Thursday, 24 January 2013

I don't know how to prepare my appeal...

I’m supposed to be preparing my appeal. I have at least three problems doing so.

Firstly, I don’t actually know what’s wanted.

I’m not living at home at the moment, but staying with a long-time friend who’s basically keeping my show on the road... Unfortunately she lives in a well-off part of the country: the local CAB are very kind and patient, but they have no experience of benefit claimants appealing and have not been able to help; unlike in some boroughs, there’s no council-run welfare office; and legal help is out of the question. So there’s no-one who can help. There’s plenty on the internet, of course – but unfortunately there’s far too much, and it’s contradictory and confusing. Organising what’s there is beyond me: frankly, I suspect it would be beyond me at my most compos mentis, which at the moment is a distant dream. All in all, I’m on my own: which would be fine and dandy if I weren’t dealing with a system which is designed – not to put too fine a point on it – to ensure I fail.

Secondly, and following on from that last sentence... The report on which the DWP’s decision to renege on their obligation to me was based was positively Kafkaesque (or 1984esque, or something).

My understanding is that I’ve got to make the appeals tribunal understand the particular limitations I face: I would have thought I’d done that in my answers to the original questionnaire and in the WCA interview. The DWP’s final report didn’t even bother to take what I’d said out of context: in half of it they simply ignored what I’d told them (they said I could drive a manual shift car without problems – contrary to what I’d written and said: they said I was writing a book – actually yes, I was, but yonks ago. Etc.) and the other half they simply made up (details on or shortly after 7th February, to give them time to explain - see explanation elsewhere in this blog).

Despite illness, I am (at my best) reasonably if not very articulate. But I don’t know where to begin in this world of shadows which they’ve created.

Which leads to:

Thirdly: When I was in my teens, I learned very precisely that nobody was interested in my mental problems (again, more elsewhere in this blog, I hope). I subsequently and probably consequently, spent a lifetime presenting a front to the world: it wasn’t always successful and eventually it collapsed altogether, but the point is that I lived keeping my problems private.

Suddenly some physiotherapist with no mental health qualifications spends a few minutes with me and I’m expected to break the hard-fought-for habits of a lifetime by describing everything, as if I had a broken leg. Then she scrambles – and largely invents – a narrative (nice post-modern, governmental word, that) upon which decisions affecting my life are based.

So what do I write this time? The same as before, to be ignored again (and probably to be told “it’s not new evidence”)?

Do I trust the tribunal any more than DWP? Perhaps. Do I trust myself to present my case well? Not at all.

I can’t do it. And I'm in pain.

I’m lost for words again.

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