Employment & Support Allowance aka let’s pick on the weak.

This week sees the implementation of the new benefit, ESA, brought in to replace Incapacity Benefit and Income Support for all new claimants. Supposedly it will focus on what work disabled people can do, rather than what work they can’t. The government tells us this is a fantastic opportunity for the two million disabled claimants, who would love to work but haven’t been given the support to enable them to do so in the past. No doubt, the 6 out of 10 employers who have stated they would not give a job to a mentally ill person, have miraculously changed their minds. The governmet has a target of removing one million people from incapacity benefit. There are currently 600,000 job vacancies, so we’re already short of 400,000 jobs for the newly recovered. Add to that the fact that the recession is causing more and more job losses every day, and that those 600,000 spare jobs must be pretty bad if the influx of Eastern European immigrants refuse to take them, and I think it’s safe to say this isn’t a good day for the nutters amongst us.

But if you’re genuinly sick, you have nothing to worry about! So say the ministers. Hmmm, ok then. So the target driven advisors and assessors of the DWP will focus on ridding the system of fraudsters will it? They’ll go after the ex coal miners who haven’t worked for 20 years and are close to retirement, and who were told by the dwp to fake bad backs in the first place, so that they didn’t add to the jobless figures. They’ll target communities where 4 in 10 are unemployed and all local industry has gone to the wall? They’ll go after the true fraudsters who know every trick in the book, how to get through the medicals with the right answers, and how to sue if they don’t get their benefits?

No. They will target those of us who struggle to fill out their forms. Who have enough self respect to dress nicely for the medicals. Who feel so ashamed already at relying on benefits that we hide how ill we are and try to please the assessors.

I used to work. I’ve held down a full time job the majority of the time from 18 – 32 years of age. I’ve lost each of my jobs to BPD, either by being sacked for sick leave or attitude (mood swings), or theft (stealing chocolate to binge on), or walking out of the job because I thought everyone hated me. I’m impulsive like that. Self neglect is a huge problem for me, as is socialisation. I chose to work night shifts, preferably on my own, where it wouldn’t be noticed so much that I hadn’t washed my hair or ironed my clothes properly. One employer called me in to his office to tell me I needed to shower more. Embarrassing for him and humiliating for me. I don’t even like admitting it here. But getting up and getting to work was as much as I could manage. I spent my time off asleep or drunk, lurching from one breakdown to the next. I was never popular with my colleagues. Apart from not being very fragrant, I was also very argumentative. I hated myself for it.

The text books say that BPD symptoms fade away from your thirties onwards. I’m 35 and have found it to be the opposite. And I’ve come to realise that my ability to work is not how I should define myself. Being sat at home alone 24/7 is not good for me. But neither is full time work. It brings out every paranoid feeling and leaves me drained of energy. In the past I have found occasional voluntary work to be therapeutic. Unfortunately, the DWP see this as indicative of an ability to get a full time job, so I have to stay at home rather than lose benefits.

To those of you who are disabled and want to work, good for you. I hope ESA helps you with that. Perhaps some time in the future I will be like you. But not now, and not soon.

I came across some info about BPD which the decision makers look at when they decide on how much benefit we get. By the looks of it, I will be screwed at my next review, because I don’t have access to a cpn or social worker. The dwp think that means my bpd only has a minor effect on my life. They don’t take into account that it’s a lack of resources which prevents me receiving that help. Check out the link: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/medical/med_conditions/personality_disorders/

I hope someone in government is keeping an eye on the suicide statistics now that ESA has started. However, they probably view any suicides as collateral damage.


22 Responses to “Employment & Support Allowance aka let’s pick on the weak.”

  1. Lola Snow Says:

    This is a very well written post mate. I’m not sure what to say. I bitch and moan about my job, and having lost my career, but I count myself lucky I am not facing this…yet. But I do know what it’s like to have someone cast aspersions on your degree of illness, or ability to work, and that is the most infuriating stigma of all.

    It’s bad enough to have to deal with disproportionate guilt and low self esteem, without being kicked in the face with insinuations about malingering too. It just adds to the beliefs we hold, that we must be useless, and not trying hard enough. I know where they are coming from with the idea, but the government are full of great ideas, it’s just the way they impliment them, and the complete lack of consistency which f*cks everything up.

    Lola x

  2. beyondtheborder Says:

    Awww… I’m 21, I have bpd… I’m really sorry about you loosing your jobs… Yeah I’m in university… I went from one of the top students in my class to almost failing out… I can’t even get out of bed… and I lost most of my friends already… My situation isn’t as bad as yours though, i wish I could help…


  3. Alison Says:

    Thanks for the link… I personally am trying not to worry about it. I do miss work but like you I struggled on a day to day basis depending on how I was. I’ve been impulsive once to often in jobs!

    I had to read the obesity section, I have a BMI of over 55 so technically I am covered, despite the fact my weight doesn’t cause me any problems whatsoever!

  4. Mental Nurse · This Week in Mentalists (53) Says:

    […] From the Sofa is not reassured by the new Employment and Support Allowance. But if you’re genuinely sick, you have nothing to worry about! So say the ministers. Hmmm, ok […]

  5. Alison Says:

    Just checking in that all is okay with you!

  6. Lola Snow Says:

    I’m jumping on Alison’s bandwagon.

    “Welfare check for Bippidee!!”

    You alright Bip?

  7. bippidee Says:

    lol yes i’m fine ty. just hibernating now the nights have drawn in and sleeping til mid afternoon due to the seroquel.

  8. schatsie Says:

    I’m also 35 and was only diagnosed 2 months ago, although I have been having what I always thought was “anxiety”, which I have now been told is mania, since I was about 20.

    My brother was diagnosed when he was 30.

    When were you diagnosed? I heard that it usually starts in you teenage years and gets better in your 20’s, but then I have also heard of people where it started in their 60’s!

  9. bippidee Says:

    I was told about my borderline diagnosis when I was in hospital last year, but I don’t know how long ago they decided that. I’ve recently had psychosis added to it. Prior to that it was years of being told I had reactive or neurotic depression. My first diagnosis was at 16 and that was bulimia. I think for a long time borderline personality wasn’t a label they liked to give to young people, so you tended not to get it until your thirties. Also it tends to be given to people who have been in and out of the system for years and not gotten better.
    I was told I was anxious for a long time too, but the antidepressants never touched it. It’s only now that I’m taking an anti psychotic that I’ve noticed a big difference, so I’m fairly certain mania has a part to play in it too.
    take care xx

  10. ladyserina Says:

    Thank you for such a well written post. So much of your post struck a chord for me. Having just been dismissed due to absence from a job I somehow managed to hold down for seven years I now find myself reluctantly having to apply for this new benefit and it scares the shit out of me. I now know I’m not well, and I hate it. Most of the time I think were just too proud and stubborn to ask for the help we need, if indeed we know what we need in the first place.
    This benefit worries me. I don’t understand BPD properly myself yet, how the hell am I going to be able to explain it to an assessor?

    It’s nice to know were not alone, it’s a shame we have to go through all this though. Maybe it’s my stubbornness talking but I just think the more we shout (constructive shouting that is), the more we are heard, the less shit and discrimination we have to put up with..eventually.

  11. babycplay Says:

    This is the information they forgot to put on the DWP site.

    What is Borderline Personality Disorder? Or
    ‘Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder?’
    Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, inter-personal relationships, self-image, and behaviour.
    This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual’s sense of self-identity. While less known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is more common, affecting 2% of adults, mostly young women.
    There is no “pure” BPD; it coexists with other illnesses. These are the most common. BPD may coexist with:
    • Post traumatic stress disorder
    • Mood disorders
    • Panic/anxiety disorders
    • Substance abuse (54% of BPs also have a problem with
    substance abuse)
    • Gender identity disorder
    • Attention deficit disorder
    • Eating disorders
    • Multiple personality disorder
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Schizophrenia
    • Disassociation
    Statistics about BPD :
    • 2% of the general population
    • 10% of all mental health outpatients
    • 20% of psychiatric inpatients
    • 75% of those diagnosed are women
    • 75% have been physically or sexually abused
    • 10-15% take their own lives
    • It is as common as Schizophrenia and Bi-polar combined.
    • Because it masks itself with so many other mental conditions,
    it often is mis-diagnosed.
    • Treatment is hard to prescribe, because of the different
    components in each individual.
    • Relaxation and a stress free environment helps to stabilize.
    • Psychodynamic psychotherapy and Dialectical behaviour
    therapy (DBT) over a number of years seem to work for
    many clients.
    • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can be counterproductive
    with many clients, a BP needs validation constantly.
    What BP’s aren’t:
    Manipulative: BP’s do not know how to talk at your level,
    so they have to find ways of communicating.
    Attention Seeking: if you had a broken leg, what is it you look
    for from your partner or friends? Isn’t it comfort,
    reassurance and attention? So why would it be any
    different from someone suffering from severe
    emotional distress?
    Demanding: Unlike a broken leg you can not exactly see what is
    wrong but you can definitely feel it. I am sure
    everyone will agree this would make anyone quite
    demanding and impatient.
    BPD patients are generally thought to have a long
    term, poor quality of life.
    BPD patients are recognised as responding poorly to
    treatment. (if they are offered it)
    At least 50% of BPD sufferers also suffer form major
    depressive disorder, dysthymia, or even both.

    References: psychiatry-research, http://www.BPDWorld.org, http://www.Toddlertime.com, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/, http://www.palace.net/, http://www.mentalhealth.com/

    I do hope this helps a lot of you to be able to share with Service User Groups, local LINks, even most professionals don’t understand what us BP’s go through every-day of our lives. Someone once wrote, “the emotional pain someone with BPD suffers, could be equated to someone with 90% burns, fortunately the pain of the burns will decrease”.

    I am off to a meeting tomorrow representing 3 other BPD’s sufferers, who have been to the job call up and told they are fit to work.

    We need to get organised before many of us lose our fight to stay alive. After my daughter was called in for a work interview (at that time they were attacking couples were both were listed on incapacity, my daughter and her husband both suffer with BPD), she took her life.

    If any of you are called in, then do not go alone, take someone with you, look for an advocacy service in your area ore the CAB. Remember questions are put in such a way, so you will agree. You and how us Borderlines like to please everyone.

    One person tomorrow, first attended a job meeting in November and I went along. She was in a manic state and very anxious, at this meeting she was re-assured that she wouldn’t be called in again as she definately was unfit to work. Well Christmas week her benefits were stopped and she received a letter to attend the job centre, where she went (alone) through the full DWP test and was told she had to find a job. She has put an appeal in, but that is going to take three months. She now has to manage (which of course she’s not) on £56.00p. Last night she said I think I will end my life. No one gives a shit anymore to those of us who just manage to survive each day.

    I shall let you know how the meeting goes tomorrow.

    Love to you all. X X X

  12. babycplay Says:

    The meeting took place. Many professionals, not aware of what is going on. A good outcome, the health professionals and the Jobcentre manager both flagging up to senior managers and Ministers.

    Everyone who can speak out, must do so now, before so many people are put at risk.

  13. darklight Says:

    My partner who has been suffering with a bad back ever snce she was run over when she was nine.

    She has however, worked since leaving school and has paid her rent and c/tax without cliaming benefits. She is partially disabled as one side of her body is weak and slightly smaller than the other due to brain damage caused by the accident.

    She recently found that she could no longer cope with work due to the pain in her back and decided to see the Dr who put her on the sick. She began the process of claiming the ESA which went OK to start until that is, her medical. I was present at the medical and the Dr who examined her asked a lot of questions and thne asked her to do a number of movements…she was clearly in pain but after all that she has found out that she is fit for work and her ESA has been stopped. She is going to appeal.

    The funny thing is that she can only walk with the aid of a crutch or walking stick, so how can she be fit for work.

    This is without doubt the most evil thing I have seen a government do. They are all the same anyway but this is just nasty.

    As bad as this sounds I hope the government get swamped with thousands and thousands of lawsuits from these sick people whose injuries and illnesses have been exasperated by being told by a Dr representing the government that they are fit for work.

    I will honestly never vote again for any of them. If we all did the same, stop voting, stop buying shitty products to make the rich richer. There must come a timewhen we ALL just say enough is enough and just say no. Stop working, just stop everything, just say no!

    It is bad enough that this goverment does this to us but what dissapoints me more is that no-one does anything about it. If you tollerate this then your children will be next.

    • bippidee Says:

      Sorry to hear about your partner. It doesn’t surprise me at all though. Fortunately the majority of appeals result in the decision being overturned so fingers crossed she should be ok. It’s just that it takes months of living on a very basic amount, before the appeal can be heard.
      I’m disgusted at the constant negative press about disabled benefit claimants. And now I hear there are plans to get rid of disability living allowance and make us all apply directly to social services for our care needs.
      I don’t think the government will be happy until I’m sat on the street with a begging bowl. I’ve always voted labour but might consider switching to Tory. Cameron has a disabled child and might just have more compassion. Never thought I would say that about a tory.

      • Jade Falcon Says:

        How is this DLA thing meant to work then, I get just over £70 a month due to having epilepsy and have had it since the age of 10. I was awarded it ‘for life’, but I dont suppose the gits that are in government bother about that. Yet these are the scum that have fiddled expenses for years….

  14. Jade Falcon Says:

    I’m also a victim of ESA. In April I was feeling breathless and eventually reluctanctly went to the GP’s. I got a heart trace done and was packed up to the local A&E.

    Diagnosed with atrial defibrillation, I had an irregular and fast heartbeat, that even now, means I still get a heart rate of 95-108 bpm. This also means I can’t carry nearly as much, walk as far as I used to and still get severe attacks of breathlessness. I’m also attending a Warfarin clinic. I was sent for a medical to a place run by Atos Health services and eventually….my reply came through.

    Nada, nothing, I wasn’t eligible for any more ESA. I am apparently 100% fit and healthy. Oh, BTW, they hadn’t bothered consulting my GP who was happy to keep me in sick lines during the assesment phase, or the cardiac specialist, the warfarin clinic or the cardiac nurse who visits me. I am of course appealing, but with little hope. It seems now you’ll need to be near Douglas Bader levels of illness before being considered disabled in any way. You need 15 points minimum to pass this new assesment phase, I got absolutely no points.

    Its a farce. Apparently its to save money, yet the Government will keep handing out huge amounts of money to these farcical training schemes…..

  15. kevin Says:

    im 29 i suffer from bpd i get dla but am claiming jobseekers at the same time to count ive had about 48 job. my advisor told me down south to claim employment support allowence dont know dont really care.I was only diagnosed 3 mounth ago ive been in hospital about 50 times ods etc no its not clever i wish i dint have this and i was normal and could cope with life the question i wounder is what the gouverment wants me to work as maybe an online counseler some thing mad like that i do have or did have a mental health worker but moved i am getting a new one soon

  16. Fu**ed Off!!!! Says:

    I was on ESA for 6 months after I tried to kill myself and almost succeeded. I was diagnosed with BPD and Bi polar and many other’s. As soon as my medical assessment came up I signed off it even though there was no improvements to my health. The horror stories I read on these medical assessments was enough to scare me into not going ahead with it. I have mental issues…an assessment like that would drive me insane, so insane that they may even need to call security on my ass and I’d probably get sectioned! Looking at me..I look healthy and very well groomed. My image is important to me. I am a perfectionist. Judging me on how I look or dress is just plain wrong. People who suffer from mental illness do not all stink to high heaven or have teeth rotting out their heads with uncombed greasy smelly hair. Some of us have OCD, I can have a shower up to 3 times a day and wash my face 5 times a day. If i cant do these things for whatever reason, Ill rage!
    I seriously cant stand the government!
    Anyway I applied for plain old job seekers allowance and told them Id never pass the medical assessment because i know you wont see me as being sick enough and its an insult! So I got Jobseekers allowance for only 6 months and during this time they tried to talk me into disability allowance (just to get me off job seekers allowance) If i applied for disability living allowance they would laugh in my face. I know people that are worse of then me, even unable to walk and they still never got benefits!
    I stayed on jobseekers allowance and found a little job that pays me a little less then job seekers allowance would. 😦 I have not told anyone in my job I have mental problems. I constantly wear a mask and had to lie to get the job for a bit if chump change!!!
    I get so angry when I see all these single mothers who dont think twice about opening their legs and then live of the government. I get blooded when I see foreign people doing the same…they only came to England to live for free and be baby machines! Honestly government, limit it to one child per household is all you pay for, any more and the mother has to get a job LIKE THE REST OF US even if we are unfit we still have to kill ourselves as there is no support!

    Don;t even get me started on how rubbish the NHS is too when it comes to mental health!

    U will end up killing yourself or extremely close with there ‘treatments’ and handing out inappropriate medicine like smarties!


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  20. Leslie folkard Says:

    I reported an incident to the police today I m r got depression and anxiety I had a anxiiety Attack yesterday witch made me loose my balance when I had calmed down I noticed I’d lost my ESA payment that I drew out yesterday I spoke to sue from the social fund team today she was so unhelpful ignorent didn’t want to listen to me at all

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