Please read all of this.
Well some of you that watched i Daniel Blake for the first time last night may be thinking it cannot be that bad. Let me tell you though reality for many is far worse.
The film concentrates on how they put hurdles for him getting money to live on. It showed his desperation at an uncaring system. It told the truth. However, the film can only go so far.
For those of us with illness or disability, if we win the fight to get benefits, which means almost automatically having to ask for a statutory reconsideration after our initial claim has been refused for no apparent reason beyond what the DWP worker had for breakfast. Then having to put up with either being called in for a medical assessment, at a centre miles away, with no adequate parking, or maybe a home visit if you are lucky usually with someone with no clear qualification, a person who is master at making you feel listened to, and that they have empathy for you, but because of the way they achieve pay and bonuses will not only stab you in the back but blatantly lie on their report.
You are observed from the moment you get out of the car until you get back in the car. If you have anxiety you will be put in a waiting room full of people. If you use a chair or crutches your appointment will be on first floor or above. If no lift you will be told you have to get up stairs. If a lift and you use it you are seen as admitting you are able to get down the stairs in case of fire. Yes this sounds ridiculous but sadly true.
Then after your claim is again rejected because of lies and tricks you have to go to tribunal. By this time many have dropped their claims or killed themselves.
Tribunal is not pleasant with three people judging you. One a magistrate or judge, another a health official and another form social care possibly. (Was in my case).
They ask you demeaning questions and you feel like you are defending your honesty and even your life, which you are.
I was lucky and won the tribunal.
Then it gets worse. For because of Tories imposing cuts, because of tv like twat Kyle and Benefits Britain your friends, family and neighbours believe they have the right to judge you.
Many so called friends distance from you and soon begin to openly call you with their judgements. If you have a good day you either feel too paranoid at being watched to go out and live or are threatened with being reported (often actually reported).
You cannot live beyond day to day not only because of illness but because you are constantly under threat of sanction. All your choices and decisions as to any future path you are able and want to take are stripped from you. You panic that your money will stop at any time with no explanation or warning.
Every knock at the door, every letter causes you not only stress but real fear. Anxiety, a very real and horrible condition On its own creeps in as a secondary condition, more as a result of the fear of the state than the circumstance of your illness.
You fear checking your bank account because by now you have no savings and outgoings are often more than income.
Then you get a form through the post to fill in going over your illnesses. You are scared to death of it. Again suicide becomes a viable option, but with help you fill it in.
You then hear nothing for months but out of the blue receive this text;
This is a message from Independent Assessment Services. We have appointments available in your area over the next 7 days in an assessment centre, please call us on 0800 188 4880 if you are available. Kind Regards, Independent Assessment Services.
You have had no other notification of assessment. Now you feel terror, frustration and yes anger. My response was shaking with a fury I have never felt and wanting to petrol bomb their offices, to stab any assessor in their neck! I am not violent but at that moment, given all they have done I truly believe if had been fit enough I would have done it. Luckily I am not fit and once rationality took over I calmed down.
I am now awaiting assessment (with no intent to harm the assessor). Every day between now and the date I wake up wanting to die. I go to bed wanting to die. I take meds and wish with all my being that I had that choice. Insulin in hand every day!
I feel I cannot leave my home, i cannot invest in my home or even my future. I am tetchy with people, pushing away many that care (partly for fear of their pain if I do take a hand in my own destiny).
I do not sleep properly but then too much. I shake uncontrollably without warning. I either don’t eat or eat too much. I forget so much from appointments to turning the cooker off.
This is my life. Without this current stress my bad days are existing and my life is a limbo, but now it feels far worse, when I can feel.
If i meet with friends I feel unable to join in conversation or babble utter crap.
I know if this assessor lies I have the whole fight all over again. Sadly if that is the case I will not survive. I will not be here.
That is my ‘I Daniel Blake’ and I am one of the lucky ones.