Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 04 Oct 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

We need a Union of the Mad

If you have a mental health condition, as I do, I have some news for you. And it is that you’re expendable. By definition, mental health cuts across all classes and all communities, which means that our voting intentions are hard to work out and there are times when we’re too detached from reality to put our socks on, let alone put a cross in a ballot paper, which means that we’re not politically significant. And anyone who isn’t politically significant can, in modern Britain, simply not bother. If you have no power, nobody is interested.

During times gone by, we relied on something called ‘decency,’ which is now wildly unpopular. And the concept of decency suggested that you did things for people even if you weren’t the direct beneficiary of those things. So you did things like paying your taxes in the knowledge that they paid for roads you didn’t drive down and operations that you would never have in the sure and certain knowledge that what you were doing was for the public good. You wouldn’t benefit if someone was driven into beggary and, in fact, something indefinable and yet distinct about your humanity would be demeaned by indifference. That is no longer the case.

As decency has gone out of the window and us, poor mentals tend not to have much in the way of available funds, we can’t buy access to politicians as other lobby groups do or promise to invest in some infrastructure project or sponsor an event. For the most part, when you read about us, it’s because we’re dead. And the most newsworthy way a mental person has of becoming dead is that the system has cut their benefits or sanctioned them until life became unsustainable. I’ve seen and heard people ay that they should have asked for help from someone else, but often there is nobody else or your mind is in such a turmoil that you can’t even hope to have two sequential thoughts that make sense, let alone plan your future. Sanctioning someone with mental heath problems doesn’t work because they are, we are, not by definition in our right minds.

Our ability to resist this is somewhere close to zero. I’ve been on an infinite amount of protests against ATOS and none of them result in anything happening precisely because we have absolutely no power or leverage. Ian Duncan Smith could have travelled around the country with a pistol and shot each of us in the face and there would have been nothing that we could do about it and nobody would have spoken up for us. Why? Because we’re not them. By the time you realise that the worst has happened and you’ve become a person with a mental health problem, you’ve already placed yourself outside society, outside the scope of people who care. If something happens to white, middle class people in a suburb, then all hell breaks loose and the Government says that Something Must Be Done, but if a few scattered mentals start killing or injuring themselves, then who, frankly, cares?

The odd thing about this is that mental health problems are absolutely endemic. A conversation with my GP revealed that she spends nearly half her time talking about health conditions whose ultimate source is some kind of underlying mental health problems and another GP I met said that Western countries are floating on a huge sea of anti-depressants. This means that a very, very large minority are being kept going by medication. It’s what’s keeping them on the insane gerbil wheel of capitalism, running and running and running, in pursuit of goals that they no longer understand or believe in. I was one of them for about five years. Then things in my life shifted, my foot slipped and I clattered into the figurative wheel on my face before sliding onto the floor of my cage. The line between a person who has a mental health condition, but works, and one who can’t is wafer thin and very, very porous.

I suppose what I’d like to see is us, that’s all the mad people, somehow banding together in a giant and very vocal Union of the Mad and loudly making our presence felt. And I do, incidentally, advocate taking control and ownership of the word ‘mad,’ purely because it’s so tasteless and hard to ignore. And that’s mental illness. It isn’t a beige condition that can be tidied neatly away after the washing up has been done. It’s the same colour and texture of a massive shit that has been smeared up a wall and once you’ve realised that poo is all over the interior walls of your mind, you’ll never quite be the same again. Asking people not to talk about it or saying that it has its time and place (hello mum) and this tea shop isn’t it (hello again, mum) or dropping your voice when you talk about it (still here, mum?) doesn’t work. It gets us quietly dead in bedsits or broken and forgotten when they start dividing up the available cash.

So there we go. Let’s start a giant Union of the Mad and start making our presence felt. When they’re scared, that’s when you start to see change. When someone has broken into their houses and smeared ‘Mad Pride’ over the walls in something that they hope is Marmite but is probably turd, is when you’ll start seeing things happening. When whichever Government minister that has shafted us is running down the street, eyes wide with fear at being mocked on YouTube, followed by a herd of people dressed like Victorian patients from Bedlam complete with mock chains, you will start seeing people’s minds focused as never before. We’re too polite and too meek. Please, for all our sakes, let’s stop being expendable.

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