Friday, 11 December 2015

Walk the Talk: A personal testimonial: " It’s a matter of life and death"

Walk the Talk: Walking together in the name of social justice: A personal testimonial

"Please don't think I am 'crazy'.  I'm not.  I just suffer a lot of cognitive distress and I’ve found this government terrifying and dehumanising. I will add that I am now safe due to self managing my health for the last 3 months and being compassionate to myself.
Tonight I sat and watched Jeremy Corbyn’s first Prime Minister’s question time.

For the first time in four years I felt safe.  For a long time, politics has been filled with rich white men who have had power since birth, who just didn’t know, but to whom those without a voice were at utter mercy.

It has felt like the mentally ill have been bombarded with what can only be described as psychological warfare.  At the whim of a pen pusher all our safety and security can be swept away, such that we could actually starve.  We must present ourselves to an ATOS doctor to be humiliated and scared and declared fit for work.

We cannot defend ourselves against that, sometimes we can’t even present to sign on.
I have PTSD and bipolar, and extremely severe agoraphobia.  Thankfully when my turn to be assessed my consultant was able to intervene and prevent.  Such was my terror I made plans to set fire to myself.  If I hadn’t had a consultant to intervene, how would I have coped?  I can’t leave the house and I can’t let people in the house.

All around me was scorn and derision of ‘the benefit class’.  Our leaders spoke it, to shame us, to starve us, and to terrorise us into the workplace.  And I am just so ill.

The scorn began to sink deeper into me and my agoraphobia became worse.  I couldn’t even step out onto my driveway.  I couldn’t tend my garden.  Eventually I couldn’t even get out of bed.

More news attacking the poor came, more measures to make life harder, scarier, hungrier and one night, feeling like I was nothing to my own society, and so frightened of the authorities, I wandered into my overgrown garden and set fire to my clothes.  I was lucky.  There was help and aside from small burns I was stopped in time.

Sat in A&E in singed clothes, suicidal, talking to the crisis team, there was nothing they could do, but send me back home and keep their fingers crossed I would not try that again.  There were no beds, no weekend provision available, and it was a week before my next contact.  What saved me was the eyes of the sister as she gave me a sedative and discharged me.  She was so worried, on a personal level, and so outraged that someone in my state just walks out the door, with no-one to call, no one to pick them up, no support, nothing. I knew I couldn’t traumatise her, as she walked me out, by harming myself.  It would have been her that was forced to guide me out and she would have suffered.

When Jeremy Corbyn stood up I felt something… I felt my society could be kind.  We need our leaders to make us feel safe.  We need more than words on the impact of austerity on struggling people, words on the mental health crisis; we need leaders who know how people are living and how inhumane policies can be.

I am starting to feel safer and have managed to start leaving my house on my own.  It’s frightening and it’s difficult.  I have had bad flashbacks today walking to pick up my meds.  But I feel less frightened.  I feel less ashamed.  I feel less of a burden.  I’m not so scared of my neighbours and the people on the streets.

I am returning to my MSc next month.  It’s been a 4 year marathon, my MSc, sitting frightened in seminars because I am on benefits, scared people will find out and hate me, in fact, each year I got too ill to continue.  This academic year I will feel less frightened and ashamed, and I cannot put into words the value of this.

In my opinion government policies have terrorised and killed large numbers of the mentally ill through their punishment and abuse of the poor.  It has to stop.  It’s a matter of life and death.

Rebecca, 39 from Yorkshire"

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