It is probably the genuinely sick and disabled who suffer most from the government’s policies on work capability assessments. The constant barrage of not-so-thinly-veiled threats: “you must attend an assessment interview; if you don’t get enough points you will not be entitled; you will be assessed for work capability; you may be expected to do work-related activities” (all delivered at rapid speed on a crackling phone line) -begins immediately on the very first phone call to make a claim. No matter if your medical certificate is for two weeks or two months. The people most likely to be put off by this approach are in fact the genuinely sick. The impression given is that the default assumption is that everyone is pulling a fast one. The process is humiliating, intimidating and degrading, adding insult to injury, and piling on a few more reasons to be terrified, on top of whatever affliction you are already struggling with. When you are ill, this is exactly the kind of thing that is so difficult to cope with, and exactly the kind of stress you don’t need. There is ironically a danger of people actually being sick for longer than they would have, because of the pressure they are under. Stress has a major impact on health. That is one of the reasons people need time off-not just because they can’t physically manage their job, but because illness and disability can profoundly affect mental and emotional capacity. The irony is that those who are mentally and emotionally incapacitated are the least able to articulate their difficulties and defend themselves. This becomes a vicious cycle: persecuting them for not recovering, preventing recovery, ad infinitum. Who knows where it ends? Perhaps shortened life-span? Eugenics anyone?
© Janey Colbourne 2017
It is not uncommon for ASD and ADHD to be given as a dual diagnosis. I’ve been considering if, when they occur together, rather than being comorbid, they in fact complement or compensate for each other. The classical symptoms of ADHD include distraction, impulsivity and hyperactivity. The classic symptoms of ASD include obsession/hyperfocus, a love of routine and predictability and a tendency for social isolation. Clearly this is stereotypical but I am simplifying here for a moment, while I explore an idea.
I have ADHD and my mind flies around, bursting with ideas. I can be impulsive, with a tendency to blurt and easily gets overexcited. I also have autistic traits, awaiting diagnosis. My autistic side loves predictability, hates excessive demands and prefers solitude and quiet contemplation. These two might seem contradictory, but they act as moderators for each other. They coexist at the same time, although sometimes one or other may be slightly dominant. Sometimes they conspire to get me in a panic. Overall I think they help each other.
My ASD hyperfocus helps my ADHD to get focused and stick to a task. On her own my ADHD gets so excited about something that she wants me to leap around shouting, or alternatively she gets bored and wanders off. My ADHD is bursting with ideas and darts off in unexpected directions to bring back a fresh perspective. This helps my ASD to open up and not get too stuck in a rut. My ADHD has a tendency to blurt what I’m thinking before I’ve assessed the situation. My ASD might not be great at assessing the situation either, but has sufficient inhibition and dislike of making a fuss to make me bite my tongue. My ASD gets tired easily, especially when it comes to auditory processing and is another way she calms down my ADHD from throwing me into excessive social peril. Together ADHD and ASD love to think and create. ASD helps my ADHD to stay on track and not run off chattering inanely to the nearest person, so they can work together. ASD needs ADHD’s bright ideas and energy. ASD can get the quiet she needs if ADHD is kept occupied with some exciting revelations to chew on. ASD has some awesome topics that she wants to work through and ADHD is only to happy to bounce these around and see what she can make with them. She can also spot when ASD is overthinking and pull her out of her ruminations.
ADHD doesn’t like to be too constrained by rules and routines. She finds them too boring. She might get into trouble. ASD craves predictability and likes to do things correctly. She might sometimes miss out on opportunities. ADHD and ASD are good together, like Howard Moon and Vince Noir.
Delighted to have my poet page up and running, as a member of Second Light, a network of women poets. This poem is from my forthcoming second book of poetry, ‘Growing with Gratitude’ to be published next month. Watch this space!
Here’s the link to Second Light:
Second Light Live
Onion, why must you fight me so?
you remind me, with frequency,
Alliums unwelcome here it seems.
Turmoil in the tract,
with sadness I concede
no longer to force a union
with an onion.
© Janey Colbourne 2016
Begone foul foe
I’ll pursue you
Till you’re through
No hiding place
Get out my space
Your end is nigh
© Janey Colbourne 2016
Don’t like to complain,
but my heart’s under strain.
Although you can’t see
now on the ECG,
I know it is real
because I can feel
it in my heart.
© Janey Colbourne 2016
This article is written with utmost love and respect for all my friends, no matter what you wear on your feet!
My granny used to think my feet would spread if I didn’t wear a nice court shoe. How far did she think they were going to go? In the end she couldn’t wear flat shoes or go barefoot at all due to foreshortening of the calf muscle from a lifetime of wearing heels. Even her slippers had heels. How different is this to foot binding? Only by degree.
The stiletto shoe epitomises sado-masocism. It oppresses and imprisons the wearer, disabling them, causing pain and restricting movement. It forces them to walk daintily on their toes, as if afraid to put their foot down, tipping their body weight forward to unsteady them. How easily could you run from an attacker (or an abusive partner) or stand your ground in self-defence? Yet at the same time it displays aggression; a potential weapon, a spike to stamp down with; increasing the wearer’s height, and in those who have mastered it, a confident swagger. It is a form of power dress and of enslavement simultaneously, not unlike a studded collar on a dog. Think I’m overreacting? Try putting men in them for a week.
The corset was designed to constrict a woman’s breathing and movement, causing them weakness and fainting spells. It also compressed the abdominal organs. Foot binding in China prevented girls’ feet from growing and horribly disfigured and permanently disabled them. Fortunately recent generations have stopped the practice. FGM not only robs a woman of pleasure but can make childbirth much more difficult and potentially fatal. All these abuses were perpetuated by the women themselves on their own children, and change was strongly resisted by the older generations. In the words of Steve Biko, the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. The instruments may change but the intention is the same. Those who challenge the status quo are mocked as militant. Sometimes the more subtle the abuse, the more insidious and persistent it remains, whilst we believe we are making a free choice. Think on.
© Janey Colbourne 2016