Is austerity really over? (No)

Austerity is over

Theresa May, 2018.

But, like many others, I can prove austerity is far from over.

People have died as a result of the changes in welfare, that have been gripping society’s most vulnerable since 2012.

Yesterday, in the 2018 budget, the government has said it will pump extra money into universal credit.

But it’s too late. The government placed saving money, as being something more valuable, than fellow human beings.

The welfare 2012 act swept through like a silent genocide.

If your country outright denies a 2 year United Nations investigation, where Disabled people have been systematically had their human rights violated, that’s got to ring alarm bells?

But no.

The government is so determined to make these changes work, that it’s not willing to listen to any dissent.

In true Orwellian style, the evidence stacks up, but is outright re-written, and spun.

Theresa May just this last week, stated in prime minister’s questions that her government had put more money into the NHS, the police force, and social care. But they haven’t.

In the era of #FakeNews, battling against social movements like #MeToo or the #DWPCrimes on Twitter, is this denial surprising?


But you can’t trust a government who dismisses so much evidence against them.

Fun fact: I’m not that keen on labour either. Because one thing almost worse than a bully is a bystander. Just last week, they backtracked on a claim that they scrap universal credit.

But anything is better than this mess.

How many more people are going to die, or not get to live (because without financial means, people exist, and don’t get to live) whilst the government stands by a system they know is failing people?

How much longer does the government want to focus on Brexit, and forget completely about all it’s internal affairs, as though those people don’t matter?

Child poverty and food bank use has sky rocketed, Disabled people, those who cannot work, and the U.K’s poorest families, are treated horrendously by the DWP. Social care budgets, the NHS, and school funding for disabled children, and Disabled university students, have all been virtually destroyed. Where does it end?

So, I’m sorry Theresa May. Just because you say it doesn’t make it true.

The government can continue to bury their heads in the sand: but only because it isn’t happening to them.

~ Becca


‘Dear Becca’ – the letter I wrote to myself in therapy, 577 days ago

Hello all,

I know normally, my reflective blog posts come from a really positive place. If anyone follows me on twitter, I tend to joke about my impairments/disabilities, get really political, and tweet photos of my cat, and memes, like any “Woke” liberal millennial (I’m trying to reclaim that word too, on top of all the others).

But today I opened my letter for the first time in a long while. It’s dated March 7th, 2017.

Back story: I was seeing a psychiatrist, specialising in pain, once a week, in the final year of my undergraduate degree.

My relationship with my mental health, and therefore, my own self worth, have been turbulent to say the least.

Today, after a few days of low mood, fuelled by extreme fatigue and a to-do-list as long as my arm (I have a Marfan Habitus body type, so it’s long) I opened my letter for the first time in just over a year.

It reads like this, and I feel like if you switch out my name, there’s kind of a piece of advice in here for almost everyone:

Dear Becca,

This is just a letter in case you ever need a boost.

I just want to start with saying how proud I am of you, and how far you’ve come.

Secondly, I’m going to list some little pieces of advice:

. Always remember you are YOU

. Always keep pushing forward, no matter how long it takes you- as long as you get there, that’s the main thing

. No one is perfect

. No one has the right to treat you like you are inferior

Becca- You are not defined by grades, statistics, or labels. You are not your illness. You are you. You’re pretty funny, you’re caring and loyal to your friends and family, you’re determined and ambitious.

If people can’t handle you- from your ambitious nature to your illness- then they don’t deserve to be in your life.

If they left you when things got tough for you, then that’s their loss.

When things do get tough, the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself.

Run a bath. Eat some chocolate. Do some drawing– Close your essay down because that can wait- you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Even if it’s a pretty good day, still eat the chocolate or run the bath because you deserve to treat yourself either way!

It’s okay to hit pause on all the stuff that wants doing and to give yourself time to recuperate.

Yours sincerely,


So, how is this going, 577 days later? (Thanks, google)

It’s never easy. But I am getting better everyday. Tiny steps.

I actually admit every-so-often that I work extremely hard, instead of being over humble, and that I am proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

Doing my MA taught me so much about how my opinions are important, and that people actually want to listen to me (#shook)

I did a conference. I actually stood up, no audience adjustment, no “Oh it’s okay Rebecca, you don’t have to present” – I opted in to talking about my research for 10 whole minutes, with completely unscripted questions from an audience.

If only my high school teachers could see me now.

I’m essentially an embodiment of the positivity and hope in the letter above.

I’m going places.

Those who stuck/stick with me can see the change in me for the better, and I’m a damned good friend: those that didn’t stick around don’t matter

I don’t need their validation.

I am me.

My illness doesn’t define me, but me as a Disabled person does: be it activism, or academia.

You know what?

I’m bloody proud of that too! My Disabled identity is my badge of honour. Just as much as my northern working classness, or my feminism, or even my bisexuality- I went to my first pride this year!

And yeah, I’ve had a couple of rough days this week, because I feel like I’m currently at a “Creepy pasta Russian sleep experiment” exhaustion, but it’ll pass, and my levels will get back to my ‘normal’.

I do things in my own time: and I get them done. I went to uni a year or so later, because I dropped out of college the first time. And that’s okay, because at 16, very few people know exactly what they’re going to do with their lives.

It’s almost as though I have nothing to worry about- but also- I deserve chocolate and a hot bath. So I think I’m going to make a new to-do-list, and put the other on hold.

~ Becca

“Yes, we’re fully accessible” – but are you?

If disability is more than just wheelchairs, then access is more than just ramps

That was something I tweeted some time ago, and I used it in a conference presentation, because I knew it was one of the most profound things to ever come out of my mouth.

If disability is more than just wheelchairs-

Disability is more than just what walking aid a person uses (if any). Many are invisible, and yes, under the social model of disability, things like mental illnesses and chronic illnesses are impairments that cause the person to experience disabling barriers.

Let’s take me for example:

My impairments are:

– Anxiety (a mental health issue)

– Dyspraxia (a neurological impairment/ specific learning difficulty)

– Joint hyper-mobility syndrome (joint problems and chronic pain)

All of these are impairments that make me a disabled person, and – surprise- I don’t use a wheelchair, and most of my impairments can’t be seen to the naked eye (I use a crutch because of JHMS on a regular basis)

Access is more than just ramps

So that leads us onto the next part- if disability is more than just wheelchairs, then the scale of access issues people may face goes beyond just having a ramp to get into the building, and a disabled toilet.

What happens if the environment is too loud?

Or the signs showing you what room to go to are absolutely terrible or non existent?

Even at the level of getting in, can the disabled person access all floors/areas of the building?

If the answer is no, then it’s not accessible!

I don’t just want this to be another long angry post, so if you think what I’ve said makes a good point, please consider taking a few moments to review a place you usually go, thinking about it’s access, via Euan’s Guide.

The website is great, but it relies on people reviewing the usual places they go everyday! Consider yourselves recruited!

Click here to go to Euan’s Guide

Until next time.

Becca 🙂

Imposter syndrome – my new arch nemesis

(Written as part of mental health awareness week!)

So it’s that time again- it’s mental health awareness week!

I’ve documented on this blog my previous, and some persisting, mental health issues on this blog.

But this year something new started.

It’s called “imposter syndrome”

And at first, it hid as being a humble person

“Yeah I know my mum is proud of me”

“No I’m really not that clever, honestly”

“Yeah uni is going alright”

In reality uni is going extremely well for me. I’m on track to start my PhD in September. But I still struggle to be proud of my achievements. I’m still shocked when I get a good grade. Every tiny mistake brings the fear of being “found out” by my peers or lecturers, that I’m not as great as everyone thinks I am.

It’s a common problem, I suppose, with the way our systems of social mobility are structured.

You started at the bottom, and you could quite easily end up back there with one ‘wrong move’

I’m having to teach myself to be proud, and actually talk about my achievements without passing them off as nothing.

University is hard- especially as a disabled person.

And it’s about time I acknowledged that.

I’m not an imposter. I’m a disabled, bisexual, passionate academic woman (who really likes cats and live music)

Becca 🙂

Am I autistic or am I Dyspraxic? (and why I won’t be rushing for a diagnosis)

It’s a question that gets me wondering every Autism awareness week: do I have autism?

It’s a question I used to ask myself in my teens. Yet I didn’t pursue a diagnosis out of fear, and not really knowing where to go. Roll onto a few days after my 19th birthday, I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia carries a number of social traits, some of which cross over with traits associated with being on the Autism spectrum. However, people can be diagnosed with both Dyspraxia and Autism. According to NICE guidelines, I’d actually meet the criteria for diagnosis.

So, why do I continually not pursue a diagnosis? In light of the recent channel 4 programme “Am I autistic?” I have seen a lot of my fellow Dyspraxics either relived or terrified that they’ve seen the program, and thought “Oh God that’s me!”. I’ve talked about the positives of Dyspraxia before. I embrace my “weirdness” and have fears about approaching a GP to essentially pathologize my behaviour into a category, that means it’s not “normal” (again, to touch on previous blogs, whatever the Hell normal is)

So it’s Autism awareness week. I’m glad that it’s being given plenty of coverage. Even if a few more people take solace, like I did with my Dyspraxia diagnosis, in pursuing an autism diagnosis, then autism awareness week has done its job! ❤️

I don’t need fixing.

On the 7th of November, 2016 the a United Nations committee declared that the United Kingdom was in breach of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Disabled People (UNCRPD), after a two year investigation. What should have ideally been a turning point, to positively change the “grim reality” of life for disabled people, was quickly snubbed by the current government as “offensive”. The government reassured the public it was “continuously seeking improvements for disabled people” and the findings were soon dismissed and forgotten. However, disabled people continue to face the human rights abuses the UN report outlines. It’s 3 months later, apart from the promise of reassessing a lot of people’s Personal Independence Payment claims, not much has happened. I’m angry about that.

Since starting my MA in disability studies in September, Ableism is the concept that I’ve come across, and one I like to use. In a similar way to racism or sexism, ableism is the idea that disabled people are part of a disabled: non-disabled dichotomy. Being disabled is seen as inherently negative as a result. Ableism permeates all aspects of the social world, from social policy, to everyday interactions with others. The UNCRPD aims to combat ableism, by regularly following each signatory country to ensure they are doing more and more to meet all the articles.

Raised in the UN report into the UK violations, were 11 recommendations, many of which centred on the changes to the welfare state, that hugely affect disabled people, infringing on their human rights. Many of the UN’s concerns are about the changes to welfare, adopted since 2010, as well as the rights to independent living and to be included in the community, social protection and employment of persons with disabilities.


I cannot stress how important this report should have been, in changing the government’s policies towards welfare for society’s most vulnerable.


But, since much of what we see in the media and from our government centres on ableism: where disabled people are ‘scroungers’ and hear things like ‘Oh I wish I didn’t have to work and get free money’ – is it really a surprise?

There has been an alarming rise in this sort of rhetoric across all areas of life. What society needs to do is recognise that disabled people have a lot to give. We need to move on from the poles of ‘inspiration overcomes disability’ and ‘tragically suffers from disability’ – what happens to all of us who fall somewhere in between? Is disability really as scary and negative as society thinks it is?

As a woman with a chronic pain, joint problems and dyspraxia, I don’t necessarily suffer. I know that’s hard for many people to understand. I still go to university, see my friends, and live my life. Shocking.

What I suffer from is a society that would prefer if I were ‘normal’

That I should attempt to continually ‘fix’ myself, to pass as able bodied / non-disabled.

My answer to that is, no.

Fix society’s attitude.

Fix the welfare system.

Fix the access issues

Fix the pathology and medicalisation.

Fix the lack of awareness and understanding.

I do not need fixing.


“But it’s not the same!” – chronic illness, learning disabilities, and continuity 

So on the 5th of September 2017, I failed my driving theory test. 

Now, at first glance, that’s not a massive problem- lots of people fail first time.

Until you ask me what I failed on. My friend’s response was ‘How did you fail hazard perception?’

My driving instructor’s response was that at least I did well on the ‘hard’ section.

And at first I didn’t understand either. I worked out eventually that dyspraxia, the introduction of yet another new drug to my body, and a typical bad flare day (pun unintended) were to blame. 

I should have passed. I got a pretty high score on the multiple choice test section (47/50)…..On the hazard perception, I got trigger happy in a blind panic. I can, almost every time (still learning) can spot and react to developing hazards whilst I’m actually driving.

But the past week or so has been a tough one to start with: my GP decided a few weeks back, I should give amitriptaline another go.

What a huge mistake.

I’d been in ‘limping-walking-stick-zombie-mode’ ever since.

Safe to say they soon got canceled as a bad idea.
I’ve been learning to drive for a while now- a while being 3 1/2 years- and only now is me taking my driving test actually a possibly. 

I passed my theory test on 19th of October. This was after it was explained to me that looking for hazards wasn’t just my understanding of physical objects like cars and people walking in the road. Oh!

This time I wasn’t trailing new medication, and it was a relatively good day pain wise, so my brain wasn’t hugely pre-occupied. I still had to work really hard to ignore the clicking of other people around me (when I’ve had uni exams I’ve always been in a separate room)

I feel that there should be better training for Hazard perception tests. There’s hardly any prep for them.

I suppose something I have learnt is that, even with all possible barriers taken away, some things will always be difficult. But that also doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

I’ve been learning to drive a manual car for almost 3 1/2 years now.

I’ve literally completed my degree in less time.

And yet I persist.

Maybe next year I’ll be driving for real, instead of watching the hazard perception videos?

A girl can dream.