Posts Tagged ‘update’

Not OK

I have severe, clinical and ongoing depression with suicidal ideation and intrusive thought, crippling anxiety issues and DPD. I have had these conditions since 2007, am considered disabled and am unlikely to ever get better.

In December I discovered that my PIP (Personal Independence Payment) had been stopped (In October), without warning or communication by the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions).

Apparently I’d hit the time for reassessment, but because I hadn’t contacted them (because they hadn’t contacted me) my payments had stopped.

So I couldn’t restart my old claim, oh no, I had to reapply from scratch. A process that took over a year last time I had to apply.

I was getting PIP and ESA (Employment Support Allowance), both on the basis of a tribunal appeal on my original claim. Tribunal is the third and last stage of appeal, quasi-independent of the process and able to overturn earlier decisions. Something like 80% of claims rejections are overturned on appeal. That goes to show how bullshitty the entire rest of the process is.

PIP only accounts for about £240 per month, but it’s money that can really ease mental stress and strain, pay for takeout when you can’t cook, a taxi when you can’t face the crowds on public transport and various other little things that make for a more secure income and better life when you’re struggling with mental health.

Of course, over a year that’s nearly £3000, a not inconsiderable amount of money and for many people in a worse situation than me, a lifeline.

Being on disability-related benefits is not easy. Applying for this help is stressful, humiliating and ultimately unnecessary. Your GP should really be the one making the decision, not this clumsy and hostile apparatus that has been created, purposefully to deny people and put them off applying.

It’s hard to explain quite how humiliating it is. We all have illusions about ourselves, or make conscious and subconcious accomodations of our disabilities. In this process however, you’re allowed no pride, no illusions, you must reveal every weakness and trouble that you have – to a total stranger – who will then, like as not, reject your claim. So you’ve done all that, bared your soul, stripped yourself bare, for nothing.

Needless to say, this is horrendous and horrible, and weighs heavily on the health and mental health of those of us who have to jump through these hoops to get the slightest of help. Needless to say, this has been linked to a great deal of self-harm, suicide, and hardship.

For what?

Benefit fraud accounts for ~1%, and that’s all benefits. 99% of people are put through this wringer – and many people denied the help they need – for thte sake of one person. Perverse, but that’s how absurd people seem to be. They’d rather see 99 people unjustly treated for the sake of the 1% of actual cheats.

I think this hits harder, this time, because of recent arguments in my creative community, where people seem dead-set on denying that disability is limiting, on corroding escapism, and denying my disabilities simply because I disagree with them. The ‘wrong kind’ of disabled, which, ironically is a big part of the problem with getting help.

People suck, they really do – disabled people as much or as little as anyone.

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It has been a weird, difficult year. So was 2014, but 2015 has been a full year of many of the same issues and problems and has been a steep learning curve for an old dog who hit forty this year. Some things have changed, some things have to change and on the broader stage I finally see some positive change.

Hitting 40 wasn’t too much of a concern, weirdly. It was mostly a non-event, though a stark realisation of age has certainly exacerbated other problems, 40 itself doesn’t mean much to me, just like 16, 18, 21 and 30 didn’t really.


Depression (and related anxiety) has dogged another year and although I am a lot better than I was (off the dried frog pills and coping) it continues to have a savage impact on my ability to work. I had hoped that signing on with Chronicle City would enable me to step back and take more of a project management role but problems there – outside anyone’s control – have stalled that and forced me to go back to Postmortem to keep that going and to keep money coming in.


The ongoing difficulties with getting the Gor RPG to market have not helped matters either. The backers have been incredibly patient – thankfully – and it is only the art that is still being waited on, but its impossible to tell at this point when the last parts will come in and all I can tell anyone is that there’s good reason for the delay. Still, it’s a lot of pressure and a lot of money is tied up waiting for the printing and posting. That also severely limits my ability to commit to new projects and to work.

Despite all this, I did manage to release…

Which when you look back at it, isn’t so bad. It’s about a project a month.


I also self-published my first full length novel, Old, Fat Punks, which was a bit of a waste but agents and publishers weren’t biting and it was annoying the piss out of me having it just sat around. Fortunately the people who have read it seem to both ‘get it’, and love it. That may not pay the bills, but its artistically satisfying. I have two more full length book ideas in a position to write this year, but it’s hard to justify when there’s so little money in it, even compared to what you’d think would be a profitless niche – roleplaying games.


Honestly, it comes hard to write or create anything these days. Something that will doubtless give my tireless critics cause to celebrate and it is, indeed, because of them that it is difficult. The urge to self-censor in order to avoid yet another shitstorm is strong, to the point of creative paralysis often. Even if the conclusion is ‘fuck you’ and the urge is to take them ‘from hell’s heart I stab at thee’ approach to ‘criticism’, it is extremely wearing both to have the Sword of Twittercles hanging over your head, and to endure the thrashings of the hateful ‘SJW’ mob whenever you do anything.

This is different to trolling, though trolling comes with it too. Trolls lose interest over time, while some of these people are persistent enough to keep going for years and years. With that comes a volume of unfair and inaccurate material online which turns up when people search for you, which then turns up when new people look into your projects. How can you fix it? I don’t know that you can.

I don’t concur with people like Mike Cernovitch or Vox Day on… pretty much anything, other than their commitments to free speech, yet I get treated – on a smaller scale – with the same kind of scorn normally directed towards them. Both have written books on their approaches to the problem of social shaming but what they amount to is that they don’t give a shit.

I don’t have that luxury. Vox and Mike aren’t my kindred spirits when it comes to this because I do strive to be a good person and so end up nonplussed and genuinely hurt by being portrayed as some sort of avatar of evil, as this misogynist, racist horrorshow they’ve conjured. It bothers me because despite their protestations, I am not. It should be sufficient to know who and what I am and am not, but reputation matters and it takes a lot more effort to remove a stain than to make one – it’s a sort of Gish Gallop of slander.

Jon Ronson’s book and TED talk on this issue is perhaps more my speed. He shares my hand-wringing incredulity that people who are ostensibly on our side are acting so appallingly, being so intolerant and resorting so such tactics. That they are throwing basic liberal values under the bus towards some nebulous and opaque end, so unclear concept of the ‘greater good’ that tramples on individual liberties.


It’s also a time of hope, at least on the broader stage, as we seem to have reached the peak of this kind of stupidity that society as a whole is willing to tolerate. There are signs of hope from Spiked and FIRE to Ronson, Dave Ruben, Bill Maher and Sam Harris. ‘SJWs’ have burned their allies with a fanatical commitment to an orthodoxy most people – fortunately – don’t share. We also have language to describe things now, we are cultural libertarians, the censorious, authoritarian voices calling themselves liberal are the ‘regressive left’ (Maajid Nawaz).

The fuss on university campuses is a laughing stock and appears to be provoking a backlash, which may reinforce intellectual and free-speech spaces on and beyond campuses, rolling back the Tumblrisation of public discourse.

More and more it’s the people whose side I supposedly should be on (as a far-left anarchist) who are intolerably dickweasels, while the people whose political, economic and social views I am opposed to, who are polite, engaging and willing to talk. I’m far more likely to have a productive discussion or cooperation with a conservative libertarian or even an Objectivist, than I am a self-styled progressive, even though I would agree with the latter on so much more and the former only on one thing.

I don’t know what tactic to use to cope and to feel free again. It’s not so simple as trolling, which can simply be discounted, I don’t have the self-confidence to ignore it or self-assert though it, but I have to find a way to cope. There’s a toll to simply blocking people, each time I have to resort to it its a violation of my principles, but that’s something else that’s going to have to be got past. There’s simply no reaching some people and while wanting to debate, discuss and reach people is a noble goal, it can be unrealistic.


A bigger problem, and one other depression sufferers will empathise with I’m sure, is that pleasure and fun has become elusive – and this has been going on years now. Even as I’ve gotten better in so many other ways it has become much harder to derive pleasure and satisfaction from things. I’ve been a gamer over 30 years now, with a consuming passion for it that has taken me into it as a career, but I’m just not getting the joy and wonder I used to from it.

Every gaming session, whether I’m running it or not, leaves me dissatisfied, frustrated and even upset. Even when everyone else involved seems to think it has gone well. Somehow I need to recapture my love of gaming and find a way to do it more. Thing is, it’s not just gaming, it’s reading, it’s computer games, all of it is simply going through the motions on mental life-support, which is rather worrisome.


The quote at the beginning of this look-back is from a speech Dan Dennett made, he’s quoting a friend of his – partially, but he makes a good point (even though it is a bit of a downer). When you take a stand on things, it costs you. I’m an opinionated guy with a very strong moral and ethical sense – despite accusations to the contrary.

  • That’s why I took a stand on Gamergate – and lost friends over it, or rather the lies told about it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on censorship and free speech issues – and lost friends over it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on the toxicity and nonsense of religion and woo – and lost friends over it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on various men’s issues – and weathered accusations and lost friends over it.

This year has, perhaps, brought home that people who really are friends have tolerance of difference, are willing to talk about it and those that don’t, perhaps were never really your friends in the first place. It’s never me that cuts people off (who I consider friends) but the same concern and courtesy rarely seems to extend to me. You never aid, help or support your friends seeking reward, but there is an expectation of reciprocity which, sadly it seems this year – and for a long time – hasn’t been particularly forthcoming.

On the other hand, I’ve made many new friends and acquaintances, made of sterner stuff and with similar concerns, and whom I should make the effort to cement my friendships with. I’ve also strengthened existing acquaintances, and that’s definitely worth strengthening and renewing too. To have people you can trust to give you honest feedback, knowing where you’re actually coming from rather than projecting their own biases, is good too.


So looking forward then, but not resolutions, because resolutions are bullshit.

  • I need to try and be more positive. Fighting to protect and defend things is great, but it necessarily means you’re always coming across negative, reacting to shitty things that other people do. This is obviously a tall order for someone with severe depression, and has never come naturally to me (a pessimist can only ever have a nice surprise).
  • I need to cement, secure and strengthen the new friendships I have.
  • I need to stop self-censoring and find a way to work through the dread of genuine harassment.
  • I need to let things go more often. People, arguments, people who don’t deserve, or return, respect or who hurl accusations when they should know better. Some progress on that this year, but not enough.
  • I need to find my enjoyment of my life’s passion, again. Somehow. Playing more games, making time for it.
  • I need to somehow overcome this exhaustion and lack of confidence to work more again, and pick more of the projects I really want to do – and let that guide what I choose to work on.

Little changes, really, but they all add up.

Wish me luck!

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I was going to do this as a video, but I’m in the middle of upgrading my desktop PC so you’ll have to make do with a blog post for now.


So, recently we all got the wonderful news that The Block Bot – a crude and breathtakingly stupid and stifling tool that came out of the AtheismPlus schism – was shutting down.

And there was much rejoicing.


But then… IT CAME BACK!


Well, that’s not necessarily so bad. They seem to have kept all the wording changes etc they made to avoid legal action. Further, they’re trimming the team and consulting other people. Hopefully with a bit more legal advice and fewer and more level heads there won’t be a problem. So who are these people they’re working with?

Screenshot from 2015-03-21 19:55:13

I try not to be prejudiced, but I do think there’s a difference between prejudice and bitter experience. While I’ve met some awesome trans people in my offline life and via Gamergate, most of the ones I’ve met who are online activists are gigantic arseholes, more concerned with being gigantic shitheads to everyone that crosses their path than on education, discussion, explanation or understanding.


Between the exhaustive lists of pronouns and the rest of the language used on the site, there’s more red flags than a North Korean march past.


But this, THIS is the glacé cherry on the diarrhetic shit-sundae of the whole thing.

Screenshot from 2015-03-21 20:16:31


So you’re going to put a supposed ‘anti-harassment’ tool into the hands of self-admitted racists, sexists and heterophobes?

What a brilliant idea! Almost as good as Randi Harper, considered by a great many people to be a hate-spewing harasser, setting up her own version of the bot in relation to Gamergate and trying to set up an anti harassment initiative.

Here’s some other great ideas of the same form:

  • Australian daycare by dingos.
  • The Jimmy Saville Initiative – Paedophiles working in primary schools to repay their debt to society.
  • KKK-run racial sensitivity seminars.

Seriously, all this website needs is a Confederate flag and a looping midi of banjo music to fit the degree of gobsmacking prejudice on show.

But hey, maybe they can swallow their clusterfuck of ‘isms and continue the improvements and lawsuit avoidance that has been going on already. On the other hand, maybe they’ll make things worse but engage in ‘reverse libel tourism’. That may not help if they fall afoul of anti-discrimination and hate speech legislation though.

I’ll hope for the best, but I ain’t holding my breath.


PS: Can we all agree that this kind of ‘article’, full of shitty memes and reaction gifs, and low on words has had its fucking day by now?


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1115974135a4988249448lI haven’t written about my depression in a long time now and that’s been largely with good reason. I’ve been feeling a lot better. I came off the Quetiapine and switched my other medication to Sertraline, started seeing an excellent local therapist (who somewhat specialises in ‘man stuff’) and all that combined seems to have had me at 95% normal. All in all, that means I haven’t had much to say on the topic recently, which has been a good thing.

I say 95% normal because, honestly, I don’t think there’s a way back to normal any more and looking back over my life with a fresh perspective makes me think that I was probably depressive from 14-15 or so and definitely depressive – in bouts – from 17 onwards. I’ve been dealing with it being particularly bad for… three years at least now and am resigned to the fact that I’m going to have to live with it.

Why write now?

I’m in a down-patch, a pretty bad one (in current context), and I’ve been reminded by a few people just how much they appreciate me stepping up and talking about this whole area, showing ‘weakness’, talking about it, airing it out and so on. So I felt it was time to stick my head up about all this again.

Why am I down at the moment?

Well, I don’t want to get into specifics this time but much as I stick my head out on this difficult topic (depression) so I often stick my head over the parapet on other difficult issues. I welcome the chances – that come along – to talk about tricky issues but that always exposes one to failure.

I’m not good with failure, failure to communicate especially (since that’s what I’m supposed to be good at). Also, having a depressive frame of mind, failure, problems and criticisms hit with a lot more impact than praise or appreciation does. This is a natural human tendency anyway, but when you’re depressed it seems to be much stronger, askew, much more powerful. It means it can be very easy to knock you back into that mental state of helplessness and self-loathing, even though it’s often a relief to have a cause for that which you can point at.

So yeah, I feel I’ve failed at several things lately and most of those are attempts to communicate with people on tricky topics and the viciousness received simply for trying to have a debate, make a point or counter a rumour.

Make no mistake, I used to be an utter dick in debates. It was down to passion and commitment, so I get where people are coming from when they do similar, but I try very hard not to be like that these days (everyone slips from time to time). Trolls don’t bother me, an insult is meaningless from a troll, they’re just trying to get a rise. It’s the ‘true believers’ that bother me.

If someone sends ‘LOL FAG!’ messages I see no reason to get upset. They’re just being dicks.

If someone who genuinely believes in what they’re doing or saying calls you something horrible, bigot, misogynist, racist, whatever, that cuts deep even when it’s not true. Even when you know it’s not true. They seem to believe it and they believe it passionately enough to throw it at you, tarnish your reputation and treat you like shit.

I’m constantly trying to find a line between what I know is right and what others feel is right, and will judge you for.

You would think two people who are passionate about something would at least have that point of commonality to draw on and a base respect for each other’s desire to make the world a better place (or keep it better than it could be) but that’s not the case. Depressive brain twists that around into my failure to communicate, rather than their failure to listen, understand or enter into discussion with good faith.

Yet I keep doing it. Keep getting involved. Keep speaking up. Despite the pretty high emotional cost of doing so and weathering the hate of, well, let’s be honest here, fanatics.

It would cost me more, emotionally, not to speak up for the things I believe are right. That would attack my sense of self more than any accusation. Both have a toll, but one has a toll higher than the other.

However depressed I get, it’s hard to be passive, to let things flow or pass by without comment or involvement. Part of that is a sense of duty and a desire to protect others (a collective, greater good) and part of it is to protect and defend my own decisions and being. Whatever the other costs, I think maintaining that core of self-identity has served me well in weathering the storms of depression and it continues to do so. It’s a bit like a panic room and so long as you keep it maintained, it can withstand almost anything.

I’m trying to shift my head so that I can see these things not as failures, but as learning experiences – but it’s hard.

It’d be nice to get away for a few days and do fuck all, just see some friends and be looked after but there’s too much work on, too much pressure, too little money and nowhere to go. Fortunately, keeping up on the duties reinforces the safe room.

So, then, anything helpful from all this?:

  • Having something you can point a finger at and say “This is getting me down” is helpful, positive, even if it doesn’t sound like it. It’s – perhaps – something that will pass or you can do something about it.
  • If I had some advice, it would be to be true to yourself and whatever you can do not to become passive, is useful. Even if it’s just little things. If you’ve got a stronger sense of who you are it makes standing up to daily downers a lot easier.
  • Don’t forget to watch out for the black dog, even when you’re feeling good. He might ambush you.

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