As the country rose this morning to news that the Conservatives not only won the election but did so with a majority, mental health campaigners and sufferers took to social media with despair at what the future holds for people like us. It’s become no secret that the Conservatives are determined to squeeze the life out of everyone with any kind of disability including mental health. If there were a flag waver for stigma David Cameron would be that person.
This morning I read this superb yet simple post over on purplepersuasion pointing out how everyone is only one step away from being in need of benefits, support from the NHS and so on. How easy it is for anybody’s life to fall apart regardless how comfortable it may seem.
Before my mental health reached the point where I couldn’t work anymore I ran my own business, prior to that I had worked in management at a digital marketing firm. My annual salary was very good, I was living comfortably and didn’t worry about things like how my mental health might annhilate my life. I knew I had Bipolar but thought everything was in control…how wrong I was.
Within a year of starting my own business, I’d had a complete breakdown, my physical health had deteriorated beyond recognition, I was bankrupt and had lost my business, my professional reputation was in tatters, and I couldn’t even leave the house.
In the past year my mental health has gone through vast ups and downs, I’ve been admitted to the primary mental health team three times and discharged twice. I’ve been through a twelve week CBT course, and I have in the past few weeks been told I may have Schizophrenia aswell as Bipolar and have started to be treated with meds to handle my high moods and the psychosis for the first time.
What I want to do is to curl up on my sofa, and rest and look after myself, cry when the need takes me and try to recover. But having read the conservative manifesto and knowing they intend to leave people like me penniless and homeless I instead am driving myself crazy trying to work out how to campaign and wake them up to how serious mental health is, how badly it affects peoples lives. And from the people I’ve spoken to on Twitter this morning I am not alone.
I am in a constituency with a Conservative MP, the same person was re-elected back into her former seat. We also have two Conservative councillers for our area. There really feels like no hope and that there is nobody fighting our corner. If I was well enough I would join the Green Party and look at running for a council seat next year but I am nowhere near well enough for that.
It scares me that there is nobody in our council seats or in Government to represent people like me, people who are struggling just to live day to day. Of course I want to go back into work, more than anything, but when I can barely leave the house most days I know I’m not well enough. Mental Illness takes time to get back into a manageable state, a state where we can function in a normal working environment day to day. I will get there but it will take time.
I have signed up to work with Rethink as a campaigner, at the moment I feel like that is my best course of action from here, but I realistically expect to end up penniless and homeless within the next five years along with others suffering with disabilities and mental health illnesses. My Husband tells me if we are genuinely sick as I am we won’t be affected, he is far more optimistic than I am, he didn’t read the Conservative manifesto!
Today is a very sad day for this country.