Unfair Benefits System

Unfair Benefits System

Be prepared for a bit of a rant here because it’s a subject which I have had experience with recently and I can relate so much to the story I am going to share.  First, here is a link to a story about a woman who has just committed suicide because of an unfair PIP assessment.  It’s really heart breaking.

Article

This woman suffered from ME which is something I also suffer with.  It’s a debilitating disease which makes you exhausted constantly, it causes sleep to be unrefreshing which means sleeping does not help or rid the exhaustion.  It causes muscle and joint pain which requires a lot of pain killers and sometimes cannot even be treated with that, it leaves a lot of sufferers bed bound.  It causes a lot of symptoms cognitively, like memory issues, brain fog, lack of concentration.  There is no known cause for this disease, I contracted it after having Glandular Fever.  There is no treatment and barely any research, a lot of Doctors believe the condition to be a mental illness in which the brain signals pain when there isn’t any but recently studies have been carried out which show it could actually be a problem with the immune system not working properly.  It is an invisible illness though, which means it is ignored and misdiagnosed a lot.

I recently had my PIP claim (Type of benefit in UK) reassessed.  I’d been receiving the benefit for two years, due to the fact my severe depression and anxiety had prevented me working.  I have been suffering with ME for close to two years and it’s been a nightmare getting any treatment or help, I have to sleep almost constantly, I get about three hours a day where I am able to do household chores and that’s it.  I suffer with horrible back pain and pain in all of my joints and muscles which I take strong painkillers for and I rarely am able to leave the house.  Despite this my reassessment was rejected.

Like this woman in the above article, I had a face to face assessment.  It was carried out in my home because my anxiety prevents me travelling to places I don’t know.  During my assessment I felt extremely uncomfortable and my anxiety was so bad that I could only give one word answers.  What annoyed me about this face to face was, the assessor never asked questions from a mental perspective, my main issue is mental illness yet she only asked me physical questions “Can you get in and out of the shower”, “Can you dress yourself”, “Can you use the toilet”.  I can do all of these things but as people with depression and ME know, just because you can physically do these things, doesn’t mean you do.  I have no energy to get dressed or take showers, which means I  an go a week without washing sometimes because I am that exhausted and can’t get out of bed.  I need a lot of prompting to take care of myself and this was completely ignored.  I was asked one question about my ME and the assessment was over in 40 minutes.

Three or four weeks letter I received a letter to say my claim had been denied.  I received no qualifying points and the letter I received which explained the decision was disgusting!  It stated that the face to face assessor had written I appeared completely relaxed and showed no signs of anxiety.  This was completely false, I was sweating profusely, my heart was beating erratically throughout and I couldn’t talk.  The letter also stated that because I had not attempted suicide in over a year, my mental state was fine.  This comment is extremely offensive to me and I am so disappointed in my countries benefit system.  Suicide is such a sensitive issue and they basically told me I don’t deserve help because it’s been over a year since I tried to take my life.  The letter went on to say that physically I was able and healthy and did not warrant any further financial help.  It was a completely false report of my condition and it left me devastated.  My Mum went out of her way to appeal the decision and luckily I have a great GP who wrote a letter also.  I know how the woman in the article felt, because I felt the same way, I felt so betrayed and unfairly judged by my country.  These people are supposed give benefits to people who need them, they are supposed to help.  How many people sit on jobseekers allowance and don’t lift a finger to find work, yet they get money ever month no problem.  I suffer with illnesses which may be invisible but they are extremely real and I don’t deserve to be ignored and shoved aside simply because my illness are to complex for the benefits system to understand.

The woman in this article took her own life because some person in an office somewhere decided she wasn’t worth the trouble, that her condition was to complex and since it’s invisible, it can just be ignored and turned away.  I don’t know how this assessor can live with themselves knowing that they ultimately made a decision which ruined someone’s life and made them give up on life and choose death. I used to think my country was a fair one, I used to be proud of my home but I am utterly disgusted by it now.  The government doesn’t care about how unfair their system is, they spend no time investigating the people that claim benefits fraudulently and instead spend their time taking if off people who are vulnerable and can’t stand up for themselves, they force people with invisible illness to suffer and struggle because it’s easier to ignore something you can’t see than to address it and take it seriously.  The woman in the article took her own life surrounded by her benefits letters stating that she was healthy and able, basically calling her a liar.  I know how this woman felt and it’s so saddening because these assessors made her feel like her life was worthless and unimportant, they treated her like a case number and not a person.  People suffering with illness deserve respect and understanding, they deserve to be listened too and treated with kindness, this woman was given none of this and yet nothing will be done about it, the government and the benefits system will lock it away in some filing cabinet and forget about it.

I’d like to say at this point that my own benefits decision was overturned and I did receive my claim.  I had to fight tooth and nail for it, I had to send piles of evidence and statements from people who know me.  It made my mental state deteriorate badly and my illnesses were made worse by the stress and anxiety I had to deal with.  I got no apologies for the way I was treated, no sorry for the completely false statement given by the assessor and no support during the time I had to wait and worry about the decision.  It may have come out positively in the end for me but it doesn’t for a lot of people, so many people are put through more suffering and ignored because their illnesses aren’t common or easy to see.  I’m disappointed in my government and I’m disappointed in the people that are supposed to help us, who are supposed to make out lives easier and help us live independently despite out illnesses.  It’s unacceptable.

 

 

Suicide: It’s complicated

Suicide: It’s complicated

Suicide isn’t an easy thing to talk about and I find it really hard to explain my motives behind attempting suicide in the past. A lot of people view suicide as the cowards way out, because you’re choosing to give up instead of keep fighting through whatever it is you’re going through. Suicide isn’t an easy decision to make, it’s the hardest thing I ever did.  The first time, I sat for hours staring at the bottle of alcohol and pills, trying to get the courage up to just do it.  It wasn’t the right decision, I’m not advertising suicide as the way to go because it’s a horrible way to go and it will effect so many people around you, there is always another way.

Suicide is selfish.  All I remember my Mum saying was “Why would you do this?” “Why would you be so stupid?” “How do you think this affects me, how do you think I would have felt if you’d died?” and my Mum is now left with this lifelong worry and doubt, because I made a decision based only on my own feelings.  When those suicidal thoughts hit, no one else mattered to me, I just wanted it to end, I wanted to stop feeling so down and hopeless, I felt useless and like people would be better off without me anyway.  I didn’t think about how my family would feel if it worked, I definitely didn’t think about how it would affect them if I lived through it.  But that is what happened and now my family always have that worry in the back of their minds.

Despite this, I went on to attempt suicide twice more and even now, when I see a box of tablets, the thought enters my mind to take them.  I wish I knew why this was, why does suicide take over my life, why do I keep coming back to it as an option.  It took nearly dying to make me realise I wanted to live but when my depression takes over, I don’t remember that.  I don’t remember that my family love me, or that I have things to look forward too.  All I can think of is the peace death would bring, no more medication or feeling so ill and hopeless everyday, no more doctors trying to work out why my brain is making me feel this way, no more pain, no more struggling.  But what about the people who love me? My suicide would break their hearts, am I not then subjecting them to the depression and feeling of hopelessness that I feel everyday?  Why can’t I see that when I’m feeling at my lowest, why can’t I see that suicide isn’t the way.

It’s because suicide isn’t rational or logical, it isn’t a decision made based on knowledge or rational thinking.  It’s a decision based on emotion and emotions are extremely hard to ignore.  The reason I attempted suicide is because at the time and in that moment, it seemed like the better option, it seemed like the only way to end the pain because living with depression is so hard, it’s tiring and it wears you down.  On a better day like today, I can think properly, my mind isn’t filled with that little voice that is depression, telling me to give up.  On a day like today, I see that suicide is not a decision I should make, it’s selfish and I have a lot to live for.  I have a loving and supportive family, I have a fiancé who loves me and tries his hardest to make me happy.  I am a young woman who has depression but it doesn’t define me, I can fight and I will fight through it.  I have to hope that one day it won’t affect me so badly, one day I will be better and it will be worth the struggle.

Suicide is an issue that is ignored because it’s easier to do so.  Suicide is an issue which needs to be addressed because no one should ever have to feel like they would rather be dead.  No one should have to feel that feeling just before they attempt to kill themselves.  For anyone reading this who thinks suicide is the only way to find peace, it isn’t.  I don’t know you or your situation but life is precious, it can be so short and taken so easily.  Life is a chance to do something and be someone, it’s a chance to find happiness and even though it seems like you never be happy, you will.  It may take a while and at times feel pointless but you have to fight and you can’t let depression win because I really believe we’re all put on this earth for a reason.  Think of he people who love you, think of what you’d be giving up, think of how it would affect people around you and fight.  It will get better one day, hope is a powerful thing.

 

The Voice Inside My Head.

The Voice Inside My Head.

I’ve heard depression described as many things and appear in many forms but for me it’s a voice inside my head.  When people hear me say I hear a voice in my head, they do look at me like I’m crazy but it isn’t someone else’s voice I hear, it’s my own.  It’s a voice that lies in wait for a moment of weakness, like if I have a bad day, If I have an argument with a loved one, If someone makes a comment that’s upsetting, If I fail at something.  As soon as I’m weak the voice comes to life and tries it’s hardest to make me give up, it tries to make me stop fighting.

I’ve had this experience today.  My Fiancé asked me to go out with him for a drink, a completely normal request, couple’s go out all the time but I’ve been feeling down the past few days so I said no.  I always feel guilty for turning him down because he’s a social person who loves going out and I don’t want to hold him back.  Anyway, he became frustrated and said that it was hard for him not being able to do things like a normal couple.  It was a valid comment and after he realised it had upset me, he apologised and said he loved me and he didn’t mean to upset me, he was just frustrated that I couldn’t do something that I would like to be able to do.  It didn’t matter though because as soon as that comment upset me, the voice took it’s opportunity to make it worse.  “You’re holding him back”, “He’d be happier with someone else”, “He is only here because he feels sorry for you” “You’re a burden to him”, “You don’t deserve him” “You’re ugly and he could be with someone a million more times attractive”.  I try to block it out but once it starts it’s impossible to ignore, it’s literally my own voice inside my head demeaning me and making me feel like a failure, like there is no point in trying. “You should just give up” “You don’t have anything to offer in life, why are you here”, “You’re a burden to everyone you meet” “You know that you can’t hold on forever, just give up now”, “People would be better off without you”.  My Fiancé can see me struggling and he’s saying comforting things to me, about how he loves me so much and wants to marry me and have a family but the voice just twists it. “He’s lying”, “He’s just trying to make you feel better, he doesn’t actually want to marry you”, “You will fail him eventually”, “He would be better without you”.  The voice is winning at this point, I’ve been bottling things up like I do for weeks and now it’s using all that stress and frustration to take me down, my own voice trying to defeat me.

This is when my Fiancé did something that surprised me, he made a stupid random joke.  It came out of nowhere but I laughed and for a second it was quiet in my head.  Then the voice piped up again “Why are you laughing, you’re a disappointment”, “You’re ugly and fat, you shouldn’t be here”.  My Fiancé made another joke to get a laugh out of me and again I laughed and it was quiet.  I’ve always looked for someone who can make me laugh because it’s important to me and it’s payed off  because it turns out laughter quiets that voice inside my head.  My Fiancé figured out it was making me better and kept saying things to make me laugh, and eventually that little voice crawled back into it’s hole.

It’s still there now, why my mood is vulnerable, popping in and out of my head but I’ve got over that breakdown and I’m fighting it with the help of my Fiancé’s brilliant sense of humour.

That voice is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with though and I’m sure it won’t stay down for long, it will pop up as soon as I’m weak enough again.  It’s the fact that the voice is my own that’s hard, it’s literally me telling me to give up and it’s hard to ignore your own head.  My mind is my enemy, for some reason it doesn’t want me to be happy and it does whatever it can to make me struggle.  It’s a tiring fight, mentally exhausting to try and keep your own mind quiet.  I hope that one day that voice withers away and dies, one day I want to be strong enough to cut it off completely, but for now I have to fight it and hold on to the feeling of being wanted and loved.  I have to let the people around me support me and help when they can because love and laughter will beat the little voice eventually.  Just got to keep fighting.