Perspectives from the Mentalist's Partner (6): The Blind Leading the Mad

As regular readers may have noted from Pandora’s occasional mentions of me, I have a disability. I’m partially sighted. I usually don’t think about it. Why would I? It’s something that’s always been with me. Well, when I say ‘always‘, I mean the pleasure’s been all mine ‘within living memory’. I hesitate to say that it’s a part of me, because that suggests a welcome I don’t extend to the problem; but the reality is that, yes, it’s made me who I am and so, yes, it’s wedded to me for better or worse, richer or poorer, and all that lark. Inseparable buddies, ’til death do us part. You know the lines.

So, then, how does this constant travelling companion affect me, you might ask? Well, I can get around familiar places for the most part, I can get on with my work. I don’t tend to think about what I can’t do a lot of the time because – well, to be blunt – I can’t do it, never have been able to and likely never will. I can’t play ‘normal’ sport with any degree of aptitude. I can’t drive or even safely ride a bike on a public road. I can’t read signs unless they’re smacking me in the face. I find it too much of a strain to read most newspapers or magazines (so the internet is a gift and the Apple iPad, with its built-in accessibility, is a dream come true). I can’t see well enough to build a PC, despite knowing exactly how to; I get help on the former score from Pandora.

The point I’m trying to make is that there are quite a lot of things I can’t do, and more things besides that I can’t do with much competence. I don’t tend to think about this because, as I’ve already stated, that’s how it’s been for as long as I can remember. Yes, occasionally I get pangs of wishful thinking – possibly more so when I was younger than now – but generally I can ignore my bosom buddy. And since I don’t tend to think about what I can’t do, people who know me tend to stop thinking about it as well. Sometimes I think they forget, or consign my sight problem to the ‘oh yeah, forgot about that’ bin.

Why is this relevant to this blog? Well, it is to the extent that I have what, sometimes, can be perceived as an ‘invisible’ disability. Granted, it’s more readily perceptible than the amorphous ‘what?’ that’s going on in someone’s head, but it’s closer to that than the other extreme of, say, being in a wheelchair.

As we know, if a health issue isn’t readily perceptible, it tends not to be thought about – or, at least, it tends to be thought about less than the more obvious. Lots of buildings are geared up for ‘disabled access’. What this appears to mean, in general, is the installation of a wheelchair ramp or a lift. Worthy additions, certainly, but additions that fail to cater to me and others.

Airports are a good example of this. Many airports are moving away from announcing flights towards a position where the onus is on the passenger to find out for him- or herself when a flight is departing. Fine if you can see the often distant screens with their not so huge fonts. Of course, if you’re hard of hearing, announcements are not much good, but does there have to be only one form of communication?

Or what about going into a fast food joint. You might argue that I shouldn’t be there in the first place. But I am. So let’s look at the board. Oh, hang on, let’s not. I’d better get Pandora to read it to me. Often the same with a menu in a restaurant, the specifications on the back of product’s packaging, the instructions (as a last resort) that I’ll need to understand when trying to get something to work. There’s not a Braille or large print version.

I don’t expect the world to change for me, and it sure as hell doesn’t revolve around me, but I experience the unquestionable feeling of being marginalised at times. Perhaps not deliberately or in a major way – simply a crime of omission. The wheelchair lobby have been very successful in pushing the need for reasonable adjustments, and I applaud those efforts; but others have enjoyed fewer victories.

Now, take my problem and double it; treble it. People at least know what a sight difficulty is and they generally accept that I’m not making it up or hallucinating the bugger. Maybe society hasn’t caught up enough to cater to it in an ideal way, and there are real difficulties still. But things generally tick over. Good Samaritans will often step in to ask a blind person if he or she needs help. A lot of my friends are blind or partially sighted. They lead pretty normal lives. They get disability aids to assist them. They are offered reasonable adjustments. Could things be better for them? Most likely. But their disabilities are seen and recognised, and I for one wouldn’t like to be the person standing between them and the entrance to their local of a Saturday evening! Normal lives, normal people.

If being blind or half blind is Cinderella, then being mental appears to be Cinderella’s unborn sister. From my observations of developments around the Madosphere, it seems to me that there is a very long way to go to achieve recognition of mental illness as a disability (whether temporary or permanent). While stigma – the ‘get over it’ culture – still persists, what hope is there of a genuine cultural shift towards accommodating these problems, of reaching something akin to normalisation of these issues? If the problem is not seen, it often goes unacknowledged. Not through malice, perhaps. Ignorance is the mother of stigma here, I’d wager. The generic term ‘depression’, is a good example of what’s wrong. It doesn’t communicate useful information to Joe Public. In regular usage, it can mean practically anything across a wide spectrum from ‘a bit pissed off’ to ‘suicidal’. It’s symptomatic of, and continued to support, an all too common attitude of ‘Snap out of it! Get over yourself! Cheer up! It’s only in your head!’

Only in your head? What a quintessentially galling statement. Everything’s in your head. Everything is filtered through the lens of our senses; everything goes through our heads, all those neurons firing away merrily to create what we call our world view. Can things that are ‘just’ in your head be so readily trivialised or dismissed? Really?

My conclusion isn’t revolutionary. It’s stating what the Madosphere and mental health advocates generally are already stating: there is a need to begin to see mental issues in the same way that we see other health issues. We must collectively stop laughing them off and begin to provide the interventions, empathy and adjustments that are being extended, albeit sometimes slowly and imperfectly, in so many other areas.

Here endeth the sermon.

Pan

I think this post is particularly timely, given the shocking ignorance, offensiveness and self-righteous cuntery of the utter bollocks shown on the otherwise respectable Channel 4 this week (words to the wise: follow the link at your peril. It could genuinely upset or trigger you, and it will almost certainly anger you). For those unfamiliar, some God botherer, Malcolm Bowden, has been wanking on that depression – and as A notes in this post, that’s certainly an overused term – is a character failing, caused not by biopsychosocial factors, but by the dirty heathen sin of ‘pride’ (incidentally – as my next post will discuss, at least a little – there’s fuck all wrong with pride anyway. Conceit and arrogance are ‘sins’, if one must employ Biblical nomenclature – but they are
quite different from simply taking pleasure in the fact that you’ve done something good).

Yeah. The words “fuck away off” came to my mind too. Apparently leading mental health charity Rethink agree.

Can I just say that this is not how all – or even many – Christians view depression and other mental health concerns. This is clearly exemplified by some lovely people who actually practice the doctrines preached by Christ, rather than sitting in self-referential, holier-than-thou judgement.

Unfortunately, though, Mr Bowden has done neither people with mental illnesses nor his warped view of Christianity any good. He’s poured gallons of fuel onto the stigmatic fire, and has in all probability provided cocks like Richard Dawkins with a new pile of wank fodder.

Depression is real. Depression is a real mental illness. Godliness, or the lack thereof, has fuck all to do with it. Yet society, or at least parts of it, will nod along to Bowden’s demonising rhetoric, because it suits them to believe that teh m3nt@lz are all evil/scrounging/lying etc etc etc.

So hard as it is, on we must fight. All of us with disabilities – seen or unseen, mild to severe – in solidarity. That we must do, despite members of the community being some of the most marginalised and vulnerable in society, is disgusting, but cockjockeys like Mr Bowden, and indeed challenges such as A has discussed above, prove that it’s sadly a necessary evil even now, in a supposedly enlightened 21st century.

The Darker Side of Speaking Up

AWARDHAIR!!!1!!!!11!!!eleven!!!six!My hair has arrived for the awards ceremony. Do you like it?

Initially, I was unsure as to whether I could even go to the ceremony. After all, I would probably be the only person there that writes under a pseudonym, since most of the nominees are from the world of the more traditional media – papers, telly, radio and suchlike. Even amongst the ‘New Media’ short-listees (if that’s a word), as far as I know I’m the only person responsible for a nomination that’s anonymous.

However, I had a quick word on Twitter with some of the lovely folks at Mind – and they, in conjunction with their PR people, are coming up with an anonymity masterplan! I can’t say how delighted this made me, and how very kind of them to accommodate such a bizarre request! So Cinderella will go to the ball after all 🙂 I don’t expect to win anything, don’t get me wrong, but to be short-listed for such a prestigious award is such a big deal to me that simply being there will be amazing. A is coming with me, as is my best friend Daniel and, all being well, a fellow mental health blogger. If there’s enough room, I can even bring two more people 🙂

So, mentalists of the UK. If you’re kicking about in the general area of the Home Counties in late November and fancy a pale ale or three with a sad blatherer with a Pot Noodle fetish, feel free to give me a shout. We’ll be in Laaaaaahhhhaaaandaaaaaahhhhnnnnn from Saturday 26th to Wednesday 30th November. Monday night is out, as it’s the awards ceremony, and on at least one of the other days I’ll be meeting a friend, but there’s flexibility in the latter if anyone is amenable to a Mini Mad-Up.

Anyway, speaking of Mind, I have a guest post over on their blog today entitled Speaking Out is the Only Way to End Stigma (see here). Although the title mirrors what I talked about in my last post, I’ve actually looked at the issue of stigma from the other side of the coin than that which I previously discussed here. I thought I’d quote it here too, for your dubious delectation:

I consider myself a fortunate person, in that there are a wonderful – and rather diverse – range of people that I have the privilege of calling my friends. Generally, I’ve been very open with them and my relatives alike about my mental health difficulties – but there’s one group with whom, until recently, I tended to keep my mouth shut.

My partner is partially sighted, and as such his primary education was delivered in a school specialising in teaching children with visual (VI) and auditory impairments. After being reunited with a number of his schoolmates in his adulthood, I was pleased to also make their acquaintance, and am glad to report that I now consider them my friends too.

One thing that repeatedly surprised me about these otherwise lovely people, though, was their attitudes to my mental illness. They are open about their disabilities around the dinner table and, more formally, they vocally demand reasonable adjustments at work, raise money for related charities, and have been known to campaign politically on VI related issues such as traffic calming and electronic accessibility. I think it’s brilliant.

You can tell there’s a ‘but’ coming, can’t you? Here it is. In my view, if you are pro-disability rights – as every right-thinking person should be – then you should be inclusive about the meaning of the term ‘disability’. Unfortunately, mental health problems can represent potentially very severe disabilities, just as physical ones can.

This is something my friends didn’t seem to realise. I remember one night, over dinner, after they had been talking about VI issues, I shifted the subject subtlety with the intention of talking about the barriers I, also, had faced in terms of my disability. The specifics are lost to the passing of time, but I think I was alluding to the HR problems I’d faced during a depression-fuelled absence from work.

My commentary, delivered in my usual matter-of-fact tone, was met with a stony, almost horrified silence. People started staring at their food or fiddling with their wedding rings. An approaching waiter reversed back into the kitchen, having felt the tension emanating from our group. And all the while I sat there, genuinely mystified, thinking, “what did I say?!” Lest I ruin the rest of the evening, though, I decided to keep schtum thereafter, and eventually someone (quite deliberately) changed the subject, and things moved on.

That was several years ago, but if I’m brutally honest, the episode still cuts me to the core when I let myself think about it. Why is someone else’s disability considered more socially “acceptable” than mine? Why do mental health conditions still exist only in the realm of whispered taboo and under-the-carpet brushing?

This was only my second proper encounter with the stigma that continues to permeate discussions pertaining to mental health (or lack thereof). I don’t blame my friends personally: they are a product of a society and culture that remains scared of and ill-informed about psychiatric disorders, and they’re far from alone.

My first significantly prejudicial experience was in my most recent job (mentioned above), in which I had initially gone off sick with “depression”. This was deemed a common and ordinary complaint by my employers, but when my condition failed to improve and I was eventually diagnosed with, initially, borderline personality disorder and bipolar type II (now changed to complex PTSD and either bipolar I or schizoaffective disorder – go me!), their attitudes mysteriously changed. Oh, we really were in mental territory there, weren’t we? They couldn’t have that, now could they?

(I’m being slightly unfair here, as when I was eventually dismissed, I had been absent over a year – my leaving the organisation was therefore both legal and fair. However, the paradigm shift between their tolerance before and after my diagnoses was very evident).

Rather than incite meekness, however, if anything these two incidents encouraged me to speak out more about my mental health troubles, as I wrote about in my World Mental Health Day post here. It started off by writing – anonymously – on my blog (I still write pseudonymously, incidentally, but that’s because I have no choice but to protect some key personnel discussed therein), but in time I found myself openly discussing mental health in ‘real life’ too. Besides those already discussed, I only remember one particularly negative reaction – when explaining to a friend of my boyfriend’s that I was not working due to “being mental,” he replied, “is that ‘I Can’t Be Bothered With Work-Itis’ then?” Not a pleasant comment by any means – but by and large, people have been accepting, willing to listen and mostly sympathetic. I even revealed the severity of my psychotic and dissociative symptoms to an ignorant and rather set-in-their-old-fashioned-ways aunt and uncle recently; I was quite surprised when they didn’t back away in petrified horror, but instead proffered me their genuine good wishes and a listening ear.

Again, though, there’s a ‘but’. Two, actually. Firstly, it is not easy to be so unabashed about this subject to other people (particularly, I would suggest, acquaintances or strangers – you have no clues to enable you to gauge what their reaction might be). As a general rule, I’m remarkably passive in the arena of ‘real life’, but I am both blessed and cursed in having something of a bolshy streak when I feel I’m being treated unfairly, and I think it’s that force that has driven me to speak up. Secondly, even though I have received a number of pretty positive reactions to my disclosures, stigma still exists. There are still those who demonise us as loons or scroungers who should be locked up in an asylum or get back to work, respectively (though, of course, many people with a mental health problem do work). Admitting to mental health issues in such circumstances can seem like a dangerous thing to do.

I think, though, that there is ultimately good news. As many people familiar with Mind will know, the Time to Change campaign has been granted another four years’ worth of funding, which means that the very meaningful in-roads the initiative has already made can be further built upon.

As Time to Change says, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about mental health. I know it’s easy for me, an anonymous stream of words on a blog post, to say, but I really believe that speaking out is one of the key ways in which we can break down the societal barriers we’re presently forced to face. And although it sounds naïvely simplistic, if people refuse to be educated on the subject, if they make active decisions to remain prejudiced and wilfully ignorant, well – it really is their problem, and not ours. We deserve respect. We don’t deserve to have to hide behind a wall of silence.

Oh, and my visually impaired friends? One got a job in mental health training, and now often shares my material at work. Another recently ran a fund-raising event for a mental health charity. Most importantly to me personally is that, after a lot of determined “I am going to talk about this,” they are now willing to openly discuss my difficulties with me.

Proof, to me, that negative attitudes can change.

And, despite it all, I think that’s true. Feel free to share your experiences, either here or (preferably) on the Mind post itself (since it is likely to have a more diverse audience).

I was supposed to have finished writing about my last stint of therapy with Paul by today, but as you can see I’ve failed. Not that that should surprise you; it certainly doesn’t surprise me. I have no excuse really; I’ve been reading a lot, and doing a bit of my own writing, but that’s about it really. I’ll try to do the two outstanding posts this week, but this time I won’t promise.

My Mum has found out about the awards. It was entirely my fault, so I shouldn’t whinge too much about it. She still doesn’t know the specifics involved, though, and I actually came right out to her and told her I didn’t want her reading my writing because “a lot of it is very personal.”

She said, “to your present life – or your earlier one?”

A curious question, I felt. Why would she even consider the latter. given her lay understanding of mental health difficulties?

I said, feigning a typical nonchalance, “oh, you know. Everything.” Then I changed the subject, and that was that. To be on the safe side, though, I’ve blocked her IP address 😉

Not much else to report. Not seeing NewVCB until 9th November, so no new medication(s) as yet. I can’t remember at all the date of my next appointment with Christine, so will have to bloody ring the CMHT for clarification. In non-mental news, I’m off to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne next weekend for a football (watching, that is) weekend with the lads. I can’t afford it, but I’m going anyway. Cross your fingers for the Toon, please!

Anyway, folks, I’ll catch up properly next week. I hope you’re all well.

Love Pan ❤ x

World Mental Health Day 2011

If you suffer from mental health problems, how open are you about them to your friends and family? Those of us that blog and comment here in the online community that has come to be known as the Madosphere write candidly and in detail about our mental illnesses – but is this translated into our so-called real-lives?

For a long time, in my case, it wasn’t. I maintained a façade, where possible at least, that I was still a contentedly functioning member of the rat race, as sane as anyone else that has a similar way of life (albeit, perhaps, a little more cynical!).

Even when I became rather more open about having experienced, and about my experiencing, severe depression, I still withheld information from most people regarding the multitude of ways in which the other facets of my madness manifested. I tried to avoid mention of psychosis, dissociation and mixed episodes. I would certainly not reveal anything about the main issue that led to my having developed complex PTSD.

And as far as the latter goes, I doubt that I ever will – but that’s because it will ruin the lives of others, and there’s only one of them that even comes close to deserving that. However, the symptoms that I habitually experience are not going to directly impact upon most individuals – other than those that, due to their proximity to the situation, already know about and have seen frequent examples of the crazies anyway.

So one day, I thought, “fuck it. What am I hiding from? It’s me that has to endure this, and if others can’t deal with my reality, that’s their issue. I’m just going to be honest.” And I was. And I am.

The voices and visions, the amnesia, the GCHQ and other paranoias, the fugues, the simultaneous hysterical laughter and despairing tears. I’ve ‘fessed up to it all, and much more besides. Granted, it’s rare that anyone actually asks about specifics – but when they do, I tell them the whole truth.

If they choose to deride, stigmatise and make false assumptions based on erroneous and sensationalised information, then I correct their misguidedness. Most people mean well, I think, but are understandably apprehensive, thanks to the way our culture has demonised mental health trouble and attempted to brush all references thereto under the carpet. All you can do is to try and separate myth from fact, and show that despite ‘having issues’, you are still essentially ordinary. In my experience, people are more tolerant and accepting than you might originally think.

Of course, there are some who are truly disdainful of mentalness and will not be persuaded that you are not a knife-wielding freak, hell-bent on sadistically torturing everyone that crosses your path, no matter how much evidence you show them or normality you personally exhibit in their company. If people elect to maintain positions such as this, based only on moral panics, media sensationalism, and wilful ignorance, then I don’t need them in my life. Fuck them.

Yes, it sounds so easy written down here in nice, black-and-white words, and of course it’s not in practice. However, if you have a long-term mental health problem, there will probably come a time when you face a similar scenario: keep hiding behind an overpowering wall of shame to which you feel undeservedly bound, or break free of it, realising that you’re tired of the pretence, that you deserve better, and that you have nothing for which to be sorry.

You are not some sort of fucked-up, freakish aberration because you have a mental health difficulty. Some statistics state that the incidence of same is one in four in an average lifetime – I’ve read reports that dispute that, but regardless: the point is that the chances of experiencing mental ill health at least at some juncture are reasonably high.

How many people do you know – in general and overall? Even if we dismiss the one in four statistic and, for the sake of argument, adopt a much more conservative estimate of a lifetime prevalence of mental illness at a mere one in 10…well, anyone who’s ever studied, worked or even been part of an extended family is bound to know someone (else) with mentalist issues.

So why do we silence ourselves so? Do we do so in consideration of cancer or diabetes or migraines? Of course not, nor should we. But why are physical maladies considered the more acceptable relatives of mental ones, when the latter are arguably just as common? And how can an unconsciously ignorant society learn, en masse, that mental health problems rarely resemble the over-blown melodrama perpetrated by biased reporting and established stereotypes…unless we speak up to contradict them?

Of course, there are times when such honesty can destroy opportunities such as job interviews, the development of potential new friendships or partnerships, whatever. It may not always be possible to admit that you’re mental, and this is not a condemnation of people who choose not to be widely open about their conditions. I just wonder how we can eradicate stigma for good unless we have an open dialogue in public around issues of mental health, illness and recovery.

No where has this been better underlined to me than in this post by Lori at Random Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum. Lori’s husband, after a brief but serious psychosis, hanged himself in front of his wife and baby daughter.

In the linked post, she discusses her speech at his funeral. Had he spoken up, she wondered aloud, could he have been treated?

I can say nothing more prescient and eloquent than what Lori already has. If you are experiencing mental distress, if it’s too much to cope with, if you feel you have nowhere to turn – you do. Speak. Please, on this – World Mental Health Day – at least consider speaking up to help raise awareness of mental health problems. In a small but important way, you could well be helping millions of others that suffer in silence, and indeed yourself, when you speak.

Philip Davies, Mental Health and the Minimum Wage

This is an expanded, more opinionated version of an article I wrote elsewhere.

Unless you’ve been living under a stone since Thursday night, you’ve probably heard about the controversy caused on Friday by a hitherto pretty much unknown Conservative backbencher. Philip Davies stated, in a debate on opportunities for employment in the House of Commons, that people with mental health problems (or learning disabilities, as he inaccurately referred to us on several occasions) should be “allowed” to work for the minimum wage. I shall come to that main crux anon.

Firstly, though, did you know that he also regards young people who are unemployed – without, apparently, any particular qualification to his comments – as braindead layabouts, who spend their money on childish versions of gambling? Well, you probably did – it wouldn’t be difficult to guess that I suppose, given other things he’s said – but let’s have it documented here anyway. This may not be the most popular blog since the beginning of time, but it may well have more popular appeal than the fairly turgid transcripts of words said in the House of Commons:

It is bizarre that the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Tony Lloyd) [Labour] thinks that it is appalling for young people to be going out to work for low wages, and that he would therefore prefer them to be sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle and “This Morning” and visiting their local amusement arcades, rather than having gainful employment.

(Source: Parliamentary Hansard)

Good to know, Mr Davies, thanks. I was under the impression that the majority of people without jobs – whether young or otherwise – were sick, disabled or trying to get work. Now I know better. Cheers!

Seriously, yeah – we all know there are some unemployed people out there like those he describes, but the stats show time and time again that they distinctly are in the minority. But if Mr Davies wants to ignore findings from (of all sources) The Daily Mail, with whom I would imagine he would get on with quite nicely, who are we lowly dolescums to protest?

So, onto the minimum wage/mental health issues. Mr Davies has accused several people who emailed him in disgust of not properly reading what he said (see below), so let me, as promised above, dissect his commentary by going through the Hansard record of the debate in question.

I went to visit a charity called Mind in Bradford a few years ago. One of the great scandals that the Labour party would like to sweep under the carpet is that in this country only about 16%—I stand to be corrected on the figure—of people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities have a job.

(Source: Parliamentary Hansard)

I can’t correct him on that figure, mainly because – as someone who does not have a learning disability – I have not done an awful lot of research into that arena. But wait…doesn’t he say that he went to Mind? Why yes – yes he does. Mind are, as many of you will know, a mental health charity. Could Mr Davies possibly be equating learning disabilities with mental health problems?

Nah, he must just have made a slip-up…

I spoke to people at Mind who were using the service offered by that charity, and they were completely up front with me about things. They described what would happen when someone with mental health problems went for a job and other people without these problems had also applied. They asked me, “Who would you take on?” They accepted that it was inevitable that the employer would take on the person who had no mental health problems, as all would have to be paid the same rate.

(Source: Parliamentary Hansard)

Oh, good. ‘Mental health problems’, he says – that’s more accurate. Now, I think very few of us would deny that Mr Davies and the people with learning disabilities mental health difficulties that he met at Mind have a point here: as things stand, yes – the employer is likely to employ the non-disabled but otherwise like-for-like candidate in a competition against a mentalist. I get that. I think we all do.

Mr Davies makes clear in the debate that he opposes the minimum wage in principle. That is his perfect entitlement, and as far as I’m concerned he can go about and campaign for reform of it all he likes. The specific problem in this instance lies, in my view, in deliberately dressing up his ideology in false (or even erroneously perceived genuine) sympathy for what he at one point terms society’s “most vulnerable”. The assumption made in his spinning of this is that the “most vulnerable” are less worthy than the “less vulnerable”.

To get a foot into the job market, we are supposed to work for less than other people doing the same job?! We should be “allowed” this supposed right, rather than be allowed the right to compete on an equal platform based on relevant occupational merit? All this despite the fact that many people with mental illness(es) are educated, experienced, intelligent people – and that they and many others within this sphere have other skills, demonstrable creativity, and/or potentially lucrative or strategic ideas?

No, Mr Davies – that is unacceptable. We are not lesser people than others, and as such we do not make lesser employees. Ergo, we should not work for less than the legal minimum.

I noted the following on a blog post that initially complained about the furore surrounding Mr Davies’ remarks:

Racism [for example] is still rife amongst certain people; if Davies had met a group of black or Asian people who said that they’d expect the nice British Aryan to be chosen over them at an interview and subsequently suggested that they should be grateful to work for less than the minimum wage, there would have been uproar (and quite rightly so). I fail to see how the demographic to which he did refer should be any different.

And I don’t. The problem is stigma and inequality, not who pays who what. Here (not sure about the rest of the UK?), the law has recently been changed so that potential employees don’t have to declare that they have an illness before an offer of employment is made; this is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go far enough in my humble-ish opinion. Greater reform of employment law is needed – for example, it being entirely voluntary for an employee to declare periods of work absence.

But meh. It would be easier just to continue to stigmatise the mentally ill, to make them ‘live’ off a pittance, rather than perhaps putting our dear friends in business out a teensy-weensy bit. Plus, it saves money too – YAY! (Of course, Mr Davies working for less than the minimum wage would also save a hell of a lot of money. Maybe he should consider that as a viable proposition.).

And the ‘learning disability = mental illness’ thing? Not a mere slip-up after all, as it turns out:

…[t]he situation was doing the people with learning difficulties [that he apparently met at Mind] a huge disservice.

(Source: Parliamentary Hansard)

[in the wake of the horrified response to what he said] Left wing hysteria now dictates that you can’t even repeat what people with learning disabilities tell you if it questions their shibboleths

(Source: Twitter)

Good to know he’s informed on what mental health and learning disabilities are, then. I find such touching comfort in the fact that he can therefore ably speak for both groups!

I mentioned above that Mr Davies accused complainants of not reading his speech accurately. Even if that were true, which is patently wasn’t, his responses left a lot to be desired:

One

I am extremely sorry but I am afraid that you clearly have no idea at all about what I actually said as I did not say any of the things that you have accused me of saying in your email [she pointed out the laws on equality and disability discrimination and stated that his comments “disintegrated” them, then said that his comments suggested that people with disabilities should be treated as second class citizens]. Please can I suggest you read what I actually said in Parliament.

Two

Thank you for confirming that you have not in fact read my whole speech.

If you had you would have known that I was merely repeating what people with mental health problems had said to me!

I am sorry you feel their views shouldn’t be aired just because you happen to find them unpalatable.

Three

[to the same woman as ‘two’, who had by this point read his speech in full]

If you have read my speech then I am unsure why you would want to distort what I said and misrepresent it so badly.

Clearly in those circumstances it is impossible to have a sensible debate.

There are very many people with disabilities who have congratulated me for what I said. I am sorry you feel their views shouldn’t be aired just because you happen to disagree with them.

That is what I consider to be intolerant.

Etc etc etc.

(Source: Facebook Page – Reduce Philip Davies’ Salary to Less than the Minimum Wage)

Even if you agreed with every word the man spoke, even if you were thrilled with his claims of mere repetition, the brusque, condescending and simply bloody rude tone of his correspondences with members of the above page is not something people should have to put up with an elected MP, whether he agrees with their outlooks or not.

Also, he keeps stating that he was merely repeating what Mind’s clients said to him. What he actually said in the Parliamentary debate was that the folks he spoke to knew there was a much greater likelihood of a non-disabled applicant getting the job for which they’d also applied (see above). As I said before, I think we all know this to be true. Accepting that this is a real situation does not equate to a willingness to derogate from our right to basic equality, to being treated like human fucking beings. So, I’d challenge Mr Davies to state whether or not the people to whom he spoke specifically and unequivocally stated that they would be willing to accept less than the minimum wage in order to get some sort of employment. If so, can this be backed up? Mind don’t seem to think so – they appear pretty outraged that their clients were being referred to in this manner.

A, who is registered blind, was furious when he heard about all this on Friday evening. He asked, rhetorically, if he should be paid less than the minimum wage because of his disability. I should certainly be interested to hear Philip Davies’ views on this.

In the end, whinging about this here isn’t a particularly good use of my time, because Downing Street have already stated that they “reject” the ideas espoused in Mr Davies’ remarks. Still and withall, this bollocks really riled me. Not only does Mr Davies clearly not fully understand mental illness or learning disability, he has twisted – and apparently continues to twist – the innocent and justified lamentations of unwell but otherwise ordinary people into a reactionary, macro-political discourse.

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An 'I'm a Lazy Bastard' Post

NOTE: If you don’t like gratuitous swearing, don’t read this. Ta very cunting much.

If LittleFeet can succumb to the lures of a meme, then I happily can too 🙂 So this is my ridiculous take on the ‘A – Z’ interrogative delight that is currently floating around the blogosphere. It’s got me out of writing a proper post, and ergo I am quite enchanted with it. (That said, I intend to get back to proper writing tomorrow. I want to catch up on things with Paul – I have four fucking weeks to catch up on, and I want it all done and dusted. If you don’t see anything on Paul here by midnight tomorrow, don’t just feel free to berate me, please actively do so. Thank you, lovelies).

A = Age: 27. Though I routinely forget this information, and have found myself frequently asking A, my mother or friends what age I am. For someone as smart as I apparently am, I can’t even always work it out when I consider my birth year either – though, again, I’m quite wont to forget the year of my birth too. It’s probably a good thing, really. Being on the slippery slope towards the age of 30, especially when you’ve achieved fuck all of any worth in your existence, is wholly depressing. That said, I want to get my 30th birthday the fuck out of the way and then see if the following decade can represent something approximating the fabled state of ‘fresh start’-ness. I am not, however, considering this prospect with any significant optimism.

B = Bed size: Double. I do live with my Mister, after all, and it doesn’t seem entirely fair to relegate him to either a sofa or a floor – as a general rule, anyhow. Of course, once upon a time the minute spare room contained a bed, but that bed itself usually contained my brother-in-law. Since he has now become an alleged adult and got his own house and mortgage, his former quarters have become a study-cum-music room-cum-‘let’s throw all the rubbish in here so we don’t have to think about it’-space.

C = Chore you dislike: All of them. I almost never do any, and don’t have any intention of starting to do so this side of 2098. I don’t mind living in what objective observers may call a ‘mess’. What’s wrong with living in an untidy house? Who cares about a layer of dust here and there? I genuinely have no understanding of why these issues are considered to be of any worth to any person.

D = Dogs: What about them, other than that I do not have one in my current possession? I like them and would love to have one, but the house is very small and dogs need attention. To these ends, I have ultimately settled on cats for my non-human companionship. The cynical fuckers take care of themselves, for the most part, meaning I merely have to throw food and water in their general direction now and again. It’s a mutually convenient relationship.

E = Essential start to your day: Faffing about for 80 years, trying to convince myself that remaining in bed all fucking day is not a particularly good idea.

F = Favorite color [sic]: Purple, black or blood red.

G = Gold or silver: Silver. Proper silver, mind you; I’m thoroughly allergic to non-precious metals.

H = Height: Odd you should ask, actually, as in the course of mundane domesticity in the form of a cunted fridge, I had the tape measure out today. I’m an inch taller than I realised: 5’4″.

I = Instruments you play(ed): *shudders* I was coerced into attempts to play that most childish and pathetic of instruments, the recuntcorder, in my first year at grammar school. I was so tremendously terrible at it, and I was so utterly petrified of the demon-like teacher, that I developed musicitis on most Tuesday mornings, coincidentally (!) the time allocated for music for our class. Either that or I was highly strategic in allocating myself doctor’s or dentist’s appointments.

Ironically, I later joined the chamber choir, which was trained by the same teacher…and grew to be rather fond of him.

A has tried to teach me the guitar, but I don’t really have the patience for learning it (or any other instrument) any more, if I ever even did.

J = Job title: Useless Dolescum Mentalist Trampcunt.

K = Kids: Do you refer to those four-libmed things that emit high-pitched, irritating sounds that also run around the place flapping their arms about for no discernible reason, yet which manage not to get sectioned? *shudders again* No. Please keep these things away from me.

Seriously, even if I liked children (which, obviously, I don’t), I really don’t think it would be a good idea for me to have any. Mental illnesses are frequently observed in the offspring of headbins like me, and whether that’s due to genetics, environmental factors or both is almost irrelevant: the statistics are clear. Furthermore, A has a congenital eye impairment, so our poor phantom offspring would run an elevated risk of being both blind and mental. I don’t think it’s fair to inflict that possibility on it.

Disclaimer: that is not to say that all mentalists should remain childfree or childless. If one is stable, and if you’re not the selfish cunt that I am, then more power to you; I’ve no doubt that such people can be excellent parents. Ditto blindness – most of the blind/VI people I know lead very full and ordinary lives. The combination just doesn’t work for us, and even if it did, we don’t like screamers children.

L = Live: NORN IRON LEEK (translation: I say, dear chap, I must confess to residing in the disputed constitutional territory in the North-East corner of the island of Ireland, a fine and upstanding place for any gentile individual to frequent, har-har!)

M = Mom’s [sic] name: Mother. Mum. Yer woman indoors. YER MAWH! (Seaneen may understand. I don’t know if the rest of you will, sorry).

N = Nicknames: Pan. SI. There are also one or two that relate to my real name, but these are only used by my mates – A and Mum never are never heard to use them.

O = Overnight hospital stays: Three. One of which was when I was born, so arguably doesn’t count particularly. The other two were medical (as opposed to psychiatric) hospitalisations for the effects of overdoses; one, oddly the more serious of the two, was for one night only whilst they pumped the living fuck out of my stomach, and the other was for three nights. In the case of the latter, I have absolutely no idea why they kept me in for so long. I had inflicted almost no serious or lasting damage on myself, and didn’t even require stomach pumping.

The first night of that hospitalisation saw my best friend Daniel stay with my mother (he had been present when I took the overdose). Unfortunately for him, my mouse Freezing had escaped from his cage, and was latterly found to be inhabiting Dan’s spare-room quarters. I am grateful to him (Dan, not the mouse) though: he saved Freezing’s life. My mother ran about threatening to stand on the poor wretched creature, but Dan refused to allow it, and Freezing lived to fight another round of let’s-break-out-of-the-cage (at which point my mother returned him to the pet shop :().

P = Pet peeves: The following construction: It happened Tuesday. NO, IT FUCKING DIDN’T. It happened ON Tuesday! Jesus! ‘Tuesday’ is not a fucking adjective!

Other abuses of grammar. Reactionist wing-nuts. Holier-than-thou types. People who live in wilfull ignorance vis a vis mental illness and/or mental health issues. Politicians. The demonisation of legitimate benefit claimants, especially when weighted against the apparent legitimacy of pissing the world economy down the sewer and then being rewarded for it. Phones. Microsoft Windross. Spidey fuckers and other pointless human miscellany.

Basically – most things.

Q = Quote from a movie: No idea. I don’t watch enough films to find inspirational quotes in them. One quote that I love that was in a film – but which, if memory serves me, was garnered straight from the original book of same – was How art thou, thy globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip-oil? It came from Alex, the protagonist of A Clockwork Orange (one of my favourite novels of all time), when he encountered an enemy gang-leader. I thought it was a hilarious insult, and I have employed it in verbal discourse frequently since I first came across it.

R = Righty or lefty: Mostly right-handed, to my regret (I do so love to be different), but I do have some tendencies towards ambidexterity. w00t!

S = Siblings: None. And I prefer it that way.

T = Time you wake up: At whatever time the previous night’s 600mg of Seroquel permits.

U = Underwear: None, normally, because I don’t leave the fucking house often enough. I sit around wearing trampy dresses with nothing under them and plod about all day like that. When I do venture outdoors, a t-shirt bra is a necessity. I’m ambivalent about cunt-coverers. If they’re clean, they’re suitable.

V = Vegetables you don’t like: FUCKING lentils. Fucking, fucking, fucking lentils. They are the spawn of Satan himself. Lentils are evil. E.V.I.L. They are disgusting and fetid and shouldn’t be allowed under the European Convention on Human Rights, as under Article Three of the aforesaid, they inhibit my right to be free from torture. The mere thought of the cunting curls of bastardry is decidedly torturous to me. In fact, I may consult a Human Rights lawyer on this matter. Lentils need to be made extinct, and we need to act now.

W = What makes you run late: Usually the cats dicking about, but also mentalism, claro que si. I used to be late for nearly everything, for which we can generally blame the epic failures of public transport. However, at present I am almost always early for appointments and related shit, because I have a marked tendency to over-estimate just how long it will take me to drive to them. Then I sit about in my car like a dick with no point for four years, trying to think of something more productive to do than vituperate about my poor timing on Twitter.

X = X-rays you’ve had: Two, or so I recall anyway. When I was 14, I fell on the stair and completely twatted my knee – 13 years later, I am still afflicted with the frustrating malady garnered back then. One night when I was maybe 15 or so it (my knee) went completely mental (metaphorically, you understand), so my mother took me to the Big Local NHS Shithole Hospital, where we sat as our minds slowly but surely atrophied out of our skulls for something like eight hours. Then some ‘oh look at me, I’m a Junior House Officer and I’m soooooooooooooooooo fucking important’ braindead bitch glanced at it for about three nanoseconds, sent it for an x-ray at the absolute behest of my mother, glanced at the x-ray for about half a nanosecond, then sent me on my not-so-merry way.

The second time was about two years ago, when I was having a pile of gastro-intestinal issues. I was sent for an x-ray at Big Private Hospital, where I was treated courteously and respectfully. A consultant in the area and a senior radiographer took time to analyse the x-ray (which, in the end, showed no blockages) before I was allowed to be discharged. In the wake of this, a kind and friendly nurse presented me with tea and a tasty scone with butter and jam.

Y = Yummy food you make: Curry with a capital arsekiller. I make ’em hot.

Z = Zoo animal favorites: Bats! I fucking love them. Also penguins; they’re so cute and friendly.

At the other end of the scale, I loathe and despise cows with even more fervour than I hate lentils (see ‘V’ above). The only purpose of cows is for them to be well-grilled on my plate. I bring their existence up because as teenagers, Daniel, my then-boyfriend Neil and I went for a walk on a route that circles the perimeter of a zoo. Even this zoo, fairly basic on a world scale, was not so inadequate that it required livestock as exhibits; however, we decided to confuse the punters about this. We hid in the bushes and cried “moooo! Moooo!” in the deepest, most bovine-like manner we could muster, and sat back in delight as all the little attending kids started shouting at their parents for “not taking [them] to see the cows, Mummy/Daddy!”

That I still find that anecdote amusing proves that I have never, and am unlikely to ever, grow(n) up.

THE END.

The Comprehensive Spending Review Will Screw People With Mental Illness

I’m far too depressed about this to write extensively on it, but by now you’ll probably be aware that our friend Gideon has slashed funds for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).  Fair?  Well, you make up your own mind, but let’s face it; those of us that are genuine claimants are just as screwed as the few ‘scroungers’ that exist within the system.

ESA Work Group

Georgie has decreed that those in the ‘Work Related Group’ of ESA will only be allowed to remain there for a year, then will be transferred to Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA).  Um…sorry?  I thought the work-group was for people who had ‘limited capacity‘ for employment.  Augh well.  Everyone will be better within a year, won’t they George?  It really is as easy as that.  Thanks for letting me know.

This is truly dreadful in just about every conceivable way.  JSA does not carry with it ‘return to work’ schemes and the support of an ‘advisor’ in as work-group ESA does, thus reducing and definitely not incentivising those that will be affected.  Also, JSA paid at a lower rate than ESA.  You could argue that it’s only a difference of about £20, but when you live on the fucking line, £20 is a lot of money.  Way to boost people’s morale and encourage them back to the workforce, regardless of whether or not they’re still ill.  Nice one, G.

Here’s a stunningly insightful, absolutely non-patronising and comprehensive look at how the work group of ESA works, in case you were not previously familiar with it:

Wondrously Amazing Explanation of ESA!

Wayhay!!! Thanks, Social Security Agency, This is STUNNING!

ESA Support Group

Big G ‘n’ Friends claim that the ‘most severely’ ill/disabled individuals will still be ‘looked after’.  Oh really?

Just how is that measured, G?  I can’t find a source through Google, but estimates being bandied about on Twitter suggest that only six per cent of ESA claimants are allocated to the ‘support’ group of the benefit, the one where people are ‘safe’ from being moved to JSA.

Why don’t we just reduce it to one per cent, George?  Or even point one?  If all that matters is protecting the ‘most severely’ ill/disabled, then why not just set your arbitrary figures at an even more arbitrary level?  Why not screw everyone?  Why not decide that the lowest number possible represents the ‘most severely’ disabled?  In fact, I have a great idea.  How about, instead of using percentages, we just ‘protect’ the one single ‘most severely’ disabled person in the whole country?!  That would really help clear the deficit!

Why Mentalists are Fucked

It’s not just mentalists, of course.  Anyone with a hidden disability is potentially bollocksed by this, regardless of reams of medical evidence agreed by 700,000 health professionals clearly demonstrating their chronic/severe/seriously debilitating illness(es).  This is because of the government’s infinitely wise choice to ignore what is clearly biased evidence from your GP, consultant and any other medic-y types you may see, and have you assessed instead by their independent medical assessors.

These people of course work for the Social Security Agency (SSA) and ATOS because they voluntarily turned down positions in the NHS and private medicine, absolutely not because they were faced with little choice when it came to their careers.  Hmm.  yes.  *clears throat*  Furthermore, naturally their specialist rotations were of such longevity and depth that they know at least as much if not more than individual consultants in specific branches of clinical medicine. Um-hmm-hmm-hmm.  Yup. *clears throat again*

In short (and sarcasm aside) – these twats have little to no specialist knowledge of psychiatry/psychology, and are therefore not in any position at all to make a judgement on whether someone is truly mentally ill or not.  Ditto gynaecology, rheumatology, opthamology, etc etc etc, ad infinitum.

Random Notes and Observations

I am interested to note no evidence in the CSR of extra percentage points added to things like inheritance tax for those left with colossal inheritances.  I wonder why that was?

It should be noted (as if matters weren’t complicated enough) that ESA can be claimed on a contributory or an income-based basis:

  • [you can claim] contributory ESA if you have paid enough national insurance contributions. However, if you become unfit for work before you are 20 (25 in some cases), you do not need to meet the national insurance contribution conditions.
  • income-related ESA [is claimable] if your income and savings are low enough…To get income-related ESA, your income will be compared with an amount the Government thinks is enough for you to live on.  If you income is less than this, you will get the maximum amount of income-related ESA. If your income is more than this amount, you may get some income-related ESA.  You cannot get any income-related ESA if your savings are more than £16,000. If you get child maintenance payments, usually these will not be included in your income.  (Source)

So, to be fair, this reform won’t officially affect everyone who claims ESA in the work-group.  But do we trust the government to keep the income-related component safe from stealth cuts?  I’m not so sure.

Links

Many people have responded and will respond far better to today’s announcements than I have or can.

I will add to this as and when I come across more.  I suspect that that shall not be far in the future.

My views on the already-proposed changes (from the June 2010 budget) to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) can be found here.

Number Crunching

I do not object to benefit reform per se, and I would like to see ‘scroungers’ weeded out of the system as much as anyone else.

The problem is that the idea of ‘scroungers’ is a hand being grossly overplayed by the government and the country’s reactionary media.  No one denies that there’s some such people; however, most of us dispute that they are as high in number as The Fail or The Sexpress have indoctrinated their respective readerships into believing.  In actuality, the rate of benefit fraud comes in at something like one per cent of all claimants, for God’s sake.  Oh, wait.  A source, you say?  OK.  It’s…um…The Daily Mail!

For the purposes of comparison, This is Money notes that the Citizens Advice Bureau estimates that whilst the aforementioned 1% of fraudsters may be incurring about £5 billion pounds of expense, about £16 billion of benefit entitlements are unclaimed.

The same site also points out that The National Fraud Authority (NFA) claims that tax evasion costs the Treasury about £17 billion.  One thing to note here is that one single case of tax evasion or white collar fraud can run into millions, thus possibly meaning that relative to benefit fraud, there are fewer individuals committing this type of financial crime.  Nevertheless, the figure is still three times higher than that of benefit crime, and thus is surely relevant to the bigger picture in governmental macro-budgeting.  Perhaps some funding to help the NFA catch white collar criminals wouldn’t go amiss.  Perhaps, given these figures, much more money could be returned to the Exchequer in this way than by cutting benefits to those that need them?

Meh

What do I know though.  I’m just a dirty benefit fraudster who thoroughly deserves to be cast into a potentially deadly financial desert for her crimes, all because you can’t always see her faux illness crippling her body.

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Nadine Dorries on "Nutters"

Our friend Nadine Dorries has shown herself, yet again, to be the quintessence of human decency, a Mother Theresa-like figure to whose lofty heights of loveliness we should all aspire:

Nutters

My association is an election winning machine run by my Chairman, Andy Rayment and Deputy Chair Political, Steve Male.
Both are busy men and run the association in a regimented and disciplined manner.
As focused driven individuals, neither Andy or Steve suffer fools lighlty.
So when a ‘nutter’ began bombarding my association with telephone calls and emails, this made me laugh out loud http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/Blogs/John-Balls-Diary/Monday-September-20.htm [this goes to a story reporting on how blogger Tim Ireland has contacted Mr Rayment]
I have heard that when a copy of this was leaked to my local newspapers, in indignation, it caused much mirth in the newspaper offices too.

So, my former Lib Dem opponent carries handcuffs around in her handbag. I’m not even going to ask….

Please note that the quotation above is taking verbatim from Ms Dorries’ own blog.  I therefore apologise for the multifarious stylistic errors.  She would not have made a fabulous secretary, but then she doesn’t make a particularly good MP either, does she?

Both Seaneen (here) and I (here) have written recently on the use of humour – which can include certain what seem to be pejorative terms – in the discussion of and even in destigmatising aspects of mental illness.  By and large we both concluded that the intent of a particular term or allusion was what served as the clear demarcation between amusing and offensive.

So, if a friend who was familiar with my circumstances poked fun at my mentalism and described me as a ‘nutter’, I would probably treat it as gentle teasing.  No big deal.

However, two things strike me on Dorries’ use of the term.  One: Tim Ireland, with whom she has had a long-running public spat, is not to the best of my knowledge diagnosed with any mental health difficulties (not that, if he were, there is any reason for shame, and not that her imbecility would be excused).  She doesn’t like Mr Ireland, and he represents a very public inconvenience for her; ergo, her terminology is evidently used in a critical fashion.

It reasonably follows, therefore, that if she uses such a term antagonistically, she feels that being a ‘nutter’ is a Bad Thing, which in turn follows that she thinks people with mental health problems are flawed people – probably lazy benefit frauds, in her estimation, as her asinine anti-Twitter rant would appear to attest.  (If you can concentrate on a number of tiny messages several times a day, then there’s damn all wrong with your concentration, ability to type, yadda yadda).

Secondly, it almost doesn’t matter in what fashion Ms Dorries uses derogatory terms because she is (to the regret of many) a public figure.  Even if it had been innocent and little more than a gentle dig, using a possibly offensive word whilst basking in a public limelight could potentially have the effect of normalising such thinking – “bad person = nutter // nutters = bad people”.

We’ve all heard of the headlines in The Scum screaching “schizo”, “madman” and, indeed, “nutter”, when the individuals to which they allude don’t always even have mental illnesses.  In the cases where they do, reference is rarely made to what is actually wrong with the individual (unless (s)he conveniently enough has schizophrenia, which is of course totally mis-represented by the pathetic little rag) and even more uncommonly is there a discussion of the fact that the vast majority of mentally ill people are not remotely dangerous nor particularly sensationalist.  But that doesn’t sell rags.

Dorries’ nonsense isn’t all that different.  OK, it’s on a small-ish scale – she isn’t that well-known – and she certainly doesn’t have the influence of The Scum, but she is still in a position of responsibility, and is choosing to abuse that.  She has berated the aforereferenced Mr Ireland as not being a constituent to whom she is therefore not accountable.  Fair enough, but she is accountable to everyone in her constituency (regardless of whether or not they voted for her), and a proportion of those people will be certified “nutters”.

For the record, I personally am not particularly offended by Dorries’ asinine rambling, but I think that it is representative of a wider and more concerning issue.

Consider this.  Try replacing the term ‘nutter’ with any one of ‘queer’, ‘nigger’, ‘kyke’, ‘mong’ etc (God, it pains me even to write those, and I’m far from ‘PC’).  It’s not so long ago that some of these words (and many others) were used simply to criticise people, whether they belonged to the subset of the population to which the phraseology applied or not.  I don’t think anybody but the likes of Nick cuntface Griffin would deem most of these slurs acceptable in today’s everyday parlance…so why, then, is it still considered widely acceptable to use deliberately prejudicial language to reference mental illness?

Certain otherwise pejorative terms are considered acceptable in this arena whenever the intent behind the statement is clearly not malicious.  Being an ignorant, self-important arsehole with an attitude problem is not, however, tolerable.  Phil summed up Dorries best to me in a blog comment yesterday: she’s the sponger, living off my taxes.

Thanks to @humphreycushion, one of Dorries’ current objects of ire, for drawing my attention to this matter. The Conservative Party Conference is ongoing in Birmingham this week, and the lurrrrr-vel-ley Nadine will be in situ.  If you’re in the area, do go along and tell her what you think.

EDIT TO ADD: @humphreycushion has published a very interesting list of articles out there in the blogophere discussing Nadine Dorries’ recent comments on this post of her blog.

EDIT TO ADD II:  There is an excellent post refuting Nadine Dorries’ one-sided, ill-informed opinions – specifically regarding mental illnesses – here.

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