After I left hospital for the last time it then took me over a year to recover enough from the depressive illness that had laid me low to be capable of making a staged return to work. If I had not been working for the Church of England, which is exempt from much employment law, I would have been given the opportunity to gradually return to full time employment without any loss in status. In fact, I even suggested that I should minister at just one of the two parishes I was attached to until I was up to being responsible for both. But, not only was I told that this was not possible, I was informed by the Bishop of Newcastle, at the time, Martin Wharton (see photo) that I had to retire. Although I successfully fought his discriminatory decision after a few years of short term contracts in a demoted role, he finally managed to get his desire and, with the excuse that I was no longer affordable, I was sacked. I have now been unemployed for six years as no bishop I have approached has been willing to offer me even the opportunity of getting my vocation back.
I am probably the only person in the world today who cries for Thomas Mair, the man who killed Jo Cox. I do not in the slightest condone what he did but I honestly understand something of what he feels because I feel it myself. I am not talking about his xenophobia, that comes from out of a paranoia that is not part of my mental health problems, but what I do know is the feeling of worthlessness he lives with every day of his life. Thomas once told a reporter who was doing a story on the gardens in which he was a volunteer worker, "Many people who suffer from mental illness are socially isolated and disconnected from society, feelings of worthlessness are also common mainly caused by long-term unemployment."
I do not find it difficult to imagine how a person who believes himself or herself to have no worth could easily become convinced that life itself is worthless and that the lives of other people have no inherent worth.
When Martin Wharton dismissed me and removed from me my reason for existence he murdered me. It was murder without a death and I am now faced with an indeterminate period of this living death. I am not exaggerating. Logically I might as well be dead. Worse than that, logically I might as well never have been born. That would have been a mercy.
I believe in God and I believe in judgement and I believe in hell. I do not know what I would be capable of if I did not believe in these things but I fear losing my faith because what can the world take away from the man who has already had everything taken from him and what could then frighten that man?
Bishop Wharton was not arrested for my constructive murder, he was not even reprimanded, not even by his own self-righteous conscience. Ironically, having already taken my life away from me, instead of being punished himself, this man who was supposedly responsible for my spiritual welfare, has condemned me to life imprisonment. I understand that he now enjoys a peaceful retirement in London (somewhere that I cannot even afford to visit let alone reside in).
Maybe depression is the body's way of stopping itself from committing a more natural reaction to the anguish it is being subjected to. Perhaps it sometimes just cannot stop itself. Not an excuse but definitely an explanation and a reminder that no man is solely responsible for his actions and some people, even Church of England bishops, get away with murder.