The gloves are off – now it’s our turn to take responsibility

Edward Case

Columnist

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Judging by the first week of campaigning, the run in to the general election on December 12 is going to make all previous hustings look like a minor skirmish.

There is, of course, a lot at stake here that goes beyond party political dogma. In fact, after voting day some of these parties could look very different indeed.

But at a time when the public can really have their say over Parliament’s disgraceful behaviour over the past three and a half years, the lies, dirty tricks and just plain foot in mouth incidents have gone into overdrive.

Anything that comes out of the mouth of a politician prefaced by “let me be perfectly clear” should be taken with a pinch of salt at any time, but over the next five weeks I would suggest such buzzword-loaded b*****ks needs to be ignored completely.

We need to make a judgement, not on rhetoric or empty promises and certainly not on fraudulent manifestos, but on what we, the people, truly believe to be the right way forward.

This election needs to be about more than party loyalty. The issues – and just as importantly how those issues have been twisted in both Houses – are what is vitally important this time around. Parliament is supposed to be for the people and a lot of them on the benches need to be reminded of that the hard way. Opportunists need to be called out for what they are and sent packing once and for all.

The matter is now in our hands and we need to take on that responsibility beyond just blindly following party partisanship or thinking the important stuff about government with a small g is someone else’s job rather than ours.

Because if we don’t, we have no right to complain about anything that happens from December 13 onwards.

Eyes wide open

For the past four months I’ve been suffering from insomnia. Every night without fail since July I’ve found myself downstairs at around 4am after spending up to three hours in bed, unable to sleep because my brain refuses to turn off.

I’ve tried focusing on my breathing in the darkness, I’ve tried listening to Pink Floyd, Camel, Supertramp and Birth Of The Cool era Miles at his coolest through headphones without even getting groggy while my brain rattles on at full tilt ruminating on things to do, what ifs and what if nots.

I’ve tried Horlicks (not the smartest move for a diabetic), the odd tipple (also not the smartest move for a diabetic) and a few other options. Nothing works.

But as annoying and debilitating as it is, my insomnia is just another facet of an ongoing mental issue I’ve had for my entire life. I don’t necessarily overthink things but I am quick to blame myself for failures to reach my own standards.

If cognitive behaviour therapy achieved anything for me it was to enable me to recognise that. If there’s one constant in my life it’s that I never fail to disappoint myself.

Armed with that knowledge I can function and I can reason – I can see these blips for what they are – chemical imbalances – and set about dealing with them accordingly. It’s not going to alter my perception of self, but is is going to keep me alive until I have a stroke or something.

So many of us with mental health issues (and that’s pretty much all of us to varying degrees, I think) don’t manage to cope with their stray thoughts, which is why the rest of us need to speak out more about our own battles if we can just bring ourselves to do it.

If it helps someone else, even in the smallest of ways, it has to be worth it.

Doesn’t it?

Stupid TV quiz contestant of the week:

The teacher on ITV’s Tipping Point who thought Anne Frank was a fictional character.

Edward Case

Columnist