We are living in a, frankly, terrifying world. The march to the political right, climate chaos, human rights violations, erosion of reproductive rights are just the tip of the nightmare. It is easy to feel powerless in the face of such monumental issues.
I feel especially frustrated when my health limits my participation in protest. Signing petitions, sending emails & sharing information doesn’t feel like enough. In an effort to feel like I am trying to facilitate change I put my money where my mouth is.
For a few years now I have tried to pick a different charity or organisation each month to donate to. It’s not always a huge donation, but I think every little helps. It also really helps me deal with life to feel that I am supporting action that betters the world.
It occurred to me that I often discover people doing amazing work via social media, friends raising money and the content I consume. Thus I have decided to share the groups I am supporting each month in the hope that others might also feel moved to donate.
Immigration policy on both sides of the Atlantic are alarming. The American situation is beyond compression. Facist dehumanising techniques are in full force & repugnant acts are being committed. Raices are on the ground in Texas fighting for asylum at the border. They support those who have been detained, try to reunite separated families & advocate for unaccompanied minors. This work is vital. We can do nothing whilst sickening acts are waged against desperate people seeking safety. If you can, please consider making a donation.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which is, in theory, a good thing. Since all it seems to involve is people on social media saying ‘talk about it’ it is not actually all that helpful.
We absolutely should talk about mental illness more. We should educate our kids about symptoms & how normal it is to experience them. We should put better training in place for teachers, emergency services & NHS staff. We should all try harder not to judge or shirk away from people who are struggling. Employers should be flexible with staff dealing with mental illness. There should be more information, more understanding, more honesty. Yes, we should talk about it. Asking for help it definitely a good idea. All of these things are important & valid, but there’s still something missing from the conversation.
What happens when you do speak openly & no one listens (or seems to care). Can we talk about all the people who gathered all their courage &!swallowed their pride to ask for help and didn’t get any? Can we address the fact that as hard as is it to say ‘I’m not ok’, it’s a million times harder to hear ‘tough luck’ in response.
We do need to talk about mental illness, but we also need to listen and act. Funding is of course part of the problem. The NHS is chronically underfunded & mental health is the poor cousin. For all the political talk of parity between physical & mental illness, there has been little change to waiting times or scarcity of vital mental health services. Very often waiting to even be assessed by a mental health team is a long process. In my area the wait for psychologist input is 4months (that’s relatively short), in practise you’ll be waiting longer because you will first have to be referred & assessed before anyone even adds you to that list. During all this waiting time people can have no professional support.
Then there are the multitude who are deemed ‘not sick enough’. To be fair this has always been an issue due to stigma & ignorance. Lack of funding exacerbates the problem. When services are so stretched, access to those resources become limited. Lots of people who seek help for mental health problems are basically told to manage it themselves. Get some exercise, reduce your stress, get out more. When you summon your strength to talk about things that frighten you and are told it’s no big deal, it’s hard not to feel even more pathetic. It is difficult not to feel shutdown. Repeat that scenario more than once & people give up. Likewise for those who are informed that they’re not quite ill enough to warrant intervention. All that talk of early warning signs & speaking up doesn’t translate into much action. Having a professional ask you to wait & see if your health declines before they will help you is a kick in the gut. When you know that getting worse means your entire life falling apart, it’s not unreasonable to prefer to be proactive. When you don’t know what’s happening to you all, it is terrifying. So, yes, we do need to talk about it. I will always encourage people to ask for help. I will always strive to remove the shame of admitting you need assistance. I’ll also continue to demand that we talk about what happens after you take that step. We cannot ignore the fact that asking for help does not guarantee receiving it. We must acknowledge all the people for whom no treatment has been forthcoming & stop pretending that the problem isn’t much, much bigger.
People die because they did talk about it & nothing changed. Can we start talking about that?
I spent my Saturday shouting at holy people in rain. Not just for kicks, but because the religious anti-abortion group 40 Days of Light are again spending lent protesting choice outside a Glasgow hospital. As you can imagine, I find such actions repugnant & wanted to join the counter demo.
4o Days of light began their Lenten campaign with a sparsely attended event in George sq. They sought to attribute their protests to a desire to spread truth & offer choice. Yes, they’re actually trying to sell their aggressive tactics as supporting of choice. The little of the speeches that could be heard above the chanting of my fellow pro choice protesters consisted of lies, religious indoctrination & the kind of emotional manipulation expected from such groups.
Glasgow is a progressive city & it disturbs me to see these extreme conservative tactics taking hold here. This is 4o Days’seconds year protesting outside the new southern general hospital in govan. They plan to hold 8hr ‘vigils’ on each day of lent. The hospital has no power to prevent the protest as they will happen directly outside hospital grounds. They will however no doubt add distress to those attending the hospital as well as generally interfering with the daily business of the enormous hospital.
On Saturday I was sickened to hear a speaker talk of her fond memories of last year’s protest. Apparently, she delighted in harassing vulnerable people in a difficult situation. This revelation was followed by woman railing against a ‘pro abortion society that coerces woman into terminating pregnancies’ before moving onto tired and irrelevant tales of how she felt whilst pregnant. The event ended with an attempt to say a decade of the rosary, which I am pleased to say was drowned out by chants of my body, my choice.
I can’t state strongly enough how much we must fight this move towards a campaign of lies & shame. The only humane & just option is choice. Pregnant individuals must be allowed safe & legal abortions. They must also be offered support to access such services. Please join me in letting 40 days of light know that there is no place for their harassment or lies in our civilised society.
Check for details here.