Sandra Gives The Game Away: Jobcentres Given Sheriff’s Stars For Hitting Benefit Sanction Targets

the void

sanction-sheriffSandra Lambert, manager of 149 Jobcentres and self-styled lifestyle guru, has spent much of the last few days frantically blocking people on twitter who have been taking the piss out of the cringemaking motivational advice she inflicts on the poor bastards who work for her.

She wasn’t fast enough however to hide the tweet in which she awarded a Texas style sherriff’s badge to Jobcentres in the midlands for upholding their DMA decision rate – as spotted by @refuted.  A DMA means a referral to a Jobcentre ‘decision maker’ to process a benefit sanction.  It is the second time this month a DWP manager has been exposed praising their staff for hitting benefit sanction targets – targets that Iain Duncan Smith’s department have repeatedly claimed do not exist.

It is not just that the DWP are lying which is so contempible, all government departments lie after all.  It…

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By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro

Brain Abnormalities Discovered in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Fighting Fibromyalgia

cfs brain The red, blue, and green spheres correspond to size and locations of increased cortical thickness in the right occipital, precentral, and middle temporal regions, respectively. The green arrows also point to the middle temporal region of increased thickness. Credit: Radiological Society of North America


A new study by Michael Zeineh of the Stanford University School of Medicine now proves that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not hypochondria or our imagination, it is a real disease. Zeineh and his team discovered brain abnormalities in CFS patients that will hopefully help doctors to better treat this debilitating disease. There is a lot of cross over between CFS and fibromyalgia, as anyone who suffers from one or both of these devastating diseases will tell you. Patients with one of these diseases (or both) battle chronic disease, chronic pain, micro-inflammation, environmental sensitivities (such as light, smells, foods, weather, etc.) and much more every…

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By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro

Schizophrenia and then Alzheimer’s

Jill's Experiences with Mental Health , Stigma, Alzheimer's Disease, Grief & Grieving & serenade2seniors

Although schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s are very different, the

While living through schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, I had to learn that it was not what happened to me that counted, but, how I dealt with each one of them.

i learned that my anger at schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s were destroying me, so, i learned to do something about it. There were times when I felt as if my heart had turned to stone and it was a long time before I gained the ability to laugh, to feel even the tiniest emotion or to be open to loving again.

I had to learn that although pain is inevitable, extended suffering is optional. As there was no way that I could change the  cards that my family had been dealt, I had to learn to change the way I played each hand.

All this took a long time, but eventually, I  learned to…

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By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro

When no-one else’s standards matter but mine…

It’s fair to say that I’ve had my fair share of frustrations working in mental health and in the Third Sector over the years. I’m not particularly keen on the way the Third Sector is structured, the frustrations surrounding funding, virtually no priority in training and personal development of staff because when funds are tight it’s one of the first things to go.

I believe that the structure, legal entity and vision of a Social Enterprise fit today’s modern world much better. They can have a much better balance of being able to do good for people who need it, while being able to sell services and goods and the money being invested back into the Enterprise. It also creates a much fairer balance for staff too, knowing that they don’t need to solely rely on applying for funding, fundraising and more regular ups and downs of uncertainty.

Latterly as I’ve been studying for my CIPD in Learning and Development it’s opened my eyes even further on the adage that charities’ internal structures, processes and procedures often do not conform to my or CIPD’s standards and best practice. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to influence and change many things only for them to be un-done due to internal changes.

So, as I’ve been working from home for myself (with my remaining annual leave) before finally leaving the Third Sector behind in a couple of weeks, I have to admit feeling a huge sigh of relief that I can leave all that behind and move on. I have found the days spent at home relaxing and working to my own standards knowing that they are exactly how I want them to be. I feel less stressed and much more focused. I finally have my business well and truly off the ground and I am 100% in control.

What’s ironic is that my customers will be from the Third Sector, but that’s all they will be, customers. I will continue to work with the very people I have always enjoyed working with but without all the baggage.

Exciting times……..

When your head doesn’t live with you anymore | #fibro #MEcfs #spoonie

I_think_I_mightI’ve had a shit of a week so far….struggling to get up in the mornings, cotton wool clogging my head, forgetting everything, headaches, eye pain, lymphedema pain, poor concentration etc.  For us Fibro sufferers symptoms often come in clusters, no rhyme or reason, it just kicks off.  The unpredictable nature of it is extremely frustrating.  It can be quiet at work and you’re on a level, then it can be busy at work and it kicks off and vice versa.  I start to fear planning things because I just don’t know how I’m going to be.  My memory systems that I use, while generally great for Fibro become difficult because you forget how you’ve been using them in the first place.

Having different thoughts, reminders and ideas in folders becomes impossible to manage because you can’t remember where you filed things in the first place and you can’t remember the names of things to search for the things you filed.  So you end up looking in everything and trying to focus on names which look nothing like the ones you typed when your head was clear.

Reading is hard unless it’s double spaced lines and font size 14!  Phone numbers that I’ve written down I read/dial back to front and reading from laptop/pc monitors just exacerbates my headache and sore eyes (even with increasing the font size).  People’s names in diaries for meetings mean nothing because I can’t remember who they are, what they look like and whether I’ve already met them.  So I trawl through notes and diaries to try to familiarise myself with where I’m at.   It’s all hard work, takes 200% of your energy and makes you feel that what you’re doing is really not worthwhile anymore.   I’m a perfectionist and I like to do things well and I admit I do get myself in a tiz when I don’t always need to.  In some ways being a perfectionist makes managing Fibro worse because I can’t let go of little mistakes and I guess that’s what I need to be doing.  I also can’t take my time at work because I’m in a job that’s very busy so I do end up making mistakes.

That’s all I can write for now……’s taken enough of my energy to write this.

Night x

By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro

Alt + Del + Ctrl

I feel like I’ve emerged from some bottomless pit filled with thick impenetrable fog. It intruded at a time when work was so busy that my frustration was evident. Generally I don’t engage in whatever mind games that Fibro likes to throw at me. What made it worse was the immense fatigue that came with it.

I manage my condition around my work as I take responsibility for working my hours flexibly, working from home, using Access to Work etc. I’m not obligated to justify it, but I am aware that many people don’t get it. These management techniques get me through periods like this, that’s what they are there for. What I did have to do though is cancel a few work related activities which didn’t do me any favours for my self-esteem. It makes you doubt your abilities, it makes you wonder what the future is going to be like. It brings about challenges for me while setting up my business and working at the same time. Everything takes that bit longer, networking events are usually evenings or need to be fitted in elsewhere around work. I sometimes wonder what I’m doing, but know that working for myself being my ultimate goal is going to benefit my health in the long run.

In many respects I never envisaged I’d be in the position I’m in any way, so having come this far is an achievement in itself. Having been institutionalised in the psychiatric system in my teens and twenties I never thought I’d be able to function at all. I feel that this is what has given me the resilience to battle Fibro. One condition nearly beat me, so I’m damned if another is going to do the same. For the two weeks or so in this horrible fog negativity surrounded me. The zip pulling ever tighter, but perseverance prevailed and the zip broke and clarity broke through. It’ll repeat itself again soon, it’s never the same experience twice and as many other people know who have Fibro there are all the other symptoms to contend with. It would probably take me another hour to write about them all, so I’ll leave it at that, but you get the jist below!

At the moment my fog lights are off……..

All things Fibro

Clause 99, Catch 22 and Penning is telling lies.

People are too sick, unwell, bullied and treated like shit to even fight to the tribunal stage. Do they have any idea how hard it is to even get to that stage and how much of a battle it takes. Disgusting.

Politics and Insights

The Government are claiming victory because of a fall in the number of benefit tribunal hearings. Today, the Express boasts:
A HUGE drop in the number of people appealing against benefit decisions at tribunal hearings was yesterday hailed as a victory for the Government’s reforms.”
Actually, it’s a victory for the Government’s tyranny.
There were 32,546 tribunal cases between January and March this year, compared to 155,000 in the same period of 2013.
“Official figures” reveal an 89 per cent fall in people contesting the decisions to cut, deny or restrict Employment Support Allowance (ESA), long-term sickness and disability benefits.
Tribunals contesting Jobseeker’s Allowance decisions also fell 70 per cent this year.
Disability minister Mike Penning said: “Fewer appeals going to tribunal is welcome. Getting more decisions right first time avoids the need for protracted tribunal appeals.”
Under the Department for Work and Pensions reforms officials look…

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By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro


Excellent news!


Just got word from Twitter that the American Association of Suicidology just approved, unanimously, a new division for suicide attempt survivors and people with lived experiences. This is so exciting, I just had to blog about it. People who have attempted or who have seriously thought about suicide now have a voice. I am so excited and proud to be a member and contributor of their blog and organization!!

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By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro

#Seeme14, recovery, involvement and what do I know?

I’m actually sitting in one place long enough to write another blog post so soon after my last one. Train journeys on prescription. Dose: no less than 2hrs. Side effects: none unless you have restless legs! I might just survive this journey.

Actually between the fidgeting, view checking, txt’ing and munching I’ve been catching up on some of the blogs written about last weeks See Me re-launch. As a See Me media volunteer and speaker it was an event I had considered attending. I was certainly asked, but the first barrier to me attending was the location. Second, the fact it was nearly two whole days which would have required an overnight stay. I don’t feel I need to explain in-depth why these were issues for me and it wasn’t particularly a big deal not being there. After all, the event was well attended with like-minded people.

What did surprise me was some of the feedback. I can only comment on some of the factual issues, but the first one was attendees being offered support and help should the require it. What on earth was that about? Second, the theme of recovery seemed to engage only those who ‘have recovered’. Like many people have said in recent years, the word ‘recovery’ sounded like it was going to be something different, something new, something imaginative. I embraced it myself and then slowly the puzzle started to disintegrate. The more I thought about it and the more my physical condition affected how I feel, the more it didn’t make sense.

Recovery has been taken out of its box and used for the aims and purposes where it can be taken advantage of. Where it can be manipulated by the very people who 1. It doesn’t apply to and 2. Who think they know better.

Every one of us has the right to define ourselves how we see fit. If some people choose to use the word recovery then that’s fine, but YOU can’t apply it to others. Individuals have to apply it to themselves. If they then don’t use the word recovery for themselves and choose to describe it in a different way what right do we have to say otherwise. We shouldn’t be talking about a recovery movement, or choosing to engage only those in recovery. Are we not putting people in boxes, just like psychiatric labels do?

Mental health conditions are the most complex issues that we have to try and cope with and we need to start thinking differently about this whole area. I don’t know what the answers are, maybe we’re trying too hard. Every time we come up with something new we seem to create more problems.

When I tell my story now as I have done for many years I don’t use the word recovery anymore. I just tell it how it is. I’m hugely better than I was during all those years where I just didn’t function, but I’m not in-recovery or recovered. I’m just ME.

A new journey….

I had meant to write this a few days ago, but as usual, with so much to do, it ended up forgotten about.  I wanted to write this as soon as I had started by course I thought I’d better get on with it!

Anyway, it’s a new chapter for me.  I had mulled over doing some professional development for a while.  I already do a fair amount of self-study.  My brain likes it that way, even if it often interrupted with fibro fog.  There is little doubt that it’s a good distraction from chronic pain and I really love learning. (Watch my teachers faint if they ever heard wind of that!)  I do feel at times that I am making up for lost time and it’s probably true.  Despite my better efforts in my younger years it wasn’t until my 30’s that I caught up with myself.

So, I’ve decided to study a CIPD Foundation Certificate in Learning & Development.  It fits best with where I’m currently headed career-wise.  It’s going to help me grow my confidence and it’ll give me a valuable qualification that will help me to develop my business where my target audience is private/public sector businesses.

So, having registered a while ago, I officially start this week.  Most of it is open-learning with 2 two-day workshops in either Birmingham or London.  It’s very flexible and having looked at my study plan given to me by my tutor it looks great.

I started this particular blog on the back of a conversation on a Freelance Trainers Facebook Group that I’m part of.  I was asking if anybody else had done this course and someone wanted to know what it was like too.  So I suggested that maybe I should write about how I get on.

So, here it starts……………….

How doctors respond to chronic pain

A Better NHS

6a00d8341bfb1653ef0192aace21ed970d-500wiFrida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944

That [Kahlo] became a world legend is in part due to the fact that … under the new world order, the sharing of pain is one of the essential preconditions for a redefining of dignity and hope. John Berger

 Please don’t come back!

My forehead thumped down on my desk after a ten minute appointment that had stretched out to over half an hour, I felt completely exhausted and still I had another 17 patients to see and I was now running 25 minutes late. It wasn’t just that I felt exhausted, I felt useless and demoralized and more than that, I felt angry, really pissed off.

I had spent the last 30 minutes listening to Sharon describe her pains, which shifted from the somatic – how they feel, to despair – how she feels, and anger – how she feels about me…

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By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro

Breathing Space Day

Breathing Space Day 1st February 2014

Breathing Space Day 1st February 2014

Quite a day for Breathing Space.   I remember quite clearly when it was launched in 2004.  It had a very clear remit; one that would provide men aged between 16 and 40 with a service they could call in times of need.  Suicide rates for young men at the time were very high, they still are, but now spread over a wider age group of men.

I do remember wondering what would happen if 1. Females phoned and 2. If men called who were not in that age bracket.  The latter is harder to ascertain over the phone than the former of course!  Calls if the first year of Breathing Space reached 15,693 and nearly doubled in 2005.  Now they are at their second highest level since the service began; 75,410.   There is clearly a need and it didn’t stay limited to men aged between 16 and 40 for long.   The free service is also open to anyone living with a mental health problem or someone who is experiencing emotional distress such as low mood, anxiety or depression.  It’s open in the evenings from 6pm – 2am and all weekend, when most people find that their mental wellbeing takes a nosedive.  I have received calls to my work (Action on Depression) with some concerns about the service time, but given budgets and quality of service it really is best to have it open when it’s going to be most needed.  I’m pretty sure it evaluates that these are indeed the best times to be open.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  I’ve spoken to people who have used it and gained nothing from it, to those who haven’t used it and wouldn’t use it, to those who don’t like calling helplines, to those who don’t like Breathing Space or the Samaritans.  We can’t be so narrow-minded to think that this is the complete solution, because it isn’t.  It’s about giving people choice.  Enough of a mix of services that are fund-able and used, online, offline, small, medium, large, accessible, unusual, creative and even different..

I have worked with the Breathing Space and Samaritans as part of my role at Action on Depression.  They do great work and we complement the work they do by doing what we can to support those experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, low-mood and their family and carers.  Our focus is more early intervention and trying to reach people before they get to the point where they require the services of Breathing Space, Samaritans or another crisis service.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my time working in mental health, it’s that services come and go.  They unfortunately go because of funding issues, but they are created too with new funding streams.  Just the other day I heard about a new service in Lanarkshire called Hope Cafe.  They officially launch on the 26th February 2014 as a pilot project.  Here’s a little taster about what they’re going to be doing when they open.

From Wed 26th of February 2014 you will find us in Greyfriars Church Hall from 10am-2pm.  We will operate on a Wednesday each week.  On the day of the café there will be lots of self help information resources available and individuals using the café facilities will have the option of participating in various well-being groups such as arts & crafts/jewellery making/knit and natter .  We will also be offering various activities such as Mindfullness, Relaxation Techniques, Laughter Yoga and much more.  Pop in to the cafe to see what’s on the menu.

If you’re in the area, why don’t you give them your support.   You can also visit them on Facebook and Twitter.

I wish them all the best on the day and I hope they go from strength to strength.

Independent Living, Psychiatric System Survivors and ‘Mad Matters’

A ‘must’ read…..

Authors of our lives

By Peter Beresford

As a mental health service user/survivor, I have always valued the idea and philosophy of independent living developed by the disabled people’s movement. But I have also regretted that it has largely passed the survivor movement by because this has left us vulnerable and exposed. Let me explain.

The philosophy of independent living has gained international significance and had international impact. Building on the social model of disability it has challenged traditional free market views that all of us should ‘stand on our own two feet’ as isolated individuals.  Instead it has highlighted that we are all interdependent and for anyone to be independent, particularly as a disabled person, then they need the support that makes it possible for them to live on as equal terms as possible as non-disabled people. They also need equal access to the mainstream world through the removal of disabling barriers.

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By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro

A Long Time in the Making…

A very open first blog; paramedic, stress and in need of care.

The Life and Times of an Ordinary Paramedic

Hi there, and welcome to my Blog. Thanks for taking the time to check it out. First off, I guess I’d better say that everything contained in my blog, represents my opinions only. Names and story details might have been changed to maintain some sort of privacy.

There, now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you what the purpose of this blog is. It is to get a glimpse in the life of an Emergency Responder in Southern Ontario. A Paramedic to be exact. But the things I have gone through can be applied to anyone in the Emergency Services field. Police. Firefighters. Nurses and Dr.’s in the ER. It is not a place where I will be sharing my gory stories, or grim details of calls I have done. The purpose of this particular blog is to show the effects that these calls have on us…

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By MentalHealthProfessional_CombatingFibromyalgia Posted in Fibro