The Price of Disability and Mental Health

Yesterday I completed almost 2 year of Psycho-dynamic Therapy, and the best part of this slightly scary but exciting experience is, it was my decision to leave. This may seem odd, but after dedicating more that 100 Tuesday afternoons to an intense examination of my life,  I am now well enough to stop. I have learnt so much in this time about myself, and  in in any other relationship I would call my therapist my best friend. She has supported me through this journey with intelligence and total compassion and it is Ali I will miss most.

Living with Depersonalisation means I have had to relearn what emotions feel like; to try and clarify this I ‘feel’ with my body, I experience the ranges of emotion physically, negative emotions like anger and I develop intense heartburn, annoyance is felt in my stomach, pleasurable emotions come from my back and shoulders. I understand this might seem really odd but it is a part of who I am, and now I recognise the signs I can manage my responses. Similarly learning to accept and understand why and how my Depression affects me I am confident I can better manage it.

With Ali’s assistance I have realised I will always have my mental illness, and that I can live with it without it consuming me, I have rediscovered that although I have both physical and mental disabling factors these do not define me.

Of the vast amount of knowledge I gained, the one I’m sharing is the reaffirmation that I along with every living being, is by virtue of our existence, Enough. Enough may seem a strange word to use, but I struggled to find one that didn’t suggest having a financially cost to it, a Google synonym check on valuable returned:  Precious, Costly, High-priced, High cost, Expensive, Dear, in the first line.

The notion of life having a price, allows and goes some way to inform the rhetoric of the current government. When each person apparently has a cost appointed to them; it most be remembered some people are deemed more expensive than others, for example it is asserted disabled people cost £570 a month,  Taking this a step further, Conservative  ideology appears to assert each person must literally ‘pay their way’  and wherever someone is entitled to financial help from the State, this Price is paramount.

I propose it is this thinking that underpins the persistent discrimination against people claiming benefits and in particular disabled people. Claimants are reminded throughout the process of claiming and interminably in the majority of main stream media, to be as Failing to contribute, and be the direct opposite of valuable which is worthless.

The seemingly endless assertions of worthlessness certainly amplified my recent descent into severe depression, and the increase in poverty I and other disabled people are experiencing will continue to have a negative impact on my mental health.

Through therapy I recognised I had internalised the Conservative ideology of a price on my own life, and that I had found myself lacking. However acknowledging this has given me the tools to address it, I have forgiven myself for absorbing this poison but not the authors of this rhetoric.

I know how fortunate I am to have had access to Ali, she has helped me comprehend the real value of Life as a disabled woman but more importantly as me.

 

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Time for ALL Survivors of the Hostile Environment to come Together

I’m not the first to say this, Leon  , has both blogged and tweeted as have others and I want to reiterate an belief I’ve written about before

I believe it is now time we multiple survivors of the ‘Hostile Environment, created and managed by those in power, came together. The  racist and discriminatory treatment of the people in the #Windrush generation has appalled so many, and I truly get it. 

We disabled people have spent the past eight fighting to survive as our lifelines have been slashed away and we have lost thousands of our community already as a result. But the discrimination, which I believe it is continues, just as it will for anyone considered unwelcome by the elite.

We who feel this way are no longer alone Kenan Malik in the Observer today considers how the working classes have been used by obscure the racism of the elite; Barbara Ellen raises the points of how the powers are continually abusing homeless people, and in a slightly older post Dt Frances Ryan links the Cuts and Austerity to those with low/no incomes face similar discrimination. These are by no means the only groups striving in this Hostile Environment, spare a thought for Refugees, those trafficked in modern slavery, Rape and Abuse survivors, EU Citizens, the groups are mind blowing.

I am sick of being kicked, threatened, intimidated and abused by the Discriminatory Policies and Actions of the Elite and if you feel the same, then what are the options? We come together to make the Statement of Enough heard , we continue surviving until we can no longer do so or we become as the German citizens did under the far Right; the Choice is Ours to make.

So again I ask is it not time or ALL of subjected to the prejudices of those in , and those who really hold the power came together to say ENOUGH, Change Must Come and it Must be For the benefit of us ALL.

The hows and means are for a later discussion firstly we must decide Together WE Can

 

From Leon (as above)

We should start using those two words (Hostile Environment) in all communications with the DWP whether that be over the phone, in the Job Centre or indeed its contractors who are contracted to create it

All you have to say is ” I feel discriminated with all this hostility”

EXCLUSIVE #Disability Discrimination means Son is removed from Home?

The following true tale is the introduction into what will be a series of posts regarding a seeming miscarriage of justice and potential disability discrimination; names have been changed to protect the identities of these involved. The purpose of this post is to help the family concerned achieve real justice; please share as widely as possible.

Alison is a single parent of14 year old Adam, both live with various diagnosed and pending diagnosis health disorders including Fibromyalgia and Elhers Danos; Alison is also Autistic and symptoms suggest Adam is as well.

Due to Adams health, he found it difficult to cope with school from the beginning and despite special educational needs intervention, including one to one lessons he struggled experiencing bullying which resulted in him developing depression. These experiences became worse during Adams transition from junior to senior school, so much so that in 2015, Alison began to home educate him. Utilising her qualifications in Advanced Sports Therapy, Holistic Therapies and counselling, Alison along with other professional devised and delivered a programme of education with a wide variety of skills and healthy activities. This proved very successful wih two reviews from the LEA and feedback from the young carers project Adam attended, resulting in him showing a general improvement in mental capacity, attitude and general happiness.

However despite the improvements in Adams education and development the local social services were unhappy and persuaded Alison to undertake a psychological assessment. This transpired to be 4 and ½ hours of Rorschach testing and a further 3 hours of probing of her medical history, during which time Alison without an advocate, perhaps understandably became extremely agitated. The findings of this assessment, which interestingly Alison’s own GP deemed totally unnecessary, was Alison being regarded as having Somatic Syndrome Disorder and thus influencing Adam into thinking he has medical conditions.  The findings despite an array of medical, educational and other evidence to the contrary, was then used by social services to go to court, the outcome being Alison was found to be unable to care for her son and Adam was removed from home and taken into care.

The court when considering Adams future, refused to consider the historical  and educational evidence of Adams physical and psychological health and relied entirely upon Alisons psychological assessment. The miscarriage of justice transpired therein as it appears that the psychological assessor determined: Alisons willingness and ability to research the most appropriate consultants for her sons health, indicates she is only willing to work with selected professionals; further it seems Alisons knowledge that her personal diagnoses of autism and elher danos both have a genetic pre-disposition to health issues, was considered by the assessor as a desire to transpose these onto Adam.

Further the court found that Adam should be taken into care permanently and that contact with his mother would only be regulated once Alison shows no further concern for the health of her son.

The second post will follow soon.

PIP – Permanently Irritation Persecution?

Recent experience leads me to ask the question what does is PIP – Personal Independence Payment OR Permanently Irritation Persecution?

In February  I wrote about how following the DWP rules resulted in my health deteriorating, since then it has been one thing after another. The report from Capita following this assessment  was dire, therefore it was back into the Mandatory Reconsideration process once again, and duly into the request for Tribunal.

I duly received my date for tribunal on May 26th and whilst preparing myself to attend at 10.00 am that morning I had a call from the court telling me the panel had adjourned the event as they wanted further information from my GP. This stunned me and I was left dealing with the vast amount of adrenalin coursing through my body, but I tried to focus on how this delay might well be a positive thing.

In regular circumstances I should have heard nothing more until the information had been accessed and the new date set; however this is the DWP we’re dealing with. Last Saturday (and I’m becoming convinced all of these letters are posted to arrive at the weekend), I received a letter from Capita stating as a result of my recent application for PIP I needed to arrange an assessment!! Yesterday whilst I was at my mums, my partner phoned the DWP and eventually was told this new assessment had been requested by the tribunal; he also called Capita who arranged for the assessment to be next Monday 13/6/16 .

Today I received a form from the tribunal  requesting my permission for them to contact my GP, so I called them to ask about the assessment request; only to be informed by the court they had not, nor could they, request another assessment!

I immediately phoned the DWP and after repeating the information to told my partner, was informed by this call centre person (Colin) they could not understand why he’d  been told this, and as far as Colin could see a new case (claim) had been opened on 25/5/16 and this was the reason for the assessment?!  After informing Colin of my Capita appointment he agreed to email the case manager for an urgent call back.

This is just another episode in the ongoing saga of my PIP claim; this causes me to question if the competence levels of the DWP are diminishing ever lower or is PIP merely another way for those in Government to further persecute the sickest members of society? What I do know is this seemingly endless torment is seriously screwing me up.

 

Government #Disablism Discrimination in Action

This week a woman not known for her timidity, admitted how a non-disabled man had used his presence and the environment to disempower her; I’m referring to Dame Anne Begg and the she interview gave to the BBC. In the Daily Record Dame Anne is quoted as saying “Iain Duncan Smith took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair…Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.’” Dame Anne also was recorded as having explaining how “she would normally reproach people who invaded her personal space but she let him off“.

This is an excellent example of how competent, intelligent, and independent disabled people not only experience prejudice – as people either knowingly or subconsciously, use their bodies, words or actions to oppress us; but how this actively exasperates and diminishes us.

It is no coincidence I use this example with IDS being the perpetrator, as it is again his department, the DWP, I am discussing today. In November last year I introduced you to Burt, who with our support at DEAEP was transferred from WRAG to the support group last December; since then Burt has received up to three letters a month plus texts reminding him of his “Back to Work” appointments! Each month Burt has responded to each letter with a phone call saying “but I’m in the Support Group”, he has received an apology and a promise to rectify this from each call; yet it has continued.

Burt is a former career soldier who fought in wars all over the world, until being retired out with a crushed spine and severe PTSD, amongst other conditions, all contracted during his service.  He isn’t a naturally timid man, he loved his Army life and willingly gave everything to “Queen & Country”, as his service record and the plethora of photographs and awards proudly displayed in his lounge demonstrate; and yet the persistent harassment he has experienced from the DWP in the past 2 years has left him joyless, feeling without purpose and literally unable to complain.

As Dame Anne alluded to regarding IDS, his actions which amount to bullying in my opinion, makes it difficult if not impossible to positively challenge the perpetrator(s); and this is the situation Burt is in. Personally I can totally relate to this, and would suggest many readers and other claimants can also. It is these dismissive attitudes and continuous intimidation by the DWP that creates the ‘Brown envelope Syndrome’, so well recognised by those of us unfortunate enough to claim benefits; it is also this oppression, and misuse of positions of power, that has contributed to the deaths of many us.

How much worse this is going to get following the closure of ILF and a budget, which I believe initiates the removal of WRAG? Being forced to deal with increasing poverty is physically and psychologically damaging enough without having to deal with this prejudice and discrimination from the DWP.

I find this particularly ironic that jobseekers (presumably including those who would have been placed in WRAG)  are being mandated to participate in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which claims to Stop negative thought cycles; I can’t help but think IDS, his ministers and the staff at DWP would benefit far more from CBT than claimants?

#LetsTalkAbout Race; A white perspective on Challenging Rising Racism

Two articles in The Guardian caught my eye this week, the first considers a rush by Ofsted to tackle extremism in education as being “symptomatic of a political frenzy born of hatred“; the second is the editorial identifying “an overlooked report shows that employers trying to fill low-paid jobs draw migrants to the UK“.

Both of these posts allude to the current establishment revealing their true attitudes and apparently, despite the numerous changes to Law over of the past 50 or so years, the Elite along with I suggest many others, still hold Racist beliefs. Whilst this may not in itself seem shocking, I’d go so far to suggest it could with some work by us all, prove positive!

On the surface, this claim from a white woman may well seem plain wrong but please bear with me. I’ve argued for years that it’s so much easier to positively challenge sexist (and later ableist) attitudes and behaviour when they’re overt, rather than when ‘hidden’ under a façade of politically correct language and I suggest this might be the same for dealing with racism. Personally I much prefer to demonstrate how prejudicial attitudes are founded in mythology by use of facts and evidence, but this requires the challenger to hold the data and the holder of the prejudices to ‘own’ them, namely to say what they think and when such notions are however subtly obscured, this is much harder.

From my professional experience I understand that often people, of all self defined Races, find it hard to positively challenge Racism, for reasons  which are as variable as the people themselves. The classic argument for why people hold onto prejudice is usually summarised as being  ‘fear’ of the unknown, which has given rise to the raft of educational projects around difference, sharing experiences and stereotyping; but after half a Century of such, surely its time to acknowledge these soft approaches have only made the slightest impact.

The UK urgently needs a new way to talk about Race,  its now obvious the way of the recent past way, a refusal to acknowledge and discuss anything other than positive examples of so called cohesion has failed. The reality is Racism, along with all other prejudicial sentiments, not only exists but is thriving, and I believe this has gone some way to enable the rise in support for Right Wing Politics once again becoming mainstream, albeit wrapped up in UKIP.

The fundamental beliefs of segregation, obedience, and a natural order are not compatible with the world today, fortunately too many of us have been educated beyond the ideals of the local Lord and Squire; yet it is that world we are nonchalantly strolling backwards towards. We allow the Government to remove our freedom to education, movement, health and even a home, via electing those who would deny us such unless we have enough fiscal worth, and all the while blaming the worlds ills on immigration?

Perhaps I’m Naive, but I can’t accept this return to ignorance, feudalism and life by lottery of birth is what people really want; but if I’m correct then those of us opposing such must step up and accept, we have a large role to play.  Racism as we’re seeing above only occurs when the perpetrators feel safe, and they believe they have an audience to support them. It is our responsibility to let them know they are wrong.

For this reason, the fact that the aftermath of Operation Trojan Horse may as Zoe Williams suggests become this Governments Section 28 moment, offers opportunities for real challenges to Racism. Taking this a step further “the saga of the Hungarian sandwich-makers” and the totally hypocritical stance of Government, on of the scandal of business owners actively recruiting migrant low paid workers, is another argument that demonstrates how the establishment thinks about Race.

Both the articles indicate how Race and indeed all isms, are still thriving among those in Power.  Whilst this is illegal, immoral and downright unacceptable, the fact this perspective is once again becoming  open, offers us an excellent opportunity to unreservedly challenge these prejudices, preventing yet more Discrimination. Unless we really desire a return to the ‘good’ old days, we with any privilege left must use it and challenge this Racism as the vile bigotry it is.

Thanks to MHealth Extremist @wildwalkerwoman for editing xxx

 

 

 

 

Political Fury and Personal Responsibility

Once again I’m finding it difficult to sit down and write, I’m finding myself inundated with the appalling tales of life in the UK today; this week I’ve internally wept (there is a reason why only internally, but that is a tale for another day) as I read of IDS laughing  as a rape victim was forced to defend her right to feel safe in her own home as it was debated a PMQ. I Squealed when the DWP refuted hard evidence of people using foodbanks due to Benefit issues and this fury continued as the blogs I follow come in to my inbox daily with stories of people suffering or even dying.

Today we all got up to, unless of you stayed up to watch,  the news the UKIP have their second MP. I freely admit  I have a problem with this; I really do not understand why anyone would want a Government of a) the same as now but worse or b) a Right Wing Government many of our grandparents went to war to fight?

Why oh Why are people, often those detrimentally affected by the Policies and behaviour of the Coalition, not supporting the fight back?

As l regular readers will know I’ve spent my life, campaigning against injustice, prejudice and discrimination; I’ve also been responsible along with Debbie Sayers for the #TruthCampaign –  our efforts to have Iain Duncan Smith forced to answer for the discriminatory Policies of the Welfare Reform Act.

Last year over 500.000 people signed to have him held to account by the select committee, and he was; now we want more we are demanding Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards,  investigate him for persistently misleading both Parliament and the Public, But…for some reason getting the signatures is proving problematic, I’m unsure if it is because people don’t get why it is important,  they think its not worth doing or they just aren’t bothered?

Whatever the reasons people are not signing IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES, I will keep pushing; I believe, an investigation of IDS would prove a catalyst for ensuring both the Tories and Labour to rethink their proposals for their Election Manifesto. If we can show Ministers will be held personally responsible for the fallout of  discriminatory, unfair and downright deadly Policies, I doubt they’d be as keen to continue to blame us.

If you agree with anything here, please continue to share our petition and let’s take some our of power  back.

Sign Up to the #TruthCampaign  Tweet #IDSTimeForTruth