I am making the kind of art that makes me the most happy at the moment, making beauty from discards and gifting it as street art…this is so lucky, as I have just finished my first 6 monthly review for ATOS assessment form. 6 months goes really fast, it felt like forever when I won my appeal to be put in the non-work group for ESA, but it has flown. Having the recognition of the organisers of an exhibition in London, being invited to show more than I originally submitted is very validating, and when I have also been listing my increasing health problems on a form for someone paid a bonus to discount that and ignore my distressing history and try and force me to let go of my right to welfare support after paying into a National Insurance scheme… it has been a life saver.

I have felt angry and annoyed and stressed and belittled, but I have not felt suicidal. When I had to fight for a year to get my Disability Living Allowance re-instated in 2005, I felt suicidal almost weekly, I felt sick with fear every time another letter dropped through the box, it was a very heavy burden to carry through the first year of my marriage. Without Andy’s support I would never have made it. How do people manage with no partner, no family of choice or origin, no outlet for their skills and energy? No validation of their worth to those around them?

And this is why I am so angry about the refusal of the mainstream media to carry the news of just how many people commit suicide within 6 weeks of being refused their benefits. (yes “theirs”, if a doctor signed them on the sick and they paid N.I, a private insurance company would be in court for refusing to pay the promised benefits, why isn’t the Government?)

We know it’s over a thousand in 9 months, but the Government then instructed the records to be closed, even to Freedom of Information requests. How scared are they? How big is this dirty secret? How will people feel when they realize this was the boiled-frog syndrome moment for those not using the benefit system? How did ordinary Germans go along so willingly with Nazi atrocities? By believing propaganda, by letting themselves be divided to rule…

We must stand together.

We must look in the mirror and like what we see.

Fibromyalgia is a mirror for me: I see what is truly necessary to me more clearly than ever before in my life, because when I mess up, the cost is very high. Equally, because life is increasingly limited, I can tell very easily what makes a satisfying life, what generates stress, what makes me sick to my stomach… and the thought of the MPs in Parliament getting £400 for lunch, saying working families must queue for support at a food bank truly does. As people are pointing out, how much housing benefit goes to benefit claimants and how much goes to landlords? 100% goes to private landlords getting super rich off people terrified to complain when there is mould growing on the walls, getting sick from damp, while their landlords build another heated stable for their horses… (interesting conversation with my landlord the other day –  I am his only tenant on benefits, I am the ‘deserving disabled’ mascot and to be fair, even he was genuinely horrified when I explained that using a rollator, paying for a homehelp, being on tablets galore with a therapist specializing in trauma recovery and a GP who understands fibromyalgia, in no way guarantees any support from the benefits system…I just hope I didn’t give him any ideas about evicting me…)

However hard daily tasks are for me, I must still try and make art or risk losing my ability to cope with the stress levels of my situation. I am very lucky – I have skills and talents and interests and many lovely and diverse friends who help me in many ways, including keeping me amused 😉 Humour is a life saver too! If I made art on a tablet though, perhaps given to me by caring relatives or bought by a charity, I would be under suspicion, how have I come by such an expensive item? Welfare News Service reports some people are being investigated for just such a thing…but at the same time people on benefits have to have internet to access services and apply for jobs… we are moving into a world of double think and distrust and it all needs to be wiped away.

Look in the mirror: you see a human

Every human deserves support to stay alive in a caring and compassionate society

Every human deserves to express themselves and make a contribution to the greater community and be respected for that and not be made to feel suicidal for having become ill, disabled, and in need of support

When you hear the ignorant spouting rubbish about scroungers, ask them if they pay NI (National Insurance contributions) and ask what would happen if they were in a car accident and needed a wheelchair and time off work and how if it turned out they had irreparable spine damage would they like to still be considered human and be paid the benefits of the insurance scheme and use the services of the fantastic National Health Service? or would they like to be treated as human waste and spat at and have their windows stoned and be shouted at in the street as greedy, feckless scroungers? Hmm?

Dr Seuss: Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

Be a human, respect other humans’ needs, protect and support other humans’ right to dignity in life and death.