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Stepping Out, Part 1

(As mental health support locally is so shit, I've had to go back on the tiny carousel of help that comprises Positive Step and nothing else. PS are a company specialising in regarding every mental health problem presented as 'low mood' and a single quick fix in the form of CBT. Let's listen in...)

So I had depression and anxiety before I went to see 'Positive Step' for the first (by which I mean second) appointment.

But now I have depression and anxiety - AND HOMEWORK!

How could this not be a 'Positive Step'!

By the way, the reason it's the second appointment is that the advisor couldn't get her train in time last time, so it had to be conducted telephonically. NOt that it seems to make any difference; this is what she calls 'guided self help' (that is, homework). It doesn't seem to make any difference whether it's done in person or not since you aren't actually given any concrete help. Plus, I seem to have filled in the same mental health self-assessment form three times in a week - AND I have to fill it in every session. Each session is only 30 minutes long which means very little time is left over for being helped anyway. 

But then, they don't actually give you any help so it doesn't really matter, does it! Hooray!

As a bonus, I also have to catch a bus that costs me £1.70 each way for a journey of less than a mile. The actual surgery itself is not on the bus route and half the journey is on foot. While the rest of the time I'm sat waiting for the bus back which seems to turn up when it likes. £3.40 might not sound like a lot of money, but if you're trying to avail yourself of the, frankly pitiful, amount of help that's available, it all adds up. Currently I'm spending clost fo fifty quid out of every ESA payment just on buses. Is there any help with this? Yes! Can I access that help? Of course not! (There's a bus pass for people who are patients of the local mental health team - the same ones who decided not to help me with my suspected aspergers and then lied twice - and you also have to have 'severe' mental health issues.)

At this point, the only thing keeping me functional is sarcasm; yes, dearest reader, it's all a colossal load of bollocks.

So, Positive Step. They are purveyors of the nation's favourite cheap mood intervention: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Poundland psychiatry.

I think it has its place - mainly for dealing with mundane phobias and small issues. But for those of us whose state of mind is inextricably bound up in the nature of the poisonous society we now live, under the cosh of a greedy self serving ruling elite, this approach does little. Instead of working toward helping people deal with issues of alienation and isolation, I'm given a self help booklet and my issues are corralled  traduced under the easy moniker of 'low mood'. We of course can't use clinical terminology anymore than, I suspect, the advisor can call herself a doctor (a bit like those nice people at ATOS and Maximus).

Now I might seem uncharitable; I'm sure my advisor means well. I This criticism is aimed at the system, not the individual. 

So instead of actual help from a human being who cares and wants to really help another human being - which is what this should be about, building human contact in an age where that is denuded taxed and denied - we get homework. A booklet entitled 'Get Active, Get Free', as if curing depression is that simple. Though perhaps it would be if capitalism got in the way. Alongside this, I get 6 half hour sessions during which I will have to answer the same questionnaire repeatedly and then fill out diaries of various kinds talking about what I did that week, what I wanted to do but couldn't because of 'low mood', and to plan activities for the week ahead. Not sure how I'm supposed to plan anything when I haven't the money to travel anywhere, have no one to talk to when I get there, and no money for the things that exist where I might travel to. I tried explaining the bus fare situation, but naturally they have no answers.

In conclusion I don't have high hopes for this. It's just the usual self help busywork. I'm sure there's a grain of truth amongst all this 'guided self help', but it's just too easy to offer a service that intends to encompass the depth of a person's negative mindset and mental health problems in three hours, calling it 'low mood'. I mean really. Unfortunately there isn't much after that. It's six sessions and...bye then! Ironically the mental health specialist assigned to the local surgery (for about two weeks, unbeknownst to me and anyone else that was sent to her by the rest of the useless surgery team) thought CBT wouldn't be the best course of action. She advised 'CCT' (aka Client Centred Therapy). I did actually try that only to find that after three weeks (for which I paid money) the counsellor decided she had nothing to offer and that, in her opinion, CBT would be better. 



  1. I did a course of CBT about ten years ago. My therapist or whatever the term is was a guy who'd learned his trade while serving time in Long Kesh; for trying to blow stuff up, I presume, though he was surprisingly reticent on the subject. Still, I liked him. This was before the Work Programme and all that ghastliness. The thing I found was that the course gave me a fraction of a percent of the skills needed to navigate this world. I had to make the rest of the journey for myself; needless to say, all these years later I'm at about 2% and regressing fast. Really, what use is it to try to be normal in an abnormal world, or to conform to your worst fears? Personally I think everybody is crazy now; what's the point of admitting their madness to your mind. Sorry, didn't mean to be so negative. All I can say is that the CBT, if approached in a certain way, can lay a tiny piece of groundwork. It may not lie in the direction they want, but at least you can stand on it and maybe get your bearings for a while.

    1. CBT has legitimacy, but the problem is that it's delivered for profit as a packaged diluted quick fix form of McSelfHelp. Half an hour a week for 6 weeks is hopeless, and most of that will be 'reviewing' results from the previous week. The person I see isn't a doctor, nor a psychiatrist. It's the same as the WCA staff who call themselves 'Healthcare Professionals' or whatever. Same deal.

    2. I agree, yes, it has legitimacy, not when it's been weaponised. I thought this was an interesting article (not sure if I can post links but I'll try):

    3. I don't mind about links as long as they are legit, obviously :D

      I'll read that later, thanks`


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