I came across this article written by Matt Haig earlier today. Matt writes extensively about living with mental illness, and this piece really sums up some of the struggles faced by many of us at Christmas.
I admit, I don’t spend my Saturday evenings watching I’m a Celebrity, but the show, and in particular, Iain Lee, has been brought to my attention today via Twitter.
I’m sure you will have heard about him by now.
He was the one that cried during last night’s show.
Yes, HE. A man cried on TV.
He took part in one of the challenges (which sounded pretty horrific), and suffered an anxiety attack, meaning he ultimately failed the challenge.
He returned to camp and broke down.
Everyone seemed to show compassion, reassuring Mr Lee, but later Rebekah Vardy (I’m not sure what one of those is) said she didn’t like to see crying as it shows ‘weakness’ and Amir Khan agreed.
Luckily support and words of wisdom came from Georgia Toffolo (apparently a star of Made in Chelsea) who said during a conversation with other members of the camp
‘Yes, because the stereotypical man doesn’t cry and that’s wrong, that shouldn’t be the case.’
This is exactly the problem.
Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact, I’d say it shows strength that someone is quite prepared to expose that raw emotional side of themselves.
Anyway, Mr Lee has now become the target of Twitter users calling him ‘pathetic’ and poking fun at him.
Because anxiety is so funny, isn’t it?
Depression is a perfect opportunity to call someone crazy, isn’t it?!
Despite what you may or may not think, mental illness of any sort is no reason to abuse someone.
It’s not an opportunity to attempt to push your own twisted agenda.
I can imagine that if I’d been in the same situation as Mr Lee, I’d probably have had a panic attack.
And in case you didn’t known, here are some of the VERY REAL physical symptoms of anxiety –
- Stomach cramps
- Tingling in hands
Now imagine experiencing just one of these whilst being in a huge tank of water about to attempt a ‘trial’ on a TV show in order to feed your team mates.
Tell me you would be able to do that and not feel emotion.
Mental illness of any sort is no reason to bully and harass someone, whoever they are.
Maybe if people start accepting that it’s ok to show emotion and it’s not any kind of weakness, things will start to change for the better, but as long as names like ‘crazy’ and ‘pathetic’ are being hurled at people struggling daily, morning is going to change at all.
So, it’s 4am, and I’ve not yet slept. Hurrah for insomnia!
I’m no stranger to this stupid fucked up sleep cycle, I’ve been living with it for years, but I’ll never get over the fact that 4am is so utterly boring!
I’ve been looking at recipes. Mainly healthy ones. It can never hurt to try to eat healthier, can it?
I’ve been browsing the Shitty Watercolour Facebook page.
Listened to another episode of Paul Temple.
My brain isn’t ready to switch off.
A million and one things are racing round my head. I wonder how they all fit in there.
Just had a mug of hot chocolate, but now I feel sick.
I should probably go back to bed as I have important things to do tomorrow.
It’s too late to take a zopiclone, as I won’t be up before lunchtime if I do that now, and if I was to be, I’d have the mother of all hangovers from it.
I kind of hope that spilling here will allow me to get at least a couple of hours sleep.
I wish I could put my finger on one particular thing that’s bothering me right at this moment, but I guess it’s a culmination of things. So many things in this old brain.
I applied to go back to uni, so I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear about that. I’d love to be able to finish my Film Studies course, but unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it may seem.
I’m totally lacking motivation to do anything at the moment, so that’s making me feel guilty. I enjoyed the sun the other day though, and went for a nice walk. Baby steps.
I wish people would mind their own sodding business, and focus on their own lives rather than trying to ruin other peoples. Makes me think of the old ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’.
I’m worried about this whole election business. Still no one seems to know what Brexit is, and whilst the media are talking about Diane Abbot getting muddled up in an interview, the government are pushing through some very worrying policies that will affect our young people.
One of my cats has been more clingly than usual since she was spayed the other week, and I don’t know if I should be concerned about that or not.
I feel terribly guilty for not making more effort to see people this past goodness knows how many months. I currently don’t have a car, so I’m feeling somewhat isolated. I liked being able to just go out for a drive sometimes, particularly if the weather was nice. Just go and see places.
I don’t have a light summer jacket. I have cardigans and winter coats, but nothing really in between, so I was thinking of making the ‘bomber jacket’ from Gerties ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s’ (seriously, something I’ve been thinking about whilst unable to sleep!).
There was something about shoes too, but that’s not in my brain any more.
I worry a lot. I think too much.
I need to sleep. It’s now almost 5am. Fingers crossed for the sandman.
I can’t believe I didn’t upload this to the blog!!!
I must say, I absolutely LOVE living in my caravan, and if I could move somewhere nearer people I know, I would, and I’d stay in my caravan, and it’d all be fine. I live in a beautiful part of the world, and waking up to the rolling hills of the Herefordshire/Worcestershire/Shropshire areas is wonderful. Even when it’s raining. Oh!! The rain on the roof! There’s something really lovely about being all snuggled up inside, and the British Summertime is doing it’s thing and pelting down sleet!
The fact is, I can’t move her. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rules & regulations surrounding caravan dwelling, and I’m not really up to trying to figure out where I can go where I’ll be safe & happy.
And of course, you’re tarred as a pikey if you live in a caravan, which is the issue I had with my original site.
Anyway, here’s a little tour of my house, plus special guest appearances by Momo & Hitomi! Seriously, you have no idea how much this pair of dopes mean to me. They have definitely managed to help me through. Too much cat love. Tone down the cat love…
Work is going well, I mean, stacking shelves & cleaning for 3 hours per shift is pretty easy, and the majority of my earnings will be going towards my Relocation Campaign (take a look here!!).
I’m available for TV work! HAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!
I’ve been going a bit crazy with the videos today – I think because I can actually upload them (I use my phone’s mobile data to connect to the internet you see, and I currently have 2GB!), anyway, I made a little video about my Go Fund Me, and a little bit about how I came to be in the situation I’m in.
My videos have always been the same, I don’t edit, I don’t script, I just get an idea and then chatter, but I think I get my point(s) across!!!
Thanks for watching!
I’ve been unemployed since the beginning of April. I made a claim for Jobseekers Allowance, and was put on Universal Credit. I had to wait until 10th June to get a payment of £238. I still have all the bills I had to pay before losing my job, so I wonder how people cope, as I can guarantee that I’m not doing so well. I guess one benefit is that I don’t have to pay for my prescriptions.
Going through the benefits system has been nothing short of traumatic. I have been patronised, spoken down to and treated like a sub-standard human. I have asked if I know how to look for a job, been told that I shouldn’t be overdrawn and given incorrect information time and time again.
I have been in work since I was 16, so I know how to look for work. I am not uneducated, and I’m certainly not scum, so why do employees of the DWP feel it necessary to treat me this way?
From speaking to other people, this is common practice. It’s almost as if we a taking money from their own pockets.
At no point have I been offered any kind of support.
The benefits system is seriously failing people with mental health issues.
How can Stephen Crabb (Secretary of State for Work & Pensions) even imagine that the system is fine how it is?
When information and support is deliberately withheld, how can this be a good way to run the system?
For instance, I read about budgeting support. I’d quite like that help. I was given a leaflet from Debt Advice. If you ask, you can have your benefits paid bi-weekly, but you have to know about this in the first place to be able to ask.
Universal Credit is meant to ‘reflect the world of work’, but I was paid weekly, all my bills were set up weekly, I budgeted weekly, so how does that system help me? The amount of Universal credit is roughly what I earned per week, so far less than minimum wage.
I honestly wonder if the system is set up in such a way that they hope to kill off people with mental health issues. It wouldn’t surprise me.
Maybe Mr Crabb doesn’t realise how this affects someone with such an illness?
Let me enlighten you.
I already mentioned having exactly the same bills now as I did when I was employed full time. You start getting threatening letters because your bank account is overdrawn, you get phone calls from people wanting the bill paid. As a sufferer of depression and anxiety, you dread the phone ringing, you don’t know what to say to them, so you ignore it. You don’t know how to deal with it. You feel helpless.
You try to eat a healthy diet because you know it helps you feel better, but you can’t afford the good food that you could when you were earning, so instead you start living on pasta and sauce and cheap ready meals. Your stomach constantly feels bloated and you feel sick. You feel lethargic and even less inclined to leave the safety of your bed.
You can’t go out anywhere because you can’t afford the petrol. You certainly can’t afford to socialise unless you’re being paid for, and that causes feelings of shame and guilt. How can you replay them?
You dread your bi weekly visits to the job centre to be judged by someone sat behind a desk, tarring you with the same brush as those ‘benefits cheats’. The dread starts a few days before your appointment, and when sat in front of the guardian of the money, you bite back the tears as they decide if your attempts to find work in a place where no work exists were up to their own standards. You want to yell and scream, but you turn into a tiny, quiet little mouse. You just want someone to help, but know it’s not likely here, and you have no idea where to turn. They’ve beaten you down.
All the while, those with the power to make a difference put in their expenses forms whilst you struggle to get by on the pasta and cans of beans you had left over from the last time you were able to do a proper food shop.
I wonder if Mr Crabb will read this? I wonder what his thoughts are?
This is why I want to move. I want to make a better life for myself, but how can I even make that happen when I can barely afford to feed myself? It’s a never ending spiral of worthlessness, failure and shame.
I wonder if Mr Crabb would like to donate? He could always claim it back on his expenses…
Please consider donating to my Go Fund Me
I don’t remember very much of that weekend, I think most of it was spent in tears.
I returned to work on the Monday, I had to carry on like normal, after all. I was under a lot of pressure from work as I was in the shit for taking time off to find a home and after my uncle passed away, so I dragged myself in.
I made an appointment to see the doctor – something I probably should have done weeks before.
I was given a sick note for 2 weeks. My doctor was horrified at what I told him, and was really supportive.
I emailed work and told them I had a sick note. My boss knew what had happened, and knew I was going to see the doctor.
That Wednesday I received a letter from my employer saying I was fired, but they would pay me 4 weeks pay and I didn’t have to work my notice.
The reason was ‘gross misconduct’. There were a few things mentioned, but no actual reason for them considering whatever I’d done as ‘gross misconduct’.
But I wasn’t well enough to do anything about it, and by God I wanted them to know they can’t just treat people like this.
I was being harassed by someone at work as a direct result of their inability to nip the problem in the bud before I even began working there. The worst thing? THEY ADMITTED AS MUCH!!!
Anyway, I was then at a point where I was unemployed, alone, and living in a caravan just a few miles from my previous house.
A few things occurred to me – why, if my now ex partner had been ‘thinking about this for a while’, had he allowed me to look for a place near him, knowing my family and nearest friends live an hour away? This pissed me right off. It still does. We’ll not go into what I thought (and still think) about the ‘friends’ that I made whilst living round here.
My depression had been kept relatively under control until the beginning of April. I was looking forward to moving and getting on with life, looking to the future, then things fell apart.
I couldn’t see any reason to carry on. It was honestly the thought of my cats eating my face that kept me from doing anything stupid.
The week after I was dumped, it was my uncles funeral. I felt so selfish for feeling like I did. Here I am, unemployed, newly single, and all pretty much my own fault, and my cousins are now without their dad, and my auntie without her husband. How self absorbed. I was swinging wildly between feeling despair and feeling self loathing for feeling like I did.
Guilt is a big part of depression for a lot of people. Being brought up Catholic, well, guilt is like a default setting for me. It feeds the depression.
I spent most of my days crying, utterly unable to see a way out of this mess.
I spoke with my ex partner a couple of weeks after he dumped me, and I felt like maybe things were not all lost, so I emailed him. It could be that he’s not seen it, or maybe he deleted it. Whatever, he hasn’t seen fit to reply.
I probably don’t need to go into the negative thoughts I have about this. Needless to say, I’ve come to the conclusion that actions speak louder than words, and his feelings towards me, and our relationship are obviously not anywhere near what I feel about him.
Yes, I still love him. Yes I’d love a future with him. But somewhere along the line he decided that wasn’t for him.
Maybe there’s someone else. I don’t know and I suppose I’ll never know as this person that I love and care about so deeply, the person I miss each and every day, wants absolutely nothing to do with me. Every day it feels like my heart is breaking afresh as I look at my phone and don’t see my ‘good morning princess’ message from him.
I find it unbelievable that I managed to make him think this way, when I think of other people and how they are with each other, the things that they have been through and they are still together.
I do have a point to make, but you’ll have to bear with me, this is all relevant stuff.
I haven’t cried for 3 days, which is good going, but writing about his morning message has set me off. It’s the silly little things I miss the most.
It’s these things that kept me going and stopped me from succumbing to my depression sooner.
Someone said to me that you shouldn’t rely on anyone else for your happiness. I know this full well, and it wasn’t relying on anyone for happiness. It was having someone there that understood and just their very existence made each day bearable.
I didn’t want him to bail me out, I told him as much. I didn’t fuck up on purpose, I just can’t deal with things very well, I thought I was doing the right thing. Maybe I was doing the right thing in my head, but when your brain doesn’t work too well in the first place it’s hard to tell, and certainly looks like a huge cluster fuck to the average outsider.
So onto the point I wanted to make with this story.
Being with me, you don’t just get me. You get me, and my depression. Being with someone with depression is like being with 2 people. Always this horrid thing is there, you may not see it all the time, you may not see it often, but it’s always lurking. You may not realise how it can rule someone’s life, even when they look fine and seem to be acting fine and holding shit together.
It’s a constant darkness following you.
At times it feels like a tangible thing.
When it comes down to it, my darkness pushed the one person I have ever been able to see a future with away. I don’t mean to sound like I’m making excuses, but sometimes the way my brain works may seem totally normal to me, but it’s not to other people.
It’s kind of ironic that the main theme for this years Mental Health Awareness Week has been relationships.
So here I am, still alone in my caravan in the middle of nowhere, still unemployed, still struggling through each day. Some days I cry a lot, some days I feel ok. I am back to not even considering a future (I never had done until I met my ex), it all seems pretty pointless at the moment when I have to force myself to get out of bed in the mornings. I can’t plan too far ahead as I’ll either forget or be unable to do it. Have I mentioned that my memory goes completely when I’m ill?
I am lucky that I have an extremely supportive family and a fantastic group of friends that have gone out of their way to look after me. Social media sometimes gets a bad rap, but I can say, hand on heart, that I would have been absolutely lost without Facebook & Twitter. It’s not easy scraping together money to travel to see people, but at least if I’m able to steal wifi I can at least stay in touch.