Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sometimes sadness is good; Time to Reflect and Change



 I write this post after reading about a new exhibition (the violence of IS or ISIL or whatever) at what I would call the most offensive but felt worthwhile museums in the country. 

Last Summer I visited a former local jail near Cinderford, Gloucestershire with Louis, Falcon and her family. Littledean Jail itself looks like a fortified house from the outside and was in a use a police station and a prison but in 2012 the old building was refurbished (in places) and turned into a museum of crime through time. Some of the reviews you may have read about it will include words like graphic, offensive and shocking but I would still recommend you (as long as you are a sensible enough adult) go and visit it in the same way I would ask you visit a concentration camp from the Nazi holocaust or a town such a Oradour-Sur-Glane at least once.

Each prison cell and room of the building is filled with pictures or exhibits of serious crimes varying from British serial killers through to KKK and Nazi uniforms. In one cell you see the artwork of convicted murders and ponder their mental state whilst in the next room you are confronted with items made from the flesh of those murdered in the aforementioned concentration camps.
 


Local resident Beth Taylor, from Berry Hill, said: "I don't think it's in the best of taste. Nobody wants to see those awful [images] of what is actually going on."

However, another local, Linda Hornchurch, said it was "good to make people aware of it".

Quote from BBC’s Newsbeat
 
 Picture with thanks to BBC / Littledean Jail
  I completely agree with the quote from Linda and would even go one step further. I think our GCSE-aged children should visit places like Oradour-Sur-Glane or concentration camps and should be aware of that is “actually going on”. The point of history is not just to learn what happened or why it happened but to make sure that humanity does not make the same mistake or allow the same atrocities to happen twice. Part of me lives in fear that my 12 year old sister with her generation of ipads and 300 TV channels will only learn the ‘rose tinted’ version of history and will never appreciate the marvels they have. I never fully appreciated the marvel of having a PC with a 3.14mb floppy disk let alone my Game Boy Colour. Think about it? That My Little Pony or Power Rangers figure; millions of people died in the last 100 years so you could have that and most of them were not in the field of battle.

Yes – what you will see at a any of these places will be shocking and somewhat graphic but can you say it is any less graphic than a 18 rated horror film? There is an argument that violent media such as video games and film desensitise us, especially when we are young, to these horrors. This is why I argue a real life visit to these places would open our eyes to true reality of the violence we (as a society) are apparently accustomed to.  Perhaps the romance of violence would be less appealing.

Oradour-Sur-Glane was a small town in France destroyed during the Second World War. In what is believed to be some misguided retaliation, a Waffen-SS company came into the town and murdered the residents. Some were shot in their houses, others lines up in the town square and some gathered and killed with grenades in the church. The wreck of the town still stands today in France near Bordeaux and can be visited for free. The memory of my visit is clear in my mind. Bullet holes in walls. Cars still parked, unmoved, exactly where the driver was murdered. On the 10th June 1944 over 600 people, many being women and children, were murdered and yet we as a society forget because in the bigger picture of World War atrocities, it is an insignificant event. But, I would argue when you are stood there looking at the graves, the relic of houses and shops, you sudden realise how significant every life is and how significant an event such as this is to the beauty and benefits of today.
Taken days after the event

Pictures and stories just don’t have the same effect.

Today

I hate being scared. I hate horror but I somewhat enjoy visiting places like this as I would enjoy visiting any museum. My rationale is, surely we owe those who have died for today the benefit of a few hours of our time to reflect, remember and learn as a person and as a species. Those few hours, just one time be at any of the places I’ve mentioned but also at any museum or cultural event  would be will invested because to ignore the history, especially the more shocking and gruesome aspects of it, is a censorship and dishonour we should not allow.

And to those of you who read this and say that “I’m sad enough as it is” or “I’ve read all about that stuff before”, I simply ask you donate a few hours of your time. When you see and then understand the context of the books you’ve read or the films you’ve seen, you will find you leave better appreciating the 'paradise' of what you have and how lucky we all are to have it.

You’ll probably still hate Monday mornings though. :)


 Thank you for reading my blog ;–
 What museums or site do you think are forgotten about like Oradour-Sur-Glane? Should we ever censor history? Are we as a species in a better place (in terms of ending  violence and improving our learning) today than we were 60 years ago? Let me know on the comments below.
  

Finally, talking about somewhat unnecessary violence, I co-produced and presented almost 5 hours worth of live content on YouTube earlier this week. Off The Radar watched Wrestlemania in a Gogglebox style and perhaps because it is ‘staged’ and the violence was limited, I have to admit I quite enjoyed it. Over 500 people have watched so far.
   You can relive the comedy of our broadcast on my YouTube channel or listen to our regular podcast covering comedy and the forthcoming General Election at www.Facebook.com/OffTheRadarPodcast

Tweet me @MattStreuli  

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Don't Cut




Forget the 150 people who died in a an apparent murder-suicide on board a Germanwings flight, or the pain and turmoil being felt throughout the IS region; apparently the most devastating news is that a young man has left a pop band. In response to this users of a internet forum called 4chan began a twitter hashtag called ‘cut4Zayn’. Part of my anger is directed at this. Self-harm is a serious symptom and whilst I agree there are a lot of over-dramatic upset teenagers right now, this is not the way to make light of them. I have self harmed and for me it was a good coping mechanism. I made sure I never cut wide or deep and that I always sterilise my blade with a flame. Many people who self harm do not do it as safely as I did and many people escalate and spiral from it. It is worth pointing out that Zayn is not dead – he’s just left a boyband. Did people react like this with Ronan Keating or Robbie Williams or John Lennon?
Tweets featuring the hashtag and total retweets at 3pm on 26th March
The hashtag trended worldwide reaching between 8 and 8.5 million twitter users and millions more through the mainstream media who  This means that people either found it funny and retweeted it or, and this angers and worries me more, that people retweeted because they felt so upset about this young man that they actually wanted to cut themselves. At the time of writing this post (24hrs after the news broke) the hashtag had been used 1,500 times by 615 users on Twitter alone but there is one redeeming feature.

Once it became clear that the majority of tweets were not actually encouraging self-harm, many people used the hashtag to debate the topic of mental health openly slamming the jokes being made and publically offering support to those who do self harm. The UK mental health charity, Mind, said in a press statement: "Self-harm is an incredibly serious problem and should never be trivialised. We urge those using Twitter or other social media sites at this time not to engage with posts that promote harmful behaviour, and to report any activity that causes them concern.”
Self=harm isn't a joke
SCARS STAY FOREVER
 
If you feel the need to self-harm then I understand and whilst we would all prefer it if you didn’t – I am not going to physically stop you. All I ask is that you do it safely (clean equipment, have a first aid kit ready etc) and that if it is becoming too much then it is time to talk. We all have people we can reach out to whether it is the ‘big brother’ figure I try to be at my local drama club or a mental health campaigner on Twitter; a charity like Samaritans or Mind and for youngsters there is Childline. All of these people are wanting to help and not to judge. There are better ways of coping - I promise you.

In my own personal mental health journey, I have not heard back from the Bi-polar interview thing that happened around a month ago – you can read about it in my blog. I have sent emails to different people and I guess I am going to have to force myself to call them. Generally speaking I feel that my mental health has been better since I have been on these meds. My normal tickover was at zero on the happy scale but now is on 2-3 out of 5. Before I would of described my manic silly moments as 5-6 out of 5 but I seem to be hitting 5 more and more often. As long as I am not irritating anyone, I quite like this. I have still had my wobbles but nothing as bad as you have seen in this blog over the past 6 months. I guess a simple musical metaphor would be that my emotional state has transposed up the scale.

Before I leave you this week, I would like to direct you to my YouTube channel where we are trialing live broadcasts *gulps* and Off The Radar will be live this Sunday night for a night of comedy and fun with Radar Live: Watching Wrestlemania 2015. It will be… erm… interesting.

Feel free to tweet me with feedback and comments – do you like our comedy podcast? Are you self-harming? What is BIDMAS? Or share your #mentalhealth journey.

Bye byeeeeeee



CLICK here to go read my 2nd favourite blog : Lucy!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Kimmy Schmidt, No Bipolar Meds and the #UnfairWCA



A short sweet and simple blog post this week. LOL

My good friend Mr Lee Hall has a blog which normally follows the progress of writing and publishing his fantastic books. This week he has written a post on my subject of mental health and whether it is  time for society to change.A really good read from an outside view. There is a brief mention too of our campaign to improve WCA towards the bottom of this email.

IHDC has been very busy recently with the passing of a former member and President; Mr Brin Rosser. Brin was a member from 1984 and was passionate about drama and the community as a whole. You can read more on the NEWS page of www.ihdc.co.uk plus see some archive photos and programmes which I slowly scanning in on the club’s Facebook page.

Finally I have run out of medication. YAY. I’m pretty bad at calling people. Perhaps it is an anxiety thing but I spend all day on the phone and I don’t want to be on the phone any more than I have to. I ended up faxing my GP today asking him to call me to arrange a repeat prescription. I feel my dose is right despite the bit of anxiety it has caused as mentioned in a previous post. I have been happy – almost hyper at times – and I am ok with that. At times it has felt like I have had a slightly short fuse where I say something which could upset people Vs staying quiet like I did before. I guess there will always be pros and cons.

I live in a fear that I might not get better. I worry that my bipolar or anxiety will get worse and then I will be judged by an Unfair WCA system which will force me back to work or not give me the medical support I need. The courts have ruled that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is unfair, as it puts people with mental health problems, autism and learning disabilities at a “substantial disadvantage”. However, the court said it did not have enough information to compel the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to make a specific change to the WCA. 
That’s why Rethink Mental Illness, the National Autistic Society and Mind are campaigning together to fight against the #unfairWCA. This is really important to me. We all understand that some people abuse the system – but that doesn’t mean everyone abuses the system and it is UNFAIR to make those genuine people suffer. I want to fight whilst I can.

Please do keep supporting my YouTube channel. My recent video for Falcon’s showreel and my music videos have been really well supported but please keep tweeting and Google+-ing it. 

AND FINALLY, thank you to all my facebook and twitter friends who saw my new #take5 #timetotalk #timetochange T shirt (Thank you Time to Change!!) which sparked some really good honest conversations. You are all wonderful and we are unbreakable…

Which reminds me….  in the words of my new favourite TV show… Just take it 10 seconds at a time.

Much love! Matt xx

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152943413327525&set=a.426684437524.207060.542402524&type=1&theater



Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Under Imaginary Pressure



Everything was pretty good. Well, it still is but last weekend was really good. Two more episodes of our popular (when compared to herpies) podcast OFF THE RADAR are in the editing suite and despite an ill-planned trip to a car hire shop good progress has been made with our holiday to France.  Earlier this week I even broached the subject of my mental health with my line manager who saw that I was on 40mg per day of Fluoxetine (also known as Prozac) and that she knew of people on them too. Perhaps this could be offered as evidence that the stigma of mental health is but a veil and underneath it we all have some understanding which we should mean we have no reason to be embarrassed or wary.

Last Thursday I had a telephone appointment with someone from the Berkshire Mental Health Services Team who had obviously read notes from previous ‘interviews’ as he asked some very well worded and relevant questions. After around 30 minutes he said that my case would be discussed within a team and then it would be taken from there, but 6 days on and I have not heard anything as yet. Some of the questions were to rule out other conditions for example whether I had other voices than my own in my head or if I was scared of the knives in my kitchen drawer.

Part of me wants to make light of this and can see the comedy potential: perhaps life would be more fun if my cutlery did  foxtrot across the stove. At the same time, mental health is a serious condition. Avid followers on my instagram will have seen the recent The Sun newspaper cutting with the story of how suicide is the highest cause of death of males in my age group. “Comedy can be a cathartic way to deal with personal trauma”  is a quote attributed to the late Robin Williams however I also find it can be a way of putting the other person at ease. By making a joke suddenly there is no awkwardness in the conversation and having a laugh can be good fun.

What I am struggling to find any humour in is the nervous feeling that’s been hovering around me. I first noticed it yesterday when my leg was twitching. This isn’t new per se but I normally do it when hyper or stressed or dosed up on my favourite brand of energy drinks. Then at home I just started to feel on edge. Despite feeling tired I found it hard to go asleep and when I did sleep, it wasn’t as deep or long as I would normally enjoy – if you know what I mean ;).  Remember that feeling outside the headteacher’s room when you called a classmate a ‘bitch’ because she used a ruler without your permission (true story!) or the butterflies of confronting an angry customer in your first job? I have nothing to be worrying about, nothing new anyway, and yet here I am leg twitching, wrapping myself in my coat. My big sister, Claire, had a quick research into my medication and anxiety is a documented side-effect which is a bummer. I’ve been really enjoying being quite good and relatively level with a few ups but why can’t I have anything nice?

And the worst side-effect of any mental health conditions is: is this me or is it the condition? Should I be worrying about not hearing from the Berkshire Mental Health team or is it just being anxious?
It is actually quite scary living life at stressed out red alert speed.
“Quick, we’re running out of time!!” “We’ve got to complete the bucket list now”
“Get me dolphin!” “quick quick, will room service have one? Dolphin, bath tub, swim QUICKLY!”

So if anyone wants to hold me and gently rock me to sleep or could go through some mediation techniques with me, then perhaps I can chill out….

Deeeep breaths….

Finally, we have a new segment on our comedy podcast; OffThe Radar. It doesn’t have a name as such mainly because it’s shit but it is soo shit it is good fun – like Eurovision or your face*. In this segment Mr Lee Hall and Mr Aidan Parr dictate a message to an unsuspecting member of Match.com. So if you have received a rather silly message from me – please do reply and play along and please accept my apologies if it has scared you off in anyway.
Perhaps it won’t surprise you to know that to date we have sent two messages and received zero replies.

What message would you send using my Match.com profile? What methods do you use to chillax? Let me know in the comments below.

Be good, have fun and goodbyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEeeEeeeEeee


*LOL, burns unit!