6 February 2012

How Can We Get A Job When Society Is More Disablist Than Ever?

A number of things have wound me up today prompting me to make this post, but the biggest one thing was when I read this article "I Never Qualified For Disability Benefits, Yet I'm Still called A Faker". I recommend you read it if you haven't already. Basically it's written by a lady who despite having a painful medical condition and being housebound for 6 months didn't qualify for ESA so never claimed it, she works despite her pain and is obviously a very brave and inspirational woman.

But despite the fact she has never claimed disability she gets abuse in the street because she walks with a stick but appears healthy, so people think she's faking, the article details some very harrowing accounts of things that have happened to her. It also mentions a man with cerebral palsy who doesn't look very disabled to the naked eye, but gets abuse when he's seen using his blue badge for parking, and people have even asked to see it to check it's his.

It's clear that the governments obsession with promoting the idea that people are on disability falsely, despite the actual fraud rate being only 0.5% that is causing societies attitude to change in this way.

I suffer from an invisible disability, anxiety based depression, I've had it since childhood. All my life I've dealt with people who don't understand the condition saying stupid things to me about it, I'd like to list a few of these daft questions and statements people make, and the responses I have to give every time I hear them:

"What are you depressed about?"

Depression is not an emotional state that I get into then get out of, it's a permanent medical condition that has destroyed my life. Some people have less severe forms of the same condition and do have good times and bad times, not me it's one long round of being afraid to go out alone most days, often uncontrollable crying, and often suicidal thoughts. Yes that's right I contemplate suicide every day, have done since my first suicide attempt when I was 11 years old, I have to take a pill every morning to help me cope with this. In recent years the medication has improved and has fewer side effects, but in the past this medication has caused me to have blackouts, visibly shake uncontrollably, and given me the desire to cut myself. Yes that's right, the medication they give to people prone to self harm anyway, can actually increase your desire to do it at first. I don't cut myself normally, but when I first went on a new medication a couple of years ago, had sudden thoughts of cutting my arm with a pen, not even a blade, a pen, imagine the scars that would have left.

"Why don't you just cheer up/ pull your socks up/ get over it?"

I would love to believe me, see above for more info.

"People didn't get that when I was young/it doesn't exist" 

Utter bollocks, depression has been recorded for hundreds of years, in Victorian times they called it "melancholia" before that I'm not not sure what it was called but it definitely existed. If you never met anyone suffering from it when you were young, it is probably because they were too ashamed to admit it because of the ignorance society shows about the condition. Or maybe if you are quite old, all the people with it were still routinely locked in institutions out of the public eye when you were young. So to summarize depression has always existed, people just didn't talk about it in the past.

"I Just Saw You Laughing/Smiling, You Aren't Depressed" 

My condition doesn't leave me unable to laugh or smile, I enjoy comedy and a good joke, in fact laughter helps to elevate my mood as it causes a release of endorphines in my brain as it does in every other human being. But just because you see me laugh or smile it does not mean I am cured or faking my condition, in fact I often laugh and joke to cover up how anxious I am inside.

So this brings me to my point raised in the title of this post, how the hell am I supposed to "get a job" when society is still so ignorant about the condition I suffer from I can't even get an interview? And even if I do by some miracle get one, the person interviewing me is bound to ask one of the stupid questions above?


Unknown said...

Just a quiet word of support from someone else with depression who also feels like all the world's ills are being blamed on them.

How dare I walk around town on a good day, when I'm off sick?

I certainly understand some of what you feel, tho obviously we're all different.

I just hope something changes soon, every day I feel terror when I hear the letterbox move, in case it's a summons to be judged and found wanting by ATOS.

Nancyrowina said...

Thank you for your support, and I agree with your point about people judging you because they see you one day and you look alright. Just because I am sometimes able to walk outside on my own doesn't mean I feel fine inside and am cured, it's just not bad enough to give me a panic attack that day.
Also no two people experience exactly the same thing with depression, I get people saying "my friend had depression and he's fine now" some people get better, doesn't mean it will never come back, and I never seem to feel completely better for some reason. It's hard to explain that to a person who's already prejudiced against you and is convinced you are a faker no matter what you say.
And I like you am freaking out at the thought of the medical, I've had my letter just waiting for a phone call now.

Anji said...

Do you have to mention your depression to future employers? Surely your health is confidential.

When my son was depressed I was sick of people saying that he had nothing to be depressed about. One woman told me that I should make him pull himself together.

I've got a book somewhere with a drawing of a brain with the various chemicals running in and out. At the time I felt like handing out photocopies;

I hope that your job hunting doesn't have to go on for much longer