I am angry.
I’m angry that a lovely friend of mine is receiving downright negligent care in a London psychiatric hospital, who can’t seem to keep her safe for more than five minutes when she really can’t do it herself. I’m angry with the “six sessions of CBT will cure all ills, and if not, it’s probably because you’re not trying hard enough” approach to mental health care. I’m angry because the welfare reforms in this country are disproportionately hitting people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and particularly mental illnesses, because they are usually invisible conditions. I’m angry because the environment is being fucked up. I’m angry that animals and children are treated so appallingly to provide people with cheap food and clothes, and no one really seems to care. I’m angry about public and private hospital and care home staff being so overworked and underfunded that there’s not a week without some awful abuse of power being exposed. I’m angry that it’s always the staff on the front line who are blamed for this – for being inhumane or workshy – when it’s more likely due to situations where there are two staff trying to care for twenty seriously ill patients/residents for ridiculously low wages. I’m angry with the near-constant vilification of those on benefits. I’m sorry, some of us don’t have well-off-enough families to take care of us when we can’t find a job in this ridiculous economy, or become too unwell to work. Politicians and papers pick out every example of the truly feckless just to reinforce the stereotypes, because using those too low in status to speak for themselves as scapegoats is an easy way to cover up the incompetence and fraud of those in power. I’m angry that you need to be virtually dead to get intensive support for an eating disorder in this country. I’m angry that these same people are written off as incurable as early as their late teens. I’m angry at the dreadful treatment of LGBT people all over the world, whether sanctioned by the state, a religion or the covert rules within a family or friendship group. I’m angry that some people actually believe that Britain is a meritocracy. I’m angry about children being abused. I’m angry that it always seems to be the case that the most vulnerable people in society are also those with the least chance of having their voices heard, or if they are lucky enough to be heard – believed, because who would believe someone so young/old/poor/ill.
I don’t mind being angry as long as I can channel it into productivity. Otherwise I just feel like the liberal version of my (loved, but) Daily Mail reading father, shaking my fist at the sky and shouting about those stupid politicians who can’t see the forest for their privilege, as if that ever changed the world. I know the problems of the world are too numerous and those who give a shit too few for any kind of social utopia to become a reality (or even any consensus on what that would look like to be reached) any time soon, but with enough people working hard enough in one particular direction, change can and does happen slowly. I’ve seen it happen, and it feels amazing to be a part of that. My problem, really, is picking my battles. When I got a bit burned out on the subject of eating disorders, after working hard on and offline on a number of campaigns for a couple of years, I felt simultaneously lost without my pet project, and overwhelmed by all the other things I felt passionately about, but had never had time to devote to.
I’m okay when I have a focus. It’s a healthy thing for me, to be involved in something I care deeply about, as long as I can see the benefit of all that time and energy. I love throwing myself into things. I NEED things to throw myself into, or my brain starts eating me alive.
I have a number of ideas floating around in my head at the moment, but all this impotent anger is making it hard to get any sense of coherency out of them. I don’t really like feeling angry – any intense emotion is difficult for me to tolerate, hence my history of self destructive means of making myself numb to them all. But I am one of those people who does care, and does get angry, and believes that it’s better to try and fail than to live with regret. I would rather knock ten years off my life by regularly getting irate and trying to do something with that than live serenely into my eighties. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if that’s what your life goals are. It’s just not me.