The title is my favourite line in the lyrics of Public Image Limited’s Bad Life.
It is also something I struggle with. I always have. Far too often I put other people first. And when I don’t, when I try to what is best for me, what do I get? Grief. I get accused of being inconsiderate, of not thinking about others and of intentionally causing pain.
Bullshit! I never intentionally harm anyone (never have and never will). I am not inconsiderate, in fact I think of other people before myself 99% of the time. Well at least I have always done so in the past. But I am growing and in that process, I must begin to consider what is best for me short-term as well as long-term. And that means I can no longer sit back and just take crap from anyone. Especially not right now.
For the last few weeks, I have been battling stuff from several directions. The biggest thing is I have been trying to cope with my mental health issues while attempting to put together a coherent and concise argument against a decision by the DWP to cut my benefits. I have had no help with this at all. Instead, the person who should have been helping me has been dragging their heels about writing a letter of support to go along with my rebuttal. So not only have I not had the help I needed, I have had extra anxiety over whether or not supporting evidence would be available to submit along with my own.
Speaking of my mental health issues, recently I have been worse than I have ever been since I was 16. And the psychiatrist changed my medication just after Xmas. So bear that in mind as you read this (if you continue to read it). It has caused me to feel even more depressed, caused me to be very sensitive and I cry at the littlest things or become enraged almost instantaneously. This obviously adds to the already, ever-present struggle in my head that I normally face daily as I try to cope with these extreme feelings and at the same time resist reacting to them.
The cut in my PIP has lead to beginning a new battle with the council regarding my housing benefits. Where I live, you only have 2 options to contact the council: 1) by telephone. This is not an option for me as my anxieties preventing me from making this type of phone call and 2) via an online form. I, naturally, chose the latter. The system and the form itself were ridiculously stressful. There had been no forewarning of what detailed information I would need to hand so I had to scramble about in a rush to avoid the thing timing out. It did. 3 times. So I had to input some of the information 4 times in the end. This was bad enough but some fields on the form apparently required you to click an “Add” button even when you had no information to put into that field. The form did not tell you this, nor did the error message that kept popping up and preventing you from continuing to the next section. 2 hours later I was a wreck. I had been in tears while at the same time filled with rage. Tears over the undue stress I was having to face and rage at the council for stopping people from being able to go down to their office and speak to them face-to-face. Not only do I feel more capable of relaying information in a face-to-face situation, this lack of access to a human only serves to highlight just how Americanized the UK is becoming. We are no longer people. We need not have names as we have our National Id Number. And that is all we are now to the powers that be – a number. But that is a topic for another day.
Throughout all this, my central heating stopped working. This caused another battle to come my way as every winter we have lived here, the heating goes out. Every year the plumber my landlord used has said the boiler needs to be replaced. This year he has sent a different company to come and look. The new guy agreed – it needs to go. But whereas the previous plumber was quick to communicate and attend the property, the new guy is not. Over a week went by after his first visit without a word. I call and am told they will call me back. They don’t. Not for several days. Meanwhile, I have come down with a cold/flu bug thing and shivering despite many, many layers of clothing and blankets (not a good place to be when trying to think clearly enough to write to the DWP and navigate silly forms that make no sense). It’s been almost 4 weeks since I first reported the problem and it’s still not resolved.
So, I’m sick, freezing cold, mentally unstable, overwhelmed, trying my best to focus on taking care of practical things that have time limits attached to them (as previously mentioned plus trying to find the rent money & stressing over having to pay it late again) and a friend is giving me grief because I cannot deal with anything more than what is already on my plate. Well I don’t have the head space to deal with that and the way I feel right now, I don’t even want to. I have to finish off this stuff for the DWP and get it to them by Friday or I am screwed financially for certain. I have to build myself up to face opening the 3 letters from the council, which by past experience will only confuse me as they tend to contradict themselves and which will force me into having to find the courage to phone them to find out what they actually mean. I have to phone the plumber yet again to try and find out when I might be able to feel my toes and fingers again (seriously! I have been wearing winter hats & gloves in the house!). I have to try and make time to rest so my body can heal as I have come down with yet another cold/bug in the last 2 days. I have to find a way to build myself to facing my upcoming dental appointment on my own. All while trying not to think about the potential problems I face should I not be successful in getting my PIP restored, should my health decline more and I end up in hospital, should my landlord get fed up with the rent being late, should the food run out before I get paid again, etc.
With all of this going on, I am literally focusing on purely trying my best to get things done and just get through each day. I’m Looking Out For Number One because that is what I need to do right now.