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.

 

 

Quotes about Depression and Suicide

Quotes about Depression and Suicide

I’ve always really loved quotes because when I read one that I can relate too, it’s a good feeling to know that someone else has felt the same way.  Depression is isolating and reading words that someone else has written and relating to them makes me feel not so alone.  So I wanted to compile a list of my favourite quotes about depression and suicide and I hope that they can make other people feel less alone as well because loneliness is one of the hardest emotions to fight.

Most of these are off Pinterest and may not have authors listed so sorry about that.

“I don’t want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can’t even see it, something that’s drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.”
― Margaret Atwood

“Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong.”
― Sally Brampton

“When someone asks me “What is wrong?” I simply reply with “I’m just tired” and they agree; they say to take a nap.  But you see this exhaustion it is not something simply resolved by sleeping.  I cannot simply shut my eyes and wake up okay.  I need a break from my brain, my heart, my life.  I need to go away for just a little while.  Or maybe forever.”

“When a depressed person shrinks away from your touch, it does not mean she is rejecting you.  Rather she is protecting you from the foul, destructive evil which she believes is the essence of her being and which she believes can injure you” – Dorothy Rowe

“People who die by suicide don’t want to end their lives.  They want to end their pain.”

“You don’t know pain until you’re staring at yourself in the mirror with tears streaming down your face and you’re begging yourself to just hold on and be strong.  That is pain”

“I don’t know how I expect people to love me when I can barely look at myself without cringing”

“I say sorry a lot, mostly because I feel like everything is my fault”

“Depression isn’t always at 3am.  Sometimes it happens at 3pm, while you’re with your friends and you’re halfway through a laugh”

“Why don’t you accept compliments? Because if feels like I’m being lied too”

“It’s scary, what a smile can hide”

“Never underestimate how much pain somebody has to be to put a razor to their wrist, a finger to their throat, a gun to their head or a pen to ‘that’ note”

“Don’t try to relate to a suicidal person.  Sure you may have had some sad days but until you have felt that overwhelming, empty, almost calming desire to die, just say ‘Thank you for still being here, you are strong and I love you'”

“You hurt yourself on the outside trying to kill the monster on the inside”

“If you could see what I feel, if anxiety, if sadness, and loneliness were physical wounds that decorate my body in red lines and purple marks, would you be shocked at how bloody and bruised I am?”

“All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are” – Robin Williams

 

These are a few quotes that have touched me and made me feel like I’m not truly alone in the world.  It’s hard living with depression and getting to the point where suicide is the only option you have to end the pain.  I would never wish it on anyone and one day, I hope that my words will touch someone else and make them feel less alone.  In a world filled with this many people, no one should feel alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Privacy

Privacy

I noticed today’s word prompt is privacy and it got me thinking.  This blog is a way for me to vent how I am feeling and be honest about my depression and anxiety without feeling scared of what people think.  I don’t know why it’s easier to talk about how I feel here rather than in person but it is.  In my normal life, I’m a very private person and I don’t like anyone knowing things about me.

With my depression and anxiety, I’ve been referred to talking therapy a few times where I could go through CBT and talk about my feelings in order to change my mind set and hopefully get better.  Talking therapy for me is a nightmare and subsequently has never worked for me.  I used to dread going and when I was in a session, I would say whatever I needed to get out of there fast, even if it wasn’t the truth.

I don’t like to be the centre of attention and I find it hard to talk about my feelings, I don’t even tell my family or Fiancé what I’m feeling most of the time because I just feel like, why burden someone else.  To me, my issues are my issues and I don’t want to tell other people how I am feeling in case they turn around and say “That’s it?”.  I never had a big tragic event to trigger my depression, it just became something that affected me and people find that hard to deal with sometimes.  I know there are a lot of people in the world that have bigger issues like poverty, starvation, abuse, death etc. and I don’t want to seem selfish.  My life is a good one and I don’t have a reason other than dodgy brain chemicals to be depressed, and it makes me feel like I shouldn’t complain, I should just keep it to myself and suffer alone.

So when I’m sent to someone to talk about my depression and the things that affect in, I find it extremely daunting and I find it impossible to convey just how much I’m suffering.  I will simplify it and make it seem like I’m coping when I’m not because I don’t want to bother other people.  In therapy I used to do whatever I could to get discharged, I learned the mood questionnaires and I caught on to what the therapist wanted to hear and said it, I made them think I was recovering and that therapy was working for me, because I wanted to be discharged and not cause a fuss or be the centre of attention.

I’ve recently been referred to a psychiatrist because my depression hasn’t improved in five years and I have a history of suicide attempts.  Medication helps but when my mood gets too low, it’s ineffective and therapy has done nothing so now I have to go and see someone who is going to want me to talk about myself and my feelings.  I want to get better and I want someone to help me but I’m stuck in that place where I want help but my anxiety about being a burden stops me from expressing myself.

Privacy to me is important because I like to keep things to myself and be self reliant but it also makes me very hard to get to know.  Privacy makes me a very closed off person with a fear of being too much trouble and being judged for how I really feel.  Privacy is a good thing but it’s also a problem that affects me every day.

 

One best friend is better than a bunch of alright friends.

One best friend is better than a bunch of alright friends.

One thing depression and anxiety are good at is pushing people away and isolating you so it has its chance to make you feel worthless and alone.  Before depression, I had a group of about six close friends that I spent time with.  We were a close group of friends and enjoyed going on days out, camping trips and just having fun together.  It seems like a really long time ago now and I miss the days of being able to enjoy days out and socialising with people.  Socialising now brings feelings of fear, panic and general anxiety, and it’s just easier to avoid it, so that I avoid panicking and making myself worse.

After being diagnosed with depression, I hid it from my friends.  It was easy to hide because I became a very good actress and almost became two people, the one I was with friends was happy and confident but once I was home I’d shrink into myself and become quiet and withdrawn.  I began to avoid socialising, cancelling on my friends and making excuse after excuse to get out of plans.  This was about the time I began to self harm because I hated myself, I hated that I was avoiding my friends and isolating myself but I couldn’t stop doing it, depression was in control and I was just left trailing behind doing whatever I could to bring some sense of peace.  Self harm was my way of getting rid of the frustration I felt at losing control and it was away to take out my hatred of myself.  I hated the way I looked, I thought I was fat and ugly so I wanted to rip apart my skin and cause pain and make my outside look as ugly and distressed as my inside felt.

As the months passed by, my friends stopped inviting me to go out and I’d see pictures on the internet of them enjoying themselves and going to events and out for meals, and it made me feel worse.  Even though I was the one who pushed them away, it still felt horrible and I was angry at them for letting me push them away, why didn’t they try harder? why couldn’t they see I was struggling?

In my close group of friends, there was always one who I was closer to and I’d say we were more like sisters, we spent everyday together and she practically lived at my house.  She came on my family holidays and was the one I always went to first for advice.  During the time my depression got worse, she kept asking me about things, she was the one who carried on trying to get me to socialise and get out.  Unfortunately I was too far gone and I refused again and again.  Then I attempted suicide, a stupid and horrible decision I made which I regretted straight after, by that time though the pills and alcohol had started to kick in and I felt myself falling unconscious, this is when I called my friend for the first time in a while, luckily she came straight away, found me and called an ambulance which probably saved my life.  I don’t remember a lot about the hospital, my heart had issues and I was out of it but I do remember she stayed with me all night, she slept in a chair and refused to leave my bedside.  I think it was a shock for her to see me like that, with sliced up arms and practically unconscious, I regret that she had to go through that because of me.

After I got out of hospital I went through therapy and I got in touch with my old group of friends and told them what had happened to me, they were surprised and promised to be there if I needed anything and offered to talk anytime I needed it.  It’s about four years on now and that group of friends became more and more distant as my depression flummoxed between manageable and not manageable.  That one friend who stayed by my hospital bed though, she stuck by me through everything.  I didn’t deserve it, depression made me an awful friend because that’s what it does, it makes you selfish and care less about the people around you.  I pushed and pushed her away, I was distant and horrible but she kept coming through for me, she kept arranging to come and visit me.

In fact, I saw her today, while I’m going through a really awful time with my depression and CFS, and she really made me realise how lucky I am to have her in my life.  She is the only one who stuck by me and pushed back and even though I don’t see her as much as I’d like, she is there when I need her.  I did have a group of good friends and it was great but having that one best friend now surpasses that by far.  I think it’s way more important to have one best friend than a group of friends who when it gets tough, fade into the distance.  I owe a lot to my best friend, she probably saved my life the day I attempted suicide and she has continued to be there for me and make me feel loved when I haven’t deserved it.  It takes a special kind of person to stand by someone with depression and she is my guardian angel.  Depression is a horrible condition, it destroys who you are and makes life so hard, but the people that support you and love you make it a little bit easier to fight.

So thank you best friend, for never abandoning me and for always being there when I’ve needed you.  I haven’t been a good friend in return and for that I am sorry but I will continue to fight and be there for you, the same way you have always been for me.

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.

Why did you try to kill yourself?

Why did you try to kill yourself?

Why did you try to kill yourself? It’s a question I dread and struggle to answer.  Suicide is an issue which is ignored too much, it’s easier for some people to ignore it and hope it goes away and the stigma that is attached to Suicide makes it a taboo subject.

I was first asked this question after my first overdose, I was in A&E and a Doctor came and asked me.  I remember feeling so ashamed and this defensive urge rose up in me, my reply was “I want to die, that’s usually why people commit suicide isn’t it?” and the Doctor went on to ask me “Why do you want to die?” and I couldn’t answer.  At the time I felt so annoyed, wasn’t it obvious why I wanted to kill myself?  Two more attempts after that and I still couldn’t answer the question.

It has been two years since my last attempt and I think finally I understand a bit more about the reasons behind my actions.  Suicide is an extremely hard thing to attempt, I’ve heard people call it the cowards way out but I think it’s extremely hard to come to terms with the fact that you don’t want to live anymore, that you don’t want to be in the world any longer.  I remember feeling like I was better off dead, that my family would be better off without me, I was a burden and wasn’t worth the time.  I hated myself so much, I hated who I’d become, I hated the way I looked, I hated that voice in my head that kept telling me there was no hope and I’d be alone for the rest of my life.  For me Suicide all came down to my self esteem, I had none, I thought I was worthless and had no future, I thought no one would ever love me and I couldn’t deal with a life like that.  I wanted the pain to stop, I wanted the voice in my head to shut up so I did it. I regret each attempt I made and I am very lucky that none of them worked because I now see what those attempts did to the people around me, the people that supported me.  Suicide is a selfish act, when you’re that depressed and at rock bottom it’s hard to think of anyone else, and if you do you think they wouldn’t care anyway.  The truth is, suicide is always going to affect more than the person carrying out the act.  My Mum rings me everyday, if I don’t text her back she worries.  She still comes to Doctors appointments and asks me everyday to stay strong.  She worries constantly and it’s my fault because I made her watch her own daughter try to end her life.  I can’t imagine as a Mother what it would feel like to know that the person you brought into this world wanted to leave it.

For people who are feeling like I did, Suicide is not the answer.  Think of everyone you love, think of all the people who are supporting you, all the people that have every helped you.  You are letting them down if you choose this option, you have to fight and you have to stay strong.  It’s hard and tiring and there are times when you will contemplate ending it all but it’s about getting passed those times and taking joy from anything around you, enjoy the little things in life.  A life is an enormous gift and so much can be done with it, you weren’t put onto this planet just to waste that chance. Live and find happiness because it is there, don’t let that dark voice in your head win, be stronger than Suicide.