Russell Brand's revolution

I was impressed with Russell Brand's Paxman interview. I still think he's a bit of an insufferable, culturally-appropriative, self-righteous prat - but a prat who made some very good points and stunned a certain reporter into silence, which alone is worthy of the internet equivalent of a standing ovation. He's bang on about dissatisfaction in the lower classes, about a government that represents the interests of the few at the expense of the many, about a democracy that isn't all too democratic. These complaints are common sense, but the direction he takes them in is not. He calls for a revolution, one that's made of equal parts Marxism and anarchism. He believes that this revolution is right around the corner, and we should all stop voting to achieve the critical mass of dissatisfaction that will finally lead to a glorious, egalitarian utopia.
"I will never vote and I don’t think you should, either. To genuinely make a difference, we must become different; make the tiny, longitudinal shift. Meditate, direct our love indiscriminately and our condemnation exclusively at those with power. " - Russell Brand, writing for the New Statesman 

Yes, Russell, that's all very nice. Meditating and eating kale and glorious revolution etc; I'm sure the world would be a much better place. But what if a revolution is not right around the corner? What if, come 2015, young people take your advice and don't vote - instead allowing the Tories to sail straight back into power, maybe with UKIP at their side. And imagine we have to endure another five years - with the revolution mysteriously dormant - of elitism and poor-shaming and an added dose of racism from our government.

I'm not saying that Britain will never have a revolution, because predicting the future implies a kind of arrogance that I'll leave to Brand and his lot. It might, but it also might not; and in the meantime, we need to work with what we have. And what we have currently is a government which makes things better for the rich and worse for the poor. Even if voting in another party (*cough* Labour) won't cause a shift in the whole paradigm that Brand keeps banging on about, it might make life easier for people who are struggling to afford food and the bus fare to school. A government without a bedroom tax would be better than one with it, and if you're going to ignore these day-to-day, solvable problems to look only at the great spiritual deficit of capitalism, you are an elitist.

Our political parties are cuts of the same cloth in many ways, but not in all, and some governments are a very different kind of cloth than others. The welfare state would not have been created had people not voted for Attlee in 1945. The bedroom tax would not have come into being had people not voted for Cameron in 2010. Voting does matter, it does genuinely make a difference. So until Brits rise up in revolution to form a socialist utopia, fucking vote.

Dear Sun

Sun, right now there's a girl eating breadcrumbs
tearing apart a homemade loaf, throwing away
the bits her brain deems
dangerous

Sun, there's a girl fucking as vigorously as she can,
counting the calories burnt
under her breath, aware of every
respiring cell

there's a girl, Sun, who gave up on life age seven
but she's still here, ten years on
still hammering with her tiny wrists,
demanding better

Sun, there's a girl who fainted in the college canteen
who won a battle against a pack of fish and chips
and escaped genocide at five
she's worth more today than you'll ever be

Sun, there's a girl opening her skin because
she can't take it any more
she's seventeen and she's saved at least
as many lives

these girls are mental patients.
they're also students, geniuses, artists,
daughters, writers, volunteers, overachievers.
and killers, Sun?

you shouldn't be scared of faceless crazies in straight-jackets, Sun
you should be scared of that girl you see at the bus stop in her school uniform
of the quiver-voiced teenage picketer with big ideas
of the girl with the silly little blog

you should be terrified, Sun,
because these girls have a third of your years and a hundred times
your strength. and one day
maybe they'll kill you

mad pride, past tense (tw)

I've been excavating my old illnesses lately. I remember very little of those two years, and little more of what preceded them. Sometimes my mum or friends will recall something I have no memory of, and I know that they have a better idea of what happened but I'm too ashamed to ask. So I've been trying to piece together what happened based on my fragments of memory - distorted and messy as they are - and old blog posts, without which I think I'd have no sense of identity. I'm still trying to figure out the details and it'll probably be a long time before I share them, but something I've become absolutely aware of was the sheer madness of the person I was. Psychotic, delusional, suicidal mad. Unable to be left in a room alone because I'd hurt myself. Purging because I ate more raspberries (a calorie each) than I'd factored into my intake plan for that day. Walking around town in the middle of the night, frantic, looking for somewhere that sold laxatives, painkillers, anything to make it stop. Bingeing and purging before school, in school, after school, all night. Back then, I used words like control, empty, perfect; now, I am faced with words like bulimia, history of self-harm and suicide attempts, crazy.

I've been self-harm free for almost 17 months now, though it feels like a lifetime; a whole other person. My eating disorder disappeared more recently, maybe four months ago, and yet even that feels almost mythical now. If I dig deep I can remember, like some half-forgotten nightmare, the panic and self-loathing so powerful that I took a blade to my skin and tore at my throat with my fingernails. But only glimpses, and I can't tell if they're real or imagined or some combination of the two. I can't relate to that person now, and yet I carry the marks on me still. I feel, for the first time in years, continuity with the person I was before all this happened. I can listen to the albums I loved at 12, 13 and feel the same feelings I did then; I look back at the years after and feel nothing. It's like a great gaping hole in my past. I have no fucking idea what happened.

Which is why I'm reluctant to carry the mad pride badge, even though the failures of the mental health system and the stigma and the discrimination make me want to go back to smashing down doors. I'm writing this because I saw Alan Farrell's (a representative of the Irish parliament) tweet suggesting that mad people shouldn't be given an airing on television. And Miley Cyrus' tweet, and every other vicious comment I hear every day - by strangers and by people I trust - about those suffering from mental health issues. It's everywhere, and it's horrible and heartbreaking, and yet I don't feel personally victimised by it like I do by sexist or classist language. And that lack of immediate response, I think, is proof that it's over. The moment of looking down at my arms and being confused, just for a second, by their criss-crossing lines: that's the proof.

I was mad once, for a couple of years, but I'm not any more. I'm neurotic always, premenstrually suicidal, sometimes depressed. But not mad, not like I was. I'm proud of every day that I was, though, because every day I survived. And I'm proud as hell now it's over.