Be gentle with mental illness, fight the real enemy

23_december_2014A letter a day to number 10. No 954

Tuesday 23 December 2014.

Dear Mr Cameron,

In my own life I have described mental illness as living with the enemy within. It is a profound experience never knowing when it will strike, no day, indeed no moment, is safe, there is no safety net and nor are there any days off or holidays. It is cyclic in the degree of intensity, but I have never fathomed a pattern, it is more like a random roller coaster in which I am the passenger, not the driver.

I recall a very particular day in my early twenties, waking and feeling very peculiar, the feeling lasted all day and it wasn’t until late in the day that I realised what the problem was, I felt fine. It was with a sense of regret that the realisation had come too late to enjoy the experience of having spent the day dealing with everything without the black hell that blighted every day. I remember thinking that if this was how other people experience life no wonder they seem to do it so much better than I do. The next day was back to hell, but I have never forgotten that one remarkable day in which my thoughts had been centred on how peculiar I felt, having no previous experience to draw on with which to process how I was feeling.

The years have taught me not to fight this enemy and, indeed, to listen to it. I wish I could say that it is now a friend, but I’ve never made it that far, I have learnt to listen to its counsel and that to resist it or fight it always makes it worse. So I’ve learnt to rest, sleep if I can, and allow it to pass at it’s own pace and to weather the storm as gently and quietly as I can.

Why am I writing this to you? Because people with mental health problems have a new enemy in the shape of you and your government and in particular Iain Duncan Smith, as blunt and brutal as mental illness and who, for ideological reasons, mean us harm and are, indeed, making our lives infinitely harder and who, like mental ill health, do not and will not submit to reason. The policies that you are pursuing against us are toxic and harmful to us. They may be working in some strange, bizarre and weird way in your minds, but they are policies causing great personal harm and which must be resisted and fought at every step. There can be no acceptance, no rest today in the hopes that tomorrow will be better. You have amply demonstrated since 2010 that your intention is to make our lives worse not better with, ultimately, sanctions to enforce compliance to your vicious, uncaring and unfeeling, pogroms.

The food bank debate last year and the recent bedroom tax debate revealed that hardship amuses Iain Duncan Smith and other members of your party, they jeer and mock when MPs talk about people suffering whilst protecting their own interests and that of the root cause of the current situation, the banks and money markets. It is unacceptable, inexcusable and it has to stop.

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