According to Face-crap, which got its intel from the Telegraph, the great and the good that are the UK government are planning to sanction benefit claimants who “refuse treatment” for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, because, apparently, “cognitive behavioural therapies work”. So say well-off, middle-class wankers whose only experience of depression has been Fortnum & Mason being out of the ’57 Merlot, without which their dinner party will be a complete write-off.
Cognitive behavioural therapies don’t always fucking work. I know this because I spent three years being asked to “imagine the very worst that could happen” – fine, you cunt; the worst that could happen, right now, is I don’t get this job. The jobcentre tossers decide I “wasn’t trying hard enough”, or some such crap that makes an entirely arbitrary decision – based on whether the interviewer’s getting his leg over sufficiently, or the fact that her PA brought her a full fat latte this morning, when she specifically asked for skinny – into my fault. I lose my benefits, including housing benefit, I can’t pay the rent on the hell hole I call home, I end up on the streets and either starve, freeze or get beaten to death.
There – now the fucking therapist is as depressed about the state of the world as I am. Good. Welcome to the world as experienced by the working class, pal. And yes, I’ve taken my heavy-duty prescription medication like a good little boy, too – then stopped, and switched to valerian, which isn’t recognised because you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it, or be seen by a psychiatrist with no concept of how anyone earning less than thirty grand a year could possibly survive, just to get hold of it. And you know what? It has the same effect; I still feel like I should kill myself, I just don’t have the energy to do it.
Job interviews still see me up half the night with stomach cramps, sweating and vomiting, then sitting there, on the wrong side of that fucking desk, shaking and trying to force a coherent answer out of the fuzz in my head; the shakes are just less obvious, so I look weird, rather than alcoholic. I still hear the voices telling me what people are thinking, what threats are out there, how useless I am – it’s just that they’re whispers from the next room, now, rather than someone sitting across the table from me. The other people in my head are still there – they just choose to stay in their rooms, quietly getting on with whatever it is they do when I’m in control of my mind and body.
I’ve “engaged and complied with the treatment process”, as they say in psycho-babble, and I’m still batshit crazy. The craziness didn’t get better when I was on the drugs-and-talking-cure trick, and it’s got no worse since I decided to use valerian to take the edge off everything and treat the people in my head like people that can be engaged with, rather than enemies that have to be destroyed.
Stop my benefits. Call me a liar, a lazy scrounger. Tell me I’m “making it all up”, that “society doesn’t exist to support layabouts like you”. Force me to take a job, any job – then watch as I get sacked, because, from what I’ve seen in the contracts I’ve had for the jobs I’ve done before, from what I’ve experienced first hand, employers are allowed to call insanity “gross misconduct”, and fire your arse without notice.
Whether or not you give me a pittance to live on, whether or not I’m working, whatever names you choose to call me, I will still be depressed. I will still get anxious about anything from the state of the world to the fact that Tesco have put the price up on the yoghurt I like. I will still have five other people living and talking in my head. I will still see things that aren’t there. Your threats, punishments and disapproval will not “cure” me, or make me “suitable” for the kind of twats who get to decide whether or not they want a nutter working for them.
I’ll carry on doing things that I enjoy in the times when my madness decides to take a day off. I’ll write, create, engage in debate, walk my dogs, take care of my partner. And on the days when the world’s inside out and back to front, I’ll stay in bed with the curtains closed, grit my teeth, and endure it until the darkness lifts. My life continues with or without your approval.