Do you ever get the feeling that this country is about to fall apart at the seams? In brighter economic times, this government ‘invested’ in tax cuts for the super rich. ‘Cos they, like REALLY needed the dough. Meanwhile, I’ve spent a year trying to get counselling for my trauma, during which time I’ve been thrown back on the streets because I was not considered to be traumatised enough. How they’d know, is anyone’s guess, because I’ve never been granted an audience with any kind of specialist. They call my condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but, trust me, there is nothing ‘post’ about it.
Calling trauma an illness is like calling a bullet wound an illness. They’re not. They are both, just wounds, inflicted by life. Most cogent and awake people are traumatised to some extent. It would be weird not to be, in this world – unless you spend your entire life chained to your mobile phone and zoning out of the reality of existence. Which many do. The pharmaceutical industry, meanwhile, knows very well that it is better and probably cheaper, in the long run, to give trauma survivors talking therapies rather than load them with laboratory created heroin which turns them into zombies. But you’ve got a better chance of catching a salmon in Manchester Ship canal than getting talking therapies through your GP.
Oh GPs! My shit list is long but these greedy charlatans are right near the top. Asking a GP about anything more complicated than a head cold is like asking the girl in Argos how they made the computer she just sold you. GPs are basically just super- annuated shop assistants. They’re all on the game. They just use a different name…
I’ve been trying for the last month to get an appointment with my GP. Even for an appointment a week ahead, you have to call the minute they turn on the phone lines. After days of trying, I finally got through, bang on opening time, last Thursday. I MUST have been their first caller. I asked for that appointment in a week’s time. ‘It’s a half day next Thursday, so they’ve all gone,’ the receptionist told me. Nice work if you can get it eh? 😉 ‘But they CAN’T have all gone,’ I pleaded. ‘It’s 8.46, your lines have been open for one minute.’ She sighed with exasperation, I was clearly being difficult. ‘You will have to try again tomorrow,’ she told me. ‘But I won’t get THROUGH tomorrow. You KNOW this!’ She was getting irritable now. ‘Look, you will have to get off the line now. There are other people trying to get through.’ How very selfish of me, I thought. Slapped wrists. ‘But what’s the point in answering their calls,’ I asked her. You won’t help them either. I KNOW this because I’ve been trying for weeks.’ ‘Do NOT raise your voice to me!’ Oh God. ‘Bye!’
She’s as elusive as Santa in summer, my GP, but when I do get to meet her she is quite nice. Not like the last one who I asked for counselling from and asked her to renew my medical certificate. ‘Get a job!’ she spat. ‘I could say the same thing to you love,’ I responded. ‘You just sit there Googling everything. You hadn’t even heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m gonna lose all my benefits because of you and all you do is try to press Diazepam on me. Are they sponsoring you or sommat?’
But the nice one promised I’d get a phone call, urgently, from some medical authority or other to arrange trauma therapy. Two and a half months later I’m still waiting. I was highly distressed at that meeting. I still have horrible night terrors among other symptoms of trauma. She gave me an emergency 24 hour trauma helpline number. One night I needed it and rang it. It rang out for about three minutes then went dead. After the third attempt it went through to a voicemail with a promise that I would be called back. I never was.
Whether you are on the street or off it, you are suffering intense trauma and almost certainly in no fit state to work without outside assistance getting your head and your broken heart back together. Still GPs who know nothing about homelessness or it’s effects refuse medical certificates to those who have found temporary housing or those still on the streets, because they decide in their infinite wisdom that it’s time they pull themselves together. When they refuse your medical certificate you can’t pay your rent because they stop your benefits. You are bundled back on the streets to die thanks to the super-annuated shop assistants. And the trauma and pain multiplies every time they send you back from whence you came.My friend Yolanda spent many years sleeping rough. She warned me. ‘They don’t care about you. But if you die, there will have to be an inquest and it will come out that they didn’t help you when you were in need which might affect their reputation and so their ability to make pots of cash.’ Once a month, she gets up early, fries an egg…runny yoke. Then she slaps it on her coat. Other times it’s Baked Beans in her hair. ‘Be careful not to go too far,’ she said. ‘You might accidentally get sectioned.’ So she gets there at quarter to 8 and stands in a long queue for her emergency appointment. Then she sits with the yoke on her blouse, rocks gently back and forth and groans: ‘Doctor, I think I’m walking in the Vale of Darkness…’ She gets her certificate and to keep her home for another month. Maybe her words, when it comes to GPs, are truer than she realises..