So I turned 30 recently. I’ve never really been a fan of birthdays as they tend to remind me how long I’ve been ill, around 19 years now, more than half my life. Time is a funny thing and it seems even more melancholy when you’re ill. All those milestones everyone assumes just happen often don’t, or they happen in convoluted ways. The whole school uni job career marriage kids thing that seems so ‘normal’ becomes impossible or at least very tricky. You see everyone else rush off and do all these things almost by default and you’re just stuck. You feel like you’re in stasis but time is still passing, you’re getting older, the world’s going on and on but you’re just there; existing in a wallpapery sort of fashion.

Things start off with everyone saying stuff like ‘when you’re better’ then after a few years you realise that might never happen so people stop mentioning it. Due the cult of misguided ‘positive thinking’ in our society things like ‘well what if I never get better?’ are often ignored and you learn to not mention it or at least not mention it too much. You feel like you can’t really discuss it openly and it’s certainly not accepted to discuss it at the marathon lengths others discuss pensions, property and career ‘ladders’ and all the other more acceptable ‘worries about the future’ stuff that eats up column inches and politicians pander to. You’re supposed to have ‘aspirations’ and plans not be worrying if you can cope with the basics of everyday life. The whole planning for the future thing is even more terrifying, it’s not about mortgages or kids or any sort of bloody ladder or long term investments or upsizing or downsizing; it’s about ‘what the hell am I gonna do if I can never work enough to support myself?’ and ‘how the hell am I supposed to look after my parents when they get older if I can’t look after myself?’. On the plus side the likelihood I’ll ever earn enough to even start paying off my student loan is slim.

It seems this positive thinking lark is often for the ease of the people around you, avoiding facing up to the harsh reality that life can sometimes be utterly shit. I’ve always been known as a bit if a gloomy soul, maybe it’s because I was ill at a young age? Or perhaps I’m just naturally miserable and Eeyoreish. The donkey is wise indeed:
“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”.

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After being fed up the dr and psychiatrist never listen to me I decided to reduce my medication anyway, I was tapering due to the usual being disorganised with repeat prescriptions and felt ok. So far I am feeling my mind is more alive but I feel a bit up and down but I’m not sure if that’s meds or the result of life stuff, being very busy then having not very much to do; I always tend to feel a bit weird when that happens. Time will tell as always. But I’ve been able to write creatively again which is amazing, less so when it keeps me awake at night but I have missed it really having a brain instead of porridgey lumps.

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It’s International Women’s Day, a day where we celebrate women as well as making a fuss, standing up, raising our voices and demanding an end to oppression.

In celebration here’s a small selection, of some of my favourite songs about women being awesome. In no particular order, from across a variety of genres and decades. Yes it is a small selection, trust me! Once you start making a concuss decision to start listening to more women and sell them putt you find so much amazing stuff. of some of my favourite songs about women being awesome by awesome women. In no particular order and from across a variety of genres and decades.

 

 


Beyoncé ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – Flawless… by wonderful-life1989

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After I graduated from uni, full of inspiration and dreams for the future I tried ‘leaning in’. I did all the stuff you’re supposed to do, I tried ‘networking’, I revised my cv a million times and sent it off everywhere, I slept on my sisters floor for a week doing a work experience week that pushed me to my health limits and left me out of pocket, I did a course for unemployed graduates (again pushing my health to the limit) that promised a work experience opportunity that never materialised. I applied for job after job after job, any job. I got nowhere and I was at one if the lowest points with depression I’d been in for years. I thought it must be because if me, because I’m rubbish, because I hadn’t done enough in uni or school despite being ill, because I wasn’t trying hard enough. That’s what all this lean in neo-liberal bollocks makes you feel, a failure. I kept ‘leaning in’ but I just fell flat on my face. 

(more…)

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I have so much swilling round my head now on this all.

Because of a system that sees people primarily as money making objects millions of people are dehumanised, cast as burdens, forced to live in poverty, to undertake humiliating assessments designed to fail as many people as possible to access even basic sustenance. Millions are forced to seek work in a system that does not want to employ them and will not make adjustments for basic needs and access. We are punished for not ‘doing enough’ to manage our conditions when we are often offered no help in the first place and often have to fight to get what we little we do have. We are expected to compete in a system where we have been denied equal access (or any access) to education, training and employment, a system that in addition to denying us this access then says we are not good enough as we don’t have the education or training! Furthermore this is marketed as being ‘positive’ about disability and accessing the support we need to even attempt to participate as ‘equals’ is writing us off as ‘hopeless’ charity cases. This all casts disability and illness as a personal issue for the individual to overcome whilst ignoring the structural barriers we face in addition to illness and disability. It puts all the responsibility on the oppressed and none on the oppressor. This is neo liberal capitalist BULLSHIT. I can honestly say it is ruining my life and I am one of the ‘lucky’ ones.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror a former ATOS worker states “The system is set up as if disabled people are trying to steal something from the Government”. It is this level of mistrust, the practice of seeing people as criminal and asking them to prove otherwise that is so damaging. It hurts psychologically, indeed I would say it’s a form of psychological violence, it leaves people without the ability to meet their basic needs; food, shelter, medical care. It kills people. This goes far beyond saving money and deep into the realms of social cleansing, creating a society where people have to prove their humanity and that humanity depends on their ability to make money and succeed in a world where they face many barriers, yet those barriers are deliberately cast as personal failings as opposed to the structural oppressions they are. The rise of the biopyscho social model (another link here)with regards to disability and illness mirrors the rise of ‘bootstraps’ rhetoric that poverty is the fault of the individual and absolves wider society of any responsibility. In short, it’s bollocks.

This is, one reason out of many, why I am not a reformist. I cannot in good conciencse advocate reform of a system that thrives on oppression, a system that NEEDS oppression to survive, when reforms can only ever hope to mitigate suffering and oppression as opposed to eradicating it.  I’m not about asking anyone nicely to maybe give me a little bit of agency or power or to recognise my basic right to sustenance. They say you get more right wing as you get older, but I get more revolutionary. The more I see, the more I try to carve out a life in a system that sees me a nuisance and waste of money, the more I want to smash it. I can’t and don’t want to ‘lean in’ or some such bullshit, I cannot advocate for ‘equality’ within the existing social structures and systems because they are fundamentally unequal.

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