letter by Anonymous 2
to Ontario MPPs who fight for those living at the crossroad of disability and poverty

I'm just writing to say that I'm terrified. The reason for this is obvious: the Ford government likely will be waging a full-on assault, or further assault, on those of us who rely on ODSP and general social assistance, especially now, considering their plans for "austerity" and "sacrifice."" As someone who has been on CPP-D for many years due to debilitating anxiety, depression, PTSD from both sexual assault (twice), and raging OCD, along with IBS that is severe, I fight often with my own doctor for some kind of validation of my illnesses, which he won't provide, although my illness was diagnosed and treated by psychiatrists. Treatment has been unsuccessful. It was a psychiatrist who filled out the CPP-D forms, and I no longer have a psychiatrist because, after losing everything from my home, my partner (who raped me), my dog, all of my belongings, and any security, I had to move and leave my medical care and psych doc, who I was with for years. From one city, where I lived for 15 years, I went to another across Ontario to live for a year with family on my small CPP-D stipend, and then again across Ontario for a four-month treatment for an eating disorder that nearly killed me, though I did not want to die. Afterwards, I found cheap lodging in an area 40 minutes from any actual city, and am grateful I can afford the basics.

The anxiety and other psych issues I mentioned are legitimate, and make life nearly unbearable. So does the IBS (diagnosed), which, as I noted, is severe, and requires medication that barely works and is not covered under ODB. I was nearing the completion of a Ph.D. dissertation when my life changed, and both spousal abuse and mental illness (diagnosed) caused me to leave my degree and the career I had been pursuing since I'd been in high school. I'd already had three psych admittances, treatment with at least 30 psych meds, none of which helped, ECT (18 treatments or more...I can't remember how many, but too many), before another psych stay for the eating disorder, a comorbidity brought about by improper medical care and triggered by anxiety and depression, along with the pain of IBS.

I survived that, and the treatment I received in 2016. It took me about six months to get accepted by ODSP in late 2016, but, again, I no longer have a psychiatrist or a reliable doctor (i.e., he just prescribed me penicillin, to which I'm violently allergic, but the pharmacy caught it; he refused to refer me to psych doc for over a year, saying the wait list was too long and my anxiety and other mental health illness are hyperbole; he only referred me two weeks ago when I found an old ED doctor who will see me once and perhaps, if I beg, refer me to further psych treatment); he cut me off a psych drug because he claimed it was "doing you no good and you might become an addict"; and I could go on), and I'm wondering now why I bothered. I'm not suicidal, per se, I'm just overwhelmed by untreated medical conditions for which I receive no support, other than ODSP and CPP-D, which is financial, but does allow me to access the special diet and transportation from this small community to counselling in a larger city.

And, obviously, when I'm at my weakest, fighting to stay alive, I'm now in a constant panic, suffer further panic attacks (I get them regularly already) because Ford will is speaking a language that reminds me of the Harris years that put so many of us at risk I dare not count, as we're in the hundreds of thousands.

In other words, when I'm at my weakest, I have to fight even harder, not just for medical care, but for basic living, which may be taken away at any moment. Without a reliable doctor, I feel utterly hopeless, although my rape crisis counsellor will back me up, and my ODSP casework seems pretty good.

Ford is scaring someone -- me -- who already lives in fear.

I know my story (very briefly provided; there are about 30 years of it I'm excluding here, and offering this bit with a lack of eloquence that isn't typical of me but is typical of my illness, when it's bad, and it's bad) isn't novel or particularly moving in any way, but I'm providing it because I have no one else who will listen or care. I feel stigmatized, beaten down, and keep being told by conservatives that I'm a drain on the economy, that I should get off my lazy ass and work. Forget that I worked from the age of 14 to the year before I was provided with CPP-D, forget that I was a bloody professor/instructor, or that I worked for an advertising agency on top of that, or that I loved my students, and never thought I would end up in this position. The fact that I am in this position, and that, despite it all, I'm still alive, is what I have going for me.

So, I suppose, I'm writing this to ask you, dear MPP, to continue to fight for and with those of us on social assistance, and facing this terrifying, cruel government with incredible courage. I'm sick of living in fear, of having to wake up every single day to the knowledge that I may lose everything again.

I'm asking that you keep this anonymous, as I'm that scared, but people like me, and thousands upon thousands of others, are just as scared. Although my name is not directly attached, I am very real, as is my story.

I, like many others, live in emotional, physical, psychological, and mental pain every single day, and wish you to know that no one asks for this; no one plans for it; no one wants it. No one wants to be sick in any manner whatsoever, and no one wishes to rely on government assistance to survive. However, many must, and that is not a choice, either; it's a simple reality. Poverty is real, and when social assistance is cut or becomes more punitive, it just hurts us.

Please take us into consideration, and please tell us that our lives are worth something, and that we on ODSP are worthy of dignity, of life, and of the opportunity to live without fear.

And please, fight against any cuts. They are coming, and knowing this just makes it harder to live, breathe, and exist when it's already difficult, to the point of exhaustion. At this point, I' ve been forced to sacrifice nearly everything, including that which was not already lost. Asking for more sacrifice from the most vulnerable in Ontario is nothing short of cruel and potentially life-threatening. We are real people who give much back to Ontario, whether we are counted as doing so or not. However, many - if not all of us on ODSP - no longer feel we count as people, despite our humanity and determination to survive. Tell us we do count by fighting against the Ford government and standing up for the many of us who need your support now more than ever.

I thank you for your time and consideration.