Mercer's Poems
Wishing Well

In case you did not know, I am a follower of football - or Soccer as some of you may call it. Recently, during an FA Cup game between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur, Bolton player Fabrice Muamba collapsed on pitch and had a cardiac arrest. If not for the hurried intervention of the medical teams - and a cardiac specialist who happened to be in the crowd - Fabrice may have died on pitch, and I believe on television. 

Since then, however, there has been a disproportionate response to the health of one man. Fabrice is still in critical condition, though stable, and it is understandable that he should have people concerned about him. But why is the Premier League and all its teams, fans, workers and supporters fawning over one man who happens to be lucky, successful and reasonably well off - when at the same time in this country the healthcare system is having its demise and privatisation plotted? When there are individuals - even in the Western, supposedly wealthy, civilised world - who cannot afford good healthcare? Who are collapsing and dying on a daily basis. When there are injustices in the world that leads to the persecution, oppression and deaths of young people in many countries? Where are the signs, the headlines, the front and back newspaper pages - for these individuals? 

As much as I wish Muamba well, as a fellow human being - I feel the response from the public has been somewhat bangwagonish and incredibly vulgar. In a world where innocent young people are dying every day BECAUSE OF OUR COUNTRIES how can we value one footballer’s life thus? How can we devote so much time, attention and publicity to this man when there are others dying all around the world whose stories go untold, unheard, uncared for. These are not footballers, movie stars, pop stars or people in the limelight. These are people just like you. People just trying to get by in their lives. People who suffer as you do with the struggle of everyday life. People who never got a lucky break and live having trouble making ends meet. Some of these people live in abject poverty and yet are exploited by our nations and by certain charities within them. All of these people have just as much value as Fabrice Muamba, but do not get heard. Some of them do not suffer unfortunate medical emergencies - but are killed by the hands of people we have the nerve to call ‘heroes’ - Innocent people. We do not hear their stories - They do not get shot in front of us. They do not suffer on our TV screens at an FA Cup game, so we do not hear about them and nor do we want to, for their suffering would interrupt our own comfort. 

I wish Fabrice Muamba well, and hope his recovery continues. But we, as a society, must realise that just because it does not unfold before our eyes - it does not mean it does not happen. We must recognise that others are suffering too - others are dying too and they need just as much attention as Fabrice, indeed they need more! We must realise the value of our healthcare systems, and how they should be freely and fairly provided for all - and fight to save our NHS as well as fight to provide access to healthcare for people worldwide! 

We must have perspective, and equality. Fabrice is a fellow human being in suffering - for that we must have respect. But he was also lucky, and has the means to help himself. He has fantastic support and great friends and family. Some people do not. Some suffer alone. Some have no friends and family. Some have no support. They must just struggle. These people need our love, our support, our publicity.

Still Just a Disabled.

To the untrained eye, I don’t look sick. You could see me walking around the streets and not realise that there was a damn thing wrong with me. 

This is actually what society wants. My condition is an inconvenience to the world, something to cover up and hide, something to ‘get on with’, something that burdens this ever-grinding system of economic cogs…This is why it is easy to be sucked into believing there is nothing wrong with me, like the rest of you.

The problem is, for all the effort I put in to getting some ‘normality’ (whatever the hell that is!) back into my life. For all the positive steps I take and for all the effort I personally put in, there shall always be some box ticking, bureaucratic bastard who wants me to jump through hoops, there shall always be the difficulty of explaining time and again just what is wrong with me, and just when it seems like everything is going okay, there shall always be something that causes a sporadic anxiety attack. 

Anxiety and panic disorders (of which I have both) are unusual things…The anxiety disorder is a general sense of foreboding that can overcome you. Sometimes this can last a long time (as it will be today, by all accounts!) sometimes it can be a short moment - but it always impacts negatively on the day. There is nothing like a sleepless night wrought with anxious thoughts, followed by an anxiety attack when you finally wake up at 1pm for an appointment to fuck up your day, fuck up your mood and make you think “Fuck my appointment.” That is what has happened to me today. That is why I am in a terrible mood, it is why I feel lost, helpless, hopeless, useless, depressed and barely living. At least it wasn’t a panic attack…That’s the only positive. The difference, you ask? Well, an anxiety attack has you feeling like something bad might happen, your heart races, your brain aches - but you can keep your wits, and calm yourself down. With a panic, none of that is possible. Your body takes over, your mind goes blank and you are at the mercy of fear and adrenaline. Imagine the kind of pure mortal panic you would feel if someone told you the entire world was about to explode, you will die, as will all your loved ones, and life as you know it will cease to be…That’s what I feel like in full blown panic…I run around like a headless chicken, I scream, exclaim, moan, groan, my heart rate is more akin to that of a hummingbird than a human, 

The worst thing about it is these things are not going away. When the body finds a coping mechanism via depression, or anxiety and panic attacks - it has a nasty habit of repeating them. For all the hard work, the drugs, the therapy - it doesn’t mean a damn thing to my body if it feels like doing its own thing as I sadly found out today. My life has been consumed by these things. The past three or so years of my life have been defined by them. Everything I once had was lost to them, and now as I try and build myself back up I find not a wave of support and assistance to get me where I want to be (though there is some)…Not people making efforts to get me to a place in my life where I am happy and comfortable. No, instead it is me who is expected to jump through hoops. It is me that has to be asked questions, subjected to scrutiny, accused of laziness, suspected of telling lies for some kind of disability funded easy life…THIS IS NOT A FUCKING EASY LIFE! This is an embarrassing life, a debilitating life, a destitute life. You think the government gives me fucking hand outs of massive amounts of cash and support? WELL THEY DON’T! You think people line the streets to give me support? WELL THEY DON’T! You think I’m making it up for some stupid fucking reason!? WELL I AM NOT! I WISH I WAS! I wish this were all a lie, I wish my life was as normal as it were a few years ago, I wish I did not have to contend with the worry, every damn day, that this may be my last sane day and tomorrow I could wake up as anxious, panicky, batty and fear fuelled as I have been before! 

I wish it was written all over my body…I wish people could see it, so they could recognise it more. To have an illness in itself is a horrible thing, but to have one so poorly understood and difficult to recognise is torture. I could have woken up today full of hope, positivity and energy. Instead I woke up in a state of anxiety. This drains your energy, saps your mood, and makes the rest of the day intolerable. I was supposed to be in an appointment at 2pm (about twelve minutes ago) I could have made it, but my anxiety earlier means I don’t have the confidence to leave the house lest it happen again. I lived in a prison like that for so long at one point. Around 6-9 months, possibly longer, I don’t remember. I don’t remember much from that time. I was not a human being then, I was a mentally void humanoid entity of fear. One bad trigger, one negative event too much for me to handle and my entire world could come crashing down again and I could be back in that jail of fear…I don’t want that. I don’t want that, but the world around me wanting to rush back to normality does not seem to want to prepare me for it. To arm me with the right tools and techniques to fight it off…Instead it wants me back in some kind of employability training, jumping back into those ever-grinding economic gears that recognise us not as human individuals, with thoughts, feelings, lives, problems - but as capital, to be squeezed, drained and used…

I think we need to start respecting human beings and their health a little more, and worrying a little less about the economy. The cuts to health services, benefits, care packages etc. is grotesque, and is being sold to ignorant people under the banner that those with illnesses are just lazy. This is nothing but inhumane prejudice, and completely wrong. What is more, by manufacturing new enemies in immigrants, the disabled, the unemployed - the focus is taken off of the true villains who drain this economy - the politicians, the bankers, the wealth hoarders. Who is really to blame for societies ills? The banks, who due to their own fuck ups and their begging have received BILLIONS in public money, the ‘defence’ industry who claim to protect the country but are actually off fighting wars that cost BILLIONS but serve no real purpose to the UK people, HM Revenue and Customs who allow massive corporations to get away with BILLIONS of pounds in tax breaks, the politicians whose expenses claims took MILLIONS in public money to spend on pointless luxuries…Or someone with an illness on £60 a week? It’s a no brainer.