_Lady Crookback’s Mini Blog_ 101: _Ranting on Madness

A hell of a lot of people who tick the boxes for sociopath/psychopath are the ones whose families end up addicted, mentally ill themselves, or killing themselves. And those same manipulative, powerful, people bullying on a daily basis RUN the show! If mental health problems contribute to political choices this would mean a lot of supposedly sane Tories and Britain First bods ought to be in psychiatric treatment. MY mental illness has made me only try harder to be a better person but then again, trying to be a better person because the Tories around me all told me how awful I was actually caused my PTSD. The only ways mental illness influenced my political choices was that I finally saw the so called ‘mental differences’ of my youth (anxieties and insecurities and a tendency to care what people thought) as the product of years of bullying by a particular social group whereas the Left seemed more tolerant of mental illness, learning difficulties and of people who tried to be NICE. Trust me, I’m revising that opinion as I read this week! I think I’d quite like to live on an empty boat with no one on it atm!
PLEASE try to remember folks that right now many people with mental illness are terrified lefties with additional disabilities scared their support will be further eroded. Labelling Mair as mentally ill lumps US the mentally ill, whether you like it or not in with the bad guys in the minds of our neighbours, families, co-workers and ESPECIALLY our psychologists, Community Adult Mental Health Teams and the police. It makes us more likely to get tasered or shot if police with little mental health training see any distressed person they are called to as a potential Thomas Mair, and believe me, given the state of mental health services at present, it is FAR more likely to be the police you’ll see than a mental health team if things get bad, whether you have lashed out at someone else or tried to kill _yourself_. After all, who would most people on here call, if someone was threatening suicide? You would, and do call the police.
With the kind of language currently being used of Mair and the Referendum, it won’t only be the Tories responsible for people’s despair if you can’t show a little sense and compassion in your choice of language. Sue’s point actually was we need to _stop_ defining certain actions as ‘mentally ill’ or ‘mad’ just because it makes people with no mental health record feel it is ‘over there/not me/not a wider and dangerous societal issue coming to boiling point.
For the sake of those of us who live with mental illness, please change the derogatory and generalised language around mental illness,it really isn’t helpful. WE live with the stigma day in and day out and it gets very tiring. It has been a LONG time since I considered ‘suicide in case I hurt someone’ but for many years I fought the urge to off myself because a mediocre psychiatrist who had not even read my notes, labelled me as dangerous to my husband. Yet they still discharged me, to live with no support and only the fear that I was a horrible, terrible dreadful, DANGEROUS person, in fact only feeding the fear that had led me to seek help in the first place, an idea that I had first had instilled in me by emotionally manipulative and yet apparently ‘sane’ people. By the time I was 14 years old I had so far an idea of my ‘badness’ that when my sister verbally attacked me, fought spat and verbally abused me to get control of the telephone and my brother was hurt in the scuffle, I (and she) blamed me. I only failed to hang myself because I couldn’t tie a slip knot. My brother was fine, and my bitching little sister is now an ex-BBC Tory, Home Counties yummy Mummy who is making the family’s life hell, but has no psychiatric label despite twice nearly driving me to attempt suicide. And unlike the sister she bullied and abused no-one is stopping her from continuing the cycle of hate with her own kids.
The far right are evil. Cannot we call it that? Millions of innocent people don’t have that term on their medical notes. I’ve also heard Mair called ‘retarded’ (what I grew up being called by my peers and my mother) a ‘nutter’ a ‘fucktard’ and various other words generally applied to the disability community. PSA: You don’t GET to NOT mean disabled people when you call someone a retard, nutter, moron, spastic or any of the rest of the common slurs used to mean us by plenty of people. And we would all, disabled people, mentally ill people and chronically sick people and disabled mentally ill chronically sick people , like you to BLOODY STOP IT.

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Sylvia Kirby
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Round and Round and ROUND the “Fraud” Conversation…

I’m going to have to write more on how the UK benefit bashing situation came about. A traumatised woman who needs 24-hour care who is an abuse survivor has her local council fighting her care budget on the excuse for the gross invasion of her privacy and autonomy of checking her needs (and presumably that   she is not a fraud). is that the state tells them she *might* be committing fraud that could cost the ORDINARY citizen/taxpayer. Does this sound familiar?  _Any_ dialogue on disability is reduced to THAT stereotype instead of to the real issues at stake! Almost everyone including disabled people falls for this Every. Single. Time. The four narrative myths of disability issues: CARE, COURAGE, FRAUD, and LEGITIMACY… Despite a focus on her physical validity people can STILL only see the potential for _fraud_?

The press have made the myths and we’re stuck with them! And they are soooo very, very old that most people don’t even realise they are talking of stereotypes that have been around 700 years! The helpless disabled person, the fraudulent cheat and the able bodied role as protector, abuser and arbiter of legitimacy! Study the history of persecution particularly of the poor and the marginalised and you’ll soon see that cognitive dissonance is in action. We KNOW we should do better by people than we do, then we feel guilt and guilt is unbearable so we project blame because guilt must be assuaged by blaming the victim of our anger. This can be seen in everything from pogroms to ‘gay panic’ to the witch trials of the 1600s.

The projected argument for persecution in any welfare state is always fraud (right back to 1390s and particularly in the 1520s- 90s you can see this in the popular literature of the time BUT….: NOTHING to do with halting fraud which was 0.3% or 0.5% across pensions and in work benefits . Yet the public sees a wheelchair and glares and the THOUSANDS of deaths by starvation, suicide and homelessness are so many and the suffering for ALL poor people in the UK now such that that even a THOUSAND times that number of frauds could not excuse it!

David Nicholas Kirby wrote a marvellous piece on how so much of the disability demonisation is being falsely projected from the able world to the disabled one: If you think about the amount of fraud that is organised criminal gangs, or that for example the majority of THAT is pensions or tax related working benefits .., the cases that are prosecuted have what in common: Someone ABLE BODIED claims to be disabled. Therefore: benefit fraud is mostly perpetrated by the able bodied yet it is associated with disability? WHY? The history of this particular scapegoating trick is old….In times of economic downturn the foreigner, the poor, the infirm and the outsider become suspect. it is assumed to be disabled people committing benefit fraud because disability is the benefit that can be easily demonised. Welcome to 1935!

If you are not a convert to the able bodied version of disability (a ‘supercrip’ of Paralympic- level inspiration who can work full time no matter what your disability or can’t be ‘cured’ by hard work for no pay as part of a Govt ‘workfare’ scheme or ‘cured’ by being listed as ‘fit for work’ even if you are in a coma or dying of cancer or MND (often referred to as the ‘Atos Miracle”) housebound or agoraphobic by being too afraid to leave the house or losing all your support and unable to leave one day you starve or go under a train or drop from a heart attack ….. few die from the effects of a beating but those exist too.

“We always hate those we have wronged.” To me that quote demonstrates why in the US the whole ‘Welfare Queen” stigma started with women who had suffered generation on generation of racial injustice and poverty. In the case of a disabled person: “Oh well, they aren’t THAT disabled says the bus driver when he doesn’t want to load your chair, “OH THEY are all frauds anyway” says the person who decides to park without a disabled badge. “There’s a lot of benefit fraud” says the umpteeth person reading of swingeing cuts to care packages and physical violations of privacy and humanity and doesn’t even realise they have reduced it to the same phrase that every other reader has: “We must protect vulnerable people from these other people”. Even as those very people die for a LIE .

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Paralympic Gold…..

I just won the Gold medal for “Walking while hanging onto my chair instead of being tucked up in a care home or giving up and going to Dignitas” And 2 minutes later I got the ‘hard stare whisper whisper mutter” of two Paralympic judges who were appalled that anyone who had legs and could walk would get INTO a wheelchair!
Oh and the STARE OF THE CHILD who expected me to do something amazing like the people on the TV!
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“Yes I can imagine it But- I don’t need to” : ‘Imagining’ ableism in women’s health settings

 The blogger who wrote ” Now that the NHS has finally agreed to sterilise me, I can relax. I don’t have to keep taking pills that make me sick or worrying about replacing a patch or coil. I don’t feel sad or regretful, or worried that I’ve made the wrong choice. In fact, when the consultant signed the form, I felt elated – something I’d never get from a positive pregnancy test.  And I’d like to see the day when both choices are respected equally.” So would I. I have been there, where my choices are not respected.  I have sat and raged or screamed internally and felt the blankness of utter despair.  The comments are always the same, whether from strangers, friends or medical professionals. When someone hears my decision, they tend to assume I’ve made a snap judgement without considering the implications. They don’t even stop to ask ‘”Why” and then without waiting for an answer: they try the guilt trip. “Don’t you think that’s a bit selfish?” (yes the irony is not lost on me!) if you want to know more the rest is here: https://ladycrookback.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/choice-is-optional/

This “non-essential operation which will be risky and painful” was proposed for me by several people before I was 25. I am disabled and we still live in a society in which a certain proportion of people would prefer if I did not have children, so much so that they hint, suggest, nag, coerce and criticised me for not getting sterilised and were prepared to come out with statements like “A miscarriage would be better in your case”  when I tried to discuss my desire for children.

The concept of pressuring young affluent women to have children seems to be as toxic as its opposite. Like many  women of my acquaintance this gulf in the experiences of the white able bodied feminists and the rest of us is one reason I am ‘outgrouped’ by those in society who frequently claim to be wholly on the side of human rights for all and especially women’s rights.  I have had hate from social workers of feminist groups more than I suspect she could imagine. In the end power wins. I could paraphrase her and say that I have wanted kids since my late teens and always known I wanted them. I’ve wanted them for years, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy decision to make. It’s one I’ve researched, considered, weighed-up and defended, over and over again. And I have had to defend it every bit as hard as any woman who didn’t want kids.  The idea that ALL women who want kids get instant approval, shows a lack of research or total denial that disabled people fall into the category of ‘people’ at all. In fact many of those who choose to have kids ARE questioned and belittled repeatedly on their fitness for parenthood and are in extreme cases refused the privilege through forced sterilisation, forced abortion or forced adoption.
But to pick up where this writer left off, the kicker is usually, “Who’ll care for them/you/your husband? What will you do if he dies?” As if I were totally incompetent to parent or even care for myself! And yes, I wonder who will care when I am old?” Not FOR me but about me, the way we cared about our parents, the way I saw my mother care about her mother, her aunts and the sense of community that middle class houses with kids over for long summer days exudes…. I know _I_ won’t be around to help my mother in old age. Or maybe I will, even if she did advocate her own daughter’s sterilisation and give zero emotional support when the doctor accused me of selfishness, and then advocated destroying a potential burden on the free healthcare rather than thinking taht my child might be the support that rich women are often told they will need. .

Sterilisation is drastic: a big, irreversible, serious decision. Made by someone else for ‘your own good”. Would they say the same to a 26-year-old woman who decided to have a child? Yes if the woman is poor, or has a history of familial abuse or is disabled, so does she say ‘woman’ and see only her own group? The GP thought I would “change my mind” if threatened enough. Can you imagine a woman in their late twenties having to go to a doctor over and over again to beg permission to have a baby? That’s what I’ve had to go through and if she cannot imagine that then she really should not have tried to get support for the reverse side of the article. I have a great deal of respect for the choices of individual women but when they assume taht their situation is unique and then layout an ‘impossible’ scenario that is actually as familiar as their own skin to many women, they are no social justice advocate!

It’s been surprisingly hard to convince the NHS that _my_ decision was valid.Impossible in fact. I’ve been on every form of the Pill since age 16 had everything from near psychotic mood swings to no periods for 3 years. Ended up with PTSD that was ultimately used to PROVE that I would be an unfit mother but that very PTSD was brought about by the abuse, inherent, structural and internalised ableism in society taht set up in my mind and in the mind of all those around me that I am not fit to have children and that this is NOT eugenics, this is “choice”.  My mobility issues and previous jaundice and puts me at increased risk of blood clots but never once in all those years was I asked did I smoke, did I want to be on the pill or was I feeling OK? In other words the first time i really realised my GP was failing to do proper checks on my well-being while on the Pill was when a friend said, “But surely they check you every year?”

No. I’m disposable.

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Fear and Loathing in the LGBT Community: Other People’s Definitions of Yourself.

(Note this is an open work in progress: suggestions on edits are welcome from LGBTQIA friends  who think I have made errors of terminology. – writing tired. Very tired)

Outside the LGBTQIA+ community the friends I know are totally uninterested in telling me who that means I must love. The straight community might tell me I should not love other LGBTQIA+ Granted I lost many of those who told me how to feel while I was trying to sort my health and my marriage out some years back and granted most of those remaining are probably assuming it is immaterial that I say I’m bisexual since to all appearances I am married to a man. What I find distasteful is that while I’m sure I have many misconceptions about other genders and identities many of the people I’ve heard say, “I identify as X because bi means two/bi is transphobic” are just as capable of being transphobic as anyone else. I had heard over and over that ‘bi is transphobic’ for a whole year before anyone even managed to explain where on earth that concept came from. “I’m not transphobic because I’m pan.” OK. That individual pan person is not transphobic, I believe them and they shouldn’t have to prove anything. But should I have to prove I am NOT transphobic because ALL bi people are assumed transphobic because we are _assumed_ to only like two genders. Did I go through the angst of realising I wasn’t straight, realising I was bisexual, the risk to my marriage and yes as we all do the risk of potential hate from family and friends and heterosexual partner or ex partners did I do all that just to be so narrow as to only like +_two_ genders?
Did I think about it before I heard ‘bi is “transphobic” no I confess I didn’t but that would probably be because one of my first LGBT friends was trans and because my first experience of someone coming out was a trans colleague of my father’s. So it didn’t take me long to realise I’d be flattered if a trans man, trans woman or non-binary person wanted to date me, be my friend, hang out with me as I would be if generally. My criteria for dating? 1) I need to enjoy your company and 2) don’t creep me out by acting like any of the abusers I have survived. 3) Don’t be racist, ageist, ableist or so right-wing I wish we’d never met. 4) Don’t tell me who I can’t/don’t love/fancy/ like any more than anyone else in the LGBTQIA.
Especially 4. I’m getting tired of it – we all are – and I hate the thought that I might make fewer trans friends if they clock me as bi. Should my trans friends have an extra burden of worry that I MIGHT be transphobic because I ID as bi? I might be transphobic. But in the same way as anyone else I hope it will be because I’m an ass who didn’t read up enough or opened my mouth without engaging my brain, am not listening enough to trans friends/podcasts/reading enough articles not because I am bi and certainly not because I am trans-exclusionary.
I have the ability to love people of two or MORE genders mine or any others. And how the heck can I guarantee to be trans exclusionary even if I wanted to be? Some people I know may well not be ‘out’ to me. others I know are LGBT but I don’t know which ‘letter’.You should never assume someones gender, race sexual orientation, disability or sexual preferences just from looking at them! Granted some things may be obvious and humans use judgements. but assume makes an ass out of you and me.
Comments like “I couldn’t sleep with them because I wouldn’t know what was – you know- under their clothes, it would be like sleeping with – disabled people” shocked me to my core not only because I am disabled and the person in question said taht to my face but because if I don’t get to KNOW people before I think of sleeping with them what right have i to know what to expect? What right have I ANYWAY? That’s just me, but if you are ‘scared of what you might find’ then open casual sex probably isn’t for you either!
The rest of the non monosexual and monosexual community should NOT get to dump all its transphobia on bisexuals. Actually troubling to learn from, talk to and engage with trans people and bisexuals – and trans bisexuals before judging would actually teach a lot of people within and without the community how wrong they are about what bi means and also about what trans means. Rather like the illogical of bathroom bills however, this problem did NOT arise out of lack of knowledge so much as a need to have someone else to put their fears onto. I am not the repository for everyone else’s unacknowledged or internalised transphobia!
My next date could be trans. I know I wouldn’t be there ‘in spite of’ their gender or genitalia any more than they’d be there in spite of my disability!
Oh and yes: one last thing. When they folk forget that bi people can _be_ trans as well isn’t biphobia and transphobia just what they _are_ doing?
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On Bodies and Beauty

You have made an excellent point about how we view bodies and how we sometimes forget people enhabit multiple roles and have comfort zones. As a disabled woman with physical impairments I generally find re-enactment the safest and least prejudiced space in which I move. However as a woman with spinal curvature that is minimal but noticeable to costumiers, I have sometimes felt objectified by comments such as, “You have a weird back/odd feet/ lopsided x…”. As a re-enactor a of many years standing, looking different and having it remarked upon can feel similar to being an endless beginner in ill-fitting clothes, because one’s body does not fit our modern social expectations of physical normalcy or the modern desire for perfection. Remembering that social differing experiences of the body outside the fitting room, bring to that room and highly appropriate when considering portrayal of a wide social range that then as now, any deviation from the physical norm can bring a regular experience of ridicule and suffering. Getting a job done and getting it done well includes remembering these are people inhabiting diverse bodily experiences of a social ideal.

Many women throughout history with poor nutrition and infirmity were probably shorter than my own 150 centimetres (4″11) and archaeology and the scale as suggested by pattern books such as Garsault can give us some idea of the height of women in the period. And without a doubt there were many who struggled with the daily reality of physical deformity and ill health from accident, congenital conditions, inherited ‘abnormalities’ or childbearing alongside the other marginalisations of womanhood. As a social justice feminist/writer and Disability Studies researcher with my other hat(!) I wince on the occasions when someone, re-enactor or member of the public, makes a clumsy comment about my physical appearance. On several occasions, simply because I carry a walking stick and I am in costume, I have had my stick grabbed out of my hand on the assumption that it was only a prop with inevitable result; my falling flat on my face! I’ve also had to decide to deflect suggestions I take the role of a beggar or cripple, when in my hobby I would really rather take a break from discussing the problems of poverty and deformity that beset my everyday life and I like other reenactors and members of the public also wish to take a break from the topic which forms a large part of the writing of my working life, and yet the absence of discussion within reenactments suggests that has at least some work to do given the invisibility of disabled people in both worlds; we are still very much invisible while still at the same time showing up to represent the period and the social customs.

A costumier is trying to fit a jacket to a customer effectively and I appreciate their expertise and that in this context my curved spine becomes a practical tailoring problem, in other contexts is it problematic for me as my health affects my ability to work in certain roles usual as a re-enactor (and elsewhere) and in both re-enactment and the modern world, in order to be seen as feminine, socially acceptable and useful, beauty matters more than we think.
It is important to consider how much the business of ” good historical recreation” hangs on creating a certain idealised image centred upon modern notions of appearance created by idealised images of the body which actually have their beginnings in the 18th century. Insights for the absence of images of the lower classes in 18th century society can’t be explained by the fact that the poor woman is not the social ideal to be aspired to. Neither was she considered to be physically or morally something to reach for in a wider context and it was only with the unusual artist such as Hogarth that the poor become visible and not idealised and the deformed and socially unacceptable visible.

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Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Aside….

I’m going to see my new GP on Friday. I haven’t been in for months and the receptionist was worried! I have just sat and waited for 3 twisted ankles, non stop tendonitis, agoraphobia, insomnia and chronic PTSD to calm down for about the last six months.Oh yes and now what we think were actually two TIAs. (commonly known as mini-strokes, though it is more complicated than that)
The GPs knew about my having funny symptoms at the time but I didn’t get an ECG/EEG? because I didn’t explain very well and I didn’t really think you could have a stroke and not really know about it, not even if you’re a fairly overweight-under fit 35 year old with CP.
I collapsed the day my ESA paperwork arrived but I thought: well, it’s stress everyone does that and if you haven’t dropped dead outright from a heart attack, you’re still here! I even joked with my carer and the phoneline Emergency Dr that a person with cerebral palsy having a stroke would be a bit hard to spot! Apparently I was right because I only found out about how a TIA works later and it turns out that barring already having a lopsided side with CP I’m a bit textbook, blurreed speech, stumbling, trouble moving my mouth but OK the next day. I wish we had more folk like my old GP! I’d not feel like a hypochondriac suggesting it might have been TIA to him!
The irony: for the past fortnight I have been too embarrassed to ring the GP or go in because a) it was ages ago b) I’m not dead and c) my old GP has left. And d) Oh yes, d) ….. Possible TIAs are a worry but death seemed preferable to an NHS that would even THINK of putting the DWP in the lobby: now that WOULD cause a stroke 🙂 I’ve not left the house since a week before Easter because the DWP who killed my nephew ten days after I had a miscarriage are every bloody where in theory.
Friends with existing conditions please note: I think we have an embarrassment problem about using our wonderful 24/7 NHS and it’s killing us!
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