People, politics, passion

I think it’s fair to say that since the General Election was announced I’ve become increasingly political in the run up to it. I think I’m going to blow up before I get to the polling station on Thursday (today is Tuesday 6 June 2017) to cast my vote.

I have always been decidedly left of centre to say the least. I often told my mother I’d voted for the Communist Party just for the reaction even though the Communist Party never put up candidates of any kind in the area where I grew up.

In my 41 years as a voter this is by far the most exciting election campaign that I’ve ever seen. An elected leader of the Labour Party (go Jeremy, show the bastards!) treated initially as a joke is now proving that those of us who were behind him right from the beginning were right to put our trust in him. The leader of the Conservative Party who gained leadership because nobody else wanted it has gone from a woman who was seen as a more than adequate replica of the Iron Lady to a joke. Strangely enough, it is too soon to call the result.

I have been sharing my views loudly on social media and I think that 90% of any of the posts I’ve made have been politics be it supporting Labour or condemning the other parties, particularly the Tory bastards. I am usually too polite to paraphrase my mate Dave Hutchinson who used the phrase “cunting Tories” in one of his books but I will make an exception this one time.

It’s been a bit too much for some people. I haven’t exactly been unfollowed or unfriended in droves but some people have really surprised me. The ones who declare lifelong friendship quietly drift away, the soft blocks on Twitter and the silent detaching on Facebook. Some people have even blocked me on Instagram.

I can only suppose they don’t like my point of view or disagree with the way I feel. I don’t like one of my closest friends voting Conservative at local and national elections but I’d never disown him for doing it. We come from different backgrounds I went to a grant maintained faith school and he went to a public school. I throw myself at life with little thought to consequences and have an incredible amount of fun doing it even though I am a bit shackled by the old bipolar these days. He is more controlled and cares more about how he appears in public than I do. We differ in many ways but at the core of it is a great friendship so if we can agree to not talk about politics and respect the views of one another then why can’t people who’ve never met me have the same attitude?

I think a lot of it is how people perceive us to be. It’s fair to say that we all hide some of ourselves from the world and we never show our whole person to any person. Each one of my friends and family has a piece of me and they all add up to the whole me. Some people have bigger bits than others while others have pieces so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye but they all hold part of me. One friend knows where I spend the evening of the second Sunday of every month and the rest would be stunned if they knew what I was doing. A couple of people know of how I spent my 50th birthday a the Tate Modern and the rest would be horrified (and I mean truly horrified) how I celebrated the occasion. Few people know of the part of me that sits calmly and quietly with my arm round my dog, both of us staring into the middle distance and not moving for hours though everybody knows of the long walks and the loud fun that he and I have together. Nobody (until now) knows that when I play music when I’m at home I sing along to everything (right now it’s Big Time Charlie by the Cockney Rejects).

I think it’s fair to say that I’m a passionate person – I don’t know how to do things by halves and I suppose that’s a bit too much for people to handle. I live with a minimum of possessions and a maximum of feelings, moods and emotions. I give love rarely though I do have a loving attitude and I am that person who speaks to the people that others won’t bother with. I speak to the old ladies and men on buses because they may not have spoken to somebody that day. I talk to Linda every morning because she knows when I’ll be along walking Ogden and I’m one of the few people she trusts and I’m the only person who stops and gives her time to spill out her paranoia every time I see her. If I buy a homeless person some food then I’ll sit and chat with them a while because anybody can shove a sandwich or a pasty in someone’s hands but sometimes what they really want is somebody to look them in the eyes and stop them feeling like a charity case at least just for a moment.

I’m not an angel and I think that’s what trips people up. I can be a nice person but I can also be a nasty twat. When I drank I was argumentative and not afraid of putting myself at risk of physical violence. Addiction magnifies the personality defects a person has it doesn’t invent new ones just for the duration of the active addiction. I have to work hard at being a nice person and if you doubt me then you haven’t seen the what I can get up whether I’m being watched or not.

I have finally got to the point in a perfect example of digression (go me!). We have to respect people’s right to believe what they want to unless, and this is the big thing, it inflames hatred of people of who are different to use whether it is by religion or culture or the colour of their skin. I do none of those and I do not tolerate those who are vile enough to discriminate in such a fashion. It makes me wonder if some of the people I’ve upset are closet discriminators and feel that I am pointing an invisible finger at them. I’m not but if I trouble the odd conscience or two then I can’t pretend to be unhappy.

Stop the world, I want to get off

I’m waiting to see a psychiatrist again. My GP requested a referral and we’re both hoping I’ll get to see my last consultant mainly because he’s amazing at his job but also because I saw him for about 10 years and we developed a mutual language so it would be easy to talk to him. I can go in and tell him I feel well fucked up and he’ll know what I mean. Priceless.

I’m ultradian cycling (though at this point it’s only one change every 12 hours or so) and this started on Thursday. It was odds on it was going to start – EU Referendum, opportunity to write about it for a website and staying up all night to listen to the results – it was never going to end well. Politics leave a lot of people cold but I love it. I’m not eloquent about the subject but I know what I believe in and that passion, like all the others that inflame me, burn me out with mania and turn me into ashes with depression.

I’m fed up with the in-house mud slinging of those within the Labour Party re Jeremy Corbyn. He was voted leader by people who know that, despite the leadership and Tory Lites of recent years, the Party was born in red brick houses and not red brick universities. If he is deposed then the Labour Party membership will drop overnight.

I’m not at all surprised at the antics of the Conservative Party (has anybody found George Osbourne in their shed yet?) and the desperate please of the Liberal Democrats is rather sad but have any of the shit stirrers thought about what this is doing to me and all the other vulnerable people who have elected them, voted in the referendum and left feeling scared at the uncertain future that has been created?

I’m in that tiny section of people who are considered so ill I was put in the support section of ESA for life (without a face to face assessment) because the risk of me committing suicide if I was forced back to work is too high for them to take the chance. This means that my income is guaranteed but I am not invulnerable to rising prices, higher utility bills and I cannot tell myself to worry about life in the UK because it is something to worry about.

Anyway I’ve been so manic that I can’t get the words in my sentences in the right order and today I’ve dipped into depression and couldn’t care less if my words are in the right order or not. I’ve decided to focus instead on a day out in London I’m having on Thursday and if I burn out then so be it.

Meanwhile the country is being fucked roughly by the people we have trusted it to. Bastards.

Predictions, poverty and politics

Being told you have bipolar disorder doesn’t mean you have been condemned to a life of poverty before landing in a pauper’s grave. It is a diagnosis not an exercise in fortune telling: it does not have to come true.

A diagnosis is given when you tick enough boxes to be able to give a collection of symptoms a name. It does not mean that you have to fulfil the expectation of that illness to justify the diagnosis for other people. For example, mention bipolar disorder or manic depression (the old name for bipolar disorder) and lots of people will associate it with creativity. What they don’t realise is that many people with the illness aren’t the least bit creative. I believe, for those of us who are creative, the mania side gives us that extra bit of daring to push our creativity that little bit further. I am not creative because I have bipolar disorder but I am willing to go the extra mile because of it.

The same goes for money. Bipolar disorder magnifies and distorts our personality traits. It cannot make us do something we are not. Whilst bipolar disorder gives me a “sod the consequences” attitude at times I know while it’s happening that it isn’t right. I can fight the urge: giving in to spending money I haven’t got isn’t an inevitability for me. Having said that, I do not develop full-blown psychosis, I always keep one foot in reality.

The debts that I incurred during my bouts of mania came to less than £3,000. I was a high earner so in comparison to my income I got off very lightly. However it felt to me then, as it does now, a huge amount. I could honestly not envisage a method of clearing my debts.

When I was forced into a very early retirement due to the effects of the bipolar disorder and had to spend the first year on basic benefits. The idea that I could become debt free was nothing more than a fantasy. It was a long year of poverty in mind and spirit as well as wealth and one that I would wish upon nobody else.

When you have debt and need to approach companies to ask them to freeze interest or negotiate payments with them you are told that they won’t begin to negotiate until they see a statement of income and expenditure with the stamp of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) or a similar agency upon it. The CAB and their kind are only as good as their volunteers. The man who helped me missed things out and somehow managed to get my electricity bills sent to their office. I began to believe that I really was going mad and that the world I inhabited was a Kafkaesque nightmare and there was no chance of waking up sane.

Eventually my debts were frozen although my bank at the time refused to acknowledge that, by offering me credit cards and loans against my explicit instructions, they were in part responsible for the debt and I was told that the debt would never be written off as it was too large a sum. It was a little over £1,500 pounds. Just because a bank claims to be ethical doesn’t mean that it is.

I then had to learn to feed me and three cats on an amount that amounted to little more than the weekly wage that I’d earned 16 years before. One bright spark suggested I rehome the cats but, as some of you will well know, the expense of keeping them fades when you’re alone home for days and they never fail to overwhelm you with love.

To an extent my situation, though not avoidable, could have been softened if I’d known the truth about mania and overspending. It’s something that I’ve actually only learned over the past few years and is something I’d wish I’d known before the great crashing breakdown that flung me into poverty.

A couple of years ago I became very ill and suffered huge problems with my memory. I began to forget to top up my electricity and gas cards meaning that I lost my utilities regularly and the food that was in my fridge and freezer. I recognised quickly that I needed help and I approached a friend, Richard Latteman who is an independent financial adviser. It became quickly evident that I needed to set up Lasting Power of Attorney to protect me when I was too ill to manage. We assessed how much I spent a week on food etc. and the amount horrified me. I put everything into a spreadsheet and seeing how much money I was wasting enabled me to cut back dramatically. We changed all my bills over to direct debit and this immediately began to reap savings. Eventually the point was reached where I could begin to think about saving money. My reason for saving is that I fully expect to be wrongly assessed when it comes to my Work Capability Assessment and need money to fall back on when it happens to see me through the weeks before appeal. It is a ridiculous state of affairs when I have to save money designed to help me in the here and now to safeguard me from the ravages of the future. Being disabled is not easy and it is made much more difficult when there is financial hardship.

Being a natural miser I found it easier than a lot of people to get into the saving money frame of mind but it wasn’t a simple process for me – I had to be guided and better guided through the process.

I discovered that being diagnosed with an illness that predicts problems with money doesn’t mean that I have to fulfil that prediction. It is possible to break the mould and it is well worth trying.

I don’t want to have to live in the poverty that I had to in the past. I wish I had understood sooner that my expectation of my financial state was not necessarily the reality. I wish I had saved for my future at a time when I was able to. I wish I hadn’t been almost encouraged to think that my financial situation was doomed to be problematic. Most of all I wish we didn’t have a government that claims on one hand to want to prevent discrimination and yet on the other hand promotes discrimination by assuming I’m committing fraud because I have an incurable illness. I have paid taxes and national insurance contributions all my working life and I have a right not to live in poverty by people assuming I will automatically fall prey to the presumptive criteria of an illness or by then cruel penalties forced upon me by a government that doesn’t understand the toll of mental illness.

I have the right to control or learn to control my own money and no one has the right to take that away from me be they predictors of doom or those who seem intent on taking away my future.