obscuritan: (corpseparty)
[personal profile] obscuritan
So I was meant to be going to an assessment on Wednesday. It was going to be the same test as back when I first signed onto Incapacity benefits, and I was shitting bricks about it. I resented the test last time (I'll go into why after the cut) and since I'm between houses I had to do this in a town I'm not familiar with. But I got a call this morning to say that there wasn't anyone to do the assessment so I would be contacted at some point to be told how may weeks I would have to wait for my next one. Most likely once I've moved into my new place in a different county. But what exactly am I stressing about?

Well firstly you fill out a form a fortnight beforehand, explaining what's wrong with you. They give the same form to people regardless of whether they're physically or mentally disabled, so half of it is going through page after page of "yes I can walk, yes I can lift my arms, no I don't have epilepsy, no I don't soil myself" and so on, or vice verca.
You then go to a meeting with a consultant, who hopefully has some medical experience but nothing I've seen guarantees that. They then ask you all the same questions you answered on the form in the hopes that they can double-jeopardy you, as well as a bunch of other questions ranging from the innocuous to completely unrelated. All this gets fed into a "yes/no/maybe" computer programme which then gives you points for how disabled you are: 15 or more and you pass.

Yeah, that last one's the real kicker. That's the one that's resulted in people who can't stand up for their back problems scoring zero points. Remember when I said they "hopefully" have medical experience? That's because they are in fact an outside consultancy group who drop clangers like claiming one man's degenerative eye condition "would be expected to improve with time and appropriate treatment". Should you be turned down you can appeal, and even though most of the appeals are successful all that entitles you to is... another identical assessment. See, at the heart of all this the test is meant to be based around what you can do as opposed to what you can't. So if they ask you if you if you watch Eastenders and you say yes, that goes into the record as "You can sit in a chair and focus on one thing for 30 minutes".

Here's a firsthand example from my previous assessment. About halfway through I became concerned that the consultant might be asking me one thing and assessing me on another. See above. She offered to let me see what she was typing, and I took her up on it. I had told her my reason, and at an earlier point had mentioned what my (then) therapist had called my "self-critical dialogue", IE doing yourself down all the time. Weeks later I read the transcript I had asked for and this got entered into the record as "patient insisted on reading what I had written, as the voices in his head were telling him I was lying to him." Boy, I must have had a worse time of it than I'd thought, since I'd somehow developed schitzophrenia over the course of an hour.

Our current government has labelled ours a "sick-note culture", convinced that we're all scroungers who are simpy "work-shy". And you know what? Your government and the media call you a scrounger often enough, you really feel like it. I'm in the same boat as people who have to take shopping lists of drugs to stop them mutilating themselves, people whose bodies have been broken by lifetimes of hard labour and people with terminal diseases, and even they get the government and media treating them as guilty until proven innocent.

And what do I have? What my doctor calls severe depression? For fuck's sake, people claim to be depressed when the coke machine didn't have the drink they wanted. So I haul myself off to a meeting, having gone over the drill of what I need to do, clearing my schedule otherwise, arriving half an hour early just to be safe and sitting stock still, simmering with dread over what I can't predict. Then I get into the meeting and all they see is a middle class university graduate who after all made it to the meeting, so how ill could he be? I begrudge being thought of like that, but I hate it even more that they treat those other people the same way, too. Hell, I feel like a fraud just telling you all this.

But hey, at least now I don't have to worry about doing all this in two days. Now I can worry about this lurking at some unknowable point in the future. Awesome.

Date: 2012-04-03 07:52 am (UTC)
scarelyquinn: Scary (Default)
From: [personal profile] scarelyquinn
As someone who has many times experienced second-hand just how aggravating disability assessments can be, my deepest sympathies. Incidentally, I was told (by someone in the soul-sucking local Jobless Centre) that it was pointless me even being put forward for that assessment as I would not pass it.
You've seen how bad I can get - and even that is nothing like as bad as how BAD it can be. With clinical depression and agoraphobia, and a degenerative medical condition that might render me unable to go outside in the daylight by the time I'm 50, I'm too functional to get sick benefits.
Personally I put that down to the fact that I had a Puritan bringing me up who neither spared the rod nor spoiled the child, I'm used to working past obstacles and I think that's a good quality. There have been times in my life, though, when some sick time to get myself togther would have been very beneficial. Instead I have worked through those times.
Unfortunately, there ARE a great many people claiming sick benefits who could legitimatly be in work, I do understand why the rules are so stringent. It would be useful if we had actual professionals conducting the assessments, but how on earth would they find the time in between running these ridiculous 'focus-groups' that are currently wrecking the NHS?

Date: 2012-04-03 08:02 am (UTC)
scarelyquinn: (sign)
From: [personal profile] scarelyquinn
Oh one thing though, lots of conditions apart from schizophrenia can result in 'voices in the head' - paranoid psychosis can occur with or without a schizophreniform diagnosis, and that's just one of them.

I would have let that go, but I noticed the spelling error and just *couldn't*....

Date: 2012-04-03 10:50 pm (UTC)
scarelyquinn: Scary (Default)
From: [personal profile] scarelyquinn
Under advisement from someone who has assisted in the diagnosis and management of such conditions, you'll understand. Of course you understand that, what reason would you have to doubt someone who actually WORKS with mental patients...

Date: 2012-04-03 10:52 pm (UTC)
scarelyquinn: Scary (Default)
From: [personal profile] scarelyquinn
Thanks, but I think I'd rather have a job.

Date: 2012-04-03 04:28 pm (UTC)
blue_aeon: (Rag!Fu)
From: [personal profile] blue_aeon
That just sucks. I swear, the day someone proves they actually have a brain cell when it comes to dealing with the disabled, I'll probably faint from shock. My brother too, I suspect.

And I'll have all this to look forward to once my Asperger's assessment is done with. Joy. I'm determined to get something out of the bloody system though - especially after discovering that my brother's psychologist knew I was autistic while I was still in school but they wouldn't arrange for a diagnosis (yeah, we're seriously pissed off about that).

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