It’s always #TimeToTalk

We shouldn’t need an excuse to talk about mental health but why pass up the opportunity. Any time is a good time to talk about mental health.

I’m depressed right now (sort of). I’m on anti-depressants to help me cope with a very difficult situation. This is the first time I’ve had medical help with depression, but not the first time I’ve suffered.

Only now am I receiving treatment because a few months ago I was ready to kill myself, and realised I needed help to survive.

I have an amazing little boy and, at the time, was expecting to be a father again, I have great friends, a great job and a loving family. You might wonder why the hell I could even contemplate suicide in those circumstances. But that’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of depression – it defies logic.

Many times in the last two years I’ve been in the same position and I kept it to myself. I told no-one until recently. Looking back I’m amazed I survived and at the moment, I mostly feel great.

I feel great because I’ve told those around me. I’ve been completely open with family and friends, including telling them about my past depression. As a result I’ve had an outpouring of selfless support and help.

Without that support and help I’m not sure I would be coping as well as I am now.

I am better because I talked about it.

It’s always a good time to talk.

Update: I wanted to share this post from James Smith that highlights really well some of the effects of depression. You may well have experienced some but without thinking of it as depression. But as James says, it’s a bug in the system, not you failing.

21 struggles faced by a dad raising a daughter in a sexist world

…not only are princesses generally helpless and only find fulfilment through marriage, but they are also parasitical members of noxious ruling class steeped in entrenched privilege, the influence of whom keeps Britain mired in Dark Ages deference to a tribe of inbred, crown-topped butler-enthusiasts.

http://usvsth3m.com/post/21-struggles-faced-by-a-dad-raising-a-daughter-in-a-sexist-world

Benefit sanctions: they’re absurd and don’t work very well, experts tell MPs

It [the sanctions regime] is a secret penal system because the decisions [to stop benefit payments] are made in secret, by officials; the claimant is not present; they are not legally represented; the punishment is applied before there is any hearing; if they get a hearing it is only long after the punishment has been applied. The scale of penalties is greater than the scale of penalties that are available to the magistrates courts… You are talking unmistakably about a penal system which has a set of characteristics which I would suggest are totally unacceptable in a democratic society.

http://gu.com/p/44ym4

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Liberal Democrat complicity in Tory ideology makes then irrelevant in 2015

Re: Vince Cable slams excessive Conservative cuts on working poor

The Liberal Democrats seem to think there are some sort of moderating government party, whose job it is to form coalitions and keep the majority partner on the straight and narrow.

Except that thanks to their complicity with the Tories since 2010 they have worsened inequality, eroded civil liberties and made the poor poorer while letting their rich mates get away with less than their fair share.

Because of this, support for the Liberal Democrats has plummeted and they ate likely to lose many seats in 2015. They are far less likely to be in a position to form a coalition government. And we’ll all be better off without this spineless bunch in positions of power.

Image: Institute of Physics

CC-BY-SA https://www.flickr.com/photos/rogersg/7944915940/

State surveillance is not comparable to online privacy issues

Often, when opposing state surveillance such as that revealed by Ed Snowden, activists are questioned why they use online services that actively collect data about them. There is one core reason why this comparison is unhelpful and irrelevant.

“You are the product” goes the saying, which is true. Companies like Google and Facebook collect streams of data about who we are and what we do. Some have called this “self-surveillance”.

When we “self-surveil” and grant companies the ability to use – and sell – our data, we expect – and get – something back. We get a service. We pay a small privacy price (largely inconsequential, I’d argue) in exchange for a service.

On the other hand, the state demands we let them take our data. They chose warrant-less mass-collection over targeting, leaving us in the dark about what they’re collecting. We get nothing in return – there is yet to be a convincing case, backed up with evidence, that the mass surveillance of the citizenry in any way makes us safer.

There is one, undeniably crucial difference however.

The state has the power to use that data against us in a devastating way.

We can be detained, without charge, for fourteen days – the longest pre-charge detention period of any comparable democracy. Previously this limit was 28 days, and there was an attempt to raise it to 90 – that’s 3 whole months of being locked up for being a suspect.

Outside of detention, the state has the power to severely limit our activities with only “suspicion” as a reason, destroying the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

I don’t see any social networks able to limit my civil liberties…

Image: CC-BY-SA George Rex