It hit me the other day  in the midst of a pre ATOS panic that what this government is embarking on and the way it goes about it is tantamount to psychological warfare. Everything about the process of claiming benefits, and especially the rhetoric of austerity and the ‘scrounger’ fallacy trotted out in every government speech about ‘reducing the benefits bill’ and all that, is designed to make you feel like shit, to have you questioning your self worth. It’s designed to make you feel like less of a person, designed to make it as clear as possible that you have to jump through every hoop to gain your pittance as you are at the mercy of their whims. It encourages people to express their prejudices by informing on you, the benefits fraud hotline has an estimated 94% rate of ‘malicious’ calls, something which is exacerbated by the government and media portrayal of those on benefits, often using grossly flawed statistics and misrepresentations if not downright lies presented as ‘fact’ and justification.

Today I saw this Image on twitter:

 

All thus austerity rhetoric? It DOES have a negative effect on your mental health, especially if you already have a mental health problem and pretty much hate yourself on a regular basis anyway and could do without the extra help, and are forced through a system which is clearly not designed for such issues. The rise of hatred against the disabled and those who are deemed to be ‘faking it’ ie not fitting the image of a disabled or long term ill person as imposed on us by those without disability, usually as some form of angelic ‘super crip’,  it all hurts, really, really hurts.

I feel it is no coincidence that the worst bout of depression, anxiety and self loathing I have suffered for a good few months has peaked around the time of my ATOS assessment. No matter how hard you try, all this shit gets to you. Barely a day goes by where I turn on the tv, read a paper, go on line or interact with the outside world in some way that I don’t hear at least one story about benefit reform, cuts and unemployment, stories which are more often than not dripping with hatred and scorn for those of us who ‘live of the state and don’t give anything back’ blaming us for everything. This stuff gets to me, how can it not? This isn’t about some abstract benefits claiming bogeyman this is about real people and I am one of those people so of course I take it personally, it’s about me.

I have been fucked over far more times by the system than it has ever helped me; yet I am demonised and forced to jump through belittling and dehumanising hoops to get a fucking pittance because it is politically convenient to paint people like me as taking everything and not giving anything back.

Every time I hear someone going on about ‘scroungers’   – it hurts
Every time I hear rhetoric about ‘benefit culture’  and getting ‘something for nothing’ – it hurts
Every time I hear more news about punitive benefit reform which has the ever present underlying tones of ‘you don’t deserve it’ – it hurts
Every time it hurts, it REALLY FUCKING HURTS.

Yes I have never ‘worked’. I am not lazy, I just happened to get ill when I was 11 and my parents generally frowned upon child labour. I spent longer than usual getting an education as I was cheated out of any post 16 educational support by the system meaning I was no longer eligible for support for help with education, such as a home tutor. By 16 I had 2 GCSES so it took me a good few years of catching up to reach University.

I am not a ‘drain’ on resources, I ‘work’ for free for local charities, I work for free in museums and galleries, allowing them to function as due to spending cuts they now rely on volunteers as they are making paid staff redundant, I am told it is good for me to volunteer yet my volunteer work is never seen as ‘real’ work so I am perpetually trapped in the cycle of ‘no experience’.

I have been offered noting but insubstantial and ineffective help to deal with my depression via the NHS etc, thus trapping me in the ‘too ill to work full time’ trap for longer and leaving me even more unemployable.

The way society treats people with mental illness means I am not at the top of the pile for any job, it means I have huge fucking gaps to explain on my CV. Any support I have tried to access for help with this has either been useless (or useful in theory but fails to account for the inherent shittiness of the real world) or non existent.

I am not a ‘special case’ and I will not hear people saying ‘but this isn’t about people like you it’s about the people who take the piss’.I am the same as millions of people out there being demonised, insulted and having our livelihoods threatened, squeezed and removed when we have done nothing wrong.

The fraud rate for disability benefits is LESS THAN 1%. More money is lost through the incompetence of governments and the DWP than is lost through fraud. People are not living a life of luxury at the expense of the ‘hard working people’. The media and the government lie and distort facts. 

How can we blame people who are having to rely on charity handouts for food, to demonise them as scroungers and cheats and the cause of all our financial woes.  How dare we call them selfish and the ‘something for nothing’ generation when we have people like Bob Diamond on fat bonuses and Emma Harrison profiting for forcing people into unpaid servitude?

The failures of the system have been far more instrumental in landing me in the unemployment/long term illness wasteland than anything I have ever done, yet this system is punishing me, and others like me, for failures and mistakes that are nothing to do with us.

 

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I’ve finnished the course at uni and have now duly collpased. I suppose now I know my body can’t cope with as much as I think it can. Though things are getting better now I’ve had a few days doing sweet FA/yelling at the Prince of Persia. The little voices and feelings of frustration and wanting to escape my own body /self destruction and general insane brain swirling thoughts that pop up when I’m tired and stressed have gone (almost) , the aches are still here, I feel like I’ve done some amazing workout; I have done 30 mins on wiifit and my pain au chocolate habit whilst on the course has now tipped me into Michelin Man midrif territory.

I also got an appt with ATOS who will probably tell me I’m fit for work becuase I can turn a tap and am mentally astute enough to question to ethics of a private company making millions from taxpayers money by doing a half arsed job, with many of thier initial decisions being overturned at appeal thus costing even more money; whilst genuinely ill people are denied the pittance of state support they get by way of  a ‘medical’ assesment by said incompetent private company, that ignores the evidence from their own doctors, all for ‘saving money’. Government logic.

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I got my ATOS form the other day (which has approx 0  relevant questions on how my mental health impacts my functioning and ability to work, I also spotted a grammar mistake, which niggling as it may be all adds up to not very much confidence in the whole thing). All the media bullshit about benefit ‘scroungers’ and the governments own press releases and comments about getting people into work and ‘shirkers’, it dries me mad(er). you know how it makes me feel? Guilty, worthless, a faker, pathetic, a waste of space, wondering if society would actually prefer it if I was dead as then they’d not have to fork out ‘their’ tax payers money (last time I checked I still paid VAT , granted it’s not income tax but I do pay taxes so ‘eff off and moreover I ever was in a position to be in the high tax rate rich folk bracket I’d happily fork out to know that the vulnerable in society are cared for) on some lazy fool like me.

Ever since the coalition of wankery started these cuts I’ve seen these horrid attitudes everywhere. It makes me question my life, I worry that everything I do is monitored for signs of ‘well if you can do that you can work’ etc. It makes me wonder if I am all the horrible things they say people like me are. Even if it’s a ‘well I don’t mean you personally’ (is this the new ‘I’m not racist but…’?) the general hatred and scorn for people on benefits, it reflects on me because to a casual observer who doesn’t know me I am just like one of those people who someone once saw walk 5 minutes down a street so therefore they MUST be fine 24/7 and able to work.

I am sick of being judged, made to prove I am genuinely ill by jumping through endless, often degrading hoops, to have every aspect of my capability judged (yes I can make a cup of tea and turn on a tap, but I don’t see how that impacts on my suitability to work). To feel like every moment I do feel ‘O.K’ I am in danger as I will be judged ‘fine’. Also if I splurge some of my money on a superfluous purchase I feel guilty “well if she can afford an overpriced face cream once in a blue moon she doesn’t need our money” (I can’t but that doesn’t stop me…I should really chop up my VISA). All the hatred, all the venom, all the scrutiny of what outsiders judge me able to do (which is very, very different from what I can actually do on a sustained basis), it’s really starting to get to me, which doesn’t help my health overall and thus leads me to be even more of a ‘drain on the economy’ as I get iller and need more treatment (which is also getting cut, and I barely get any support as it is and have had to wait aeons for an appt with a psychotherapist etc etc etc).

I feel even worse as I am one of those who have, shock horror, never worked. The ultimate in scrounging scum. The fact I’ve been ill with varying degrees of severity since I was 11 and spent a great deal of my early 20s catching up on education I missed is something so easily glossed over isn’t it?  I’ve tried to work, part time as I can manage but there aren’t any jobs going and I even got turned down for a volunteer role due to ‘too many people applying’. If one of those ranty fuckwits would like to give a job to Ms mentally unstable I’ll take it, but they aren’t. We’d cost them ‘productivity’ or something, they don’t want to hire a ‘mental’ or anyone who may need to take time off due to ill health (time which contrary to popular belief is not spent on a benefits funded yacht in the cote d’azure sipping cristal, it’s time spent feeling utterly shitty and sometimes so shitty you’d prefer to be dead )

Yes this probably makes me a bit paranoid, but then if the mentally ill can’t be paranoid about their persecution at the hands of a selfish government c*nts and daily mail readers (who I fear suffer far more mental distress and impairments than I do anyway, after all they are under the illusion it’s a NEWS paper that reports things like facts as opposed to a knee jerk right wing rage a thon where facts seldom come into it).

I know this stuff isn’t personal, but as someone who is a benefit claimant who doesn’t work I do take it personally, this is an ideological attack on a group of people (a loose conglomeration we may be but we are all lumped together in the end), one of the most vulnerable groups of people in society and it fucking stinks. I’m sorry but it is hatred, it is discrimination and it does show you up to be a selfish bastard with little concern for humanity, or worse as someone who sees those of us with disabilities, long term health conditions etc as somehow ‘other’ and less than human. It’s O.K to treat us like shit because we are not seen as equal. That’s why it hurts and that’s why I can’t help but take it personally when I hear a causal remarks about ‘benefit scrounging scum’.

 

 

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