In September last year I received a letter to say that my Disability Support Pension was being reviewed. It was the day that I was dreading and it had come at an already stressful time for my family. I thought that I had missed out on being reviewed, but new measures introduced by the current government meant that I was caught in the net.Receiving this review brought up all of my familiar anxieties about whether or not I deserved the payment. Was I really sick enough? There were people worse off than me surely.
Of course there was also my phone anxiety to deal with. I had to make phone calls to organise letters of support for my review. I felt myself stumbling over the words as I was trying to explain to receptionists what it was that I needed. I fought with my desire to help them to understand exactly what it was they needed to do, and my feelings that I didn’t deserve this kind of help.
When I was reading through the letters that my treatment team had provided I felt sick. In black and white was laid out everything that was wrong with me. I knew that they were talking about my worst days, that these words didn’t define who I was. However that didn’t stop the feelings of self doubt creeping in.
Was I really this sick? Did my mental health really have such a far reaching impact on every part of my life? I watched as the Centrelink worker ticked all of the boxes and saw my disability confirmed. My mental health was considered a disability. I was equal parts relieved to have my feelings validated, and despaired that I was still this *bad*.
Applying for a Disability Support Pension is discussed a lot in mental health groups. People ask for advice when reviews and meetings are scheduled. However there is a common thought that those who a successful are luck to receive the payment. As if luck has anything at all to do with it.
It’s not lucky that my mental health has been determined to be a disability. It’s not lucky that I have to live with the impairment of a mental illness considered bad enough to be labeled disabling. It’s not lucky that I feel the crippling effect of anxiety, the despair of depression or the hot rage of my borderline.
Winning the lotto is lucky. Disability is not. Finding $50 on the footpath is lucky. Mental illness is not. Buying a winning raffle ticket is lucky. Disability is not lucky.