Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Importance of Being Ignorant

There is an issue around MS that neatly dissects an issue that affects all middle class liberals. Mental health has recently become a debated topic. How much we spend, how we provide services and the taboos that surround it all. With MS it is just another part of the eclectic choice of how our condition can strike. By some reckoning half my tribe suffer depression. So much of what we deal with is hidden from plain view it almost seems appropriate that we add this to our list. MS is the iceberg of modern life, so little exposed but wrecking many a modern family that it strikes.

Good mental health is hard to come by. My first posts here have talked about the need to stop or slow down the rust. I’ve run and swum and run again. MS took alcohol away from me but ironically left me fitter than ever before. My weight dropped and my speed and stamina increased. Physically fitter…

The silver lining in the cloud turned out to be tarnished in a way that only Gerald Ratner could understand. My weight kept dropping and my relationship with food can only be described as “complex”. Did I say “complex”? I meant disfunctional. Why pretend. I am underweight by any sensible measure and calorie count to the point of stupidity. There was an article some short time back in the Guardian writing about how we no longer knew what 2000 calories looked like. Trust me I do. In great obsessive detail.

I am aware my mental health requires help, support even re-engineering. But over the past few months I have been wondering whether I suffer another more common but perhaps more dehabilitating condition. Middle class smugness. I may have MS, a tumour (or two) and a brain soaked in self pity but I live comfortably amongst a settled population all planning our next holiday abroad. We suffer first world problems, fretting about schooling, green belt buildings and the correct level of omega three oils (that last one might just be me).

As such we might just be detached from much of the rest of the country. The AV referendum of 2011 really rammed that home with not just a resounding no but the pattern of voting. The only four areas to vote yes to reform were Oxford, Cambridge, central Edinburgh and central London. The rest of the country just didn’t engage. To me that seemed really odd but the reality is that we were the odd ones. We can’t see it because we live the life of confirmation bias. We only engage with what we agree with or what backs us up. We like what likes us and that creates a huge fricking problem.

I read the Economist and the Guardian. I have always thought that gave me ‘balance’, right and left. But politics evolved from that decades ago. All I read are articles and news presented in a way that confirms my liberal instincts. Which are of course right but… UKIP garnered 4 million votes at the general election. Confirmation bias that this country has 4 million racist idiots or evidence that 4 million people feel marginalised by modern life, left behind by successive governments of any colour?

I begun to add the Daily Mail to my reading but confirmation bias is a bitter enemy to reason and too many articles just screamed “IMMIGRANTS, THEY HAVE COME TO TAKE OUR THINGS!!!” even when, perhaps (*gritted teeth*), there might have been something more. Even if there isn’t the arguement, ignorant or not, deserves to be heard. We have a referendum coming. Either way is a leap in the dark. But unless we work on our inherent confirmation bias we are not even looking before we be leaping, no matter which way we vote.

As it stands my mental health is such that I find it difficult to eat lunch without weighing myself first even though I have slipped below 68kg. I will fix that, recover from that whatever the term is. But that would be pretty pointless if I remain a smug unthinking liberal with just a little more fat.