The lyrics 'I get knocked down but I get up again' from the song Tubthumbing by Chumbawamba came to mind after I watched back a video I recorded in 2017 when I was struggling. At that time, my psychiatrist said, 'I'm doing my best to keep you alive right now'.
It was rough. Rapid cycling from mania then crashing into depression. I was unable to drive, unable to prepare a basic meal, unable to work at all. Now I can drive when I am up to it on quieter roads, can work around 8 hours per week, can usually prepare basic meals.
I wasn't intending to post further on this blog, as I am moving to my other blog on Soar Purpose and I am leaving years of (mostly mental health and disability) advocacy behind, to move forward.
Something huge has been announced, all over the news in New Zealand and Australia past few days. Policy has been changed at government level with negotiation between the two neighbouring countries. Kicked off by the vision and actions of a vulnerable person 10 years ago. Which snowballed to bring about change to help thousands of others. I want to explain in this post the beginnings of how this happened, which has been swept under the carpet.
I learned this evening that there is a direct pathway for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to become Australian citizens, with less restrictive eligibility requirements. For a reasonable fee, starting July 2023. The fee at time of writing this blog was less that Australian $500 with no complicated and very expensive (thousands of dollars) permanent resident stage first (that many had not pathway to start). There are still elibility criteria but they are much more relaxed than previously.
I throw myself with great passion into projects but inevitably get burnt out. My mental health advocacy as Bipolar Courage is no exception. I have actually been burnt out with it for a long time. This is my last blog post for Bipolar Courage. (Update: I wrote a few more blog posts (there was still some stuff to process).
My first blog post for Bipolar Courage was in 2019, expressing what a depressive episode felt like. Starting a blog was an attempt to distract me from that, when I had setbacks with working on my first novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice. Then I moved onto vlogging.
Technically, my first advocacy vlogs were back in 2017, under a different channel, since deleted. Some of that footage, when I was off meds, is in a playlist on Bipolar Courage.
I have been writing about my experiences with Accident Compensation Corporation, ACC. ACC paid for my therapy for my mental injury of post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. When I then applied for the pittance of lump sum compensation, ACC fought me all the way to court. In this blog post, I want to outline what the review process involved. This outline is not a substitute for legal advice and is to the best of my memory.
Part of me hesitates to write this, as at times I have felt like a 'burden' as a person with permanent disability. Accident Compensation Corporation, ACC, provided me with a breakdown of the costs so far for my mental injury (I requested this information). The figures are in New Zealand dollars, inclusive of GST, and are for the last four and a half years. Nearly NZ$20,000 so far, mostly spent on therapy from a clinical psychologist (still ongoing).
The costs below also include reports from three separate psychiatrists for the purposes of lump sum compensation.
I have been writing some blog posts about my experiences and what I have learnt from going through the whole process from being assessed and treated for my mental injury of post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD right through the review and court appeal hearing process for compensation.
In this blog post, I want to focus on the assessment itself. The process is biased right form the start, as Accident Compensation Corporation, ACC, chose the assessor and they spend millions each year on doctors and lawyers to avoid paying out claimants for more complex and potentially expensive injuries.
(Update: I didn't notice I kept saying the word 'process' until I read this out on my vlog. Repeating myself is one of the ways my disabilities affect me. I will leave this minimally edited as it takes a lot of time and energy for me to do tasks).
I have been through the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) process all the way to a District Court hearing. My case involved conflicting impairment assessments by psychiatrists for my mental injury of post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD (sensitive claims). I am writing some blog posts to process while I am in the process of archiving the files from a 2 year battle with ACC. Before, I go for round two. To be reassessed, yet again, even though I have little confidence in the process. Hopefully sharing some of my experiences will be helpful for others who are making a decision whether to go though this process. I will outline the process I went through, which may or may not be applicable to others.
The most frequent question I get when I talk about my experiences with Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) for my mental injury is 'What is ACC?' ACC has information about their history and what they do on their website. However, I want to provide a persective from someone who has been through the assessment and compensation process for mental injury. This blog post is a combination of my research plus my experiences.
People from overseas get ACC confused with a disability scheme they may have in their country. ACC is a Crown entity scheme in New Zealand to compensate for no-fault accidents and injuries that take place in New Zealand. So it does NOT cover pre-existing disablities or medical conditions that are not directly linked to an event resulting in injury.
My understanding of a Crown entity is that it is set up by the government but operates independently from other government functions. All earners in New Zealand are charged a compulsory levy, similar to a tax.
Mental injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from sexual abuse or sexual assault may be compensated for under the Accident Compensation Act 2001.
I wrote several blog posts about my experiences with ACC, which I have summarised here.
Some of the articles ACC corruption (and some justice). I quoted some key relevant parts and put a link for readers to go to the full articles.
I am legally eligible for reassessment and will do this one last assessment, expected in 2023, to take the process as far as I can go, then I am done with ACC. I was going to try write some more blog posts about my experiences but I am exhausted by the whole thing. It really does wear people down.
I may add to this blog post when I see more relevant articles. The article where the judge says the appealant is a witness of truth (for a non-covered physical injury with no specific diagnosis) is interesting to me, as I was dismissed, as were doctors who supported me for my appeal for lump sum compensation for covered mental injury of PTSD. ACC spent more on psychiatrists and lawyers than to pay out the piddly compensation.
I have been speaking up about my experiences going through the compensation process for mental injury of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with Accident Compensation Corporation, ACC in New Zealand. Mostly on my vlog, Bipolar Courage.
Two psychiatrists assessed me and had completely different 'Whole Person Impairment' (WPI) percentages. Even if they were to be averaged, I would have still met threshold for compensation. The way things are done, legally, one report has to be chosen over the other. A third psychiatrist reviewed the two reports and chose ACC's one which had a pile of errors in it (so bad that I made a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner, who was next to useless, as they told me to deal directly with this psychiatrist).
I represented myself (even though I qualified for legal aid) and went all the way to the District Court. The Judge ruled against me. There are laws that protect the superpower of ACC, who are law experts themselves. I have also cut and pasted the relevant law used by the reviewer for the first hearing and the relevant law used by the judge for the re-hearing, so others doing this process can know what they are up against. A corrupt system, in my opinion. An abuse of power.
I am no longer blogging or vlogging as a mental health and disability advocate. The politics of it is too toxic for me.