I spent most of 2017with my support worker (who I know I’m lucky to have helping me) fighting the DWP

I am autistic and also have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, as well as OCD with depressive tendencies and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  I have also been receiving treatment within the last six months for PTSD.  The cumulative effect of these conditions on my life is extremely inhibiting and debilitating.  Despite trying to work, I have lost two jobs in the last ten years due to disability-related poor health.

The Government creation, hand-in-hand with the right wing media, of a hostile environment for disabled people makes my life far, far harder and more stressful than it need be.  For example, I spent most of 2017 with my support worker (who I know I’m lucky to have helping me) fighting the DWP and their health assessors to get a decision as to the level of ESA they intended to give me.  I have now been put in the support group but I live in fear that at any time this entitlement could be taken from me.

My PIP is currently going through review and I don’t know what I will do if I lose that.  For PIP and for ESA, there is always the stress of the assessment process and the possibility that a so-called ‘healthcare professional’ with minimal specialist training, after seeing you for an hour or less, could decide you are ‘fit for work’ despite the evidence provided by consultants, GPs, psychological support workers and other qualified individuals who know you and your condition well.

Add to that the restricted access to mental health and other specialist health interventions – for example, I was allowed only 12 sessions of CBT to deal with the symptoms of PTSD – and cuts to funding for services like the CAB, and it becomes clear that the Government is making it harder for disabled people to live as well as they could.

Then add in the sense that you can never be disabled enough to justify the support you can manage to get, drawn from news stories like the recent one saying the DWP uses CCTV from supermarkets to spy on disabled benefit claimants, and the upshot is a truly toxic atmosphere that makes me feel as though my very existence is a burden the state (and society at large) is very reluctant to bear.

TW

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