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New Member: IB headlines

raccoon

raccoon

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
10
Location
Cardiff
Gosh, this is such an old and long story, so I'll try hard to keep it short. I'm 43, female, and have had clinical depression since my 20's. This also encompasses agoraphobia, social phobia, anxiety and insomnia. So I tend to group it all under the heading of 'depression' because that's how it all started. Basically, I'm a bit of a mess, but have found ways to arrange my life and cope with my illness. So I'm not here exactly for advice, I've had all manner of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy and self -help. To make things worse, I find it extremely hard to show my emotions. I can very rarely cry. It all gets pushed down inside.

Part of being able to manage my life is the fact that I'm on Incapacity Benefit. I also receive Disability Living Allowance at the lower rate. I am not a scrounger. In fact my income is extremely low, and this week, myself and my husband (who is waiting for a back operation and is only temporarily on sick pay) actually spent three days without food in the house, no bread, milk, butter or sugar. Really. I don't claim benefits because it is the easy option, it's a damned hard option.

I was prompted to find a mental health forum after the UK headlines of yesterday. Incapacity Benefit is to be scrapped, people will be literally 'forced' back to work.

I'm so frightened that I don't know who to turn to.

Is there anyone else like me? Who is so ill that this news has terrified them into a really bad low? I don't know the implications for people with mental health problems, because there's no news about how they will assess mental health; but the Governments opinion, and so called 'popular' opinion seems to be that people like me/us are happily living the life of Riley, and should be packed off to the workplace regardless.

Being practically housebound due to my illness/agoraphobia, having a series of medical appointments and being re-assessed by a less than understanding government just raises my anxiety levels so hard that I still haven't slept.
 
T

telemetry9

Guest
Hello there,

I could empathize with every word you wrote.

Society needs to begin to ask itself some tough questions about these proposals. How do these changes aimed at people who have illness and suffering in their daily lives seek to help those people? Are these changes about helping or about penalizing those with physical or mental health problems? It is a very slippery road and fine line between the two and where does that dangerous distinction begin and end? Who defines the line that can so easily fall between social prejudice and an honest desire to help vulnerable people.

It is human nature to target and isolate those who are vulnerable and perhaps society has become complacent enough to begin to move down that dangerous road of targeting and making accountable those who are vulnerable. Fulfilling that ugly desire to see those deemed to be "different" or "lazy" or "disabled" as being made to answer in some way. All the time dressing it up as "transforming lives" or "radical proposals for the sick" to help those with illness to see sense and get a job and be "OK". Because money is so important we can't risk spending it on those who might not deserve it.

Improved health care and better diagnosis and treatment for mental illness might fulfill the honest role of helping those on Incapacity Benefit to consider doing a voluntary job one or two days a week or maybe even going back to work on a trial basis. Many people do so on Incapacity Benefit but it is common sense to know that forcing people into any given situation does NOT work. Choice has to come from the individual wanting that change for themselves or they will not be fully engaged in that process of change.

Any person or organization or Government or nation that begins to force change onto those it has deemed as "failing" in some way will only create a further disenfranchised and persecuted group of people. History has shown this very clearly for the results for everyone to see in the most tragic eras of human experience in the past.

Above the gates at Dachau concentration camp people read: "freedom through work". Those who didn't measure up to that standard received their "evaluations". Only the physically strong and those without disability were allowed and permitted to "live" in that society. Is this the road of evaluation and dogma that the people of Britain wish to embark upon? Who gets to live in poverty or with a fair standard of living depending on the severity of your illness or whether you can prove you have an illness. Assuming the person interviewing you or "evaluating" you has the complex skills to do so accurately.?

The dishonest representation of the majority of people on Incapacity Benefit (most are genuine) as fakers or illusionists regarding their mental or physical condition has become the accepted fact. It is a lie that has been perpetuated by the media in focusing on only those who abuse the system. In every system there is fraud and an element who will try to cheat that system (politics included) but the majority cannot be made to suffer because of those few. How could it ever be ok to target every genuine disabled person with mental or physical illness because society wants to target those few cheaters? By doing so they are implying that we are all cheaters and this is the fundamental dishonesty of these proposals.

Were is the measure of consideration that such a fervor for "change" will cause enormous suffering and stress to those who are least able to deal with these changes aimed to select the most "deserving"? That it is ok to suspect everyone who had the audacity to become mentally or physically ill as being somehow fraudulent in the very existence of their illness?

I ask every individual who values human life and every human being who values the dignity of those who did not choose to live with serious and life changing mental and physical illness to protest strongly at these changes to Incapacity benefit as dishonest and cruel and erosive to the standards of a civilized and decent society that rejects the dogma and persecutions of the past.
 
raccoon

raccoon

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
10
Location
Cardiff
It's also very very hard in this day and age to find something career-wise that is 'alternative' and away from the Rat Race.

(please bear with me, I'm not terribly eloquent)

I agreed with you completely. It's really scary sometimes, whenever I meet someone, and they ask in what way am I 'ill' I can see the change come over their faces when I say ANYTHING that can be regarded as mental health problems. Whether I say depression, or anxiety, or whatever one wants to label it, I can still see that slight glazing over of the eyes in most people. The ones who don't do this... are usually carers, or have a close relative who is ill, or have been ill themselves.

And I really believed, a few years back, that this society was becoming more enlightened regarding mental health.

Anyway, back to my opening sentence. I have worked in shops and offices, I have done many jobs in the past, finding each more difficult until my physical health (through lack of sleep and sheer nerves) was so bad I had to stop working. Then I recovered somewhat and tried to run my own business, but at the time was in an abusive relationship. I still feel the business would have succeeded if my boyfriend at the time were not the way he was.

If someone could find me work where my creative skills could be used, or I could be taught a new skill, care with animals, or anything that kept me away from the more "stressful" types of work, and commuting... which is intensely stressful, even for people who are not mentally unwell. Then I'd feel I was able to try harder and harder, and maybe that way be able to continue to work.

I do work hard, when I'm employed, I'm not lazy. My husband says to me "I know you don't do much housework, and it's not because you're lazy, it's because your energy levels are at rock bottom." He doesn't understand depression, and admits it, but he TRIES to understand and he can see the truth in front of him. (and my word, there's another long story of marriage failure)

So yes, I think my point is that if someone is 'forced' to find employment, what are they going to DO? What employer would have them with their health record? What jobs are there that don't add to stress? Very few. Getting a 'gentle' job, close enough to walk every day, and away from too many people, to me is like winning the lottery.

And gosh, thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response. I told my husband (who is of the "it'll all blow over" school of thought) about this group, and that I felt so much less AWFUL about the whole thing, and I think he understood.
 
R

Roxy

Well-known member
Founding Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
86
Location
Scotland
Hi there racoon,

I totally empathise with all your comments and like yourself, live in fear of the consequences of these reforms on incapacity benefit. Its only recently that it was accepted that I was unfit for work due to mental health problems and was entitled to the benefit, even though I've suffered with this debilitating condition for many years.

Unfortunately, unlike yourself, I did not have an understanding husband, this totally exacerbated my illness due to his constant undermining attitude and disregard for my health. We're now divorced, which although is preferable emotionally, its draining financially and I often have to choose between eating or paying the bills. This begs the question that if we were able, none of us would choose to be in this position and we would be only too happy to go out and support ourselves, living on benefits does not provide luxury, it barely keeps the wolves from the door.:(
 
Libra1

Libra1

Well-known member
Founding Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2008
Messages
515
Location
West Midlands
Hi Raccoon,

I totally agree and empathasize with how you feel over the news yesterday.
Try not to worry too much, it was a 'green paper' that was released yesterday - that means it is for discussion later on.

For those that are already on IB, will not be affected come October :) A lot of the new rules will affect everyone making a new claim in October 2008.

You could try reading about it on: www.yourable.com - click on benefits, or discussion boards and it might explain a bit more.

Another good site is: www.benefitsandwork.co.uk. it is 'free' to be a 'guest' and read the forums, you pay to become a member and use the guides that help you to successfully claim which ever benefit you need to apply for.

Hope this helps :)
 
raccoon

raccoon

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
10
Location
Cardiff
Roxy: My heart goes out to you. There's a lot of people like us around it seems. I'm on my second marriage and my first husband just didn't understand, and like you, I was emotionally better off for the time I was single. Financially not, but sometimes you just have to pick the lesser of two evils.

My hubby is temporarily in sickness benefit awaiting an operation on his back, once he has that there's practically 100% chance he'll be back in work, but for the LONG waiting time, we often have to choose between paying bills and eating too. These wolves? My Dad says they all live in Parliament and have teleports just to get to our front doors :D I laughed but it's kind of true.

Libra1: Thanks so much for the links, I'll add them to my 'benefits' folder and peruse them today. I guess it's lucky that we don't have to worry THIS year, I'm trying to remain positive about this... as are you all. But god it's not easy!
 
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