Regular readers of this blog and followers of the related @CreativeCrip Twitter account might recall in February of this year I rashly pulled myself out of ESA hell in favour of being self-employed. Being honest – I knew at the time that I still wasn’t ready to make such a move. Atos phoning me at home about another WCA was the catalyst. I literally could not face having to deal with them again and was so desperate that taking myself off the merry-go-round seemed like the only thing that would bring some relief.
It’s been touch-and-go ever since, largely because of the appalling lack of support from my old GPs & CMHT Psych Team. As I’ve said before, being a Native American merely Permanently Resident in the UK is not without problems. Every inquiry and appointment turns into an immigration interview – which is not only unnecessary it is quite inappropriate. One of the things that I constantly struggle with in trying to get help is that the professionals I am meant to be dealing with don’t leave their politics and prejudices at home. It’s much the same dealing with engineers from telephone companies, supermarket delivery drivers and neighbours. Everyone has really strong opinions on immigration, benefits and disability and there is no hesitation in imparting their wisdom to me no matter how malicious and ill-informed.
I’ve had to make even more changes in the aftermath of dropping my ESA claim.
My finances were in such a dire state that I had to borrow money to be able to move house and secure it by paying six months up front. There is no feeling of failure quite like crying to your mother at the ripe old age of 46 and having her cash in some of her pension to bail you out.
Instead of the accessible ground floor flat that cost £650/mo (downgraded from another ground floor flat that was £800/mo) in Cardiff, I am now living in an old split-level miner’s cottage in the Valleys that is nowhere near being disabled-friendly. It only costs £375/mo – great for someone with very low income. Accessible bungalows and ground floor flats come at a premium I simply cannot afford having already exhausted my redundancy on paying the mortgages of other people.
I need to find a new GP and essentially start all over again, hoping that I’ll get the support and referrals I need to manage my complex health needs. I haven’t found the courage to actually get myself out of the house to do this – and October marks three months living here.
When I moved house this past July I hadn’t seen my old GPs in over a year – our relationship was *that* adversarial. I just couldn’t cope with having to deal with them again knowing that, quite frankly, they really didn’t give a shit what happened to me as reflected in their attitude every step of the way.
The meds I need I haven’t had for some time now so of course my mood and manner are more down than slightly down (I’ve never been an “up” person and never will be). Having said that – there is a difference between Clinical Depression and just being in a foul mood. I am at least astute enough to recognise which is which in myself., but of course not having effective treatment for the Clinical Depression doesn’t help. I had been on 200gm of Sertraline a day but hypersomnia won out. The fact is that the Clinical Depression *is* really kicking my tail in every way, shape and form.
It seems that I may be an undiagnosed Aspie (and the results of Simon Baron Cohen’s online test support this along with some others) – but unfortunately before anything could be explored on that basis the old CMHT changed Psychiatrists, which they did every few months it seemed. I also missed a lot of appointments because I could not make them for physical or financial reasons or both. Making appointments three months in advance was never going to work. I also begged the CMHT to allow me to have phone conferences. This was laughed at…why I don’t know.
I have now been on a list to see a spinal surgeon for over two years. Every time I contacted the hospital they were annoyed and told me they would get back to me. Now that I’ve moved house I will have to get a new referral.
I am also overdue for knee surgery and this has severely impacted my mobility. Again I will have to get a new referral thanks to the house move.
I am angry about my situation and who I am because of it all the time… and no matter what I try it just doesn’t subside. As I’ve said before, all I’ve ever asked for is the help and support I need to get back to having a somewhat productive life. I’m not the only one in such a predicament but it astounds me still that politicians from all three major UK parties have strong opinions about disabled people and work, yet they seem to go out of their way to make things as difficult and inhumane as possible for us. Everything from Disability Living Allowance to Access To Work to Working Tax Credits is such a nightmare to navigate and especially for anyone who is completely alone.
Just replied to a comment on my blog from a disability campaigner now owning that his focus is on “lifestyle change rather than political change” (I’m one of more than a few people with criticism of the BioPsychoSocial mantras being rammed down our throats).
This is my response:
“Again – lifestyle change for disabled people not born into privilege will not happen without political change.”
Today marks the point of no return for many disabled and ill people. An estimated 40,000 – 100,000 of those in our community who have worked will lose our Contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA) thanks to the new one year time limit railroaded through Parliament as part of the recent welfare reforms.
If you are part of the Hardest Hit / Care and Support Alliances, send your members the details. This is a great way for those unable to attend protests to add their voices to the many others raised in anger. Request your staff to sign.
Just published my first Twitter-based Storify “After #ATOS Calls: Mental Health Meltdown”.
I’ve decided to carry on doing these as long as the DisabilityUK Community is under threat. Please share your #ukmh#mhuk stories and opinions with me via Twitter for next ones. Use as many Tweets as you need. Continue reading →
#Workfare #WorkProgramme: My Solutions for #UKgov #WRB
The majority of those championing workfare have no direct experience of it. I won’t hold my breath that Employment Minister Chris Grayling, DWP Secretary Ian Duncan Smith and other MPs would gladly “volunteer” to give up their cushy role & expenses – and live on workfare for at least one year before again passing judgement.