An Open Letter to Katie Hopkins; the Know-it-all who Knows Nothing

Dear Katie,

I became aware of your tweets regarding your opinions on Depression and Alzheimer’s earlier this week when I was made aware of your tweets via a Facebook and Twitter feed which had virtually exploded with outrage at your insensitive, bigoted and frankly quite disgusting comments regarding two of the largest issues of mental health which are affecting people in this country on a daily basis. Usually, I would be quietly outraged about a number of your comments, as your controversial nonsense is expected – you’re the ‘go to girl’ for a heartless and insensitive comment which demeans the very existence of many people not just in the UK, but across the world. However, as an individual who has been suffering with depression for years and recently lost a family member after a decade long battle with Alzheimers, I felt that it was time to speak up. Firstly, I’ll address the comments on depression, and then those on Alzheimers.

Depression is not a ‘holy grail of illnesses’ or ‘the passport to self-obsession’ as you have so crudely alluded on your Twitter feed. It’s isolating, lonely and, contra your super weird opinion that people ‘want depression’, sufferers would give anything for the end. Be that the end of the illness or, in some sadly extreme cases, the end of their lives. I used to be a bubbly, happy individual who had the whole world at her feet and couldn’t wait to experience the life that I had ahead of me. I wanted to experience it all and I vowed to make the most of every single day of my life that I had to live. But then I was hit by a black ball hurtling at me at such speed that I couldn’t dodge it. It hit me. I couldn’t breathe, felt like I was drowning in blackness and I was fighting to push the blackness away – to get it out of me. When I eventually thought I had broken free I was an entirely different person, the real me locked inside my head behind bars screaming to be let free.

Depression is not easy; it’s bloody hard work and every single day is a struggle to get through. Every single morning getting up is a battle with the covers. Not as a result of laziness because you want ‘ten more minutes’, but as a result of the fact that there is a hard wired belief that there is nothing worth getting up for, and you can’t face going through another day of forcing on a smile to convince others that you’re okay – that you’re normal. You’re afraid that the mask will slip, that people will see you for the self-loathing, unbelievably distraught individual that spends hours every single day fighting back the urge to give into the black hole of sadness in her stomach and cry her heart out until the tears won’t come any more. You don’t cry about anything in particular, but for some reason that black hole is constantly there, threatening to expose you for what you truly are; depressed.

Your eating habits are thrown out of sync. You binge regularly, because food all of a sudden is capable of giving you that emotional nourishment that you feel you are lacking from everyone else. We know that in reality it doesn’t work, but that need to feel connected to something is sometimes the only thing which is preventing dark desires from taking over, such as the desire to cut your wrists, swallow that entire bottle of paracetamol that is in the cupboard, or curl up into a ball on the bathroom floor and let the tears flow and flow until you either black out or someone needs to get ready. You then find yourself too unhappy to eat. You don’t feel worthy of the nourishment that the vitamins will give to your body. You’re too weak to move from the spot you’re lying or sitting in to go to the kitchen in search of something to feed yourself, and even if you were capable it would be a pointless exercise as it would be bland and tasteless, followed by a feeling of nausea as the bite you’ve just taken hits your stomach and almost forces your gag reflex into action.

You lose all interest in your appearance. You know you’ve gained weight because of the emotional eating, and that just makes you hate yourself even more. You buy and wear clothes that hide the damage you have done to yourself as a result of overeating so that nobody will look at your appearance in any way which can be perceived as positive – you don’t deserve it, and if you were wearing something more form fitting there is the fear of rejection through hideous comments which prevents you from doing so. You want to be invisible, because when you’re invisible you don’t have to work hard to hide the anguish which is eating you away inside. You stop wearing makeup on a regular basis, despite the fact that you might never have left the house without it. If you do wear it, it’s just enough to cover the signs of maltreatment – the spots which have appeared as a result of the unhealthy oily food, the blemishes which give away the tears which have been shed and the dry, sallow skin which gives away the fact that you’ve barely slept. Your hair is shoved back into a mere ponytail. You don’t even bother to brush it when it’s been washed. You eventually stop caring about the weight gain, and give in to the pity cycle which you have resigned yourself to the notion of being the puppeteer of your life.

You push those that you love away because you can’t bear to admit to them that you’re feeling so hopeless and unimportant. Your moods fluctuate as the veneer begins to crack behind closed doors, and you spend as little time around family as you possibly can. After all, they can see you for who you truly are because they have loved you for your entire life. There is no hiding from them. You flare up with anger when you’ve been challenged, all of those feelings which you have bottled up inside spilling out into what has now become an emotional battlefield. You try to reign it back, but you can’t. You end relationships because you don’t feel you can give your partner what they deserve, despite the fact that they’ve held you in their arms and let you cry just because you needed to.

That was my reality for depression, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, and anybody who would want to feel like all is lost and be labelled as such is clearly insane. They’re certainly not those who wish to be seen as fashionable or ‘In’. It’s taken me a long time to try and pull myself out, and I’m only just beginning to see life as being one which is worth enjoying and taking advantage of. But I’m lucky – I’m not one of those who are clinically depressed and as such are unlikely ever to find a way to bring themselves out of the endless cycle of despair which is controlling every single decision that they are making in their lives. Not everyone has the same munchausens-esque approach to their lives as you do. As someone who is quite happy to be on the receiving end of bad press and hateful comments, you quite clearly have some serious mental health issues of your own
regarding attention seeking and the need to comment on EVERYTHING.

Just because there has been a 500% increase in people being diagnosed with the illness (as you say) doesn’t mean that it’s being treated as a fashionable condition which doctors are keen to label people with. It’s because campaigns raising awareness of the illness are leading to people who had previously been suffering in silence seeking help. They don’t feel ashamed or afraid any more as society no longer shuns people who have mental health problems in the way that it maybe did twenty or thirty years ago. There is no need to feel ashamed of admitting that you need help, and there is certainly none in being yourself be that a happy, fulfilled individual or one who feels like they have absolutely nothing in the world. After all, there’s an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with early onset cancer, but there is no way that you would even consider of them seeking attention for wanting a ‘fashionable’ illness because that’s something you can’t argue with. It’s there in black and white because it’s a disease that you can see whereas depression isn’t. But just because you can’t see it doesn’t make it less real, life threatening or important. And demeaning people who are struggling with this diagnosis in the way that you have is appalling and for those who are at breaking point, could prompt a dangerous behaviour. Be it harm to themselves or harm to someone else.

As for the Alzheimers comments, there is very little to say on that subject except the fact that the utter drivel which you spouted on that topic was more toxic than any known substance on this planet. How you can so off handedly state that the sufferers should be euthanised, to paraphrase your comments, is utterly inhumane and so hurtful to those who have to watch their parents, grandparents and spouses deteriorate on a daily basis. Because they aren’t entirely gone. You lose them slowly, but these patients never lose their reason for living. My grandmother was diagnosed ten years ago, and passed away last month after an incredibly gruelling journey of regression to childhood. But despite the fact that she forgot where she was, that her husband had died and that she had no recollection of any events which had taken place over the past ten years and much of the period before that, she always knew that she had family who loved her. She talked about us, albeit fleetingly. Every time we would visit her at the care home she was living in, she would have no idea who we were for much of the time, but then a glimmer of recognition would flit across her eye, and for the brief moments that she did recognise her grandchildren and daughter, she was ecstatically happy. Those moments were worth all the hardship for her, and for us. To say that an Alzheimers patient is unaware that they are living is a gross misunderstanding of the illness and its progression.

The decision not to look after her at our home was also one which was taken out of our hands. As a family which is forced to move almost annually as a result of factors outside of our control, it would not be fair to have carted her around with us. It would have been unfair to take her out of an environment which she knew and recognised, and had been so happy in for most of her life. The quality of care that she received at the home she was a resident in was also beyond the standard of anything which she could have received if we had looked after her. She had constant companionship, nurses and doctors who saw to her every health need, she received different types of therapy aimed at slowing the disease and she had people to talk to about things which had occurred in her past which we would have no understanding of. It was the right choice for her, and every decision which we made for her care, was made solely with her in mind. That does not make us bad people and it certainly doesn’t mean that we should have given up on her.

So to finish, it would be my advice to you to either inform yourself fully of everything which you are quite happy to comment. A majority of the issues you comment on, you are so ill informed on that you are in danger of spreading poisonous and dangerous ideas which have the potential to destroy what is left of the humane society that we live in today. They can lead to people harming themselves or others, while you sit safely behind your keyboard or your phone mindlessly talking crap. Just because you have an opinion on something does not make it a truth which people have to ‘get over’ or ‘deal with’. It makes you a sad, pathetic individual who feels the need to belittle others. A sad, pathetic individual who is, actually, wrong when discussing a large number of the ‘truths’ she claims to speak. How someone like you managed to become a ‘voice of the people’ in a newspaper is beyond my comprehension as you are clearly very out of touch. So out of touch, in fact, that many people are wishing that you would in fact be euthanised sooner rather than later so that it puts an end to your idiocy. Everyone has the right to life, regardless of which world they find themselves living in. Be it a regressed world, a depressed world, or a joyful one. One thing is for sure though – you are in no position to judge anyone for the way their life is lived. But before you attempt to apply that yourself, you opened yourself up to judgement the moment you decided to write such heartless and hateful words.

Sincerely,

Someone who knows what they’re talking about

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