I am sat at home, in fact I have only been out once this year and it’s almost the end of February, but don’t worry, I am really disabled!

I am a full-time wheelchair user and suffer chronic pain 24/7 and it wins every time I try to fight back, I am disabled, physically disabled. However I know only too well what it is like to be crippled by anxiety, suffering so bad that you can’t step a foot outside.

I started having panic attacks whilst I was working as a fire fighter, at  first I didn’t fully understand what was happening. I started to feel out of breath, my heart pounding and tingling all over every time I put a breathing apparatus mask to my face. I didn’t give in, I kept going and pushed through the fear and it got worse and worse, I won’t go into why they started.

I couldn’t speak to anyone, sorry I mean I could but I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to appear weak and so I applied for a job at another fire service, I tried to run away from the problem and now I look back at it, that seems like such a stupid idea.

Eventually I couldn’t carry on and so I walked away from a job that I loved, I just quit. Over the next year or so my anxiety became worse and I started suffering anxiety attacks if we were stuck in traffic and then I stopped going out.

I slowly became better with the help of my wife, slowly desensitizing myself to going out but the car travel stayed with me until a few years ago and that was 25 years of anxiety. During those first few years I was literally crippled by fear and people who suffer anxiety can be as disabled as people with a physical disability.

A key Theresa May aide is criticised over his comments defending changes to the PIPs system.

Source: Disability benefits: PIPs should be for ‘really disabled’ – BBC News

In a BBC interview George Freeman MP said when talking about changes to PiP  “These tweaks are actually about rolling back some bizarre decisions by tribunals that now mean benefits are being given to people who are taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety”

George Freeman
Image taken from BBC News

This has led to a backlash on Twitter and complaints from disability charities, he has been accused of being insensitive to people who suffer from mental health. Again this is a case of an MP opening their mouth without properly thinking through what they are going to say. He has said he wants PiP to be for the ‘Really Disabled’ because without it they will be housebound and his choice of words has now left him in very hot water.

George Freeman later responding saying that he had suffered from anxiety as a child and tweeted “I don’t need any lectures on the damage anxiety does.”

Disability comes in many shapes and forms, the physical disabilities and disability caused by mental health. Our brains are extremely powerful, I was sent for an MRI and as I was being slid into the machine, I started to have an anxiety attack, I am a big guy and my shoulders were pushed in as I entered the MRI scanner and I started to smell smoke and I yelled out “GET ME OUT, I CAN SMELL SMOKE!” The poor guy came running in and got me out and started looking over his scanner and I had to then reassure him that his machine wasn’t on fire, that it was just my brain playing tricks on me and I had the smell of smoke as a result of having a panic attack, I was taken back to the fire service in those moments.

After reading the BBC News article a few times, I realised that whilst this was extremely insensitive, there was a slight, a very very slight positive side to it. For once a Conservative MP was acknowledging that disabled people need this benefit otherwise they would be trapped in their homes and this is after the latest uproar about disabled people losing their Motability vehicles after failing a PiP assessment.

However we still need to make our government understand that disability is still a disability if it’s down to mental health. The PiP assessments are unfair, people are losing the money that they need to help them with the extra costs that a disability brings. Our government scrapped Disability Living Allowance and many disabled people have become housebound and some have even died or taken their own lives after losing this benefit and the car that kept them independent.

It is about time that the government and everyday people stopped seeing us as lazy and benefits scroungers, many of us are battling to get through each day and the added stress of these assessments does not help. There does need to be a system in place to make sure people are entitled but this current process is not working.


By Zechariah Richardson

Over 50, disabled, husband, father and gramps who reviews products and writes blog posts about his life, beekeeping, gardening and whatever pops into his brain!

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