Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Last Christmas?

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Salutations!

I write this blog with a nagging feeling hanging over me. Everything I have written here has been done in my opinion and with fact to back it up.  For example, last week I wrote a Huffington Post article about the realisation that my condition is a disability; I know that as a fact not just because I read up on the law but because a solicitor read my NHS and Occupational Reports and told me so. I say this because I have been asked to keep my grievance confidential which confuses me, least because I have been openly honest here on my blog since I first went on long term sick and made verbal complaints in October. 'Tis late to ask?

I guess it all boils down to freedom of speech versus libel.

Libel is the act of publishing or displaying something that is damaging to another person that cannot be supported by fact. In legal terms they call it defamation which is intentionally saying something false with the view to cause damage. However, I have no interest to cause any damage. I have gone out of my way to try and offer a honest view of where I am and how I feel but always related to facts and the evidence we have; therefore never intentionally false. I would like the situation to end tomorrow with a new job somewhere else in the company - the company I have never named. In short, you only know who my grievance is if you work there or the employer has told you and you've added one and one together.

Perhaps I am trying to read subtext where there is not any. Is this a sign of my mental health illness? I have been accused of 'blowing things out of proportion' before which is why I used to hang on and suffer into self-harm just so I wasn't made to feel a failure. Perhaps, I should just read that now finally my complaint is being investigated. As I've previously written, my condition fits several criteria to be considered a disability and the solicitor made it clear that I was legally disabled six months ago when I tried to take my own life.  Now, because a solicitor has lifted the shutter on the Equality Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act, it is being taken more seriously. For that reason, I'm not going to say anything regarding that issue for a week or so except refer you (links are in blue) to what is already out there.

The only thing I will add is that I spoke once again to the Legal Team at MIND, the Mental Health Charity I am proud to be a member of, and ACAS.

This year around 20,000 families will have an empty chair at their Christmas table because a loved one has been admitted to hospital with a mental health problem.
- MIND Christmas Appeal Details at the bottom of this post.
Let me give you an analogy...
I volunteer at the local non-profit community group.
Being a panto dame is great fun but with a title such as Chairman, I have quite a bit of responsibility.

If I find out that someone is at risk, whether formally told or informally, I have a duty of care to investigate and act or take appropriate steps. An example would be documenting what we know and contacting the Child Protection helpline for the County Council. What ACAS explained to me is that the analogy applies in every workplace. Whether it is a faulty piece of machinery or a damaging situation, you have a duty of care to investigate, rectify and/or report. Failing to do so, in either scenario, makes you accountable for the suffering and the further endangerment; this means that it is no longer an 'accident'.

Thank you to SANE for
 their SMS support
Having spoken with solicitors and ACAS, I already have a plan if there is no solution but I sincerely hope there is. If anything, this just hangs over everyone and applies pressure to my mental health. If it was not for the fantastic people at MIND, Hillingdon Law Centre and ACAS I would just think I am 'playing up'.

This leads me onto some triggers I've been experiencing. I haven't self-harmed since October -AMAZING - but I am having suicidal thoughts. Perhaps it is just Crimbo and I am 'Bah Humbug' but with this hanging over me, the threat of no pay and losing my flat, my illness is whispering in my other ear that sweet death would be the undeniable smoking gun and the release of pressure I need. I think I get why men can be so bah humbug. My theory is that we can see how hard and horrible, unfair and hurtful, life can be. The fact children are ignorant of it (blissfully) and women seem so much better and coping with it, just winds us up even more.

My favourite Christmas film is Die Hard (see christmas jumper!) which embodies all of that - except the suicide part of course. If you have 5 minutes, one of my favourite authors Matt Haig has written a piece on mental health at this festive time and perhaps you could have a read - before you share my blog.

See me in panto! www.ihdc.co.uk
But, I have to fight. I feel generally better than I have done for a few months and I will do what I can to stop this from killing me - unless I am out of options. I am lucky to have an amazing group of friends, an awesome drama club with pantomime and a pretty good family - minus the shouting. 

Considering I am mentally ill, suffered discrimination and my mother drank herself to death when I was 13, I guess it could be worse. If it goes to ACAS and then the tribunal or a public inquest, I guess you will publically find out how!


Before I wrap up, just a reminder of a post from a few weeks ago. 9.9 MILLION days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health such as stress or depression. We all understand that companies had to tighten their belts (and profit margins!) in the recession but at what stage does damaging your human resource outweigh the savings you were making? Sir Richard Branson believes that caring for your staff leads your staff to care about you and your customers.

Maybe if this is my last christmas, then everyone will care about mental health.

DONATE TO MIND :  
Text SUPPORT to 70660 to give £3
Text costs £3 plus network charge.  Mind receives 100% of your donation.  Obtain bill payers permission.  Customer care 020 8215 2243 Charity No 219830

Need help? In the UK, call Samaritans free on 116 123. Alternatively, further information plus legal support lines are available from MIND, the mental health charity, at www.mind.org.uk 
Matt Streuli is a blogger, actor and YouTuber who is passionate about mental health and his local community. He has made a career in customer service, entertainment and customer care.
Matt is the Chairman and dame of the Iver Heath Drama Club in South Bucks.  In his spare time, he hosts The Matt Streuli Show on Southwaves Radio (Thursday 8pm) and lives near Pinewood Studios on the edge of London. 

A photo posted by Matthew E Streuli (@matthewstreuli) on

"I am sorry to announce that great-grandmother, panto lover and Vice-President Sandra Corcoran passed away earlier...

Posted by Iver Heath Drama Club on Tuesday, 15 December 2015