have access to a cpn or social worker. The dwp think that means my bpd only has a minor effect on my life. They don’t take into account that it’s a lack of resources which prevents me receiving that help. Check out the link: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/medical/med_conditions/personality_disorders/

I hope someone in government is keeping an eye on the suicide statistics now that ESA has started. However, they probably view any suicides as collateral damage.

Political correctness gone mad – or should that be gone mentally challenged?

September 30, 2008

Now I know I posted a few weeks ago about my anger at discriminatory terms still being used to describe us nutters, but the folks over at Manchester Student Union really do appear to be quite barking at the moment. They’ve decided to de-genderise all their toilets, for the sake of an undisclosed number of transgender students, who might be insulted by the terms ”women” and ”men” or their corresponding stick figures. From now on, all toilets will have either ”toilet” or ”toilet with urinal” signs, which is probably a good thing for the female student population, who will be able to avoid the queues and nip into the mens from now on.

However, the reason for posting this link is less to do with the rights of transgendered students (or emo’s) and more to do with the hilarious quote from the wannabee grotbags woman’s officer (you’ll see what i mean) at the end of the tape. Apparantly we are no longer permitted to use the term ”Political correctness gone mad” for fear of insulting mad people. So I ask my mad friends out here in cyber space, are you offended? Or, like me, are you still laughing too hard at the video to string a coherent sentence together. 🙂

Oh to be a student again. here’s the link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/7643175.stm

The usual bigoted reporting courtesy of The Sun newspaper

September 17, 2008

Damn this paper makes me so bloody angry. They never miss an opportunity to use the word nutcase or knife wielding maniac. I’m sure they won’t be happy until every mentally ill person is locked away or given a lethal injection. Bastards. And that’s as much as I can be arsed to say about them.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article1699950.ece

Is it still ok to call someone a loon or a nutter?

September 1, 2008

A recent post from a forum I frequent.

Advice if you encounter a nutcase outside

I was in the shopping queue last night and this nutcase was talking to this very attractive blonde till girl.

He was holding up the queue, and was clearly not right in the head, what he was saying. We all remained calm as he finally left.

The till girl said to me, “I was scared.’

I said, you did the right thing, you remained calm and agreed with everything he said. Never challenge a loony. Agree, with everything they say.

 

Am I being oversensitive when I say that I find this offensive? As a ‘loon’ myself I use the terms quite a lot with humour amongst my other mad mates, but that’s very different I feel. Just as a black person may use the n word.
The trouble with mental illness is that the general public lumps it all together. So a diagnosis of depression is no different to one of schizophrenia. I’ve been called mong, nutter, schizo, psycho, weirdo over the years, mostly by my brother or by work colleagues and on one occasion by a neighbour who would shout such terms at me whenever I left the house.
In a society which is often accused of being too PC, we nutters seem to remain an easy target. You only have to look at the headline when Frank Bruno, the boxer, had a breakdown. Bonkers Bruno Locked Up screamed the front page. Fair enough, the paper apologised and sent it’s health editor on a mental health awareness course, but only after pressure from various charities.
I sometimes have visions of killing people. They are disturbing and frightening and it’s attitudes like this which prevent me telling people like my gp, for fear of a reactionary response. He would probably just remind me that I’ve never been violent and that the thoughts are just that. Thoughts. But we live in a world where people are still scared of the mentally ill and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.