Tag Archives: Death

Life, Death and Other Things

10 May

‘You might think that the biggest killer of people aged between 15 and 45 in the UK would be road traffic accidents or maybe one of the many cancers we’re reliably told will affect 1 in 3 of us, but it isn’t. The biggest killer of young people in this first world nation is suicide……’

Suicide outnumbers road traffic deaths by 2:1. The latest statistics put the total number at over 6,000 per year; that’s almost one every hour. So, the question is why? What do such a large number of otherwise healthy young people in the prime of their lives find so unbearable that ending it becomes a viable option?

From a personal perspective there is a big difference between life and living. Life is the mechanical process of converting food and Oxygen to the sustain a heartbeat. Living is gaining satisfaction and enjoyment whilst doing so. In the global model of living which we are forced to accept inequality has never been greater, the basic requirements for taking part can become all consuming, leaving many people simply treading water and trying to plug holes in the dam behind which the necessities for life continually pile up leading to the feeling that living is a secondary concern. This is not to say that all downward spirals are caused by what equates to financial stress; rich people are profoundly unhappy too, but for what may actually be the same thing, albeit caused by different circumstances.

On a planet with 7bn other people it is surprisingly easy to feel alone. The family unit or the need to belong and feel needed, wanted and above all loved is another contributory factor. This is where unhappiness doesn’t care how much wealth you have but there is undoubtedly a disproportionate number of economically strained people making up the suicide statistics. The more time you spend plugging the holes in the dam, the easier it is to begin the downward spiral of loneliness and feelings of helplessness and worthlessness.

Despite the narrative that we recognise and care about people who may be well on the way down the path to ending their pain, there is very little professional help available. I’ll guarantee the paperwork and time spent evaluating and exonerating professionals of any blame in the aftermath of a suicide far out ways the amount generated preventing it whilst they were still living.

Although everything I have just written may be factual, it’s typical of my personality to attemp to rationalise and quantify but when all is said and done it is my own internal battle with suicidal thoughts that I intended to write about. The flippant remarks and often quoted misnomer that someone who is suicidal acts completely normally and “nobody would have imagined that they would do such a thing”, is a somewhat annoying cop out. Making the choice to take your own life doesn’t happen in a moment of desperation or madness, it is a considered act in many cases. I can only speak for myself but I go around in circles considering method, guilt and a whole host of emotions and rationale.

I have asked for help but nothing ever happens. Over time I have become more isolated, unhappy and desperate to escape the overwhelming feeling of impending doom. It feels like every concerted effort I make to change things fails. The failures mount up and as they do the chronic (untreated) depression makes the basics hard to maintain. I am consumed by guilt at the thought of hurting people and it is that, and only that that has kept me alive. But I don’t know how much more I can take. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, or for that matter, a tunnel. This isn’t a cry for help; God knows I’ve cried and cried for help but none has been forthcoming. I have posted many times about this and doubtless I’ll be labelled as the boy who cried wolf. Truth be told, I’m distracting myself from thinking because I’m afraid where it might lead. Death doesn’t scare me and the rationalisation that I could never have to face anymore pain is an appealing prospect but for now I’ll just keep plugging holes until the dam inevitably overflows……

Advertisements

Syria – War in the Middle East……

17 Jun

‘In world politics there is no such thing as an enemy or ally.   There are no parameters by which we are able to define them.  Democratic or dictatorship, secular or theocracy, the political reaction appears to have no relationship to right and wrong, good and bad or, ultimately, human suffering.  So, what is going on……?’

Syria is like a black hole in the Middle East, with historical enemies bordering the event horizon.  If it behaves like its cosmological counterpart there will come a point of no return and all sides will be inevitably drawn in.  The ensuing conflict will destroy infrastructure, cost hundreds of thousands of lives and leave a political vacuum in its place……

Friend or Foe……

There are many places in the world which have seen conflict in the past several decades.  Some have been locked in ongoing battles that have seen immeasurable suffering; ethnic cleansing, rape, murder, starvation, displacement, the kidnap and conversion of children into soldiers.  Most, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, go unreported and with little intervention from the West other than a token humanitarian contribution, much of which is diverted by the perpetrators to their own ends.

A look at the track record of western governments demonstrates the point.  Rwanda, the Congo, Somalia, the list is endless.  When human suffering is at its worst the governments of the west pay little, if any, attention.  Disputes in the Middle East, however, attract more interest.

If you were a conspiracy theorist it may even appear to be the culmination of a plan.  The uprising spread anti-clockwise around the Mediterranean with military support from the west until it reached Syria; there it has been allowed to continue……

Enemies in Every Direction……

If you are in any doubt about the potential gravity of the situation, take a look at the map below.

middle_east_map

On its northern border there’s Turkey whose relationship with Syria could described as ‘strained’ at best.  However, since the beginning of the ‘civil war’ Turkey has ended diplomatic relations with Syria altogether.  Next there is Iraq; enemy of Syria and its ally, Iran.  To the south there is Jordan and to the west, Lebanon.   Although Jordan and Lebanon are friendly to each other, factions within them are vehement enemies of factions within Syria.  Israel is an historical enemy of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Jordan and virtually every state in the region as well as remaining an occupying force in Palestine despite endless UN resolutions.

If one considers where the major ‘super powers’ from the East and West affiliations lay, the Syrian conflict could easily turn into a new cold war or even world war three……

Ancient History……

The present day Middle East has been through several phases over the past 3000 years.  None of the countries on a contemporary map existed.  It was the cradle of civilisation and whilst ‘Great’ Britain was in the time referred to as ‘The Dark Ages’, the East where contemplating philosophy, mathematics and astronomy.  The invention of religion has to take some of the blame for the current disputes as does the West which is largely responsible for drawing the borders within which sit the countries of The Middle East……

Solutions……

There are none.  But fuelling the fires of historical monotheistic disputes is not going to help.  It will ultimately lead to more death and destruction, and the only winners will be the Military Industrial Complex and the transfer of wealth to those who already have more than their fair share……

The unannounced arrival of a large asteroid or sudden reversal of the poles might help to focus mankind’s attention but in all probability they’ll just continue fighting over whose ‘god’ is responsible.  If you’re looking for intelligent life in the Universe, you won’t find any on Earth……

DT_Triangle_Banner

Paul Lamb Continues Tony Nicklinson’s Case in the Court of Appeal……

15 May

‘Brave Paul Lamb and one other person simply known as ‘Martin’ have been given permission to continue the case of Tony Nicklinson who passes away last year shortly after loosing his case.  Tony was seeking immunity from prosecution for any medical professional assisting him to end his life.  Paul, like Tony, due to their medical conditions where not in a position to take this step without help due to the physical restrictions of their respective illnesses……’

Background……

Both Paul and Tony are the latest in a long line of people who feel that their quality of life has been so profoundly affected by their medical conditions that they feel either now, or at some unspecified point in the future, being able to end their lives with dignity and without pain is their right as autonomous human beings.  The premise behind making such a decision is based upon several understandable factors.  First and foremost is the pain many of them are subjected to on a daily basis.  Secondly, the quality of life they have to endure, in that they are not able to perform even the basic everyday tasks without assistance including going to the bathroom, feeding them self, moving around and some cases even communicating with loved ones.

There is also the question of deterioration in medical condition which the courts seem to take no account of.  If deterioration in health was a new factor, they would be faced with challenging the legal decision all over again.

Like so many before them and one fear many to follow, the steadfast judgements of the courts seem to operate within a ‘one size fits all’ methodology with one issue at its core.  That being the potential for abuse of the law and the vulnerabilities  of certain groups within society who, for whatever reason, may be ‘victims’ of a law permitting euthanasia under certain circumstances……

In the Real World……

Whilst the courts have to give consideration to vulnerable groups and any potential abuse of a carte blanche law permitting assisted dying, I feel we are intelligent enough as a society to make a clear distinction between people like Paul and Tony who are clearly capably of making their feeling known and vulnerable groups who may be acting under duress from others.

The law does not have to be ‘black and white’ and courts could employ the services of Doctors and Mental Health Professionals to establish the merits of each case on a one by one basis.  It is not beyond the courts to identify people who are clearly of sound mind to express when they feel their lives hold no quality and dignity, with little chance of improvement, and to humanly grant them their wish to end them, any more so than to recognise when the plaintiff is requesting such an action under duress.

I am not suggesting a change in law that makes possible the indiscriminate euthanasia of ever sick person but a simplified process under which a judgement can be made without causing delay and upset to those involved.

NIMBYism……

It seems that the opposition to a process which allows ill people the right to end their own lives has fallen foul of the nimbyism which is apparent in many other legal matters and works on the principal that individuals and Judges are not capable of reaching rational decisions.  This is clearly not the case.  Our humanity should allow us to accommodate special circumstances especially when people are suffering……

What can you do……?

 

I have written a ‘Living Will’ of ‘Advance Directive’ to give it its proper name.  It’s quite a simple document that lays out what you want to happen in the event that you should be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident and unable to make your feelings known.  They are quite straight forward and give instructions on resuscitation and artificial life support.  There is space for you to put a statement of your beliefs and allows you to nominate a proxy, to whom you should make your feelings known.  They can act for you if you are unconscious and not able to make your feeling known at the time.

Although an Advance Directive is not ideal if you feel strongly about this issue, it is a good thing to have in place.  Mine can be seen at the bottom of the post but it is important to print out and give copies to those concerned……

And Finally……

Until the brave battles being fought by Paul Lamb and that of Tony Nicklinson set any precedent in law there is little we can do.  I wish Paul, Martin, Jane Tomlinson and the many others fighting for dignity all the best and hope their tenacity pays off……

My Advance Directive……

ADVANCE DIRECTIVE – Blanks Left to Respect Privacy……

THIS LIVING WILL is made on the 12th day of May 2013.

I:  STEPHEN P_____ W_____ of 1, G_____ D_____, B__________ H____, L______, LN4 ___.  Born on:  3rd February 19__

Being of sound mind make this Advance Directive now as to my medical care and treatment directed to my family, my doctors and any other medical personnel, institution or authority in the event that I shall be unable to make my views known at any time.

I DIRECT as follows:

My life shall not be artificially prolonged and no life sustaining treatment shall be administered, if at any time my attending doctor, consultant or surgeon and one independent medical practitioner certify in writing that in their opinion:

 

a) I have a terminal, incurable or irreversible injury, disease or illness; or

b) I am permanently unconscious, comatose, in a persistent vegetative state with no reasonable chance of recovery; and

c) I am no longer able to make decisions regarding my medical treatment.

In the above circumstances I wish to be permitted to die naturally and to only receive such medical treatment as will alleviate any pain or distressing symptoms so as to make me more comfortable even if this has the effect of shortening my life.

EXCEPTING as follows:

If I have elected to end my own life and have taken steps to bring about this, in the event that I am found I wish to be allowed to die with no medical intervention whatsoever.  I believe this is my right as suicide is permitted in law.  The terms of the above directive shall also apply in this circumstance.

APPOINTMENT OF PROXY

I appoint S____ G______ of 11, S___________ H_____, S____ E__, L______, as my proxy to be involved in all decisions about my medical treatment if I am physically or mentally unable to make my views known. The wishes of S____ G______ should be respected at all times and I confirm that she is fully aware of my wishes.

IN WITNESS of which I have set my hand to this my living will on the day month and year first above written.

SIGNED by the above named in our presence and by us in his/hers.

 

Maker of Living Will

 

Signed:                                                 [Person making living will sign here]

 

Proxy

Signed:                                                 [Proxy sign here]

 

First Witness

Signed:                                                 [First Witness sign here]

Name: [Insert first witness name]

Address:          [Insert address of first witness]

Occupation:     [Insert occupation]

Second Witness

Signed:                                                 [Second Witness sign here]

Name: [Insert second witness name]

Address:          [Insert address of second witness]

Occupation:     [Insert occupation]

Caution – Poison……

13 Apr

Poison Logo 01

‘If it’s organic it must be good for you, right?  Well, not necessarily.  Bisphenol A (BPA) is organic, the Food Standards Agency says it’s safe and they’re the Government so you can trust them……’

 

Call Me a Sceptic But……

John Selwyn-Gummer

John Selwyn-Gummer

I can clearly remember John Selwyn-Gummer stuffing a beef burger into the mouth of his innocent four year old daughter as he assured us that beef was ‘perfectly safe’ to eat.  Now we can’t even be sure that it is beef and the 227 people with a ‘spongy-form’ brain disease might disagree.  Then there is the ongoing Genetic Modification (GM) debate which in controlled laboratory tests appears to pose no threat, however, when released into the environment the effects of cross pollination with other species is still unclear.  As well as the horsemeat scandal questions have been raised regarding the source of fish, particularly with respect to processed foods such as fish-fingers, some scampi and even whole pieces of Cod and other white fish being substituted with cheaper alternatives.  The Neonicotinoids, pesticides which many seeds are treated with, has now been directly linked to the Colony Collapse Disorder that is killing the bees which pollinate 80% of our food crops.

So when the trustworthy politicians and the departments responsible for our health tell us ’there’s nothing to worry about’ I take it with a large pinch of salty scepticism……

Polyethylene Teraphthalate

Polyethylene Teraphthalate

Plastic……

Plastics are undoubtedly one of mankind’s must useful discoveries.  There is hardly a household item that doesn’t use plastic to some degree but plastic has some unhelpful properties which, when combined with our endless ability to pollute the environment, is now a matter of great concern to some scientists.

The ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is an area in the Pacific Ocean.  Estimates of its size vary but it is thought to be approximately 5.8 hundred thousand miles square, almost twice the size of the Unites States of America.  As the waterGreat Pacific Garbage Patch within the area covered by the garbage patch circulates, non-biodegradable human waste, including huge amounts of plastics, collects.  Most plastics don’t degrade naturally, however, they can be ‘ground’ down into ever smaller particles until they reach the point at which they can be ingested by the creatures at the base of the food chain and, in turn, upwards and on to us.  A process called Photodegradation also breaks down some of the plastics into the cocktail of potentially harmful chemicals from which they are made……

Bisphenol A (BPA)…… 

BPA is used to make certain types of plastic including Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) which is amongst the most controversial, predominately because it used in food packaging including the clear bottles that mineral and spring water comes in.  The plastics industry uses 3.6 million tons per year of BPA.  BPA is known to affect the human endocrine system, responsible for hormones.  Research is continuing worldwide into BPA and any links to health conditions.  As we have used this chemical since the late 1950s and it has found other routes into the food chain you would assume its safety was well established; it isn’t.

The BPA Molecule

The BPA Molecule

Beside the immediate concerns about BPA leaking from PET packaging into the food it contains, there is another concern; one which we should all be aware of.  The laboratory tests for BPA contaminating the food in the container being tested suggest that, although a small amount of BPA leaches into the food, it is within the ‘safe’ levels as defined by EU regulations.  These so called ‘safe’ levels are disputed in some circles and we cannot be sure of the long term effects of exposure to BPA even at low levels.  Considering that BPA is contained in everything from plastic bottles, tin can coatings and even baby bottles we have a right to be concerned especially as no consensus on what constitutes a ‘safe’ level is disputed by different groups of scientists……

Untested Reasons for Concern……

We all reuse water bottles for taking drinks to work or on days out.  As you repeatedly wash the bottles there is a possibility that the surfaces become warn, potentially releasing more BPA into whatever is contained within.  Due to Photodegradation, if you were to leave your water bottle on the dash board of your car there is further concern about the potential levels of BPA being released…….

Conclusion……

You can buy plastic containers which do not contain Bisphenol A and are marked ‘BPA Free’.  I would recommend thatPoison Logo 02 you don’t reuse any pre-packaged food containers, particularly for your kids whose endocrine systems are still developing and are vital in reaching sexual maturity; one of the subjects under debate.  Finally, recycle your plastic or put it in landfill at least that way the Great Pacific Garbage Patch won’t grow any faster.  Incidentally, plastic particles of all sizes, even one that can only be seen under a microscope, have been found in every place tested and in all the world’s rivers and oceans.

Bisphenol A is not the only chemical contained in plastics which is a cause for concern.  I’ll leave it to you to ‘Google’ if you want further information……

Useful Links for More Information: 

‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’

‘Polyethylene Terephthalates’

‘Bisphenol A’

‘Chemicals in Plastic Bottles’

With thanks to Wikipedia and The National Research & Development Centre

DT_Triangle_Banner

An Altruistic Exit……

12 Apr

‘Altruistic acts are not uncommon in nature.  Humans display altruism as do insects, only insects don’t understand philosophy……’

Definition……

Al-tru-ismnoun

  1. The belief in, or practice of, disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
  2. Behaviour of an animal that benefits another at its own expense.

 

Evolution……

Acts of nonreciprocal altruism in humans proved difficult to explain in the early days of Darwinian evolutionary theory even with the consideration of the species to understand abstract concepts, philosophy and the ability to communicate them.  Understandably, before the dispassionate implications of evolution by natural selection were fully understood, altruism did not appear to fit within the theory.  This problem was amplified when nonreciprocal altruistic acts in insect colonies were observed.  Put simply, one can quantify why someone may put themselves literally ‘in the firing line’ to protect another; why an insect would sacrifice itself for the greater good of a colony is harder to explain.  However, an explanation of nonreciprocal altruistic acts has been well defined for humans and insects alike (I would recommend ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Professor Richard Dawkins, which gives a good explanation of evolution by natural selection; altruism included) but humans are the only animals, as far as we are aware, who can apply philosophy, logic and reasoning to such acts……

Considerations of an Altruistic Death……

On a personal level, despite having reasoned what the immediate emotional effects of an act of self-sacrifice would have on those directly affected would have, in evolutionary terms my death would, in totality, prove less detrimental, if not beneficial, to the genetic proliferation of my family ‘blood line’.  After all, the continuation of the strand of DNA from which I come is the ultimate goal of evolution by natural selection; survival of the fittest.  Absent the human ability to exhibit empathy and project a subjective emotion into the future any decision taken to persist in survival would become an equation with fewer elements and one with an easily calculable answer.  In short, my existence poses a threat, albeit indirect, to the persistence of the DNA upon which I am built……

Philosophical Considerations…….

Any parent would gladly sacrifice themselves to preserve the life of their child.  Although they may have the cognitive ability to rationalise such a decision there is, arguably, a predetermined mechanism within their DNA which may make it an easier choice than that of sacrificing themselves for someone else’s child.  Faced with no alternatives, an act of nonreciprocal altruism to save a genetically related child appears an easy choice.  However, if faced with an alternative, considerations of leaving the child without a parent upon which it depends would probably be viewed as the wrong choice.  If the direct impact of ones self-sacrifice for the greater good carries only emotional concerns it should be an easier choice for the protagonist.  Being the protagonist in an emotional decision between the continued impact one may be having upon those immediately affected and any potentially damaging longer term effect, taking the decision to make an altruistic exit must ultimately be the better choice……

Rationale…….

Although all emotive considerations may be telling you to continue with the status quo, practical realities dictate that an early exit is a better option, regardless of the accusation that it causes emotional pain to those directly affected.  Rationale dictates that your actions are logically less damaging, particularly when placed within the framework of a society which demands conformity…….

 

DT_Triangle_Banner‘To be, or not to be’; a question which has an easier answer than is immediately apparent…..’

The Lady’s Not for Turning……

9 Apr

‘Yesterday we heard of the death of Lady Margaret Thatcher.  My Mrs Thatcher 02sympathy goes out to her family but for the rest of us, who are removed from the emotive relationships of genealogy, she was a very different character and the sycophantic outpourings of her colleagues,  adversaries and contemporaries are sickening, if not perverse……’

 

As a Human Being……

In the same way that Mira Hindley’s family are able to see beyond the vile part she played in the deaths of innocent children, Margaret Thatcher’s family will see only the person and not the effect that her actions had upon the wider society over which she wielded power.  With the announcement of her death, politicians from all sides have come forward to say, even if they profoundly disagreed with her politics, that they ‘admired’ her unshakable belief and her commitment to what she thought was right for the country.  Unsurprisingly, I have yet to see an ex-coal miner, printer or a victim of her relentless pursuit to privatise industry, asked for their perspective of her legacy……

Mrs Thatcher’s Legacy……

I was only 10 years old when the ‘iron lady’ first came to power.  By the time she was stabbed in the back, ironically by the same sycophantic individuals who are now singing her praises from the same post mortem hymn sheet they always seem to use whenever a notable political colleague dies, I was 21 or 22, the details escape me.  However, I was already aware of the adverse affects her and her party’s policy decisions were having, upon me and my contemporaries.  A legacy that persists to this day and affects all of us, young and old alike……

Mrs Thatcher 01On the Plus Side……

If you were of the right age and happened to fit Mrs Thatcher’s vision of aspiration you may well have done quite nicely for yourself.  Suppose you lived in a house belonging to the local authority, her ambitions for you to own that property may have served you well.  You may have been able to buy that house at a huge discount along with the majority of people in your street.  That house is probably a distant memory for you as you climb the creaking stairs of your mock Tudor mansion with its Greek columns and paper thin, plaster-board walls, with just enough room to squeeze your wheelie bin between your and your neighbour’s property.  But what she achieved in getting you onto the property ladder was the dismantling of the country’s social housing stock (paid for with your family’s taxes).  Although today it may well be looked down upon in some circles, social housing provided affordable accommodation for over 50% of the population after the Second World War and still does in many other European countries.  It also opened up the rental market to the private sector supply and demand economy, making rented housing today, not only hard to find but, unaffordable to a large section of society; the ones like me, who didn’t benefit from Mrs Thatcher’s ideology of the ‘free’ market and, ironically, now a target of the current Tory party benefit cuts.  It could also be argued that in her drive for home ownership, the unrealistic housing bubble that is responsible for the current economic disaster was born.  Had it have been pointed out to her at the time, as we know ‘the lady’s not for turning’ and, any attempt to reason with the Prime Minister was not unlike trying to get ‘Gideon’ to review his plan for economic recovery……

The Price of Privatisation……

‘If you see Syd, tell him’; tell him what?  That in twenty years time the privatisation of our country’s infrastructure would end up costing us all dearly.  If I ever hear one of the beneficiaries of Thatcher’s Britain complain about the cost of electricity or gas, god help me, I’ll knock them out!  The industries that were built or acquired many years ago were paid for by our grand-parents and great grand-parents.  Now, and this list is not exhaustive, the electricity, gas, telephones, water, railways and many other services, make huge profits for their shareholders, most of which are not like me and you and, whilst holding the country to ransom, because, although the view that a ‘free’ market would encourage competition, in reality the few investors with the resources to buy and run them are so few they have an effective monopoly, albeit a monopoly of maybe 5 or 6 but, a monopoly all the same and, one which costs us all more than a state owned alternative, with its profits whisked away to the Cayman Islands……

The Human Cost of the Free Market……Arthur Scargill 1984

Bearing in mind that we now import huge quantities of coal to keep the lights on and, due to the free market that Mrs Thatcher encouraged the price of that coal is dictated by demand, the closure of the coal mining industry was a disastrous move.  Even if every ton of coal cost this country a few pence, or even pounds, the effect on the lives of the miners and the eventual cost to the economy is almost incalculable as it not only destroyed the miner’s lives but affected whole communities and the other businesses within them.

Poll Tax RiotWe now have an economy in which 80% of people work in the ‘service industry’.  That means that if you’re not at work serving someone, you’re being served by someone in your leisure time.  You cannot have a productive economy based on service industries, especially financial services that produce nothing other than money from money and in all probability for someone outside of the UK……

In Memorandum……

She may have been ‘the iron lady’, she may have been the lady who was ‘not for turning’ but, was she the saviour of Britain as she is being portrayed?  No, I don’t think she was.  She was a utilitarian politician with her own opinion of what was best for the UK.  That opinion was mostly based on profitability and devoid of considerations of any human costs.  In the short term the country’s balance sheet may have gone into profit but let’s not forget that she sold the nations assets to achieve that goal.  The path she led us down has left us with the worst economic depression since the 1920’s and in more debt than we had after WWII.

Whether you are a republican or not, Margaret Thatcher was not royalty and does not deserve a state funeral with full military honours, especially at the ‘hard pressed’ tax payer’s expense……

DT_Triangle_Banner

‘I’ll put in a Freedom of Information request to establish the cost of the funeral once the ashes have cooled.  I’ll let you know the answer……’

Squeezed Out of Existence……

24 Jan

Globalisation and Homogenisation……

Take a look at the ‘society’ we have become, or more accurately, we have been moulded into, from government departments to banks, insurance companies, utility service providers, in fact almost every aspect of contemporary life has been given the blanket approach to dealing with the public.  All of the 0845 non-geographical telephone numbers that connect you to an efficient, cheap to run and impersonal call centre, used by almost all large companies and government departments, only have the ability to cope with the most simple of enquires.  Anything that doesn’t have a box to tick is beyond the scope of the badly paid and highly pressured staff to deal with.  Escalation to a higher power usually returns little and I’m sure there is a majority like me that simply cannot bare the stress of attempting to resolve their problems and quit, having had their mental illness tested to  breaking point.

You are left feeling, anxious, demoralised and unable to cope.

If, for example, you have a hearing impairment, legislation dictates that the organisation have to provide access to services or, should you be a wheelchair user, ramps  are a legal requirement for access.  However, if you suffer from a mental health condition such as chronic bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, feature on the Autistic Spectrum or have a complicated combination of mental health issues which is not unusual, you are at the mercy of the machine.  Sadly, mental health services have fallen victim to the machinery of statistics and the ‘tick box’ culture.  The very people charged with supporting you are effectively paralysed.

Driven to the Brink……

I have some personal experience of mental health services and know others who have.  A friend with a history of suicide attempts; she genuinely wanted to die and was not ‘crying’ for help, was in the throws of an incident when she felt she could not cope and was planning another attempt, was fortunately lucid enough to call the Crisis Management Team of the local CMHS and was advised to ‘go for a walk’.  Thankfully, somebody happened to call on her during her attempt and was able talk to her and defuse the situation.  This does not absolve the Crisis Team of responsibility.  Stretched they may be.  Working with budget cuts may feature but what use is a Crisis Management Team who’s idea of managing an imminent suicide attempt from someone known to them with a history of serious mental health problems is to, ‘go for a walk’ does not cut it……

A Policy of Persecution……

A mental heath problem can be debilitating.  It may not manifest in the same way an outwardly obvious physical health problem but is just as serious.  In their drive to save money on the welfare bill the government have taken to persecuting some very ill people through the £100m contract they have with Atos Healthcare, a French IT company.  They are finding thousands of people ‘fit for work’ based on a brief interview and without any information from the doctors and consultants that are treating them.  Recent figures have shown thousands have died within 3 months of being told they are ‘fit for work’, or before their appeals against the unprofessional decisions have been heard.  This clearly demonstrates the reality of process.  They have been tasked with reducing the number of claimants and to ensure they keep the lucrative contract are obliging.  This was exposed by Channel 4s Dispatches program when a doctor went under-cover to the Atos training camp, where they were told in no uncertain terms that, in one case, if you have one are and one finger on that arm, you can press a button and are therefore fit to work.

The most sickening part of this whole debacle is that the money they save pales into insignificance when compared to the industrial scale tax avoidance which the legislator do not seem to be dedicating many resources to stamp out.  Far be it from me to insinuate that they have a vested interest in protecting these huge multi-national companies, even though many ex-MPs become consultants and lobbyists for them when their political careers are over.  The political classes, with the exception of a handful, are completely out of touch with the realities of life and akin to a corrupt mafia as has been demonstrated by the Leveson report and the exposure of the close relationship between bankers, the media and the police.  The tip of a sycophantic iceberg is all we see……

One More Push and a new Statistic will Appear……

My own mental health ranges from states of being catatonic to manic, via obsession and punctuated with addiction.  The argument that addiction is a choice is not invalid; however, my addiction to Valium, Opiates and other depressant drugs is as a result of the lack of intervention when I pleaded for it.  Having had absolutely no help, I began ‘self medicating’ to switch off the mania and anxiety that was driving me toward an early death.  Referral to Drug and Alcohol Services is a joke as they fail to follow even the most fundamental rules set out by NICE and the NTA.  In 20 years I have been stuck on a maintenance prescription with little psycho-social intervention which is a prerequisite in the treatment advice given and the occasional meeting with a key worker does not meet the threshold required in the guidelines …..

Everyday I die a little more and become ever further detached from society.  The black and white I see is a choice to carry on fighting a loosing battle with the establishment, to no avail or, to take the other route out and die so I no longer have to wake up every day and within a few seconds of opening my eyes, realising the untenable nature of living for livings sake.  When I am found dangling from the end of a rope I will have a note that explains the failings of all the many and varying services that were supposed to help.  They will doubtless chalk it up to my mental health and not the failings that lead me here……

‘Only time will tell if and when I defer to making an exit but I have an idealised plan which could be put into action at any time, maybe after taking that walk’……