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”

The Killing STATE of #Tory Britain

More than 100 women in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre have gone on hunger strike over “inhumane” conditions at the facility.” This is a situation beyond despair, the last time I could find multiple women forced into going on hunger strike was in Northern Ireland in 1980/81 with three Irish women starving themselves to death. Before then we have to return to a Century ago; what have the three times in common – Tory Governments.

I’m making no judgement as to why these women were incarcerated, although Asylum seekers and other migrants are imprisoned without committing crime; nor am I suggesting all of the women are innocent. But I am committed to the idea people do NOT enter the ‘Justice system’ to DIE.

Further It is not only women who are suffering in our jails, two men have hanged themselves just in the past two days, one teenager arrested for stealing sweets! On twitter  tells of watching a man be convicted of a series of shop thefts…what became clear was that his family were on the brink of starving & his children malnourished. Hence the thefts which were only of essential items.

In appears the ‘justice system’ is not fit for purpose, and as readers will know this is not the only Government Department desperately failing people of the UK; today a series of articles from @johnpringdns  show the DWP is subverting justice’ at appeal tribunals along with a council being forced to launch an inquiry into the death of a terminally-ill disabled woman who total package of  personal care had suddenly been withdrawn just a few days before she died. And New revelations how our old adversary Esther McVey, had LIED AGAIN to fellow MPs. Pop over to John’s site for more evidence of failure.

The continuing and ever increasing articles containing the evidence and details of vulnerable people DYING  as a result of systematic Government Failure disturbs me greatly. As a life long depressive I have seriously considered ending my life on many occasions in truth I FIGHT these thoughts DAILY, I’m not admitting this for sympathy, I really don’t need or want it, I’m stating this because I Loathe being subjected into survival mode due to an uncaring, dysfunctional and bigoted Establishment. I GET why the women in Yarl’s Wood are risking their lives, it becomes impossible to flourish as a vulnerable person in the UK today; but I HOPE none of them end up life their male counterparts above nor the woman dying because her essential care was removed.

No one deserves the struggles and despair the people above go and went through – None of us, including myself should be forced to fight daily to survive because our Politicians Lie about the dismal state of welfare and justice in the UK today.

I’ll keep on Fighting until I can no longer do so and I sincerely Hope you’ll all join with me to rid the UK of this vile Killing Government

#DWP Review of #PIP A car crash waiting to happen.

So the ‘Honourable’ disabilities minister Sarah Newton stated in a press release (no questions people) the DWP is to review 1.6 Million PIP application forms; so the 220,000 claimants with Mental Health problems (of which I am one) should receive the Mobility element previously disallowed.

This simply Terrifies me. On paper I ought to be able to look forward to a point some time in the (distant?) future, my PIP award resembles a similar amount to that of my prior DLA – about an extra £35 a week. However  I share the fears of  fellow blogger  Joe Halewood ‏who said on Twitter “What sort of idiot thinks reassessing 1.6 m PIP claimants – and it will be a FULL reassessment not just MH aspects – is good news? PIP will go down as well as up and some will have it taken away. 1.6 m more stressed out claimants too!”

Given the Tories track record regarding Disability Benefits, I too am concerned this review will not merely identify claims with Mental Health elements to reassess, I feel this is more of an excuse for DWP to further slash PIP payments. In the aforementioned press release Ms Newton also stated ““We are working with stakeholders to change the PIP assessment guide so that we can implement the judgment.”

Oh dear, more ‘changes’ to the assessment guide? Whilst I  think some of the expected 220,000 claimants will have their benefit increased, I also concur with Joe “PIP will go down as well as up and some will have it taken away”. The outcomes of the original ‘changes’ to ESA, as well as the introduction of PIP, demonstrated the value the Tories have for disabled people; and it is for these reasons I Fear this review.

I am also slightly perturbed that this exercise will “take years” and whilst I agree priority for the upgrade should be given to “claimants who have since died, and those who had their benefits denied entirely“. But given this, it is more likely I will be reclaiming PIP before my claim is reviewed, therefore I will presumably not benefit at all from this whole carbuncle, and I know I will not be the only one.

Overall the only thing I KNOW concerning this situation is More Stress is guaranteed.

 

#Suicide is A Deadly Serious Issue A Response to Health Select/PHE

This week has seen a number of articles across the media focussed on Suicide; presumably this is a result of  reports from both the Governments Health Select and Public Health England (PHE) .

The report from the Health Select  chaired by Dr Sarah Wollaston MP , is an interim  progress update on the Suicide Prevention Programme, the committee  concluded ‘suicide is preventable‘ and made several recommendations, most of which will require the Government to increase spend across mental health  and support services for the programme to work. The report commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) aimed to to ‘gain a better understanding of factors that influence suicide‘ and was analysed by the  Office for National Statistics  to identify “which professions have the highest risk of suicide“.

The Health Select report also according to The Guardian  to “stop raising awareness of methods, which puts vulnerable people at risk” Now I can’t deny that watching or reading about suicide attempts may inform people however, I totally dispute people are driven to kill themselves as a result of  receiving this information.

The suggestion that most individuals watching a TV programme wherein a character kills themselves  would imitate the actions on screen is to me, highly offensive. As someone who has seriously considered ending my life on occasions, I am enraged by this patronising and totally simplistic idea. More importantly this conjecture indicates those MPs responsible for monitoring the Suicide Prevention Programme have little or no understanding of the complexity of the reasons why 18,998 individuals who ended their life 2011-15.

The  analysis of the causes of these 18,998 deaths between 2011 – 2015 was undertaken to inform the Health Select gain a better understanding of factors that influence suicide;  from this there are numerous media articles highlighting the varying occupations of people who have taken their lives. I’ve read of male construction workers, female nurses, tortured geniusesprimary school teachers, carers and  low skilled male workers all being at great risk; but few of them mention these findings of the ONS ” it may not be the actual occupation that puts individuals at risk, but features of the job such as low pay, job security and the wider socio-economic characteristics of individuals employed in a particular sector.

I suggest a common denominator amongst people employed in these high risk occupations is an equally high risk of stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues and propose it is these factors rather than information of ways to take your own life?

Given this I suggest the Health Select ought to be telling the Government to cease the destruction of Rights at work, introduce a living wage, stop the cuts to benefits and invest in immediate housing developments so low paid employees can access decent homes with long term secure leases and immediately provide the Health Service with the resources it needs to secure appropriate mental health services and support. Fulfilment of these suggestions would actually go some way to addressing some of the complex reasons for suicides, and therefore assure many suicides being “prevented”.

It must be noted, regardless of the purported desire by the Government to ‘prevent suicide’ it is ironic the committee report was released on the same day as NHS England finance chief Paul Baumann said £800m held in reserve, was to be available from CCGs for mental health services, community health services, primary care and other things, will now” be used to offset hospital overspends”  This is a clear demonstration of the lack of commitment the Government actually has to its ‘Suicide prevention programme’ and to the people living, and dying with and due to, poor Mental Health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sickness worsening? Beware following DWP rules

Before Christmas I attended an emergency interim appointment with my psychotherapist, (I’m still waiting regular appointments 2 years after referral); this was due to my continuous depression and dissociation becoming dangerous, I was constantly fighting thoughts of suicide . Because the S word was used, my therapist was obliged to write to my GP, which then led to my carer being compelled to inform the DWP of a change in my circumstances; what amazed me was, this reported change resulted in me having to complete a new claim!

Why the DWP feel a deterioration in mental health would be helped by having to go through the process of a new claim I’ve no idea? Anyway my carer duly filled in the form, and on page 31, other information, he stated HE was both my full time carer and would be acting as my representative, this was then sent off along with the appropriate report from my therapist.

I received a home visit fairly quickly from a pleasant man, who after numerous requests as to his qualifications, reluctantly admitted he was a paramedic; when it came to him asking me about my mental health he decided it would be a good idea to tell me of his experiences of dealing with people who had taken their own lives. In truth all this did, was inform me where not to carry out my thoughts, and in no way made me feel any more positive; if anything it caused me to focus on my suicide plan even more.

Two weeks ago the dreaded brown envelope arrived with the decision; which along with the usual errors of the decision makers (DM) not reading the information, this unknown DM had in their wisdom, determined, because I am still on the waiting list for regular therapy, my mental health wasn’t too bad!

As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, the same day my daughter phoned and said she had also received a copy of my decision; I went ballistic. The whole reason for Tony, my partner dealing with everything was because I didn’t want my daughter knowing just how ill I was.

As this was a Saturday, I stressed until the Monday morning when Tony rang to request a copy of the assessors report, he also asked why my information had been sent out to another person; the call centre operative checked and apparently a decision maker had decided to change him as my rep and add my daughter instead?!!

A complaint was immediately written and sent off and we’re awaiting the response; so be warned, if you have a change in circumstances be prepared to go through yet another claim and hope your info doesn’t get sent to anyone else.

I’ll update this when the reply arrives.

 

After forced-psychometric-test debacle, now Jobcentres offer online CBT

Last year I reported how the DWP were planning a new scheme aimed at depression sufferers with  “Hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants face being stripped of their state allowances if they refuse to undergo treatment for anxiety and depression

Today the SKWAWKBOX pick up the latest on this dangerous and futile programme….

 

Last year, the SKWAWKBOX triggered a severely-embarrassing chain of events for the government by revealing that the DWP’s Jobcentre Plus (JCP) centres, under instruction from David Cameron’s ‘Nudge Unit’ (read: psychological-manipulation), were forcing unemployed people, under threat of immediate loss of benefits, to take un-validated and dangerous ‘psychometric tests’ without ‘informed consent’ and, quite possibly, illegally in more ways than one. We also revealed a nudge-unit ‘front’ masquerading as a bona fide psychological institution.

It turned out that these tests were so poorly and cynically constructed that they gave the same ‘results’ to those completing them regardless of the answers entered – or even if the test was completed without entering any answers at all. The test had been taken –without permission – from a US psychologist linked to torture techniques such as waterboarding. (The author then objected to the unethical use of the test by the UK government!)

Once exposed, both government departments tried desperately to deny what they were doing, but then contradicted themselves more than once, then inadvertently admitted it again. The government claimed that the tests were a trial in just a few areas that had since been discontinued, but this was then shown not to be the case. Claims that the test had been designed and implemented by ‘experts’ turned out to be false and the ‘training’ given to JCP operatives on how to decide who should complete the test turned out to be ‘an informal chat’.

National newspapers started to take up the story and the British Psychological Society even became involved, investigating the psychologist responsible, at least notionally, for the decision to conduct the enforced-test programme.

You would think the government would have learned its lesson, but no.

An article on the ‘Same Difference’ blog reveals that Jobcentre Plus staff are sending people diagnosed with depression a link to an online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) course, claiming not that it might be helpful but that it will cure their depression. Or, in their words:

Beating the blues is just a click away

Read the original article for an image of the ad and link.

CBT is widely used to treat various mental disorders, including depression. But it is generally meant to be conducted in person by a trained professional. Its effectiveness is, however, widely disputed and studies have shown that CBT consisting of ‘self-help’ reading of materials by the patient produce harmful results.

The therapy has also been heavily criticised because it is built around maintaining the status quo – in other words, getting people to feel better about situations that it would be perfectly rational to dislike, feel depressed about or want to change.

And nobody, as far as I know, would claim CBT will ‘beat’ depression. Especially with ‘just a click’.

This latest move is perfectly in line with the government’s already-evidenced desire to get us all to acquiesce to things that we should fight and with its contempt and callousness toward ordinary, disadvantaged people.

But not at all in line with a genuine concern for the well-being of people who are unemployed, suffering from mental illness or both.

Mental health groups will, rightly, be outraged – but could someone in the mainstream media please run with this and give yet another DWP scandal the attention it so obviously deserves?

(There are too many posts on the original DWP ‘test’ to reference in this one article. If you want to read the rest, please use the search function and enter ‘psychometric’.)