Monthly Archives: March 2016

Will you be affected by the new ESA payment cuts?

Will you be affected by the weekly ESA payment cuts?
Yes, when they decide to include people on ESA prior to April 2017. And you know they will.

How will the reduction impact your household finances?
The extra £30 is used to pay for a variety of things. It often gets spent on antiseptic liquid, dressings, micropore tape, cottonwool and scalpels. I’m not eligible for treatment where I live so I self harm in order to keep myself alive. If that outlet was taken away from me there would probably be many more suicide attempts or more infections as I would be unable to afford to keep my injuries clean. I spend about 70% of my waking hours fighting thoughts of suicide and self harm. There is a waiting list for very heavily subsidised therapy as I’m not eligible for any of the NHS treatment in my area. The £30 would help towards making a contribution towards that.
It also helps with increased bills because I find it so hard to leave the house. Most people spend a chunk of time at work or school or university but I’m often stuck in my own house using my own gas and electricity. It also gets used on a takeaway or very, very convenient food if I am too exhausted from fighting my illness to cook. Other times it might cover a taxi if I need to get home as quickly as possible because I’ve become too unwell to be outside the house.
It’s a lifeline to me. When I didn’t get it my finances were a complete mess. I had a massive overdraft as well as a huge credit card debt. Gradually I’ve gotten that mostly under control. If I lose that £30 I’d lose control on my finances and it and my mental health would spiral completely out of control again. I’m sure there’s a lot I’ve forgotten to mention. My illness combined with the stress of all these cuts is seriously interfering with my memory and concentration. I now struggle to get dressed properly and have frequent panic attacks as I think, “Did I put my shoes on?,” or “Am I outside in my pyjama bottoms?” or “Did I take my medication?” or “Did I lock the door?” That might seem like a little thing but it’s several times a day. I’m exhausted and sleep doesn’t help because of all the anxiety dreams and nightmares which leave me afraid to go to sleep.

The government claims it will incentivise a return to work, but is this argument justified?
In my personal experience no, it won’t incentivise me to return to work. It will demoralise me and make me feel like I’m completely worthless. £30 a week is nothing to MPs but everything to someone as ill as me. They say I don’t deserve it. Taking that lifeline away is not going to magically make me better or make me suddenly eligible for treatment. (Although, as one of the ways to get treatment is to be in the criminal justice system they might have a point albeit not quite the way they wanted so scratch that.) I won’t get better without treatment and even then it’s only effective in 50% of people who are deemed suitable so not 50% of people with this condition. I don’t know what the final percentage is. I would love the opportunity to get treatment even if it doesn’t work because then at least I’d know and could try to move on with my life. Right now I’m stuck in limbo. Depriving me of £30 a week will not change this situation. In fact it will make me less able to get better and therefore even less able to work. I already struggle with finances because of aspects of my condition. Financial insecurity and welfare reform wreak havoc on my mental wellbeing. All this £30 cut will do is exacerbate many of worst aspects of my condition. My anxiety which was already horrible is now even worse and I didn’t think that was possible. I’m terrified of the post arriving. Opening letters that resemble the DWP brown envelope is a truly traumatic experience. I worry about being reassessed for ESA again and failing to get it. It’s now hard than ever to get. And my paranoia is out of control. Every sound I hear is a mouse and I have to get someone to check the room for me or if I’m alone I lose hours doing it myself whilst freaking out and shaking and crying uncontrollably. This is becoming more and more frequent recently. It’s now almost every day. Every dark speck of anything is a spider and I jump and my heart rate spikes and I have a panic attack. And that happens about 10 times a day at the moment. It’s exhausting. It makes relationships with friends and family harder to maintain especially when I misinterpret every word or gesture they use because my anxiety and paranoia are running riot. It’s even worse with strangers. That’s not what employers want in an employee.
I don’t feel safe at all any more and I don’t know how much more I can take.
ESA was meant to help us but the way it has been implemented by the DWP is only making me, my partner and many of my friends much, much worse.

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A crabby post about Stephen Crabb

Stephen Crabb our new Welfare secretary replacing Iain Duncan Smith posted this on Facebook two days before his appointment. There was a glaring error in his post. He, like IDS and DWP in so many of their press releases, conflated the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with people who are Fit For Work. In reality people in the WRAG are considered Unfit For Work but may be able to work in the future with support or treatment or something. Now whether this was deliberate in an attempt to make people agree with the scrapping of the WRAG, which means the loss of £30 a week for many disabled people, or plain ignorance I really don’t know. However I would expect a government minister to have done his homework before posting to Facebook. Unfortunately IDS and the DWP have set such a bad example that I think he’s doomed to repeat all their crappiness.

Anyway, I emailed him about his error. This is what I sent.

“Being in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA is not the same as being able to work. I’m astonished by how many people are unable to understand this. People in the WRAG are currently unable to work but may, with support and/or treatment, be able to work in the future.
Our Citizens Advice Bureau spells it out here unless you think their information is inaccurate. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/…/about-the-esa-groups/
I’m in the WRAG despite spending about 70% of my waking hours fighting thoughts of suicide. Right now I really want to through myself under a fast moving vehicle. This has been my life for as long as I can remember. Trying not to act on these urges is exhausting and combined with all my other symptoms makes me an incredibly volatile person in terms of affect and behaviour. Anyone who knows anything about me thinks the idea that I’m “fit for work” is ludicrous. I go from happy to suicidal in the time it takes someone else to frown. And a simple frown can be a trigger.
As for support, I barely get any. I get no treatment. I’m not eligible. Please stop spreading lies about people who are in the WRAG. Writing this email has been so difficult that I need to self harm again.”

He has since edited his post to correct the glaring error. Now if only they could correct that cut. I won’t be holding my breath.

Much More Than A Label – A Resource for people with Personality Disorder

In 2011 a small Lothian-based mental health independent advocacy charity, CAPS Independent Advocacy received funding to do a collective advocacy project around the diagnosis of personality disorder. This resulted in a number of outcomes:
– an advocacy group who meet regularly
– a steering group
– a two day training course which aims to educate people about Borderline Personality Disorder, teach ways of working with people who have BPD and reduce the stigma surrounding it
– a huge resource pack.

I can’t serve up the groups or the training here so here’s all nine sections of the resource pack instead.

You can download them from the CAPS personality disorder project webpage or from the links below.

(Note – On the CAPS page the second section actually links to the ninth section. I have contacted them so hopefully it will be fixed soon. I’ve posted the correct link below.)

A Resource About Personality Disorder By People With Lived Experience

1. Introduction
2. How does it feel…?
3. Diagnosis
4. Language and Labels
5. Support and Treatment
6. Attitudes
7. Living Your Life
8. Local Information
9. General Information

I wish I could kill myself.

Why are Tories giving tax cuts to the rich whilst forcing the poor, sick and disabled into starvation and/or suicide?

Because they consider the likes of me to be a waste of oxygen. I’m meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I’ll never vote for them so why should they care. It’s only bleeding-heart liberals who care about Useless Eaters. The likes of me are not worth supporting in any meaningful way. Vermin don’t deserve enough money to actually live on.

Volunteering time and energy in an attempt to reduce mental illness stigma through an art exhibition is not worthwhile. Volunteering time and energy to provide training to improve mental health services is not worthwhile. Helping out a struggling family with free childcare which might help them stay in work is not worthwhile. Raising money for various charities, when I’m well enough to do so, is not worthwhile. Looking after friends who need help is not worthwhile.

Hmm, when you reduce it to that it really doesn’t look like much. Maybe I should just end my life and save the taxpayer some money. I can’t though as I’m delivering Day 2 of training tomorrow and abandoning them with only half the training just isn’t right.

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