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 …
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.