All creatures will make merry

13 Jul

You can tell three things about whoever thought it might be a good idea to take away benefits for unemployed people who refuse therapy for depression.

First, they have never been unemployed. Second, they have never been depressed. Third, they have never been unemployed and depressed.

Since I have, I’m here to tell you: it doesn’t work that way. Unemployment makes you depressed, even if you weren’t depressed. Unemployment makes depression worse, if you’re prone to it. Unemployment and depression is a dark spiral in which your diminishing self worth is constantly attacked by the evidence around you of your failure. Failure to work, failure to stop being depressed. Failure all round.

Another reason I can tell whichever person scribbled this fag packet proposal down has never been through depression is that you can’t just get therapy. You get put onto a waiting list. Depending on your postcode, this could be six months if you are lucky or a year and a half if you’re not. A bit of a poser if you’re depressed and need help right now. In that intervening time, things could get a lot worse.

And that’s if you seek help. By its nature depression can force you inwards. It causes shame and despair. It can make you shun the outside world altogether. It’s a huge effort just to make it down the shops sometimes or talk to another person. Going to a GP, with the attendant negotiation with a receptionist who wants to convince you that you don’t want to go and that if your problem isn’t “urgent” then you don’t deserve to see a doctor, is stressful in itself. Not a task to complete when you’re in the depths.

But imagine getting all the way there, to realise you have a problem and that you need help, only to be told that you have to wait over a year for help. Imagine what that would do.

Of course you can go private for 40 or 50 pounds per hour, but guess what? When you’re unemployed you don’t have that kind of money.

Sure, antidepressants help. They saved my life. But far from “rejecting” talking therapies, unemployed people – those who have reached the point where they realise that they need that kind of help – are crying out for something that is denied to them.

But here is where we are. People must be happy under pain of punishment. If you’re depressed and unemployed the best thing to do is be punished and sanctioned. If you don’t demand the treatment you can’t actually have for months or years, you will be blacklisted.

I’m sure whoever decided this possible policy had the best intentions. By which I mean they had the best intentions of looking tough on “scroungers” for their cheerleader tabloid friends without caring in the slightest about the human lives involved. As such it’s effective.

But for anyone who has been there it’s another lie. Another piece of demonisation. Another boot kicking at your face. Another deliberate misunderstanding. They don’t understand and they don’t want to understand.


Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


6 responses to “All creatures will make merry

  1. Chris Brosnahan (@ChrisBrosnahan)

    July 13, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Totally agree with everything here. An addition is that no therapy works for everyone. CBT may work for a lot. Antidepressants may work for a lot. But there are some for who they don’t work or may make things worse. And here, someone may be punished for turning down something they’ve tried before and hasn’t worked.

  2. sharoneckman

    July 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Reblogged this on (Bel)Shazzer's Feast and commented:
    Fantastic piece on the Tories’ latest masterplan to take benefits away from those with mental health issues.

  3. sandrassp

    July 13, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Reblogged this on SandraSSP and commented:
    Great blog. The universal thing about depression is that it causes you to retreat to miss appointments. Any mental health professional will tell you this. Also my concern what if they recommend shock therapy?

  4. anonymous

    July 13, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Great article, a friend of mine spiraled in to depression after losing his job and partner in the space of 2 months.
    The DWP made him jump through hoops just to get the basic £71 a week (the same as basic JSA).
    He had CBT, every type and dosage of SSID’s (Prozac etc) and nothing worked, if anything the medication made him more withdrawn and suicidal.
    The DWP eventually assessed him at a WCA and found hit ‘fit for work’ – six weeks later he had hung himself!
    IDS and his cronies at the DWP & ATOS should be held liable for manslaughter!
    But hey, all benefit claimants are workshy scroungers as evidenced by the current ‘Benefit Bashing’ plethora of TV shows.
    We can fund illegal wars in the Middle East, but we can not look after the sick or disabled…..makes my bloody blood boil!

  5. Viv

    July 13, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I experienced the vast delays and the lack of joined up thinking that meant that an unexpected relocation at the time I was meant to go onto a waiting list could not be sidestepped by putting me onto the waiting list where I was about to move to. I was told I’d have to go through the entire assessment process again in the new area, or perhaps wait until a further crisis happened.
    The other thing I’d raise is that there are illnesses that have depression as a symptom, and no amount of anti-depressants or talking therapy are ever going to actually help those illnesses. I had one such illness (hyperparathyroidism) and my GP dismissed all my symptoms as *just* depression.
    The Tories are insane, evil and without a shred of compassion.

  6. irony

    July 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    what an amazing and super article, I have shared this on Facebook!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: