It’s Ground Hog Day – no, sorry, it’s #WorldMentalHealthDay
(Warning: serious gloom ahead. Just letting you know.)
Just like Christmas, World Mental Health Day takes me by surprise each year and leaves me just as disappointed (I’m not a big fan of Christmas either) as previous years. More celebrities opening up about their struggles, more empty rhetoric, more pleas for ending stigma. And what changes? I can see few changes since last year. In my own country, provision for serious mental illness has declined still further; what is offered to people coming in with mental and emotional distress is extremely limited and chances are, you’ll be on a long waiting list just to be assessed. I’ve heard whispers that the government is appointing a minister for suicide prevention.
The therapies on offer are also very limited in their scope. I do not doubt that CBT has its place, but for me, what I have seen of it and read of it, it’s not something that will help everyone, by any means, and yet it’s being applied like some sort of panacea. Mindfulness is touted as the cure for all ills too, yet it’s something contraindicated for PTSDs of varying types. Meditation too, and yet for someone like me who has taught meditation and has written extensively about it, there comes a point where its effects are negligible. All of these are like taking iron tablets for anaemia when the problem of what’s causing the loss of blood is not being investigated. Modern life is like a vampire causing a form of pernicious anaemia, draining off your life force without you even knowing about it.
I’m being gloomy. Sorry about that. I’ve not blogged for over 6 weeks, and my own depression and anxiety are such that at times getting out of bed, going to the shops to buy groceries, are using up all my spoons. For those who are thinking, why not see your GP, I would say: what’s the point? I’ve tried the medication route many times over the years; I’ve tried most things from the families of drugs on offer and they don’t work for me and the side effects are crippling. I would not agree to CBT because after more than 4 decades of illness, I’ve used all the relevant techniques, sometimes inventing them from scratch myself. All that would happen is I’d wait 18 months for an assessment, be told I’m not suitable (because I’m not) and then be discharged. I’ve already been waiting 18 months for an assessment for autism. That’s the other factor that’s become evident since the last time I blogged on World Mental Health Day: I realised that I am almost certainly in the undiagnosed autism category and asked for an assessment. I filled in the 20 page form and a few weeks later, I found out that from my answers, they reckoned that yes, an assessment was in order. That was about 18 months ago. I have heard nothing since. I’m nobody’s priority as I am not a kid in school, and as an adult female I am assumed not to really matter. The symptoms I’ve been experiencing in the last few years correspond to what’s termed autistic burnout, and there’s little I or anyone else can do about it. But it would be nice to be treated with some dignity and care and get a few answers.
I generally try to avoid making political statements but on a UK level, the government is culpable for so many things, including total failure to take mental health seriously. The major charities waffle on endlessly about fighting stigma but they do very, very little about actually fighting for decent provision. On a world scale we’re going to hell in handcart and the man in charge of America denies any of it is real. Some utter fruit loops see it as the Biblical “End times” and aim to hasten it. In terms of faith, I have extremely little (slightly more after my visit to Taize in the summer) but the kind of faith that follows that line of thought is, frankly, insane and lacking in any sort of rational thought. The recent events regarding Mr Kavanaugh have confirmed the feelings of almost every woman I know that if we are not heading towards the dystopian land of Gilead (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) then it’s not far away. It scares me, and it scares me that there are women who seek this as a reality, with glee.
I haven’t got much good news. I’m trying to write again, but the constant battle is with despair, that says, why bother? I would like to promise another book out (am trying to get something out for Christmas) and new writing in the works, but I am aware that trying to keep to deadlines is going to put so much pressure on me that I cannot envisage doing so. If I do, it’ll come in a rush and as a surprise to me.
But we have each other to cling to, those of us of good heart and soul, who understand. All I can say is be kind to one another. We are all fighting battles, seen and unseen, and we need to have each other’s backs.
Obligatory book plug: My book on mental health is available at a sane price: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Depression-Art-Tightrope-Walking-Book-ebook/dp/B014V7313A/