Don’t Rain on My Parade

At school we used to have “Rainy Day Play” which meant it was pissing down and playtime was spent indoors breathing in other pupils’ farts instead of fresh air.  In truth it didn’t have to be pissing down; the first spot on the window pane had teachers gleefully banning the opening of doors.  It feels like that where I am today as I’m forced to stay inside the Ottermobile.  I’d planned a 10-mile hike but the professor in me saw the rain and vetoed the idea.  So I’m doing a lot of thinking, especially about the reactions to yesterday’s diary entry, which applaud my attempt to add to the growing Social Media noises about depression.  In entries to follow I promise more adventures and to be frivolous again, but as a last word for now on the subject, and to hopefully raise even more awareness, I ask a simple question: Are people with depression unemployable?

Back in 2011 The Guardian ran a piece about whether or not to disclose to your employer that you have a mental illness, a horrible dilemma I outlined in yesterday’s post.  The article cited a couple of examples where the person chose to “out” themselves and found it to be beneficial, but argued in balance that that isn’t universally the case.  So that was six years ago and you’d hope things might’ve improved immensely since then.  But given that 1 in 4 British people per year suffer in some way from depression, stress or anxiety, it worries me that though the issue is now more recognised and taken more seriously, there remains some doubt about whether employers really do “get it.”

This is of course regarding people who are in work, but what about those who find themselves unemployed?  On the positive side, more than 450 employers so far have signed the Time to Change Pledge, but there is a lot more to be done.  The Mind website makes interesting reading with regards to their campaign to lobby the Government with ideas for a more radical and workable back-to-work scheme.  The case studies on the site particularly intrigue me; there are many people in the position I describe – they want to work but find themselves tied up in red tape and Jobcentre bureaucracy, in some cases professional people with excellent skills, qualifications and career histories being advised to attend a course on how to write a CV!  It isn’t the Jobcentre’s fault, they’re merely following guidelines, but it’s time to realise the guidelines are archaic and only serve to make an applicant more demoralised than they were in the first place.  The guidelines can only change when attitudes change.

I think that whether you’re in work or not, one of the difficulties of mental illness in the context I’m discussing, is that it is ‘invisible’.  Whereas a person with flu (for example only) might display symptoms, a person with depression can on the outside look the picture of health.  A person with depression can laugh and joke, so on the surface he or she seems absolutely fine, and it’s therefore no wonder to be fair that people might not notice or understand it.  But on the inside the person is suffering, often privately and spiralling in the way I posited yesterday.

When I was in Bradford recently I visited someone I know well who is undergoing chemotherapy.  We talked about music and lots of things and had some laughs, but we also talked about work, and his employers being supportive.  Which is just as well, he said, because if he lost his job who would employ a man in his mid-fifties with cancer?  I knew what he meant but it shocked me; it was almost like someone saying Who would employ me because I’m non-white, gay, disabled?

In one of my previous jobs in TV I was responsible for finding new talent and addressing the issue of diversity.  It’s a difficult job but I’m pleased to say I had some success.  But we can always and should always do more to open doors for the broadest cross-section of society.  We can do more for ethnicity, we can do more for those with disabilities, and given that statistically 25% of society has mental illness, we can do more for that section too.

I’ve made thousands of bad calls in my life but one of the worst was not putting by for a rainy day.  If I’d known (or in truth been less naive) about how my illness would affect my career, I might not have made that mistake.  But you live and learn eventually.  And though it’s a “rainy day” today I’m going for that walk after all.  I’ve got my van and I’ve got places to see, adventures to find, fun to have and frivolousness to deliver.  Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter.

 

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10 thoughts on “Don’t Rain on My Parade”

  1. Hi Mark I was introduced to your blog by Gary knapper I have been reading your sometimes funny sometimes sad but always interesting writings, I’ve also followed your career and you are a talented man. Best wishes Debbie sharratt

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      1. I’m fine thank you, all things considered. It’s great to hear from you; I went to Willaston and didn’t see a soul I recognised bar Mick the Chip. Do you still live there? How are Kev and Terry? x

        On Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 8:19 PM, Adventures from the Ottermobile wrote:

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      2. I live in Essex moved away about 23 years ago, I don’t get back to willaston very often now as mum moved down to live with me when she was unwell. Tes and Kev still live there though, Tes had been unwell but Kev’s ok spends most of his time playing golf! Where are you living now ? How are your brothers – I probably knew you and Tony best x

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      3. I’m fine thanks, all things considered. It’s great to hear from you. I went to Willaston and didn’t see a soul I recognised bar Mick the Chip. Do you still live there? How are Kev and Terry? x

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  2. I live in Essex moved away about 23 years ago, I don’t get back to willaston very often now as mum moved down to live with me when she was unwell. Tes and Kev still live there though, Tes had been unwell but Kev’s ok spends most of his time playing golf! Where are you living now ? How are your brothers – I probably knew you and Tony best x

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    1. Wow! Essex is great, I had no idea you’d moved there. Glad you’ve kept in touch with your brothers though. As you see from my blog I’m living everywhere at the moment. It’s a project. I’ve lived over the world, but mainly in Manchester in the past ten years or so. My brothers are fine, we had a reunion the other week. Don’t see much of Tony though x

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      1. Yes I saw that you are travelling and blogging cool project, i’m sure there is a book in it. If you are ever this way give me a shout and we can have a beer probably not Boddingtons but there are some good places around. I live on the border of Essex and Suffolk….John Constable country. Gary gave me your email so if its ok with you I will drop you an email to link up Best wishes with your travels I’ll keep on reading your stories x

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