Archive for October, 2008

Employment & Support Allowance aka let’s pick on the weak.

October 28, 2008

This week sees the implementation of the new benefit, ESA, brought in to replace Incapacity Benefit and Income Support for all new claimants. Supposedly it will focus on what work disabled people can do, rather than what work they can’t. The government tells us this is a fantastic opportunity for the two million disabled claimants, who would love to work but haven’t been given the support to enable them to do so in the past. No doubt, the 6 out of 10 employers who have stated they would not give a job to a mentally ill person, have miraculously changed their minds. The governmet has a target of removing one million people from incapacity benefit. There are currently 600,000 job vacancies, so we’re already short of 400,000 jobs for the newly recovered. Add to that the fact that the recession is causing more and more job losses every day, and that those 600,000 spare jobs must be pretty bad if the influx of Eastern European immigrants refuse to take them, and I think it’s safe to say this isn’t a good day for the nutters amongst us.

But if you’re genuinly sick, you have nothing to worry about! So say the ministers. Hmmm, ok then. So the target driven advisors and assessors of the DWP will focus on ridding the system of fraudsters will it? They’ll go after the ex coal miners who haven’t worked for 20 years and are close to retirement, and who were told by the dwp to fake bad backs in the first place, so that they didn’t add to the jobless figures. They’ll target communities where 4 in 10 are unemployed and all local industry has gone to the wall? They’ll go after the true fraudsters who know every trick in the book, how to get through the medicals with the right answers, and how to sue if they don’t get their benefits?

No. They will target those of us who struggle to fill out their forms. Who have enough self respect to dress nicely for the medicals. Who feel so ashamed already at relying on benefits that we hide how ill we are and try to please the assessors.

I used to work. I’ve held down a full time job the majority of the time from 18 – 32 years of age. I’ve lost each of my jobs to BPD, either by being sacked for sick leave or attitude (mood swings), or theft (stealing chocolate to binge on), or walking out of the job because I thought everyone hated me. I’m impulsive like that. Self neglect is a huge problem for me, as is socialisation. I chose to work night shifts, preferably on my own, where it wouldn’t be noticed so much that I hadn’t washed my hair or ironed my clothes properly. One employer called me in to his office to tell me I needed to shower more. Embarrassing for him and humiliating for me. I don’t even like admitting it here. But getting up and getting to work was as much as I could manage. I spent my time off asleep or drunk, lurching from one breakdown to the next. I was never popular with my colleagues. Apart from not being very fragrant, I was also very argumentative. I hated myself for it.

The text books say that BPD symptoms fade away from your thirties onwards. I’m 35 and have found it to be the opposite. And I’ve come to realise that my ability to work is not how I should define myself. Being sat at home alone 24/7 is not good for me. But neither is full time work. It brings out every paranoid feeling and leaves me drained of energy. In the past I have found occasional voluntary work to be therapeutic. Unfortunately, the DWP see this as indicative of an ability to get a full time job, so I have to stay at home rather than lose benefits.

To those of you who are disabled and want to work, good for you. I hope ESA helps you with that. Perhaps some time in the future I will be like you. But not now, and not soon.

I came across some info about BPD which the decision makers look at when they decide on how much benefit we get. By the looks of it, I will be screwed at my next review, because I don’t have access to a cpn or social worker. The dwp think that means my bpd only has a minor effect on my life. They don’t take into account that it’s a lack of resources which prevents me receiving that help. Check out the link: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/medical/med_conditions/personality_disorders/

I hope someone in government is keeping an eye on the suicide statistics now that ESA has started. However, they probably view any suicides as collateral damage.

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Just A Quick Update

October 18, 2008

Sorry for not being around of late. It’s been a very busy week for me, with trips back and forth from the hospital to visit my dad. He had his kidney removed on Tuesday and seems to be recovering well from the operation, although he’s still in a lot of discomfort. The nurses and doctors have been lovely, but he seems to be on a tour of the hospital at present. So far he’s spent time on 3 different wards, in addition to two days in high dependency. I suppose it’s a case of finding an available bed, but I worry about him being at more risk of catching a bug with all these moves. There are posters all over the place reminding us to wash our hands, and I’ve been very careful to do that. Unfortunately, some of the staff seem less able to remember. Four staff members came into the room whilst I was there. They all had direct physical contact with Dad, but only one used the gel wash. My step mum spends most of her visits cleaning the room with antiseptic wipes, because she’s paranoid about MRSA.

Unfortunately I woke up with a cold this morning, so won’t be able to visit Dad for a few days. Feeling poorly has got me thinking about mental health and physical symptoms. I’ve needed to put on my normal face all week. I can hardly moan to Dad about mood swings whilst he’s sat there with a morphine drip after all. What happens to all those negative thoughts and dark moods when they aren’t allowed to come out? I think they show themselves as stomach ache or eczema, or migraines etc. It’s like wearing a pair of big stomach shaping knickers. Sure, you get a nice flat tummy, but the fat has to escape somewhere else, usually the thighs lol.

And what about medication? Does it cure the anxiety or just block it? Is that why we get so many side effects? Quetiapine is causing me to feel like I’ve been wrapped in a nice fluffy blanket, but I’m getting spots and dry skin for the first time since my teens. I saw my pdoc this week, and she decided to keep me on it at the same dose for now. She was going to increase it but changed her mind after seeing how puffy my hands and ankles have become. She has also asked me to take part in some research into people who have bpd with psychosis. It will mean being taped in an interview. I said yes, because I’m rubbish at saying no, and also love a chance to moan about myself. However, on reflection, I decided that the research was actually into patients who try to fake symptoms, and that the tape would be watched by a crowd of laughing people. Yes, stupid I know. But I do feel like a fake. The voices have almost completely gone away since I started the Quetiapine, but, knowing me, I’d end up inventing a few rather than let the researchers down by not having anything interesting to say. Best say I’ve changed my mind rather than feel pressed to perform.

Btw, did any of you watch Blue Oranges on BBC4 this week? Just to set the record straight, being BPD doesn’t mean that we act like the patient in that show!

Well that’s what’s been happening with me. A boring update really. I’m going to snuggle down under the duvet now and have a sleep before watching X Factor. I’m not up to concentrating on anything right now, so Saturday night tv will be perfect.

Food always comes first

October 12, 2008

I am sat here in this midden of a flat, surrounded by overflowing ash trays, empty diet coke cans, unwashed plates, dirty clothes. I should be cleaning up.

At least thirty unopened letters litter the hall floor. I should be paying my bills.

My dad goes into hospital today. I should be thinking of him.

My hair is greasy and my nails are filthy. I should be having a shower.

My curtains are closed, blocking out the sun. I should be going out for a walk.

My houseplants are dying. I should water them.

But all I can think of is that Ben and Jerries icecream is on sale at £2 at my local supermarket, and I must get there before it closes, so I can binge today.  I did the same yesterday. I will do the same tomorrow, knowing that a binge will help me sleep away the rest of the day, so then I can ignore all the things I should be doing.

a crap attempt at poetry

October 10, 2008

My Mother said “What’s wrong now?

You nasty, ugly, little cow”

Please help me Mum, I feel so sad

“Get away from me, you make me mad”

 

 

My mate said “I won’t play with you,

You’re weird and I’ve found someone new.”

You’re all I’ve got, I need a friend

“No one likes you, we just pretend.”

 

 

My Teacher said “ Your work is shoddy”

Whilst ignoring the new cuts on my body.

I feel so lost, my brain won’t rest

“Well make sure that you pass this test’’

 

 

My Dad said, “Pack your things and go,

Don’t plead with me, the answer’s no”

But Dad, just once please be on my side

“Your Mum comes first, she says you lied”

 

 

My GP said ‘’You’re not depressed

Get off your arse, work like the rest.’’

But I’m so low, my head’s a mess

‘’That’s easy. Just try smoking less’’

 

 

My nurse said “oh you’re here again,

Bloody cutters, I’m sick of them”

I want to die, I WANT TO DIE

“Are you still here? There’s the door, Goodbye”

 

 

My favourite forum said “you’re banned tonight

We are mods, we have the right”

But she’s the troll, it was not me

“Well we don’t care cos you’re bpd”

 

 

 

Some days I wish I wasn’t here, 

It gets so hard to kill the fear,

That they were right and I am wrong

But it’s up to me and I am strong.

 

My therapist said BPD

Fuck off, I thought,

I am just me.

Having a bpd moment.

October 8, 2008

AAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bloody internet trolls! hate em.

why do i let these idiots get to me? anyone who thinks it’s ok to go onto a bpd support site and try to wind up the members is just asking for trouble. can’t believe that a few comments from a complete stranger has me wanting to cut again. ok, so we bpd’ers aren’t the nicest of people to get along with. but it takes a certain kind of sicko to come along and reinforce every belief we have that we are born evil, or that we shouldn’t work with children or give birth to them.

So there’s one more site that i need to stay away from for a while.

Black and white thinking towards therapy

October 6, 2008

I’ve somewhat stupidly signed up to take part in some research on Therapeutic Communities, having spent a year at one myself. I thought it would consist of filling out forms, which for some strange reason I get a real buzz out of, but it’s going to take place over the phone. The downside to this is that I have to be spontaneous (eek!) and can’t plan my answers in advance. Any other borderlines reading this will know that we thrive on control, especially when it comes to authority figures, so this is starting to stress me out big time.

My main concern has been a fear over how I will come across. But of course, it doesn’t matter! I’ll never meet this person face to face, and my name won’t be published in her research. So why is it so important that I don’t come across as a whingeing bpd’er?

This has obviously led to much introspection of my time at the TC, and whether my own feelings about it are valid. I could very easily come across as angry and negative about my experiences, but I don’t want to be so one sided. There must have been some positives surely? But I don’t want to think about them. Why not? Because then the blame for my decline over the last year, once more falls squarely on my shoulders, and it’s much easier to blame my therapist. The problem is that I’m really struggling to think of any positives. I’ll try making a list, and I’ll start with the negatives because that’s much easier, and it makes me feel better lol.

Negatives

I gave up a longstanding full time job to attend the TC and haven’t managed to cope with work since.

I now self harm frequently, despite not having done so for years before I went there.

It has reinforced my mad status, rather than removed it. I am much more of a professional mental patient than I ever was, and having being deemed nutty enough to need to be in a TC, my gp now sees me as someone with severe mental health problems, rather than someone who suffers from occasional depression.

Discovering what feelings are has made my mood swings so much more painful. It’s not just about anger anymore, and after a year of being told that I am to blame, I have no one to shift those feelings onto. I’ve never felt suicidal for so long.

Being around people day in day out made me need human contact. Now that I am isolated again, apart from one friend and one family member, I find it much more difficult to cope with being alone. Yet the motivation to change that is still missing.

Positives

I made a good friend at therapy and we are still in touch.

I can eat in front of other people without feeling ashamed.

I can usually realise the triggers behind my moodswings.

I am back in touch with my Dad, after two years of not speaking. Something which the therapists pushed me to do.

Hmmm, well I guess there are some positives after all. The trouble is that a huge part of me is glad to be out of work and staying at home on benefits. I don’t want to get better and I don’t want to get a job. I’ve never wanted that. So there really wasn’t any chance that a TC was going to work for me. I either wanted to be 100% cured, in a fantastically well paid job, with a new partner and a great sex life, 2.4 kids, a size ten body, no dark feelings ever again, or constantly ill, dependent on others, preferably locked away for life, wasting away of starvation (didn’t manage that one lol), no expectations from anyone.

I guess the only thing I’ve learnt from therapy is that black and white feelings exist, and my life is ruled by them.

Week three on Seroquel and I look like the michelin man!

October 3, 2008

It started with my hands, which look like they belong to someone twice my size. Now my upper arms are bloated, my ankles are massive and even my lips look like I’ve been to Lesley Ash’s plastic surgeon. I’ve had episodes where I can’t stop blinking. Awful indigestion, drowsiness, diarrhoea, and occasional twitches. Why on earth would anyone swallow a pill which does that to them?

Well on the upside I feel so much more relaxed. Ok, so sometimes my voice is slurred and I shuffle down the street like I’m drunk, but  so long as I get enough sleep, the rest of the time I feel great. Seroquel has shortened my day, and I really only have 4 or 5 hours of full consciousness. I’m hoping these side effects wear off in a few weeks. If not, then I guess I’ll have to re-evaluate the pros and cons of continuing to take it. I still have low moods but it’s kind of like they are behind a big plastic bubble. I’m not angry anymore (well not much).

I saw my gp today, just to pick up my script for venlafaxine. I’m aware that he asked me questions, but I couldn’t do much more than smile at him. My blood test results are back and my glucose level is borderline (like my brain lol) so I need to go back for a fasting test next week. I’ve made sure it’s an early appointment because I get very narky if I’m not fed regularly.  He was videoing the session for training purposes again, which usually makes me feel a little paranoid, but today I had to stop myself giggling into the camera.

The seroquel doesn’t take away all my bad moods though. Yesterday was a downer. Probably overtired after spending the previous day with my Dad. I won’t see him again now until he’s had his operation. He thinks there’s no point in me visiting til he’s out of the high dependancy ward, but I want to be there, even if he’s not aware that I am. His wife is a die hard catholic and is very positive and talking about prayer a lot. I don’t share her beliefs and am generally pessimistic. I keep imagining Dad dying on the operating table. Being with him all day and having to keep up this false positivity wore me out. He’s not letting on how he feels at all and I’m not going to push him to talk about it. But all this brings back so many memories of losing mum to cancer when I was 18. Half the time I feel wiped out by worry for him, and the rest of the time I despise myself for using his cancer to get sympathy. I can’t believe I’m actually jealous of him for having a bona fide physical illness. One that everyone feels sorry for him about. I’m struggling a lot even with the new meds. Torn between needing to do everything and anything, and being too tired and down to even get dressed. I feel like I’m leeching off my own father. I don’t know how to trust my own emotions. When I get upset, is it because I’m scared for him, or am I just acting? I really thought I’d got all this identity stuff sorted out but I feel like two people at the moment. Good and bad. Weak and strong. Cold and Warm. Black and White. Damn bpd.