Prince Harry, of AirWolf fame, had a long interview in some newspaper about various things including the price of cheese and basically threw a hand grenade into the “online mental health community” which constitutes of people like me, trolls and people trying to make a living by selling their own brand of “recovery”.
There appeared to be three reactions:
That is fantastic. We need more people to talk about mental health, especially rich dudes.
That is fantastic. We need more rich dudes to talk about mental health so that the rich dudes who actually control the budgets can give the rich dudes who are charity CEOs more money to help the poor dudes.
What does that rich fucker know about mental illness? He has all the time and money in the world to get better. I’ve got bi polar in a council house and I’ve been waiting 6 months for talking therapy.
So Harry is rich, royal and has plenty of spare time. Who gives a fuck that his mum was tragically killed and hounded by the same press that applauds him now? Who cares that he served as a soldier for several years and went to war? Who cares that HE has had mental health problems?
Harry did what any other mental health activist would do; used his narrative to sell something.
The very idea that he should be shot down for doing so is fucking hilarious. You know why I decided to publicise my walk and the fact I was having a breakdown? Money. You know why I work in mental health as a peer worker? Money. You know why I draw cartoons? Money.
Let’s strip away the bullshit for a second. Every single mental health activist I know who uses their own narrative is potentially going to get ill again. Every peer worker I’ve ever met will potentially get ill again.
Mental illness isn’t something that most employers look for but in the charity sector it can look great on your C.V. I have a job where being mentally ill is seen as an essential skill and they pay me for it. I make a good living from it. I draw cartoons that people seem to like and eventually I’ll be able to make money from that and jack in the actual job. I use my own story and skills to make money in whatever way I can so that I can live in a way that I want which then keeps my illness at bay. If I invested as much time to personal therapy as I do to work I could be cured in a month, I’m sure. But I don’t because I can’t afford it and to be honest I’d rather not go to my “dark place” because that seems like an odd thing to pay to do.
I walked around the country and talking about it bores the tits off me. But it’s my thing, right? MY thing. I’ve had great opportunities because of it. I’ve built my life from it. THAT is how I make MY living and if the rest of the “personalities” in the mental health world were honest, they’d admit that too. I don’t do this shit for free and that was always the plan.
In the words of Henry Hill; fuck you, pay me.
I wish His Helicopterness all the best in his own journey and future mental health projects.
Now I’d like to talk about talking. Or more precisely this shit show that happens every time some one famous talks about mental health.
I work in mental health as a peer worker. I was also training as a psychotherapist until Bill Watterson came to me in a dream and said “You could be the next meeeeeeeee!” and I quit for the life of a hungry cartoonist.
I’ve been talking for the last 5 goddamn years. Radio, in the paper, online, at events, at my work, in the office, at home to my wife, to random people on the street. You know what it solves? Nothing. Can we stop pretending that talking is some sort of fucking cure to mental illness and the societal stigma that plagues us?
There’s nae cash, nae staff and nae political will to change anything. The drips of money that come from Westminster and Holyrood are woefully inadequate and they know it. We know it too. But we have to play the political game right? We have to be nice otherwise we might find ourselves shafted further down the line.
You know how copper wire was invented? Two mental health charities fighting over a penny.
It is a bullshit system that is in dire need of fixing. The NHS can’t cope but if you wait long enough you might get a psychiatric assessment and 6 CBT sessions. And when that’s over, your CPN will be nice enough to punt you off to some charity for befriending or peer support or fucking tomato planting. And eventually that’ll come to an end and they will punt you somewhere else.
There are a few reasons for poor mental health and they could be fixed, not easily, but they could be fixed. Deprived areas, arsehole parents, drugs, alcohol, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of opportunities and a general feeling of pointlessness all contribute to it and talking won’t fix a fucking one of those things. The only thing that will fix it is action and I’m not in a position to do it. Politicians are. But they don’t think passed their own 4 year life cycle because ultimately they are all terrible bastards.
Many thanks to Fresh Souls Cartoons for this great blog. If you’d like to contribute as a guest blogger – get in touch either here or here – firstname.lastname@example.org
Walk a Mile