Archive for January, 2012

Disabled People’s Protest In Oxford Circus

This morning I got up very early and (with help from my wonderful partner & carer) got dressed, drugged and ready to catch a train to London.

After the normal mess around with trains and alike we made it to Euston station in a fairly bright mood. We decided to save some money and roll down to the DPAC meeting point (MacDonalds on Regent Street at 11.30am) which took a while. Luckily for me, the first face I saw was that of blogger Latent Existence which was a lovely surprise, especially when it transpired we had actually met at an action in Birmingham ages ago. There was a bit of milling about whilst the plan was explained to us;

  1. Collect a D-Lock and keys.
  2. Get into place at Oxford Circus (where Oxford Street & Regent Street cross).
  3. When the lights change UK Uncut activist would run across with a chain which would have each end attached to a lamppost.
  4. Wheelchairs were to roll over to the crossing and line up along the chain. 
  5. Lock the wheelchair to the chain and start protesting!


Whilst waiting for it to begin I spoke to a few journalists that had found us and explained my reasons for being there;

I wanted to protest against the both the Welfare Reform Bill and the cruel way it effects disabled people & children as well as the associated vilification of the disabled, poor and vulnerable. The government has decided to combat a fraud rate of 0.5% that they will take 20% off Disability Living Allowance by re-branding and reforming it into Personal Independence Payments (PIP). In doing so they are removing the assistance from DLA/PIP from 199 genuinely disabled people for every 1 ‘fraudster’* they catch. So they can remove so many they have made the criteria for PIP even more stringent than with DLA and they are including regular repeat assessments – regardless of whether your disability can ever improve or not. I wrote about how important my DLA is to me and the struggles I had obtaining it recently. The Responsible Reform Report (dubbed the Spartacus Report) details many areas of key concern better than I could here and it makes interesting reading if you fancy it.

The Conservative led government has done what it always does when they want to cut benefits to the poor and the vulnerable. First they leak press stories vilifying the targets, then when public opinion is on their side they strike with cruel reforms & cuts. We’ve been watching over the last couple of years as more and more horrid and twisted headlines about fake disabled people, scroungers and those seeking an easy life on ‘lavish’ benefits have filled up our press. I’ve popped some examples of recent press headlines on the right. All of these are real and all of them have helped shape public opinion. We’ve seen disability hate crime soar up by 75% and most I’ve spoken to have noticed it. I blogged this December about my experiences at the local Christmas market and I’ve been stopped in the street by strangers who ask me “Do you really need that wheelchair or are you just pretending?”. It’s both annoying and painful but still, I’m lucky that I’ve not been on the end of some of the violent abuse that many others cite having experienced.

To make it all the more poignant, yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day. A day during which we remembered those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazi party. The party wished for racial purity and in 1933 began forcibly sterilising disabled people under the “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring”. By 1939 they began “euthanising” children born with severe defects and within months the criteria for eligibility for “euthanasia” was both relaxed and extended to older children, adolescents, and adults. But before this started happening the Nazi propaganda mill tried to make sure that the public were on side with gems like this poster:

A German propaganda poster from 1938″60000 Riechmarks, this is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime. Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too.” It’s so similar to last years tabloid headlines it chills my blood looking at it.



That’s why I joined the protest. That’s why I and many others chained ourselves in our wheelchairs across Oxford Circus. We see what is happening, how our rights are being eroded away and how thoughtless government propaganda is ruining our right to live free from fear and intimidation. We see all this and we are angry. We won’t go down without a fight. Even if it near kills us.

The protest itself was brilliant. No sooner had we done up our D-locks and settled into a chorus of “No ifs, no buts, no disability cuts!” than the sound of sirens filled the air. The police & some people that I assume were fancy shop security (given the odd beefeater meets bellhop uniforms) surrounded us quite quickly but did nothing. The atmosphere was great, angry yet positive, vulnerable yet strong as steel. We had a wonderful time and met some fantastic people. I spoke to journalists, independent media and radio crews and watched as some amazing people got filmed by the BBC & Sky. We had initially thought we would get an hour at the most before the bolt-cutters cam out and we were either arrested or dispersed. I think that because of the amount of media attention we had the police were loathe to act and risk bad publicity. They also would have had a big job trying to arrest all of the wheelchair users as I don’t think their vans are particularly accessible. Still, by 12.45 the police were telling us that we could either move over and just block one side of the road (the street behind us was strewn with abandoned buses) or we could stay and they would take ‘appropriate action’. Many of those chained up expressed a wish to stay and risk arrest simply to show how serious they were about protesting the Welfare Reform Bill. Sadly we had to leave before the end as we had a train to catch but twitter informed me that everything broke up peacefully at around 2pm with no arrests or trouble.

To finish on a brighter note are some pictures from today’s demo;

The wheelchair line getting into place.

 
Me and my partner fashionably sporting chains and a Green Party flag. (Picture via @HeardInLondon)

 

DPAC protesters – not all of us use wheelchairs (Picture via @HeardInLondon)

Legal Observers – the person in orange was from Green and Black Cross, the person at the back with a camcorder works for the Met.

* let us remember that this term also includes disabled people that aren’t technically ‘disabled enough’ to receive DLA.

Media Links (edited to add more as they arrive):

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    DPAC & UK Uncut – Message From The Invisible

    I’m getting up very early tomorrow morning to head to London with my other half. We are planning to join with other sick, disabled and UK Uncut activists to try to send a message to the Coalition. We will not be punished for deficit caused by the excesses of the City. We will fight the damaging changes the Welfare Reform Bill is threatening to inflict and we will not let the government off lightly.

    You can read more about it here – UK Uncut Press Release & at the DPAC website.

    If you can make it that would be great, though I totally understand peoples ability to be there in the flesh is limited by way more than just will alone.

    You can also help raise awareness by blogging about it, bugging the media to get the message out and tweeting about it using the #invisibleinvincibles, #dpac & #ukuncut hashtags.

    See you on the other side!

    Child Maintenance Reforms

    Today the lords vote on the welfare reform bills changes to child maintenance.

    Starting from 2013, the government proposes charging:

    • £100 as an upfront fee (or £50 for parents on benefit) for those who want to use the future CSA. Only “Victims of domestic violence” will be exempt (although there is no detail on how this will be proved or checked).
    • An on-going charge of between 7% and 12% on any maintenance paid to parents who rely on the future CSA to collect their child maintenance, as well as an extra 15-20% charge added to the non-resident parent’s payment. 

    Ian Duncan Smith says the bill will incentivise parents to make private arrangements with regards to welfare. He also believes it will make parents seriously consider whether separation is necessary.

    This is really unfair for many reasons:

    • It punishes single parents who have partners that refuse to engage with the CSA by charging them.
    • It’s sexist; 97% of those that will be affected by the changes will be female. Putting the apparent emphasis back on the Tories old favourite. Punishing single mothers.
    • Over half of the people in receipt of child support get less than £20 per week. By adding these charges it makes going through the task of claiming pretty pointless. Go through all that trouble for less than £10 extra support? You’d probably be better off buying lottery tickets.
    • It puts people who are financially dependant and wishing to leave a relationship in a even greater position of vulnerability. Stay in a unhappy relationship and risk the potential damage that can cause? Try and negotiate a separation and hope that you partner plays fair? Because once you express a wish for separation you can’t really take it back. Try to keep your children with the knowledge it might mean living in poverty? If we look at the kinds of people most likely to financially dependant we see women, people with disabilities, people with mental health problems and people in abusive relationships*. That list is by no means exhaustive.

    In a happy turn of events a Conservative Lord who helped set up the CSA, Lord MacKay, is pushing for an amendment this afternoon which parents with main care of children who have no alternative but to use the CSA to get maintenance for their children would be exempted from government charges. He says;

    “Of course we all agree that it is better for voluntary arrangements. But that is not the world we live in, unfortunately. You require the co-operation of another party and you cannot force them to give it.

    “When a woman – as a typical example – has taken all reasonable steps and done all she can to reach an agreement but cannot manage it, I do not agree that she should be charged by the CSA for her application … That is utterly unfair. If anyone is to pay for that, surely it should be the person who has caused the difficulty by trying to escape from his moral obligations.”

    I, like many others are hoping to see a Conservative and Lib Dem rebellion allowing this very sensible amendment to pass. Of course it won’t mean the end of the issue if it does. When the bill is returned to the House of Commons the Conservatives have vowed to overturn the amendments. This is why we need to keep up the pressure.

    This issue isn’t just a feminist issue, it’s also a disability and mental health rights issue and deserves support from across the board. We should all help spread the word.

    If you want to get involved have a look at Gingerbread‘s website and campaigning page.

    * even though the legislation says that those people will be exempt we know that proving domestic abuse can be extremely hard if not impossible in many incidences of psychological abuse. Especially if it doesn’t go to court or get reported to the police.

    Psychological Interventions in Chronic Illness?

    I follow and talk with a fair amount of disabled people and disability rights activists and I’m starting to notice that many are deeply deeply distrustful of doctors that suggest that a psychological intervention could help them. I know at one time I used to feel much the same and over the last year or so I have changed my mind. As I think the whole area is really problematic and potentially damaging so I have decided to write a little blog post to try and unpack some of the issues around it as I currently see them.

    One of the first things many wish to impress on me (when talking about their disability/chronic illness) is that they are not making it up. I understand the urge to do that. In my daily life I spend an awful lot of time being asked about my condition by doctors, the DWP, cab drivers, new acquaintances, old acquaintances, people from the council and many many more. Most of the time I get hit with an initial wave of denial by them, followed by eventual – if not limited – understanding. I’m sure many of my disabled readers, especially those with invisible or not very well understood conditions will be familiar with the following conversation;

    “So if you don’t mind me asking, what’s wrong with you?”
    “I’ve got a lot of abdominal damage from multiple surgeries.”
    [insert queries about my need for mobility aids]
    “What do you do then?”
    “I don’t work. I can’t.”
    “There must be something you can do.”
    [insert a long explanation about why I am unemployable until the penny drops]
    “Oh, I’m really sorry.”
    [uncomfortable silence]

    All throughout it you are placed on the defencive. You are made to explain your condition, the effects it has on your life and how limiting it can be. Of course the majority of it actually stems from the ‘questioner’ not wanting to believe that serious disability can just hit out of the blue. Most people know it is some thing that can happen, the same way they know they could kill someone by speeding. They simply don’t believe it will ever be them and being face-to-face with someone telling them “I was like you until ‘x’ developed, now I can’t work and need ‘y’ assistance to do simple tasks” makes them feel uncomfortable. When they feel uncomfortable they try to ease that by doing things like denying there is a issue, trivialising it, trying to determine what we did wrong (often morally) to deserve it or they start to focus on the nitty-gritty of our chronic illness Columbo style.

    Whilst this may make them feel better, it makes many of us feel like they don’t understand or don’t believe us. In the long run it makes us more defencive each time it happens.

    Many of us will have also had mis-diagnosis in our past. We all know a CFS sufferer who was wrongly thought to be malingering. My chronic pain was put down to my PTSD until scans combined with my medical history proved otherwise. I know a chap with rheumatoid arthritis that was initially told it was an old sports injury and should simply be ignored. We’ve fought tooth and nail for our disabilities to be recognised and to get a level of acceptance and consideration.

    So, when the day comes that one of your doctors pops up and says counselling or anti-depressants can help with our condition we think… Wait a second! We have a physical condition. Those treatments are for mental health issues. We get angry or depressed because once more it seems yet another professional is trying to say it’s all in our heads. It sounds like they are undermining our diagnosis.

    The thing is, I actually believe that is often not the case. I believe it is simply sloppy communication from the doctor combined with a certain level of (natural) defensiveness on the patients part.

    Having a chronic condition or disability is very often stressful in itself. Pain causes mental stress in most. Not being able to get up because you are simply to exhausted to move also causes mental stress. Not being able to make it to the loo, get your mobility aid into a shop, wash yourself or make a glass of water when you are thirsty all cause additional stress. I don’t believe that most would argue that point.

    Stress and the low-moods that come with it are draining. I don’t think many who have dealt with either would argue that either. They impose a spoon-tax on everything making each activity a little more costly. If, through pacing, you’d normally be able to cope with getting dressed, making lunch, doing some painting and visiting family in the evening when you are psychologically stressed you may only be able to manage two of the four.

    This suddenly makes managing psychological/ mental stress more important than ever before. It’s also something that most of us are not trained to deal with. It becomes vital if you want to live to the fullest to find away of managing not only your pain/ fatigue but also balancing your mental health. This is where counselling, CBT and anti-depressants can come in. Fenton & Stover (2006) wrote a paper showing links between mood disorders and those with cardiovascular disorders or diabetes. It shows the way that living with a chronic condition can make developing a mood disorder more likely. It makes a case for doctors pushing for holistic care of both the body and the mind.

    In my experience I’ve found that when basic CBT is packaged as a Pain Management programme or Expert Patient Programme for people with chronic illness then patients will accept it as helpful. When it involves going to see a overt member of the mental health team they get very upset. I think there are a few reasons for this;

    • The defensiveness most people who have chronic conditions (especially invisible ones) build up whilst fighting daily for recognition.
    • Poor communication from medical practitioners who don’t explain CBT etc… are being offered to help manage the patients mental well-being whilst they try to live with with a stress inducing condition. 
    • Doctors not recognising that the patient will have probably built up a defensiveness around the issue so they don’t take it into account when suggesting management techniques.
    • Sometimes there is also a lack of recognition that not everyone needs help managing mental well-being.

    I believe that we need to accept that living with chronic conditions and disability in a disablist society will naturally cause mental stress and that psychological interventions are often a very good way of managing that stress. Knee-jerk hostile reactions to doctors saying CBT or therapy can help manage life with CFS/Chronic Pain/Diabetes/life after an amputation/MS etc. will not help anyone. It also belittles those who have found help through those fields which is bad form. I’m not saying it is something that everyone will benefit from psychological interventions that would be foolish. It would be like saying all people with mobility difficulties will benefit from a wheelchair, it simply isn’t the case. What I am calling for is two fold;

    • I would love to see campaigners and people with chronic conditions/disabilities no longer automatically assuming that any mention of CBT or other interventions designed to help manage mood is the medical profession denying or minimising chronic illness/disability. In some regards, the push to try and help people get a early intervention is a direct acknowledgement to how difficult living with them can be.
    • I also would like to see better training of medical professionals to help improve their communication with patients who have chronic illnesses or disabilities. Especially with regards to suggesting ways of managing conditions and the heightened risk of developing a mood disorder for those with long term illnesses & disabilities.

    Fenton, W. S. & Stover, E. S. (2006) Mood disorders: cardiovascular and diabetes comorbidity. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 19, 421–427.

    * For those who don’t know what CBT is here’s a very quick explanation. CBT is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It is the idea that feelings/emotions, thoughts/cognitions, and actions/behaviours are interlinked. It looks at the way feeling crappy because you are in a lot of pain can lead to negative thoughts which can lead to us behaving in negative ways (like trying to push ourselves to do too much, ignoring sound medical advice, treating others poorly, self-harming etc…). There are academic criticisms of CBT but none are of the basic tenants (emotions-thoughts-actions being connected). They involve worries that it doesn’t help as well as other interventions with regards to serious psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder. They also suggest that the focus on it is so strong it makes getting funding to look at other possible interventions difficult.

    Homoeopathy For Domestic Violence

    Full disclosure: I don’t believe that homoeopathy has any effect that is greater than a placebo administered in an identical fashion. I do not believe that by slapping some a ‘solution’ of water and a couple of grains of a compound (often so dilute there isn’t a molecule of the compound in the water) with a leather board causes it to gain mystic healing properties derived from that addition (whilst forgetting all the well diluted molecules of urine and excrement in our tap water). The 10^23 campaign – Homoeopathy: there’s nothing in it – has more information. I take great exception to companies like Boots selling it as if it’s anything other than sugar pills because people assume that if it didn’t work it wouldn’t be on sale. The subject usually fires me up as does any other form of quackery or snake-oil selling. I don’t like the abuse of statistics or the abuse of the needy/desperate.

    Until yesterday I assumed that homoeopathy normally dealt solely with illness and disease, but no. They also claim to have ‘cures’ for domestic violence & abuse.

    Seriously.

    This drek is offensive to me on so many levels – even ignoring the fact Homoeopathy is nought but pseudoscience.

    It suggests that abuse is something that can be avoided. Take a sugar pill, you won’t get abused. Honestly. They argue that abuse happens to people with low self esteem so taking a drug to improve that will stop the abuse happening. On the surface that seems sensible I guess. A confident person surely wouldn’t put up with someone abusing them. Wrong. Some abuse slowly builds up whilst the abuser slowly destroys the victims self confidence so that they don’t complain when things get really abusive. In other cases it really does come out of the blue. A partner may snap. A carer may decide they want to rape. A trusted family member may decide to start stealing from you. No amount of confidence or self-esteem is going to act as a shield. It plays into the pernicious idea that abuse can be avoided and that victims are simply people who didn’t try hard enough. This kind of classic victim-blaming (or Just World fallacy) can add to the tremendous guilt and pain often felt by many who live through abuse.

    It suggests that abusive partners/carers/people can be ‘cured’ by talking the right sugar pills. Firstly this only works if the people that are being abused/ being abusive realise that they are. In my experience many don’t. Most abusive people think they have anger issues or are control freaks or have to live with a really annoying person. They don’t wear the label of abuser clear as day. Many victims of abuse don’t realise that it is abuse. We are all told that relationships involve some give and take and there will always be occasional conflict between people who care for each other. These people often just think they are in a normal (if not rather intense) relationship. If an abuser does realise what they are doing and wants to take steps to help themselves one could argue that relying solely on pharmaceutical interventions (especially homoeopathic placebos) will not be magnitudes less effective than engaging in meaningful psychological therapy.

    Secondly it draws on the quacks favourite, selling sugar to the desperate and promising miracles.  Many victims of abuse, myself included, believe(d) that by staying with their partner and just finding the ‘right’ way of behaving/thinking they can make it better. They can make the abuse stop. After all they are frequently being told they are the cause of the pain. Telling them that all they need to do is pop some homoeopathic Strychnine (Nux Vomica) into the abusers diet is feeding them false hope. If I wanted really to put Strychnine in my abusers diet I would probably try a bigger dose than 1 molecule in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 for maximum effectiveness*.

    All in all this is just another example of why the homoeopathy industry should be regulated and exposed to the public.

    * disclaimer: I do not condone murder or attempted murder

    Fighting For Amendment To The Welfare Reform Bill

    Today we are fighting for an amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill (WRB). We [a large group of disabled activists, disability charities and politicians] believe that the following amendment will reduce some of the harm the bill in it’s current form may well cause.

    The amendment is as follows:

    Clause 80 – Amendment 50E

    BARONESS GREY-THOMPSON
    BARONESS WILKINS
    LORD LOW OF DALSTON
    BARONESS CAMPBELL OF SURBITON

    Page 58, line 26, at end insert—

    “( ) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament an independent review of the plans for implementation of the assessments under section 79 before the provisions are brought into effect, and such plans must in particular provide for—

    (a) a trial period before any assessment process is implemented fully for new applicants and those transferring from DLA;

    (b) disabled persons organisations to be involved in formulating the assessment process.

     

    When the ESA came into effect the ATOS assessments were never trialed first, and we now have a 40% (70% with legal/advocate support) of their negative decisions being over turned at appeal tribunals. I was one of those people, in fact many of my friends were in that category. We can’t let that happen again with DLA/PIP. We need to spread the word about this amendment and try to convince the Lords to vote for it. We have a few hours but please, do what you can.

    If you know a Lord on a social network site, if you have access to their email address (many keep them private) or if you’d like to write to them about other issues with the WRB then please do. There is a list of names of lords (complete with their party affiliation) here.

    • If you chose to write to them simply address your letter to [Name of the Lord], The House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW. 
    • You can fax individual Lords, send it to 020 7219 5979. 
    • You can even telephone the main parliamentary switchboard and ask if you can be connected by calling 020 7219 3000 or you can leave a message by calling 020 7219 5353.

    The House of Lords does not except ‘bulk mail shots’ so every letter or fax needs to be individually addressed

    DLA, My Story

    As the Welfare Reform Bill debate with regards to DLA is happening this week I thought I’d share my DLA story.

    I became disabled at the start of 2009 and applied for DLA about 7 months afterwards. The delay was simply because I was having trouble coming to terms with the reality that my condition wasn’t ever going to improve – something most people who become disabled tell me they’ve gone through at one point or another. I didn’t start receiving DLA until mid 2011.

    The delay was not because I wasn’t disabled, not because I didn’t send in all of the necessary letters but because I had had a blundered ATOS assessment for ESA. You see, between sending in my application and the DWP making a decision I received the results of my ESA work capability test. ATOS had decided I was fine. Naturally I appealed and eventually (Sep 2010) won my appeal at a tribunal. In the rejection letter sent by the DWP with regards to my application I was told that they had decided to take the word of one ATOS assessment over that of all my GP, consultants, psychiatrist and other health care professionals with a intimate knowledge of my case. We lodged an appeal and in 2011 it was heard. We won and were granted both higher rate mobility & care components indefinitely.

    Of course, between 2009 and mid 2011 the costs related to my disability didn’t magically disappear so I became totally dependant on my loved ones. I found that as I can walk a little in my house (it hurts, but the exercise is worth it) I was only eligible for a manual wheelchair from the NHS. Sadly my house is surrounded by hills as well as steps which stopped me being able to go anywhere under my own steam. I needed someone to be with me every time I wanted to wash, I needed someone to be there to cook meals for me or I wasn’t able to eat (as we couldn’t afford ready meals or pre-prepared snack food). As a result of the stress placed on me by fighting multiple appeals, having no money, not being able to see my friends as well as coming to terms with my physical disability and living with PTSD I attempted suicide on a number of occasions.  I was so very miserable, everyday was empty. All that happened was I would wake up, be in pain, try to keep myself sane then go to bed in the evening. People were full of ideas, they were sure that I could get a free electric wheelchair from a charity or that some body would pay for me to have a social life. Surely if I just explained I was registered disabled then I’d get lots of extra help? One thing I quickly discovered is that many people don’t understand is that there is no ‘national register of disabled people’. You don’t get sent a card that ‘proves’ you are seriously disabled in the post, you need DLA to prove that you are. Without it we couldn’t get a bus pass, a disabled persons rail card or carers allowance and local things like getting a blue badge or onto the disabled persons housing register were made extremely hard. My life revolved around waiting for the appeal and trying my hardest to fight my mental health problems to stay alive.

    As you may well imagine, when my DLA came through my life turned around. Suddenly I was eligible for a bus pass which meant I could afford to go places. I was able to afford a new mattress to reduce the pain my old one was causing at night. I was able to go to the swimming pool and start getting involved in local community groups. My partner was suddenly eligible for carers allowance and was finally receiving the financial support he required to keep on preforming that role. We even managed to get an electric wheelchair so that I could travel from a-b without needing to be pushed.

    Even now as life has started to settle down I can’t imagine living without my DLA. It pays for taxis so I can go visit friends or leave the house quickly if the need arises, something I need to have planned a few days in advance to be able to do otherwise. It covers the cost of buying in pre-prepared meals for when my partner isn’t able to cook. I pays for mobility aids when they are required and helps cover the gap between our tiny amount of housing benefit and the amount our private landlord charges to live somewhere big enough for my mobility equipment. It’s also the only independent income I have, so on a more serious note I know that if I am ever being abused (as statistically I am likely to be as a dependant disabled woman who will likely spend her life in poverty) I will have a little money to escape with. I will always be able to have a little financial control over my life which is something I appreciate more and more every day.

    I wish the story ended there. Sadly if the PIP is introduced (as the government says it will be) I will probably loose this life line. Currently I receive higher rate mobility support because I am ‘virtually unable to walk’. These criteria are changing. Now they are looking at peoples ability to ‘mobilise’. Because I can do the following; once a day I can push myself 200m on a flat level surface in my wheelchair – I will be deemed as being able to mobilise enough to not need support. It won’t change the fact that I can’t get 50 out of 200m towards my local bus stop in my manual chair alone. It won’t change the fact I can’t drive so need taxis (which don’t come cheap). It won’t change the fact my local ring and ride service now charge for the privilege of using them (even if you have a free bus pass). Getting from A-B will always be much more expensive for me than it would be for someone without mobility issues. I just won’t be getting any money to help balance the cost. I will probably have my care component downgraded too as the PIP criteria doesn’t appear to be particularly friendly to mental illness, especially things like PTSD where the effects vary wildly from day to day, hour to hour and are often reactionary in nature.

    A cut to this income will not only destroy my ability to participate in society and volunteer in the local community, it will actively damage my health. I will no longer be able to afford to exercise at my local pool. I will loose touch with friends and family as I stop having money to leave the house and partake in social activities. The depression, anxiety and stress associated with my PTSD will get worse as I become more dependant on the goodwill of others and start to once more loose all personal agency. Eventually I may return to the state of misery that made me feel that I would be better of being dead than living a half-life full of pain and completely dependant on unpaid, overworked others.

    This is why I’m fighting the proposals and why I think you should too.

    Edited to add: You can read other stories like mine at Spartacus Stories

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