Tag Archives: Anxiety

Post Uni Blues: My motorboard drowned in the deep blue sea.

I  researched on depression after university, so I typed in “Depression after university ” on the search bar at Google and the results automatically popped up with many headings including: “Post uni blues”, “Post-College Depression”, “Depression after uni” and “Post-graduation depression”. The first row caught my eye was an article entitled: Post-Graduation Depression published in The Guardian in late 2001. I clicked on the link, leading me to read the interesting article. Having read similar experiences from various websites and personal blogs, I start to realised I was suffering from it.

According to the article, it is considered to be a common phase among most graduates, as they are leaving behind the culture of  lecturers, seminars, assignments, waking up late, all night partying, getting drunk on cheap cider and other alcoholic beverages at the SU, dieting on takeaways, baked beans on toast to hand in their Student IDs and NUS cards to find their feet in the big wide pond, the labour market. The labour market are quite ruthless towards new upcoming graduates who are wet behind the ears by the traditional stereotype that a degree earns you a first class ticket into the labour market. Unfortunately, I happened to be one of them.

The biggest symptom I picked up was insomnia where I find myself going to bed at 7 in the morning and wake up at 3 or 9.30 at night smelling of dried up sweat, the aftermath from every crippling anxiety attack. The minute I tossed my own cap up in the neutral warm sky, I found myself instantaneously crippled with constant anxiety attacks and bewilderment on what the future may hold.  I was forced to accept the epiphany that I was transitioning from the regressed naive mature student who assimilated to the student culture to constantly fight in a battle to adapt to the world of uncertainty and competition. Everyday, my mind has been constantly intruded by various career options including, lawyer, chef, doctor, journalist and the list goes on without giving me a chance to select a definite route that suits me.

I spent my time brainstorming on possible career options that is relevant to my degree (Criminology and Sociology Joint) so I would not feel I wasted three years of studying a subject that I’m not going to implement into something constructive. Somehow, the word “Journalism” constantly pops in my subconscious mind the most as I considered myself to be highly observant with a fascination of people, alarmed by current affairs and historical events that provides a legacy from generations to generations to come. Above all, have a subconscious passion for writing and expressing my knowledge onto paper.

However, that idea and the hope of breaking the vicious circle was short-lived by the  invasion of the “Special Needs” Label which dominated and tormented my mental psyche yelling at me: “Although you got that 2:1, you’re still the special needs boy. You’re not gonna be anybody, you’re nothing, you’re dumb and always gonna make a fool out of yourself in whatever you do!” That label had haunted me throughout my childhood, my school days,  my adolescence and now post – graduation.

The only way to escape from the blues and the harsh realities of unemployment,  competitions and discrimination held in the big wide world was to dissociate into my daydream state. At mostly times, force myself to sleep. I managed to wake up, only to join the dole queue signing on, researching and making various and numerous applications to recruitment sites or bullied into meeting up with friends who are still in university where one of them cannot take “no” for an answer and doesn’t seem to understand my circumstances.

I took a trip down to memory lane in early August to the town centre, the park where I used to socialise and play imaginatively with the other children, the schools I attended, things have changed dramatically. The park used to have swings, benches where I usually sit down by myself staring at wide scenery feeling in touch with nostalgia whenever I hear echoes of my childhood screams of glee pleading people to stop when I was span around on the rotating poles to a point I hallucinated with the bright green field.

Now, the whole park has been filled with a large mass of green grass covering a huge space of carefree innocence, another tell – tale sign that I have no choice but to enter the world of adulthood. I can have a bit of fun and relax once in a while. The only thing that concerns me as a post-graduate adult is to rather think on independently and logically rather than being dependent on others. Whenever I wake up, the first noise that hit my hears were the joyful screams coming from the lungs of children in the school playground giving me that nostalgic sense of being carefree and comforted are now permanently vanished.

The mixed feelings of sadness and resentment invades mind driving me to sleep again until those screams die out. It sent me another nostalgic feeling when I was a kid, running around feeling protected from potential grown ups who would peer through the fence. Hearing these screams made me want to jump onto the fast train reversing back to my childhood. Unfortunately, train journeys are not a fan of reversing backwards, same with the hands of time who is also not a fan of turning anti-clockwise. Both train journeys and the hands of the clock are passionate about moving forward so I guess I have no choice but to move forward even though it’s tempting to rewrite history, an easy option for those who dwell onto guilt and regret.

I instantly became the same person before I return to college undertaking an Access course, a fast – track ticket to university, watching daytime television shows, joining the dole queue at my job centre to sign on so I can get my fortnightly benefits motivating me to search for work with no intention on what I wanted to do in the long-term but to use the benefit money to build my bank balance, whilst sending in CVs and completed job application forms to various sites and companies with no intention on what I want to do.

I spent most of my post-uni period grieving my 3 years of freedom and self-discovery by looking through uni photos posted onto my Facebook account, repeatedly reading my essays scribbled with ticks, feed-backs and grammatical errors, which led me to bully myself telling myself : “You should have worked harder to obtain a First as that was your aim” Rather than having my own best friend who who keeps reminding me: “It’s better to get a 2:1 than a low mark or no honors at all. Each day starts with me fighting off the feelings of despair, vulnerability and hopelessness into remission only for those feelings to return like an unpleasant boomerang.

These patterns continue to fluctuate throughout Christmas and into the start of 2012. I have already passed the I’m feeling “suicidal” phase and now just surviving and getting on with life struggles. My laziness and insomnia started to take a massive toll on my family as I cannot do simplest tasks, like taking the bins out to be collected, vacuum the whole house and ironing my clothes. One day, I eventually found the strength to drag out the vacuum cleaner  from the cloakroom to start my daily therapeutic outlet, followed by laundry duties. I  learnt to take things easy as it comes, like catch up the latest episodes of Family Guy, Coronation Street, Law and Order, followed by browsing the channel menu of Sky Plus for the latest movies to retreat from the psychological uncertainty by my imagination.

During the post-graduate depressive experience, I start to reflect on past mistakes I made as an undergraduate. One of the mistakes was not planning at the start of my final year by brainstorming  post-graduate routes as I was distracted by the pressures of writing an undergraduate dissertation, essays, falling  into the wrong crowd, participating political protests, and on top of that, allowing myself to be dominated by the “Special Needs” label, the main root of my anxiety and low self-esteem. Cheesy as it sounds I begin to  appreciate even the little things which people take for granted.

Three years later, I have recovered gradually, but still have some symptoms of anxiety, which lessened thanks to positive thinking. After months on a government – funded work programme, without any positive outcome, it looks like on a subconscious level, is to reinstate into academics for a master’s degree and progress onto a PhD. This sounds like a promising and optimistic idea. Although I would be aware on regards of numerous internships and work experiences I obtain, the chances to be a victim of the “catch 22” with a burden of debt is fifty – fifty. Despite of the possibilities weighed up including the risk of another post – graduate depressive relapse, I know it will be worth it in the long run.

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How can the impact of poverty be understood in contemporary society?

poverty729-620x349When the word poverty is mentioned, we are captivated by an image of a child no younger than seven wandering the dusty wide streets of a third world country. We are captured by feelings of desperation, hunger, sadness, loneliness and vulnerability through his swollen tearful eyes after an hours’ search for a taste of satisfaction. A picture of his skeletal body pressing onto his flesh mounted on every charity leaflet displayed by street fundraisers we are approached by in our local high streets or a homeless man at the street corner only be heard by the cardboard reading: Homeless and Hungry Please help with an exclamation mark.

Tower block of flats with stairwells overpowered by heavy stench of  urine littered with dirty needles, debris of dust, empty food packets, dried on newspapers and magazine strips. A row of houses with windows patched with wood and walls patterned by graffiti, showing threats, offensive slurs and hatred presumably written by domineering and bullying feral minded youths with the routine of getting drunk on cheap alcohol purchased from shops on what their hostile minds refer as “The Paki Shop”  a typical derogatory banter shared between each member, an obvious reaction after being intoxicated by the cheap booze, brought with their “free money” from the government. Their vocabularies are largely spat out with a tirade of profanityand the only role reputation they have is to be thugs and anti – social menaces. This obviously captures our mind about the consequences of what poverty can bring, hostility and resentment towards those are from middle and upper class backgrounds.

Poverty is a major social issue along with racism, ageism, social exclusion and sexism. Although poverty is acknowledged and there are certain policies with the aim to neutralise  its high numbers, it continues to be a major issue worldwide. Poverty is not difficult to define as comes int two forms. Absolute poverty,  according to Rowntree (1890’s) is to have insufficient funds for their human rights. In clarity, the amount of income a person needs to pay rent, for food and clothing. Being poor also defines not having the materialistic needs to be accepted within the social norms of society in which Townsend (1970’s) defines as relative poverty. Relative poverty is obviously used to explain poverty in western societies where computers and mobile phones are used to be seen as luxuries in the past. Today, it’s becoming a norm for people to own them. If they do not have any of those items, they may be classified as poor and could make them feel excluded from society.

Functionalists like Davis and Moore (1967) and Parsons (1951) see inequality as unavoidable and is essential for society to create social cohesion. In comparison to other social groups, those who from below the poverty-stricken backgrounds remain stuck especially those as their environment lack opportunities that help them to escape poverty, such as apprenticeships, education and work training programmes. Thus, can be a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour caused by the feelings of frustration among subcultures that live there. Poverty can be seen as an incentive to motivate people, especially those who live poverty-stricken towns and neighbourhoods to find ways to better their chances to leave the depressing position behind by taking advantage of education and government related employment programmes. However, they are motivated by financial rewards rather than enrolling on programmes that aim to help them build their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Marxists thinkers like Westgaard and Resler (1976) and Kincaid (1979) argue that the bourgeoisie use poverty as an aid to help them meet their own selfish interest by exploiting the feelings of powerlessness and frustration held in the proletarians . Consequently, inequalities are created and eventually, lead to conflict and resentment by the proletarians towards the bourgeoisie .  The strength of this explanation is that it highlights the concentration of wealth in the capitalist market and explains the ruling class uses the welfare state as a weapon to prevent the poor from rebelling against the capitalist system. Another criticism of the Marxist lens is it ignores the positives inequalities may bring. For example, it will give the poor and those from working class backgrounds the motivation and persistence to rise success and additionally, ameliorate their levels in resilience and coping skills.

Weberian thinkers like Townsend (1970) believe that inequalities are a result of the demands from the labour market and it is strongly influenced by characteristics, such as race, gender, age and  level of education.  From the explanation highlights some points that people can be blamed for causing poverty especially issues of racism and sexism. They (Weberians) also believe that people are enslaved in the poverty trap because they lack the power to force other social groups to increase their level of reward. However, Weberian thinkers can be criticised for ignoring the causes of poverty in individuals, such as discrimination in race, age, disability and socio-economic backgrounds. This (Weberian) approach is seen as  more sensitive to these issues of stratification and inequalities and do not see inequality as the cause of poverty. They see that inequalities focus on power and demands from the labour market. Weberians concurs  with the Marxists that inequality is unavoidable in the capitalist system. However, they do not mean that poverty itself is unavoidable. Inequalities can be reduced through progressive taxation, which means that the more money people earn, the more taxes they pay and suggest that relative poverty should be eliminated. This they believe could neutralise the financial burdens endured by those who are from lower and working class backgrounds.

The New Right believe capitalist economies play a key role in poverty  because businesses need to gain more profits by making sure that public spending are kept short. They (New Right) also believe the welfare state is to blame for causing poverty indirectly by forcing entrepreneurs to make higher tax payments. Consequently,  job opportunities are not created. They  feel the welfare state is responsible for encouraging people to be more interested in claiming benefits, which creates fatalistic attitudes, believing they are better off living on handouts rather than working for a minimum wage as they are put off by the possiblity of rejection from potential employers and a vicious no win situation. However, a criticism of the New Right is that poverty would increase if the welfare state was eradicated, thus exacerbating the levels of mixed emotions among those who are already trapped. They will unable to afford a healthy diet, leaving them susceptible to common illnesses, which could leave them absent from the labour market. This means, they won’t be receive a regular income to cover the basic needs for survival.

Women are more likely to suffer from poverty than men because of discrimination and demands of their stereotypical roles in patriarchal societies. Since the feminist’s movement in the 1960s, which severed ties with patriarchy, women are now striving for education and careers. However, women are more likely to gain part – time and menial jobs and this could have an impact on their pensions in later life. Women tend to dominate single parent families than men, making their chances of obtaining employment more challenging because of childcare duties. As a result, become more dependent on the state, leaving them sinking into a vicious circle. Feminists, especially those with radical views can argue the welfare state discourages women from seeking employment and as welfare state symbolises patriarchal control and feel threaten to be sanctioned if they work. Glendinning and Millar (1994) stressed that women may be restricted of access to other types of benefits and only 60% of women are entitled for maternity leave.

Women who are in the poverty trap tend to exploit the welfare state by producing more babies and could lose their benefits if they obtain employment. This can be seen as a criticism ignored by feminist thinkers additionally, the subject of prostitution, where women will engage in this risky activity to achieve the basic needs for survival especially those with children. This would result them to abuse particularly rape by their pimps and clients if they refuse to give them their services, in fear of having unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. This would eventually leave them permanently incarcerated in the poverty trap.

Neera Sharma, a Policy Officer from Barnados (BBC News) says that poverty can impact a child’s personal, social and educational development. Lack of a healthy diet, hygiene and unconditional love play a part in child poverty. The cycle of deprivation by Rutter and Madge (1976) illustrates on how poverty can have an effect on people. For example, a child be born into poverty, grows up in a council estate and gains the lower class status. They may suffer from health problems because of their poor diet and this would affect their education performance and consequently, drop outwith no qualifications and difficulties of holding down a job and the cycle persists into adulthood. This could provoke them to engage in criminal activities to achieve the basic, materialistic or both needs . Therefore, it would make it difficult for them obtain employment, mirroring the cycle of deprivation. Eventually this cycle can be passed on from generation to generation. This can influence them and adopt this as a way of life manifest the fatalistic attitudes and refuse opportunities in employment and education.

People with disabilities are at risk of  poverty their  able – bodied counterparts as their physical health restricts them from seeking employment and if they do obtain employment, it would be low skilled and low paid. Oppenheim and Harker (1996) estimated that 47% of disabled were living in poverty in the 1980s. They also argue that higher rates of poverty among disabled people were partly due to social exclusion and discrimination because of the hostile attitudes held in the minds of the able-bodied and the stigma held in mainstream society, where they are labelled as “abnormal”. Alcock (1997) points out that disabled people are more likely to suffer from social exclusion and material poverty than able-bodied, thus increasing levels of depression and low self-esteem.

Disabled people have higher spending costs on items such as heating, adaptable aids, transport and heating than most people. 46% of disabled people lived in the poorest conditions in 1985 and reduced down to 38% in 1996 and 1997. The disability living allowance is designed to prevent financial hardships in disabled people and provided incentives, such as skills training and work preparation enabling them to seek employment. However, it can be criticised for ignoring that people can overcome their overcome with the right support and help from charities and governmental programmes specialising in disabilities. Another criticism of disability as it tends to concentrate on physical immobility and not those who are suffer specific learning disabilities, such as Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia and Asperger’s Syndrome. Thirdly, mental health is ignored as those who live with conditions particularly, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are prone to prejudice and discrimination as the hostility held in society views them “crazy” or “mentally abnormal”. Thus excerabates their chances of entering the labour market and mainstream society.

Those who are from Black and Ethnic minority backgrounds are twice at risk of experiencing poverty than their white counterparts. Racial discrimination is obviously seen as the core root of poverty and unemployment. Institutional racism in education is a major problem in contemporary society as teachers hold subconscious negative racial stereotypes and lack understanding in cultural diversity and direction in schools, which result in low education attainment and poor academic performance within black and ethnic minoritity groups, provoking them to drop out. This eventually leads to a restriction of job opportunities and therefore, subject them to be permanently trapped in the cycle of deprivation. Thus, engage in criminal activities, such as drug dealing, theft, fraud and robberies against their white counterparts to express deep-rooted feelings of resentment.

Scott and Fulcher (1999) note that two – thirds of Pakistani and Bangladeshi families are in the bottom fifth of the income distribution in Britain. He also argues that ethnic minorities can experience problems with the benefits system as they receive a fewer amount benefits than their white counterparts and they feel the welfare state does not respond to cultural or family issues  e.g. Afro – Caribbeans are more likely to face poverty because they have higher numbers of single parenthood and treatment by staff at their local job centre. Ethnic groups are more like to be socially excluded due to of racism and language barriers if English is not their first language. Alcock (1997) notes that poor housing; ill-health and lack of education could be linked to financial inequality in the Black and Ethnic minorities, making it obvious that strong levels of racist attitudes held in hegemonic institutions, which can back up argument  causes of poverty within the black  and ethnic communities. Alcock can be criticised for ignoring the link between racial hostility and poverty in black and ethnic minorities especially held in institutions and towns that are predominately white.

In conclusion, poverty continues to make a negative impact in contemporary society, through the theoretical lenses. Marxist thinkers resent the ruling class for the cause of poverty among the poor. However, the chances to rise above the poverty line lies in the self-belief and personal responsibility regardless of their characteristics. Unfortunately, enraged by the negative feelings experienced by poverty, some turn to crime, not knowing it would create a cycle of deprivation for their offsprings. Weberians made good points that people are to blame for their own poverty by refusing to take offers from the labor market and opportunities in education because of their fatalistic attitude. They also argue that poverty indicates the issue of power and status within the labour market along with inequalities. Functionalist thinkers argue poverty cannot be eradicated as it is needed to a certain degree to create social cohesion. Feminist thinkers feel that poverty reveal issues of sexism feeling the welfare state and benefit handouts favours the interest of patriarchy and women are seen as victims of  so-called “patriarchal welfare slavery”.

Class handouts: Sociology AS for AQA, Wealth poverty and welfare p274 – 81.

Class handouts: Poverty and Inequalities.

Class handouts: Theoretical explanations for poverty and the Welfare State.

Class handouts: Individual and groups most at risk of poverty.

Haralambos, M, Holborn, M, Heald, R Sociology Themes and Perspectives: Chapter 5: Poverty and social exclusion, (2000), 5ed, HarperCollins, London, p313 – 14, 334 – 41.

Class handouts: Chapter 4 Poverty and social exclusion p 258 – 61.

Rowntree, S. (1901) Poverty: A study of Town Life, Macmillan, London.

Townsend, P. (1970) ‘Measures and explanations of poverty in high and low-income countries in Townsend (ed.) (1970). (ed.) (1970) The Concept of Poverty, Heinemann, London.

Davis, K and Moore, W.E (1967 first published, 1945) ‘Some principles of stratifications’ in Bendix and Lipset (eds) (1967).

Parsons, T (1951) The Social System, The Free Press, New York.

Westergaard, J. and Resler, H. (1976) Class in a Capitalist Society, Penguin, Harmondsworth.

Kincaid, J. (1979) ‘Poverty and the Welfare State’ in Irvine et al (ed.) (1979).

Glendinning, C. and Millar, J. (1994) Women and Poverty in Britain: The 1990s, Harvester Wheatsheaf, Hemel Hempstead.

Oppenheim, C. and Harker, L. (1996) Poverty: Facts, 3rd edn, CPAG, London.

Alcock, P. (1997) Understanding Poverty, 2nd edn, Macmillan Basingstoke.

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