Monthly Archives: January 2018

Looking Out For Number One

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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. 

Psaryce x

 

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2017 – My Year of Getting Kicked

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I have been struggling to write my usual end of year review post. This year has been a harsh one but I don’t want my post to be all doom and gloom. I’m trying my best to stay in a fact-based mind set so I can recap with some distance. The year was far too emotional to write about any other way. Distance isn’t easily obtained for me at the moment as I am still reeling from all the BS I’ve dealt with over the past 12 months. Yes it is all past but some of the crap 2017 sent to me has to still be dealt with and so it’s not gone.

The year began with me in low spirits. I didn’t have a roadworthy car so struggled to get out. This affected my therapy sessions as I fund it hard to get there without undue stress, anxiety and panic attacks. Quite early in the year, these sessions abruptly came to and end. It kind of blindsided me and left me feeling abandoned.

Car trouble was a theme of the first half of the year. I bought another one but within 2 weeks it became apparent that the seller had lied to me. It was going to cost far too much money (that I didn’t have) to fix it. I felt such a fool. I was then stuck with 2 cars that weren’t driveable and still stuck in the house.

Then I got ill. Very ill. I thought it was a bug and ignored it for weeks. It came to a point where I knew I needed help. I was at home alone (as usual) thinking I didn’t need to go to hospital. I called NHS advice line. They sent an ambulance as I argued I didn’t need one. The EMTs turned up. They insisted I go to hospital. I’m not that ill I kept saying. I was that ill.  I spent a week in hospital and many weeks at home recovering. I say weeks but I do believe it really took much longer before I was fully healed.

In the spring, I was assigned a care coordinator and a support worker from the community mental health team. This was to help me get out of the house and engaged in activities where I might meet new people and thus improve my mental health. It hasn’t really worked out that way. Life has been throwing too much crap at me and instead of working on “me”, we have been forced to cope with all the rubbish. Two different benefit assessments, countless weeks of exhaustion, anxiety, panic and depression that all stemmed from these two appointments. Followed by a final harsh kick in December when I discovered that I have lost another £246 per calendar month in benefits despite my conditions worsening. FU DWP! From December 2016 to December 2017, I’ve lost in total about £1,000 per month in income. Who the hell can take that kind of hit to their income??

Despite all this, I tried. I tried to go out and do things. I tried to meet new people and make new friends. I tried to take back some control of my life. I tried (very, very hard) to stay out of the Black Void. I was not very successful. Much of this year has been marred by depression, loneliness and anxiety. My overall mental health has declined as each attempt was made and failed. I have become more withdrawn and despondent. The future continues to look very beak to me. Years of constant assessments, financial worries, instability and nothing good to look forward to.

Yes this is a rather glum post but this year has really knocked the stuffing out of me. I feel battered by the assaults and enslaved by circumstances that I do not (at present) have the power to change. Remember, I tried.

For one, I tried doing a volunteer gardening programme. I love gardening and thought it would be ideal for me. It wasn’t. I felt foreign there amongst the people. People who were rude enough to ask “what mental health illness do you have?”. I didn’t really know how to cope with being asked such a question. After being asked that on two separate occasions, I’d had enough. The benefits did not outweigh the negatives.

I tried to get back into Shamanic drumming. I went quite a few times in the summer (after I’d gotten one of the cars repaired) and even bought my own drum. It was good but I think I overdid it. I went to too many events in one week and got overwhelmed. I tried to pace myself after that but it all sort of fizzled out for me.

I attended a few events in the summer and a couple in the fall. Most of them were good but left me drained afterwards and I had to spend a few days recovering. I had braved going to one event on my own by taking the bus as I didn’t want to be stressed about parking in the city center. It was great at first but that good feeling didn’t last. After trying my best avoid it, I was forced to speak to my ex. I didn’t want to but I can’t ignore people that speak directly to me – just not how I was raised. After that I saw 2 further people who I had no desire to acknowledge so I went home. Some might say I gave in but it was the better option for me at the time.

There have been some good times. Despite all this negativity, I won’t let it ruin the fun I have had and the moments I’ve shared with friends. My highlight of the year has to be being brave enough to go to London with the lovely Arianna to see the sexiest Ant to ever exist …

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At 63 years old, this man seems timeless. He is physically fit, vocals are perfect, high energy and to watch him live you really wouldn’t think he was more than 40 at the most! The band was ablaze, the walls vibrating and I was in ecstasy. Physically I paid for it for several days after but it was more than worth it. I didn’t want the night to end.

As mentioned, yet another walloping came from the DWP in December without warning. They cut my PIP benefit by £246 per month. A week before Xmas. I totally lost the plot. I went into crisis. I reached out to my support worker. He had to go to a meeting. I told him that I didn’t want to be here anymore (as in I didn’t want to exist). He rushed off to his meeting. He later apologised but for me the damage had been done. I had been sat staring at a blade as I spoke to him. Sat fighting all the immense desires to pick it up and cut. I think shock at being dismissed so casually is all that prevented me from giving in to the urges. Knowing I would be alone most of the holiday periods and that I would be changing medication during that time, he arranged for others to visit in his place – they call it “shared care”. I reiterated my anxieties over answering unknown calls so he agreed they would come to my house on set dates to be arranged.

On Friday 22nd, Chris visited and we made a plan on when I would be visited. The next two visits went fine. Then New Year’s Eve hit. I’d gotten upset in the morning and battled to just hold on until someone turned up. They didn’t. After 6pm, I rang the out-of-hours number. The man I spoke to apologised profusely but couldn’t explain why I’d had no contact. He made a note for someone to visit the following day. New Year’s Day. No one showed. No one attempted to even call. Again. Wednesday 3rd January, I texted Mark, my support worker to let him know the state I was in (I lost the battle with the blade) and what had happened. He replied he’d have them contact me – he’s off ill. Not that the guy can’t get sick but again his tone and words left me feeling fobbed off. No one has come. Still. No shared care visit or call. My “Care Coordinator” hasn’t even bothered to check on me. This has all lead to further depression, anger and isolation. If the people who get paid to pretend they care about you don’t bother then how can one even consider the possibility that others might/do. Trust has gone out of the window as far as the mental health team goes and it’s left me feeling in limbo. And I am stuck here. If I don’t carry on working with them then I have no help at all. This country’s mental health care leaves a lot to be desired.

Although it is now 2018, I view this as all part of last year. It has carried over. So much for cutting ties with 2017. I am being forced by circumstances beyond my control to bring too much rubbish into the new year. If nothing else, I must battled the DWP to restore my benefit monies. These things that, yes I have a choice on how I react and perceive them still have to be dealt with  in order for me to survive. Survival seems to be my word for the last who knows how many years and I am quite fed up with it. I am tired of just existing but no matter what I try, I can’t seem to break free. Perhaps this will be the year that I do. I must carry on clutching at any meagre straw of hope as I have done for several years lest I sink into total oblivion.

Goodbye and good riddance 2017 – I shall not shed a tear for you.

 

Psaryce x