Thursday, 21 April 2011

On Disability And The Daily Mail #TBofBTT

A guest post by Fi Douglas

I try not to read the Daily Mail. But sometimes, someone will link to it and my curiosity gets the better of me. Normally, the article is tolerable and it’s only the comments that really get to me. This time, however, the article alone was enough to make me stop what I was doing and seethe. (I didn’t read the comments. Well, I read the first 3 and became so enraged I had to stop.)
Yet again, the Mail (this time Daniel Martin) takes a cheap shot at disabled people. The article effectively implied that there are hundreds of thousands of people on disability benefits that shouldn’t be. Because, of course, Daniel Martin is qualified to make that comment.
The whole article annoyed me, but the first statement that really got to me was this: “Officials admitted 135,000 people have been off work for a decade with depression”. How is that an ‘admission’? Have you ever been depressed? Ever met anyone with long-term depression? Do you actually know what ‘depression’ even means? The ignorance in this statement astounds me. Depression can be as debilitating as any other illness. The implication that depression is a ‘minor ailment’ is, quite frankly, insulting. Hooray for contributing to the stigma surrounding psychiatric illness! – nice work, DM!
Next on the take-down list is people with diarrhoea (I don’t profess to know much about this, but it only takes a hint of common sense to realise that this could severely affect occupational functioning) and those with severe stress, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders (see my comments about depression – yay, stigma!).
Oh, and this statement – “More than 20,000 alcoholics and drug addicts have been drawing on the system for more than a decade” – is made seemingly without any regard for the issues of comorbidity between drug and alcohol problems and other mental illness including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and personality disorders.
I now revert to bullet point form:
  • “20 have been off work with a cough for ten years” – Cystic fibrosis? Chronic bronchitis? Emphysema? Lung cancer?
  • “53,450 are on sickness benefit because they have problems with ‘scholastic skills’ – meaning they cannot read, write or add up” – Yup? As @bendygirl pointed out this morning, that’s people with severe learning disabilities.
  • “Dizziness and Giddiness” – Yeah, that’d be vertigo. Nausea, vomiting, difficulty standing or walking. Oh and you can get blurred vision, hearing loss, have difficulty speaking, and reduced consciousness.
  • “Amazingly, there are … ten with blisters.” - Ever heard of epidermolysis bullosa?
It would be foolish to deny that there are people claiming disability benefit unfairly. I’m sure a small minority do. But to penalise other disabled individuals because of this is far more unfair.
Oh, hang on, sorry, how awful of me, I do apologise – I forgot everyone who is disabled is a filthy scrounger, aren’t they? Apologies for that. My mistake. How could I possibly believe any different?


Kotaatok said...

The official DWP figures indicated that the DLA has one of the lowest rates of misuse of all the state benefits. Yet this government, and a large percentage of the mainstream are demonising the disabled. I wish people would remember that anyone can join the ranks of this minority group at any age or stage of their life. said...

My 12 year old Niece said to me and Mum today "if you could click your fingers, and for half an hour all of the ignorant people would know what it's like for you, people wouldn't behave like that". This was after we'd returned from yet another nightmare trip to a (well known I'll not name now) supermarket where a uniformed, rude and ignorant member of STAFF breezed past pushing a long trolley with a clipboard on - she sent off balance and nearly skittled my Mum clean over. We've both got mobility problems (degenerative spine, ME, Fibromyalgia) but my Mum also has COPD Asthma. Mum gasped "excuse me" as this woman flurried past in a whirl, Mum continued "you nearly knocked me over". She stopped, turned and glared at my Mum, as if to say "how dare you stop me in my tracks - I'm busy". I said to her "what are you looking at my Mum like that for - she just told you that you nearly knocked her over" her reply "all right, all right keep your hair on". We bit our tongues and shuffled on, it was already a long hot day. It happened again not five minutes later, some 12 year old called Brad, in his dad's suit with this supermarket's name badge on the lapel, breezing through with another trolley and clipboard, right into my Mum's path, looking over his shoulder as he gossiped with a colleague and drove straight into, you guessed it, my Mum. He'd realised what he'd done but instead of saying to her (the footfalling paying customer who's always right - no?) "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there, not looking, sorry, after you madam" HE BREEZED AWAY without a word and as Mum called him on it he turned and rudely said "what's your problem, I needed to get past!" We shuffled on muttering under our breath "no manners, where's the customer focus, usual poo" wishing we hadn't bothered going out - I'd stopped browsing - like I was going to spend money in their store today - when another woman - again in the Tesco uniform (oops, I said it) pushed my Mum out the way with her elbow to get to stack a shelf! My blood was boiling by now and I kicked off "that's the limit, apologise to my Mum, I'm sick of you lot treating her like scum" she answered "why?" - she didn't even realise what she'd done! This caused a bit of a fuss, a lovely man stopped to put his ten pence in and was told to move along or he'd be removed - the security manager turned up and claimed she was who Brad was talking to and he had apologised and had not been rude to her - SHE WAS CALLING MY MUM A LIAR! I pointed in her face - "if we check the cctv and get a lip reader we'll see who's lying!" I couldn't take any more and beckoned my Mum away - I was livid and still have a sore head from it! We stumble around don't we, the suffering innocent, ignored and perpetually hopeful prey for all the malignantly selfish able-bodied (but not able-hearted) imbeciles - who have the temerity to make out that WE were in THEIR way and that we're unjustifed in our anger/ disgust! I'm (long-term) sick and (disabled/ ME/ Fibromyalgia) tired of being treated like a sub-standard second-class citizen - dogs are treated better! Shall we set up the RSPDP - the Royal Society for the Protection of Disabled People? I'll close with this thought - if this is what it's like in the big wide harsh real world - no compassion or understanding - how can we really expect the bigwigs in their ivory towers to understand, appreciate and support us?