I see no reason to hide the fact that I suffer from depression. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and those feelings have (at least sometimes) been the catalyst for what I think is some of my best work.
I used to give myself a hard time over it, because I’ve been brought up to believe (and I genuinely do believe) that there is ‘always someone worse off than you’. I felt, and still feel, an intense guilt when the depression hits, because I know that I am so very lucky compared to some.
My worst enemy is myself, and I realise that is down to me to solve that problem. There’s a lot to be said for making friends with yourself, and accepting your own limitations.
Have I accepted my disability? I thought I had, but this government coming to power and attacking our rights, dignity, and self-esteem has pushed me backwards in that process.
Finding my strengths and playing to them, rather than looking at the things I can’t do has always been a route through the total despair I’ve felt at times. I won’t pretend that the things I can’t do aren’t a problem for me. They are.
Knowing I’ll never be a mother is something that completely rips me to pieces. I can’t even describe that level of pain, especially when there are reminders everywhere, everyday. I’m better than I was with that particular issue – but I’ve got a long way to go.
I worked for a while (at the MOD) and that was followed by voluntary work at the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau. I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of everyday, and I know that since my various conditions have deteriorated further, a job (in the traditional sense of the word, at least) is not an option.
Cerebral Palsy is no picnic. I cannot walk or stand unaided and that (coupled with Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, depression and a few other things thrown in) means that my body (and my mind at times) have stopped me living a ‘normal’ life, like I badly want to do.
It seems that other people take so much for granted, and that is something that often gets forgotten. Hug your kids and remind yourself that not everyone is so lucky. Try and enjoy your job even though it sucks having to get up early on Monday mornings, and your boss is a prick!
I miss my job. I miss that feeling of earning my own money, and knowing I was ‘contributing.’
You see, in this government’s eyes, I’m not. I’m useless to society and apparently I lie in bed all day, getting something for nothing, while hard-working, striving, achieving, worthy real people pay for me to live.
I only lie in bed all day when I’m in too much pain to move, or I haven’t slept a wink due to anxiety – anxiety which this government has added to.
I’m terrified of ATOS and the ‘Work Compitability Assessment which I know I have been set up to fail. Sometimes (even if it’s only momentarily) I feel like I would rather be dead than judged, and stripped of what independence I am able to have.
At the moment I can help my husband pay the bills, get taxis to the doctors and go to visit friends when I feel well enough. It helps me feel ‘normal’ – as much as I can.
If my Disability Living Allowance is stripped I will be entirely reliant on my husband (and his Pension Credit) for everything. The fact that I have him makes me luckier than a lot of people in my situation, so once again I’m feeling guilty for writing this. It seems so ‘woe is me’ and wrong for me to feel that way.
The independence I am able to have and keep is everything to me though. This government has taken my rights, my self-respect and now they want to take the independence I have worked for too. How is that fair? How is it fair that so many sick and disabled people have died. (or been plunged into poverty and destitution) after being fit for work – either through taking their own life or as a result of deterioration in their conditions due to stress?
I must hold on to my strength. I must remember that I am Helen – and not a useless, worthless ‘scrounger’.
I am a person too. I’m a wife, daughter, sister, campaigner and writer. I am worth more than to be bullied, scape-goated and victimised, simply because I am disabled. I did not choose to live like this, and I would give anything in the world to change it, but I have achieved something (despite what the Coalition wants society to believe).
I am me. I have built myself up, and I will not let them and their vicious, vindictive lies take me down. They will not win!