Spartacus Stories

Here is a collection of Stories written by many different disabled people about the impact that DLA has on their lives. It also includes stories of fear about the proposed changes to personal independence payment.

Admin: benefitscroungingscum, Lucia and Lucy
to add your story email us at spartacusstories @ g mail . com (without the spaces) (your posts are there, just being scheduled throughout the day) (can you add how you want your 'name' to appear ta)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Jim's Experience #spartacusstories #spartacusreport

I’ve suffered with mood disorder, including major depression, for most of my life. I’m 30 now, but mental illness has halted my personal, social and psychological development – my “maturity” I suppose you could say – a number of times, to the extent that I feel and sometimes appear to be much younger. (Sadly not physically. However mad I may be, I don’t believe I can halt time… Yet.)
I used to work for the Guardian, once upon a time. After about four years in employment at one of the most highly regarded newspapers in Britain, poor health was beginning to affect my ability to work. The dip in my performance was noted, but my bosses were unsure how to help, not to mention ill-equipped in both training and resources. I don’t blame them. Not having been in this situation before, I didn’t know how to help myself.
Success and performance have always been important to me. Knowing I was failing, My mental faculties deteriorated further and in 2009 I had a series of breakdowns. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. In a very sorry state of health, mentally and physically, I left the Guardian. I left what had once been my dream job. I was literally broken.
But there must have been a medical plan? Yes there was. But it specifically dealt only with physical injuries and illnesses. If I’d broken my hip or neck, developed diabetes or cancer, there would have been insurance to put me on the fast track to Wellville, or at least help to reach a stage where I could be of some use again. But mental illness, in the eyes of the medical policy, was not a physical illness. Therefore it wasn’t really an illness. Private medical policy couldn’t (or more accurately wouldn’t) save me.
I was saved – and continue to be – by the extraordinary and selfless efforts of the community mental health team (CMHT) at St Giles in Southwark. But not before 6-8 months of hellish worry, potential homelessness, and waiting. And waiting. And this was during what we now laughingly call the “good old days”.
The government has already forced the hand of community mental health care bosses in Southwark. A shocking £3.7 million must be sliced, sluiced from the budget in two years. This means between 500 to 800 “clients” will be “lost”. I deal with some of those losses in real terms (I am mainly talking about death), and you can hear it from the horses mouth (a Southwark care worker) in this post here. St Giles’ resources will suffer, and it’s too late to save it.
But it’s not enough. More money must be cut. Not from people who might need lifesaving medical help in the future. Now they’re looking to save more money by taking medical help away from people already in the system. These are people who’ve already proven to doctors and specialists and therapists that they need it.
The coalition are determined to reduce the numbers claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) by 500,000. There’s too many sick people. And some of those have gotta be fakers, right? Wrong. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is one of the hardest benefits to claim, which also makes it one of the hardest to defraud.
The official Department of Work and Pensions fraud rate for DLA explicitly states that only 0.5% of the total number of claims are fraudulent. Half a percent. Rest assured that despite whatever the right-wing media would like you to believe, there aren’t legions of scumbags with their feet up all day while you hi-ho off to your office job.
I accept that economically, mistakes were made and someone’s got to pay the piper. But DLA is not allowing anyone an outlandish lifestyle (unlike say, bankers’ bonuses). It merely allows a small number of people in this country a life. It allows them to live. That’s what the L in DLA stands for.Living. As in “not dying”.
Getting it took most of last year and remains one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I wouldn’t be here today without it. I couldn’t do much of anything while I was waiting for treatment, let alone work. Tiny allowances like DLA bought me a bit of time until I could receive treatment. It makes it possible to continue attending my treatment. At this point in my recovery, literally everything depends on it.
DLA makes it possible for this site to exist and for me update it, so when I do go back to full-time work I’ll have a place to showcase my skills to potential employers. If it had been denied me (in the unlikely event I was still alive), I’d have nothing to show for the last terrible year. It has actually improved, in already visible terms, my chances of employment. Isn’t that what the government wants? If so, DLA and other sickness benefits are fit for purpose and don’t need changing. I’m living proof.
By Jim Boeth, Originally Posted Here

 Originally posted as part of the One Month Before Heartbreak Campaign Jan, 2011

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