These days I sleep more, communicate less, and feel more pain. I feel I’m slowly dissipating. Like the photographs in Back to the Future, I’ve faded to a blur and I don’t know how much longer I will exist. It’s strange though, in a way, my depression has lessened. I have no potential to do the things I’d like and so I’m no longer focussing on missed opportunities. I sleep, watch tv, and when well enough I doodle. The only times I’ve left the house recently have been to go to the doctor, and at those times my husband often has to speak on my behalf as the pain encroaches on my ability to think.
There is though, a freedom in it all. I’m freed from the constraints of society. I no longer have to be worried that people will confuse invisible disability with pretend disability. I no longer have to face people staring at me, or giggling about me, due to not being able to wash and get dressed as regularly as I would like. I don’t have to worry that people seeing me well one day and sick the next will decide that “she can do it when she feels like it”. I don’t have to worry that going out today will have x result for the next 4 days. I don’t have to panic about the bacteria of a thousand people surrounding me, waiting to infect me. I don’t have to face listening to teenagers shouting out “spaz”, “retard” or “cripple”.
It’s uncomfortable for me to say that becoming sicker is the painful but better alternative to being in society. But how can being in a society, which has accepted, and voted again for, a government who have been systematically attacking disabled since they took office in 2010, be anything but awful? After being told that over 90 people per month were dying after being found fit for work, there was no widespread public scandal. For a long time, we had hoped that those figures being released would be the eventual undoing of this government, but beyond the left wing media there was barely a whimper. So confident were the government that no one cared, they attempted to push their draconian reforms harder and further. Once upon a time I believed that this would be electoral suicide, but clearly I was wrong. The government has been named in several suicide notes. The families of those who have died have, time and again, laid the blame at the feet of the government. There are no martyrs here, because nobody is listening.
The more people win their appeals against the government, the more the government try to make the journey from assessment to appeal more difficult. They try to change the points system; they appoint workers to challenge appeals judges. Rather than accept that they were wrong about the existence of fake disabilities on an industrial scale, they commit more resources into removing our safety nets. They say that the increased costs for disability benefits is evidence that they are not denying disabled people needed support, but in reality, any increased costs, are more likely to be related to system changes, repeated assessments, and a vast number of appeals. The fact is, this government has been happier to spend more money, to help fewer disabled people, simply because of their ideology which romanticises life before the welfare state.
The government though are not the disease. They are simply a symptom of a systemic infection. Disability hate crime rose beyond the role of the state. Theme parks restrict assistance to disabled guests, who they happily accuse of faking it to skip the queues. Television shows are aimed at sniffing out fake disabled people. Films present us as freaks and villains. So forth, and so on, there is evidence that the rot set in long before the Tories committed to this assault on us. That is why the government felt they were able to target us beyond reproach.
Is it any surprise that being stuck in bed, in agony, is actually preferable to navigating this society?