Too ill to work, not ill enough to get help - A Mental Health Dilemma

Happy Easter! My Sister, Anna, and I. 
Where has the past seven days gone? I'm feeling slightly anxious just trying to remember the past seven days or perhaps it is nerves about today.
My shirt is ironed, pen and pad ready and my route checked; I'm off to the inaugural meeting of the UK's Youth Health Parliament. More on that later as first I want to talk to you about how I feel betrayed or let down by 'the system'.

I started working at 16, cleaning toilets at a major theme park. By 18, I was working in a off license whilst finishing off my A Levels. Aside from a brief spell of part time bar work (Threshers went into administration), I've been in work almost continuously from the age of 16 through to 26. As I've got older, I've earnt more and so contributed more to the tax system. For those of you new to my story, I take this chance to point out that I've been out of work due to my mental health, with additional stigma and discrimination for almost six months. In November 2015 I applied to PIP or Personal Independence Payments. Disability Living Allowance is being phased out and this is the successor. As you may of seen in my Huffington Post article I was  bit taken back to discover I am legally disabled, my symptoms meets the criteria. My PIP application has the support of my GP and included a statement from a friend which is why I felt so irritated to be told that two weeks after a meeting with their appointed independent nurse, 5 months after filling out the original forms, that I am not eligible for support.

Blog Continues below this tweet:

 Click here for last week's blog post :Read more on my PIP story and how cuts to the NHS and welfare affect Mental Health here

Unless this post, or some of the other more popular posts on my weekly blog, suddenly go viral the advert revenue (please click a advert!) isn't covering my water bill let alone anything else. The staff of our NHS are amazing, but they are underfunded and overwhelmed with the mental health crisis before us.

 Click here for Fullscreen - Thanks to SANE
What does mental health look like?
With thanks to SANE
As I've ranted before, the UK is the 5th largest economy in the world yet the biggest killer of Men is suicide; not cancer, car crashes or terrorism. How can we live in a country where the rate of teenagers self-harming is now at a all time high? The law makes it illegal to discriminate between mental and physical health yet we don't see the suicide crisis being rugby tackled like cancer is!

Mental health charities get it. The NHS chiefs get it. The Police, angry that they are being used as a emergency care and detention facility for mental health get it. Even the Royal Family, with Princess Kate and Prince William's work for MIND and editing the Huffington Post plus Harry's work with the armed forces and on PTSD, get it. Even Iain Ducan Smith with his recent resignation (see last week's post) finally gets it. Politicians are saying the right thing yet we see Junior Doctors being exploited, overworked and stripped; how can I expect them to fight the fire of the male suicide crisis with things just getting worse?
Why are the actions, stripping and dissolving the NHS plus quietly backtracking from promises on mental health services, not matching their words?
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Last week as I moderated the @MH_Voices twitter feed, I shared a tweet which showed a reply to a referall. In essence, the referral was being rejected because the waiting list was too long. Why was the waiting list for mental health referral too long? There was no Psychologist in the role.


Scroll back through my archive
to read more of my mental health story:
 Borderline Personality Disorder &
 Adult Child of a dead alcoholic

Oh God. Suddenly you begin to see that our NHS staff are doing their best but like firemen trapped by a forest fire, you can only hold it back so long without more support. If we want to tackle mental health and the crisis that I've described and discovered over the past year, then we need more firefighters with better equipment. Currently, it's all too easy for those in power to let patients kill themselves while waiting for treatment.  

I publish my blog every Wednesday, there are regular updates on my Facebook page, but as I write this I think my nerves are excitement as I think about my day to come. The Youth Health Parliament is a opportunity to not only make friends and network with people, but also to bring about real change and positively impact on people across the UK. I literally have nothing to lose by trying.

So, essay/rant over. My quick diary entry now! :)

Easter was a brilliant time which I spent playing games with my friends and family, binge watching some TV and I even did a spot of gardening! I had my training, ready to be a 'Lollipop Man' and had a good gossip and chat with my sister and my closest friends. Sometimes we all forget how lucky we are to have such amazing friends and family and I cannot believe how lucky I am. They have been tolerant, understanding and caring but with honesty and encouragement. With their letters of support I am writing to the Department of Work and Pensions to appeal their decision on my PIP application. Even a few pounds a week will help ease a big burden (MONEY AND BILLS!!) from my mind which with my ongoing medication and therapy can only help.

Thank you once again for reading and sharing my blog. PLEASE do comment below and share the link on your social media. You mean the world to me. Thank you.

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

“I want my friends and family to know that I understand it from their side too. I know it’s hard to support someone with depression and I know you’re trying your best. So thank you.”
Posted by - Mental Health Aware on Thursday, 24 March 2016

Journal: Brussels, Feeling Great and My Future

On one hand we could say that the budget wasn't too bad but it was the hidden cuts to benefits that people with disabilities rely on. At this moment in time my income is almost non existent and as such I've been trying to get PIP for around four months. PIP, or Personal Independent Payment, is a state benefit which is varies depending on how debilitating your condition is.
Tune into my show: Thursday 8pm

On paper this seems fair but in practise it is not applied this way. People without limbs have been ordered onto different schemes sometimes forced into work where no suitable work could exist. Despite legally and medically qualifying as disabled, people have had their applications denied causing further distress and exacerbating an already delicate situation; after all very few people would ask for help if they didn't need it. I say all of this as last week it was not Mr Hunt to resign but Iain Duncan Smith and whilst I am cynical for his full reasons, it is clear he felt that those who need our love and support the most were suffering unfairly more than those in the mansions. His resignation was shocking and scathing but what worries me is the future. Now he isn't there, much like the Lib Dems are not in Government, are we about to find out that they were acting as a shield and preventing the worst policies hitting our health and pockets? It looks like we may of won the #Budget2016 or at least this is a stay of execution.

"Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It's the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with".   -Adam Ant

In other news, I've been feeling pretty fantastic. I've covered before how my mood seems to go in cycles and my mood is pretty up and up! Filled with energy, I have been getting more done firstly cleaning my flat and having a girly night. Sometimes I wonder if I am gender fluid rather than a label like metrosexual or something. I am completely at home and comfortable to be the only male in a group of girls especially when the face mask makes me look that stunning! (SARCASM!) Over the weekend I also went on a lads day out to my first full rugby match. It was close match and I found myself shouting and cheering along as London Irish pushed through a good victory. Not too sure I'd have Guinness again but I certainly want to go to another match.

Last week I met with my psychologist and had a long conversation regarding my diagnoses, prognosis and also a bit of self-investigation into my condition. My view is that the incidents we've discussed before regarding my past office job (stigma, disability discrimination etc) have caused me to be in my current situation. However it was interesting to go over the events of my childhood and teenage years; not only how I survived but what programming they left me with even after counselling and past efforts at therapy.

NEW PAGE - The Lollipop Man
Click here -
It is hard to be 100% certain in mental health with a diagnosis. I've been given the label of Borderline Personality Disorder, something which I've debated the meaning of here on my blog. Yet statistically it is unlikely as 75% of sufferers are female. It is possible I have Bipolar Disorder which shares a lot of the trademark symptoms but it is hard to measure and judge if my hypermania is hypermanic enough to qualify. There is also a range of symptoms covered by a generalised title of Depression Disorder. Having a title does make a difference; it imposes a sense of confidence and faith that we know what is going on. In terms of prognosis, it is hard to say. I have had weird nightmares about school, exams and offices to the point they didn't make sense. However, this week I start part of my future as a School Crossing Patroller. In the short term, this provides some pay to help keep me ticking over whilst I wait for my PIP decision and other support I get from the state as well as making the best of the opportunity.

Next week I have my first session in the Youth Health Parliament in which I hope to network - which is a fancy way of saying meeting people to work with in the future.

As a final note - before I leave you with some social media adventures and ask you to browse and share my blog posts - I'd like to reiterate something I posted not long enough ago:

The injuries are not limited to those who were shot or blown apart. "
" The mental health injury spreads to those who help the victims, whether medical professionals or locals trying to help, and even further to the victims friends and family at home. The wounds in the mental health are more complex. Learning to move on, understand and accept what you have seen or the loss of a loved one in such a needless and barbaric way can never be as easy as shutting a door. "  
-  My post on the attacks in Paris in Nov 2015.
My thoughts, as there were in Paris, are with the friends and family of the wounded and killed and the emergency services of Brussels.

Your feedback and thoughts are welcome - please tweet me or comment here. Every view and share makes a difference - Thank you.

Today's poll: Nature vs nurture?I was 13 when Mum died from alcoholism. I was her carer. It's always bugged me that...
Posted by - Mental Health Aware on Monday, 21 March 2016

Budget Day 2016: Save our NHS. Sack Mr Hunt.

I'm a  blogger with 

Borderline Personality Disorder  

after surviving suicide and stigma,

 a Member of ,

 an adult child of a dead alcoholic,

an amateur Radio DJ, actor and a panto Dame. 

Over the past year I have been brutally honest with my battles with my mind, money and with employment. An element of my battle will of course be my childhood, being the sole carer of an alcoholic mother who then died from it, however all of this was amplified by 21st century life and trying to contend with an ever growing workload. Its no surprise that in the end I snapped. As I've touched upon in past blogs, in June 2015 I tried to kill myself. I held on for three more months until the wheels finally failed and I've been off work ever since.

Click here for last week's blog 

We live in a country that at times appears to be peeking its head out of the recession. We are the 5th largest economy in the world. In the lead up to the recessions, companies cut back by letting good staff go and trimming services. Over the past couple of years as business started to return, or was found in new ways, agency staff were used as a stop gap or just disposable staff. These corporations are driven by profit so having fewer staff doing more work is perfect. It is perfect for them.

In the UK and the EU there are laws regarding how long people can work without a break or how many hours they must have of rest between shifts. This makes perfect sense because the last thing anyone wants is for a tired pilot to doze off and destroy Croydon or Coventry. Regulated breaks should prevent any lorry drivers from destroying a flyover and bringing the M25 or M62 with the economy reliant on it to a bloody halt. So why is it acceptable to take an overstretched NHS and drag it out even thinner into a forced 24 hour 7 day service. Would you really want an exhausted doctor, working several 12 hour shifts a week, looking after you?
"Junior doctors asked for contract renegotiations four years ago because they felt their current rotas were unsafe, with large rota gaps in the most stressful specialties that provide urgent and emergency care.  Hunt claims the NHS must learn from the airline industry, but no pilot would be allowed to work these rotas, and no airline would ignore the safety concerns of 55,000 pilots"  -  Dr Phil Hammond
Our NHS is the envy of healthcare systems around the world yet rather than supporting a successful yet buckling system we have Jeremy Hunt demoralising our vital NHS workforce, pushing them and therefore NHS services even further with even fewer funds. Staff are under pressure and breaking today - Mr Hunt's threats just crush our NHS even more. Just like my story, NHS staff (especially Junior Doctors) are falling from their mental and physical health because of Hunt's reign. Campaigns like MIND's #TakeOffTheTape encourage us all to fight stigma and openly talk about about minds and mental health; what is the point if there is nothing left of the NHS to support us?

We live in a country where more teenagers are self-harming than ever. We live in a country where the biggest killer of men is not guns, cars or cancer but suicide (men under 50, ONS). In the US, more people die from suicide than murder. Whilst UK suicide rates for women has hovered around the 5 per 100,000 figure, the male rate continues to climb from 17.4 per 100,000 in 2006 to 19 men per 100,000 in 2013. In short in the UK, one person ends their own life every TWO hours.
Click here to read my article about how
the NHS helped me survive suicide

How can we expect the NHS to save us and help solve our current mental health crisis when it is limping along with knackered ill staff?

Today is Budget Day. Rather than pledging more money in targeted ways to help combat those frightening statistics, encourage more people into healthcare and programmes to encourage mental and physical health well being (especially by employers) the theme seems to be more cuts like those big corporations chasing profitability.

In the end of 2015 I applied for support from welfare system. Personal Independence Payment, which replaced Disability Living Allowance. As I've covered in my articles for Huffington Post before, my condition is covered as a disability under the Equality Act, yet I am seeing people which variations of my condition and situation be refused that support. My income at the time of hitting publish is zero. The little I am asking for in support is to help me cover my mortgage and help me survive so I can keep up my fight and find some work in between. Last week I had my physical assessment which was purely to reiterate what my NHS GP and my NHS psychologists have told them but I am scared that despite paying my fair share into the system, I will get no support out. Something which regular readers of my blog who have seen my anxiety and debt grow, know is terrifying prospect.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said that Mr Hunt was "running the NHS into the ground". This week a Select Committee heard how NHS England is facing a £22bn black hole with a reliance on agency staff. According to Ipsos Mori, over 65% of the British public, including myself, continue to support a Junior Doctors strike. That is a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt.

Dr Mark Porter of the British Medical Association said  Wednesday’s budget should be used to stop the NHS heading to “financial ruin”.

Is it my mental illness or am I seeing a pattern? Tampons are still taxed as non-essential yet spare aviation parts are VAT free. Around £3bn contracts for NHS services are now in private sector and just last week this Conservative government forced through a cut to cripple those with disabilities who need benefit support the most.

Whichever voting booth you have the chance to attend, I beg you consider this blog post (and have a look at my past too!). Please ensure your vote is for a council, MP and ultimately a Government who will support our NHS and therefore support us, the people, in our mental and physical health as we try to combat our suicide crisis. Your MP and your council work for you, elected by you, yet given the corporate behaviour we've seen I am petrified they forget this.

Organisations such as #ZeroSuicide think that if we all work together we can prevent every suicide, reducing the rate to zero. The people of our isle are not cheap nor are we disposable. We work hard and are proud of an NHS which does an amazing job to catch us when we fall and therefore keeps our economy in better position for it. When staff are stretch to breaking point, overworked and uncared for, the NHS and what remains of our welfare system tries to hold us but why aren't those responsible, big corporations and Mr Hunt himself, paying for the damage they cause? If we want to keep saving lives and save more, in terms of the suicide crisis but mental health and physical health as a whole, then we need to fight, support our Junior Doctors and save our NHS.

George, David and Jeremy... This is your chance to win the hearts and minds of the British public but also save the NHS and save lives - including mine.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog as always. It was a bit of a ranty essay this week but it really does worry me that the NHS which keeps me functioning is being destroyed and dismantled and it isn't for the benefit of the common man; unless the common man owns billion dollar healthcare companies!

Last week I did have my PIP assessment which went quite well. As I've mentioned before, a huge thank you to my friends and family who have kept me going these past few months and hopefully with the few different projects on the horizon; there is hope. Meanwhile, I end on a song.

Thank you for reading - please to have a browse of the past few posts and remember to share my blog and website on your social media. Ly xx

Check out more quotes on my #mentalhealth blog :
Posted by - Mental Health Aware on Friday, 11 March 2016

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

My Undiscovered Country

It's over. J'ai fini. Aside from some dotting an I or two the situation has come to an end by mutual consent. Bar that, I am now unemployed and feel so much better. If you are new to my blog, I imagine you are looking rather confused; fear not and click here for a summary on my website and read back through key blog posts.
"I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life."
- George Burns

Re-reading my post from last week the anxiety oozes out and before the 'situation ended' it could only growing.  I am incredibly lucky to have friends and family around me who have bailed me out of a tricky situation. My almost empty fridge and freezer refilled and enough money to keep the credit cards and direct debits getting worse. A big weight is lifted. I hate owing people.

Last week I mentioned how uncaring my GP seemed but I wanted to mention how caring and positive my psychologist has been. His attitude has helped ease my anxiety. It is easy to say 'worry about what you can change' but leaving his sessions with that mindset and most recently it has been seize the moment. As such, I've learnt two (kinda 3) chords on a ukuele and I've watched every episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and the original Star Trek Movies.

So what of this future? What is to come? Aside from the new YouTube video?

I have applied for two jobs and got through the initial stages. I'm hoping they are compatible but otherwise I should get at least one. That aside, once I am over this cold/flu which has been hanging over me, probably a side effect from my depression and anxiety, I have a new target in my life. On Friday I received the email confirming that I am a member of UK's Youth Health Parliament. The organisation which is partly funded and organised by Google and Imperial College London. 50 young people from inside and outside the NHS and healthcare system will meet throughout 2016 with a view of making policies and changes to Young People's health. This is an amazing opportunity to make a positive contribution to mental health but also to network and further my career, which in turn can only lead to more contributions. Alongside that, the number of twitter followers and Facebook likes on my page is still growing. That little devil I spoke of last week, the one who endorsed suicide as a final victory, has for now gone to rest.

Long term there could be some questions but today, I prepare for my PIP assessment (SCARY as I desperately need support) and keep working on the drama club's summer shows.

Thank you for all your support and love xx

"It's about the future, Madame Chancellor. Some people think the future means the end of history. Well, we haven't run out of history quite yet. Your father called the future - "the undiscovered country". People can be very frightened of change."  
- Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek VI 

BREAKING NEWS :I am very excited to announce that I have been asked to join the Youth Health Parliament 2016 ! Find out more at #mentalhealth #blogger
Posted by - Mental Health Aware on Friday, 4 March 2016

Mauve Alert!

 Based upon reading back on my past blog posts and tweets it seems that my 'black patches' seem to occur every four to five weeks. In case you are new to my story - welcome by the way - I go through ups and downs or  I tend to think of a cycle like a radio wave and the difference between my radio wave and yours is that my troughs go alot deeper. I feel okay but I can see what's coming and frankly I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't a storm I won't ride out.

My credit card debt is growing. To try and make my pay last that little bit longer, I had been moving my spending to credit rather than debit. I have no idea if it was luck or skill but the money I had not spent plus my statutory sick pay was just enough to cover my mortgage which leaves my overdraft to hopefully handle the water, gas and TV.
I have my change savings jar which I will have to use for bread, milk and that ever increasing prescription fee. On a slight tangent, I know I shouldn't complain about the NHS prescription fee given that my meds would cost over $40+ in the US so at least I'm saving around £11 depending on the exchange rate. At the time of writing this, I am due to make a payment on my credit card but as I'm already in overdraft, I'm not in a position to make any payment let alone the minimum. I doubt any bailiffs will appear for a while but, and it could be my anxiety, I feel like I'm falling past yellow alert.
"Well, it's like not as bad as a red alert, but a bit worse than a blue alert -- sort of a mauve alert." - Holly, BBC comedy 'Red Dwarf'
I write all of this with some frustration yet hope. Thanks to ACAS, we have been close to resolving my employment situation - something I'll let you read up on from my past blog posts. It really looked like there was an end to this long drawn out blockade. However, I carefully read anything before I sign it and there in the terms was a 'gagging' order. It would prevent me from ever telling my story. I've never said anything insulting and I have no intention to. I've not named the company or persons  who I hold accountable and with the agreement we've reached I do not want to.  I can understand the poor solicitor sitting opposite me who is under pressure to silence this threat. Whilst a tribunal would be messy and expensive for me, the cost of shutting down a vital department to attend the tribunal hearings and the embarrassment of being named in public court records is something they would prefer to avoid.

Perhaps it is the pessimist in me? I know things could be worse and I know I'm OK for this month and but it feels like its coming over the horizon. Even with this and that I'm due a black patch, I will never sign an agreement that completely prevents me from telling my story. Silencing victims would only perpetuate the stigma of mental health.
Read last week's post - Click Here

The illness sits on my shoulder holding a file. A manila brown file with papers inside. Another option that without my illness I might ignore. Whenever I find myself panicking about missed direct debits  and how it all leads to my life falling apart with repossessions and bailiffs, it waves that file. It might seem alien to you but I feel some comfort knowing that I would rather kill myself than allow that to happen. The stress would be over with no fears for the future and as a bonus: if a tribunal is embarrassing, stressful and expensive; a public suicide and subsequent inquest much more so.

As I started, I feel OK and there is hope. I had a job interview last week with another this week. I could have two job offers and one of them has a higher starting pay than what I was on when the 'incident' happened. It could all pan out that I end up with a new job and income before utilities complain too much. I could also win the lottery or find my blog suddenly goes viral and media stuff pays the bills. Perhaps it is my illness but disaster seems the most likely. The tornado isn't quite here yet so no need for red alert; I'll stick to Purple for now.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog on your social media. Comments are always welcome and I read every one. Thanks again.

I cannot sign a gagging order that prevents me from telling my story and the truth. I have not and have no intention of...
Posted by - Mental Health Aware on Friday, 26 February 2016

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Posted by - Mental Health Aware on Tuesday, 1 March 2016

* Please Note: I write my blogs as it helps me process how I feel and in that way is theraputic. I'm not asking for money or attention and I hate feeling like I owe people things. That said, if you need someone to talk on mental health and there is money or at least BFH (bus fare home) in it, then I would love to help. I like to give yet not keen on receiving!