Actually the real title of this return-to-work-blog was going to be “Cheer Up. F**k Off” but I thought the risk of getting into a virtual spat with even ruder people than me was just too great.
In my defence, the title was suggested to me by the Nicest Person in the World as I regaled her about a wellbeing workshop I’d gone to over the summer. A day of generous participation on my part and I ended up being told essentially to cheer up. It had been a few months since I’d been slogging it out all hair and teeth on the mental health front line so I was unprepared for the commitment of some to define wellbeing precisely to exclude any reference to mental health or, heaven help us, human distress. You see, Elizabeth, we’re all about being positive. Funny then that I’m left feeling mad as hell.
The NPW has been my friend for a quarter of a century and I wish I could take credit for her adoption of the Psychic Cheese Grating School of Thought but I’m sad to report that just navigating life does this even to the nicest people. Delightful as it is for me to come into contact with a like-minded brute, its a pretty sad day when the NPWs take offence at cheer.
As a result of the psychic carnage involved in a summer navigating finding work, housing and keeping the parental show on the road, my sense of humour has taken a real battering as have any remnants of charm. I became obsessed with a not-very-sophisticated idea that if you’re not living it right now, you don’t understand it. Whether it’s universal credit or the housing crisis, much of what is said is just hopelessly and significantly unhelpful. I’ve condensed this into a rather depressing mantra, not to ever give or receive advice from anyone who isn’t living it right now. This isn’t to say that we can’t learn about things (if you want to understand the painful paradox of welfare go to the Trussell Trust’s twitter feed here) but it is to say that we are in the state we’re in because most people don’t have to live with the consequences of their words.
When your primary relationship is with a ten month old ball of non-verbal intuition, words get trumped by action. And by love. The more time I spend at 4am singing Smiths songs to my son and thinking about climate change, the less I want to say the more I want to do.
I wasn’t going to start writing again, but out of the blue I got caught up in some actions that might, just might, do something. Come and do something with us at the Mental Health Crisis Summit on Saturday 28th September. Surviving Work will be on a panel with Ken Loach, and the divine Denise McKenna from the Mental Health Resistance Network talking about the real mental health crisis and the future of services. Click here for tickets .
Surviving Work is not cheering up or f**king off.
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