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

My Whinge For Welfare #spartacustories #spartacusreport

This post is part of One Month Before Heartbreak, a campaign against the withdrawal of DLA, the major disability benefit, in the UK
When I got my diagnosis of Bipolar II last year and struck it lucky with medication that works (on the first try!) I thought, “At last!, after 20 years I can be something else but sick” and started looking for ways of earning a living. OK, that surprises even me. My family was agnostic so I never exactly picked up the Protestant work ethic. But it’s amazing how decades of being a social outsider and feeling like a useless waste of society’s welfare benefits money will affect you.
Still, although the medication works, the psychiatrist warned me that I would also need to put in effort to keep my moods stable. She recommended Overcoming Mood Swings and I’ve found it very useful. It’s also a lot of work. Of course it’s worth it… but it does rather cut into the time I can devote to getting back to work.
And then there’s the other illnesses. I had a plan to use my writing skills to get back into work. Of course after all these years they were very rusty but I found a great eBook by Ali Hale, The Staff Blogging Course, which seemed like just what I needed to guide me into freelance online journalism. My health was good the day I found the course, so that day I very nearly completed the first chapter, and it was everything I hoped. And yet, in the six weeks since I bought Ali Hale’s effective course that’s the only time I’ve been capable of utilising its simple directions. Besides Bipolar I’ve also been diagnosed with post-viral fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and I’ve spent about 4 weeks exhausted and in pain, primarily with dental, jaw and neck problems. These eased enough so that I could spend Christmas caring for my husband who has COPD and came down with the Swine flu for the second holiday season in a row. Poor sod.
Then I had the fun of a week of flu myself – but luckily a milder version than my husband’s, since I was desperate to recover enough for the 3 week round of medical appointment’s that are taking up my January. I need to go for a scan to discover the cause of the enlarged lymph nodes of the past 6 months or so, the dentist for yet more dental treatment to try and save teeth that are almost beyond repair after 20 years neglect due to my untreated Bipolar of 20 years. I have an x-ray ordered by my GP to check the nodes aren’t cancer or some such true nasty. And a recent trip to the opthalmist informed me that I have a rare genetic disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa, causing deteriorating vision and of course that diagnosis – joy of joys – means I need a whole new round of tests to ascertain the extent of my visual loss.
I’m a tad pissed off that I might be losing my sight. It really would interfere with this whole writing as a way of getting back to work gig. So if this reads like one big whinge… maybe you’re right. I prefer to think of it as an opportunity for me to get some new skills in working out how my hosted web site works and getting over my unreasonable fear of WordPress. I’m just glad to have had a morning where my brain and body worked well enough to write something and learn something. Small steps. But I want at least a shot at my future independence.
Disclosure: this post is indirectly funded by DLA. Three years ago when we got married I lost all my welfare benefits and my husband had to keep us both on a less than average income (whilst paying off a debt of his own). We struggled to eat and to pay the bills. I certainly couldn’t have invested in retraining for work via ebooks and blogging. Actually I was too sick to consider even part-time work and there was no money for transport or an advocate to seek medical attention to get me well. With the strain and his own chronic illness my husband also got sick and was off work for 5 months. Which gave us time to work our way through the red tape and – after 3 years of marriage and no benefits for me – to get me DLA. It saved out lives. Allowed us to get me the medical care I so desperately needed. But it hasn’t made our lives easy. The DLA simply funds the extra expenses of my seemingly endless illnesses/disabilities. And lets me dream of working. If my blog’s gone next year it wont be loss of interest – like so many new blogs – it’ll be because of the loss of DLA and me and my husband being back to struggling to survive below the poverty line line like so many other disabled people.
What’s this got to do with you? No-one wants to talk about old age, sickness or death. But it comes to us all. And to our loved ones. Disabled peopled are too sick to fight against the loss of our benefits. We rely on the kindness of others but we also need financial support to allow for some independence. When the unthinkable happens to you or a loved one do you want to find yourself treated like a benefit scrounger and dependent on family, friends and neighbours for all your transport and care needs? If not, then speak up for disability benefits now. You’ll be helping yourself later.
Originally available here

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

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