Archive for the ‘benefits’ Category

Back from the darkside

September 14, 2009

Doesn’t time fly when you’re a depressive? I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted. Sorry to anyone I may have worried by being absent. I’ve been isolating myself from almost all who know me, both on the net and in the ‘real world’. That doesn’t mean that things have been particularly bad. I just started to feel like all I ever talk about or think about is mental health. I’ve begun to feel very bored of myself. Yet I can’t escape it. I think about mental health issues probably as often as a teenage boy thinks about sex. They govern my life. If it’s not anxiety, it’s low moods, or voices, or aggressive thoughts, or pictures of my death. I am scared of being by myself, of having so much free time to sit and ponder where I have failed in my life, to make plans for my early demise, to worry about going completely ga ga, or to look forward to going completely ga ga. In the last few weeks I haven’t been able to cope with downtime. At home I need the constant reassurance of the background noise from the tv, or a book to read, anything to occupy my brain. Because as soon as I don’t have that distraction, the thoughts come back.

Unfortunately I then go through days of not being able to bear the noise from the tv. People’s voices are too loud and irritating. When I try to read the text jumps around and I can’t manage more than a page. Sleep evades me, despite the medication. I feel wound up so tight I’m going to explode. But fortunately this temporary madness seems to disappear just before it gets so bad that I can’t cope with it anymore.

It has been an eventful few months. Dad recently received his all clear from cancer. He is physically very well again but it appears to have left him with Victor Meldrew Syndrome aka grumpy old fart disease.  I lost three stone on the lighter life diet, which is basically a starvation diet which brought on the symptoms of anorexia. Now I’m back to bingeing each day and regaining all the weight. My nuisance neighbour has calmed down after being threatened with court proceedings if he continued to harrass the rest of the street. I spent the summer watching Big Brother and staying up too late, which is probably what has caused my recent relapse. Now I’m looking forward (not) to that time of year where the days draw in again and I start to evaluate what I have acheived in the last year. Of course that makes me feel low again because I’ve done nothing but drift through the year, spending my days shopping, eating and sleeping.

I desperately need some structure in my life. A daily routine which involves more than just trying to get dressed and go out to buy cigarettes. I’m stuck in this rut and terrified of crawling out of it. I’m dreading the upcoming changes in the benefit system where I will most likely be told to get a job. Being around people, dealing with targets, just getting dressed and showering regularly is just too much right now. It’s been too much for several years. But that’s partly because when you don’t have to try anymore, you end up going backwards. I’m far less capable than I was three years ago. But is that because my mental health has deteriorated? Or is it because I have given up? A kick up the backside from the job centre might be good for me. But it might also send me into a BPD spin and end up with another trip to hospital. Now that Dad is better, I feel less inclined to hold on and stay well myself. If it wasn’t for the cat I’d probably have given up months ago. But I know I can combat those feelings by getting out and about and meeting friends etc. It’s just that the 5 yr old in me is screaming ”I DON’T WANNA”.

Oh and I finally got round to having Sky + installed and bought a nice big tv. I have become the stereotypical benefits scrounger. My goal for the next year should be to get pregnant and buy a Staffy.

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Freezing, frantic and fat.

January 7, 2009

God I hate January. Especially January in northern England. In past years I’ve escaped to sunnier climes, but state benefits don’t stretch to a week drinking Ouzo and flirting with Greek waiters, so  coffee from a spotty youth in my local Mcdonalds will have to do. It’s been a strange start to the new year. I’ve been out and about a lot more than usual, due entirely to a mania induced shopping habit, and a refusal to miss even the slightest bargain. This week saw the final closure of Woolworths stores in the UK. A very sad time for the 30,000 staff who will start 2009 signing on at their local job centre. For me it was an opportunity to buy a lot of tat at 90% off. I now have enough lightbulbs to see me into the next century (5p each), which means I can’t OD for a while as I’d hate to waste them. Shopping in my three nearest woolies this week felt uncomfortably like grave robbing. With the news today that M&S are to close some of their stores too, I wonder what my high street will look like this time next year. Probably like that episode of the Simpsons where every store was a Starbucks. Hey ho, at least I’ll have somewhere to get my coffee. How this government still intends to get all us workshy off incapacity benefit and into jobs is beyond me. Would you hire a mad person if there were ten norms applying at the same time as her?

Speaking of benefits, it appears that the numpties at the DWP were wrong to send me the IB50 form. As a recipient of high rate care on DLA I am apparantly exempt from the PCA (personal capability assessment). Unfortunately the computer at my local job centre doesn’t know that I’m on DLA , so I have to wait for that computer to speak to another one and then someone will phone me to say I don’t need to fill in the form. They were meant to call me yesterday. Of course that didn’t happen. I hate answering my mobile if I can’t see who is ringing me, but not answering it could result in my benefits being suspended. Added to that is the dilemma that if I do answer it, some bright spark at the DLA office may see it as proof that I am not as mad as I used to be, and stop my benefits anyway. It’s a no win situation really, especially as the office I need to speak to doesn’t appear to have a phone, so I can’t ring them at a time that suits me. They really do make it easy for us don’t they?

Another phone call I need to make this week is to my pdoc. I believe I have an appointment with her at the end of Jan but can’t remember when. The appointment was made in October, so it’s not surprising that I’ve forgotten. Again, my turning up is probably a test of how capable I am lol. (I’m slightly paranoid this week in case you haven’t guessed). I’m just going there to have a chat about the meds, in particular how I’m getting on with the Quetiapine. Well the answer to that is not too bad. For the most part it has removed my angry moods and voices. However it only seems to work on a normal stress free day. If anything unusual occurs my anxiety levels spike again. I only need to look at the arrival of the IB50 form for that, as it brought back a lot of self harm urges and strangely, an urge to shave my head! However, I didn’t cut. Perhaps without the quetiapine I would have done. I’m also still waking up in a panic each day. I feel jittery until I take my first pill. It makes me feel like an addict and I hate being reliant on medication. Personally, I feel that it is the thought of hurting my dad which helps me behave at the moment. I’m not suicidal at the moment but I have to admit that dad has become my reason to continue. Without that link I think all my impulses would have free reign and that’s scary.  

I’m not sure that I am always honest on this blog. I was extremely chuffed to receive an award from that crazy lot over at mental nurse for best personality disorder blog. They mentioned my irreverent attitude. I’ve always used humour when talking about my mental health. Nothing bores me more than those people who are forever complaining about how bad their life is, how few friends they have, what a bad person they are etc. I have all the same thoughts as them. I know how much it hurts to be us. But I have a huge brick wall behind which I store all my emotions and it’s only when I’m at my worst that I let anyone look over it. I find other people’s emotions overwhelming. Boredom isn’t the right word really. The negativity scares me because it’s too close to home and I can’t cope with it. To be honest, I’ve been struggling this week. A mixture of high and low moods, several days without sleep, a need to get out of the house for hours each day, rather than be on my own. I’ve even lost my appetite, which is normally a sure sign that I’m close to breakdown. But this time I think I’m going to be ok. The meds are definately taking the edge off it. I just wish I could cope without them.

A quick update on Dad. He’s due to have a scan next week, after which he will see the consultant about whether or not he should have chemo. To look at him, you would think he was completely healthy. We went for a walk together and I was puffing away behind him, struggling to keep up. He has some problems with back pain, which may not be a good sign, but he’s determined to be positive. On the downside, he has bought the ugliest hat in ugly hat making history, in anticipation of losing his hair. Fingers crossed that he won’t need chemo, in which case his wife can burn it.

Hugs and best wishes to all my fellow bpd’ers. Here’s to the coming of spring. xx

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.