It just doesn’t stretch, whatever I do

I’m scared I’m so close to everything falling apart. Financially. But it feels like everything.

I got an automated voicemail message from my landlord telling me I’m to call them urgently to discuss “ways we can help you to pay your rent”. They had closed by the time I finished work so I have to wait til tomorrow to call them and find out exactly what it’s about but I know it will be about my rent arrears. I doubt they will be “helping” me pay, somehow! I know the fact of having to call them doesn’t instantly change anything but I’m really panicking.

I was struggling already today, feeling very sad after a difficult 1:1 therapy session on Monday, a friendship having broken down and a few other things. After getting this message I just wanted to crawl under my duvet, cry, shut off, everything and nothing…and the urge to cut is very strong but I’m trying to resist.

Nothing is working out. I got into arrears last year when I lost my job, wasn’t paid notice and holiday pay as expected, and my housing benefit didn’t come through for 10 weeks. Working part time I’ve been entitled to some housing benefit but my claim has been messed up, suspended, altered back and forth from start to finish and I’ve had more periods of weeks with no money coming in. I’ve been paying my rent, with great difficulty, but not able to clear the arrears.

Now they have stopped my housing benefit because my salary has increased by a few pence per hour. This leaves me unable to meet even the tightest budget. I do not have enough money to cover the bare minimun of rent, council tax, bills like electricity, telephone, prescriptions, travel to the hospital, some access to the internet and food (let alone any other expenses like buying clothes when needed, any longer distance travel, or socialising). I’ve cut back as much as I can, especially on food. I don’t make proper meals, just toast, cereal and cheap snacks. It makes me feel awful (plenty of guilt for bad fattening food) but I can’t afford anything else.

I know the arrears are my responsibility and I have to pay. I feel panic and guilt every day over them. I know that in the past when very unwell I made poor financial decisions and was irresponsible with money, which has contributed to why I don’t have savings. So has the fact that I’ve been too ill physically to work full time at several points in the last 10 years.

Part of what is so upsetting is that I am now doing all I can but I still can’t stretch to cover the tightest budget or see any way to change things. I am pushing myself as hard as I can to keep going to work. It’s very difficult mentally – and I’m sad that it is so hard to do it but that is the situation I have to accept right now. It’s very difficult physically too. The pain I’m in from the fibromyalgia, arthritis and so on has been increasing since I started and each day it gets harder to do certain things (going up and down stairs, staying on my feet for lengths of time, etc) and if it carries on it’ll get to a point the pain is too much or I can’t stand long enough or something like that. I hoped if I kept pushing I’d get better at dealing with it but that isn’t happening and instead everything is flaring up.

I really want to keep working. I’m blessed with kind and happy colleagues, a caring employer, a creative environment, varied days, lots to learn and so many good things. Psychologically this job is so much less stressful than the legal secretarial work I couldn’t cope with. There’s so much that should be positive that I don’t want to waste.

However I’m in a situation that I just can’t cover day to day living going forward let alone clear the arrears I owe. It shouldn’t be a reason to give up but when things seem to be falling apart anyway, it’s harder to keep pushing through the physical pain and mental struggle to keep working.

I feel really trapped because with the rent situation alone I think I’m going to end up losing my flat. I know the landlord, being a housing association, has given me more time with the arrears than many other landlords would. A private landlord would have thrown me out ages ago. I know that’s another way I’m fortunate. It’s my responsibility but I don’t know how I can or will be able to pay.

Even if I could clear the arrears  I don’t know how I’d pay the rent going forward. If I can’t,  I don’t know where I’d live because I have no money for a deposit to rent privately. If I went back to renting a room as a lodger my mental health would crash downhill but at this point I would have to be grateful for anything. If I lose this place and end up homeless I’d lose my job. I might anyway if my physical health keeps going down.

It’s horrible thinking even if I get evicted and lose my flat, I don’t know how I’ll change my situation. It’s horrible that trying as hard as I can to do the work I can, I’m not able to live on what I earn and I’m assessed not to be entitled to any benefits despite this. I want to work as much as I can but I’m actually in a worse situation, it appears, than if I were not working at all signed off sick. My rent and council tax would then be covered by benefits. Not that that would help with the arrears but it would at least cover rent going forward. The system says it shouldn’t happen that you are worse off working than not, but it does. I’m actually put into a situation where doing the most work I can means I’m left with not enough to live.

I was referred well over two weeks ago to an organisation that would help me sort all this out and talk to my landlord. I was supposed to have been seen by them within two weeks. I chased up as I hadn’t heard, only to find out they said they had not received my referral from the support worker. It had got lost in the secure email system somewhere,  ironically. It has been sent to them again but now they are not likely to see me til after my operation.

I have no idea what to do. There are so many “if”s and a spiraling whirl of consequences that make it feel that everything’s already falling apart.

I don’t want to make out I have it harder than the next person. I know so many people are in this situation. I know I have to deal with it. It’s a time I wish someone could catch me when I’m falling like this but I know that’s nobody’s responsibility. I’m scared and everything’s already unravelling inside.i suppose I have to try not to listen to the spirals in my head until at least after I’ve spoken to my landlord tomorrow.

Ginny xxx

4 thoughts on “It just doesn’t stretch, whatever I do

  1. Hi. You don’t know me so feel free to ignore. As someone who’s BPD, history of ED and history of street homelessness in the uk, however unlikely it is I can, I’d like to try help with some suggestions. If you want me to go away, just ignore this. I’m not caught up on your blog at all (I’ve read some, but nowhere near all posts), but if you have a CPN, you should be under local mental health services. Jobs make it hard I know, but it’s on the council if you (as a ‘vulnerable’ person) end up homeless, regardless of jobs etc.. Have you got a mental health social worker? They’ve helped me multiple times. Your local mental health team have a duty of care to keep you safe. I know that in arrears is ‘optional homelessness’ (bullshit I know), but if you are under the umbrella of local mental health, the fact that you could end up homeless and therefore unsafe could lead to them having problems. They have to cover their backs too. I know this might all be super useless and maybe I’m well out of line and knowledge, but I’ve been evicted from council housing because of rent arrears and I’ve been rehoused etc., so I have some (limited and personal) experience in this. Lemme know if you think I can help.

    Be super awesome always,

    Ellie x.

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    1. Hi Ellie
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting and wanting to help. I am very new to your blog – I’ve only just come across it through a “like” here – and thought what a huge amount of experience you’ve had, of things far harder than I have I think. Absolutely don’t want you to go away! I’d love us to share experiences / thoughts and I’m really grateful to you for caring enough to want to help.
      I’m seeing my CPN on Friday for care coordination so will raise all this then. I’m seen in a personality disorder specific service. Unfortunately whilst the therapy I’m having there is very good (well good is the wrong word to use but you know what I mean!) the support I’ve had with these issues and when in crisis has been very poor. There is a social worker in the team but she basically told me I didn’t qualify for anyone to help me with anything like this and nobody would do things for me and everyone has problems with benefits! The most help I had was one meeting with a support worker who, though she was helpfully intentioned, knew less than me about the benefits system and couldn’t help me. I had to explain everything to her. I have had more help from a tenancy sustainment worker before. I’m being referred to a different tenancy sustainment service but there have been delays. In any case they won’t be able to change the amount of money I have coming in.
      I have felt for some time I need more supported housing as I’m not managing with this flat but again was told I don’t qualify.
      Anyhow. Thank you again. I’d be really keen to talk more. Is there any way we can send private messages on here, I’m not sure if you’d rather talk that way? I’m quite new to this sorry…
      Ginny xx

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      1. Firstly, that social worker you’ve dealt with sounds rubbish.
        Secondly, your care co (guessing CPN) should be the person to help with benefits.
        Thirdly, crisis teams really depend on who it is that turns up and what they know about. Some people are awesome and know exactly how to help, some people have no idea. Its a lucky dip essentially, and more often than not, that’ll wind up with you on the unlucky side.
        Fourthly (and finally), remember you can use the system to help you. That’s what it’s there for, even though it’s often deliberately obtuse. The only advice I can give is what’s worked for me, and that took time to get right (though some very bizarre shit came up that changed that), but no one wants the worst outcome if they reject a ‘vulnerable adult’ on their hands. I’ve wound up in supported housing, get seen by my care worker a few times a week and have someone to rep me when I see my care co (also a CPN).

        Feel free to email me at jolteonkillsit@gmail.com for more private chats.

        People are so often shit, but remember that working at their self interest often gets better results than if you approach it from your own. Don’t go guns blazing you’ll all pay at people, but remember that you are not the only case of your situation. Play up the worst possible scenario and make a point of saying duty of care a lot. And ask to see a different social worker. They are the ones that can house you, and (at least I’d hope) there are going to be some good ones.

        Also remember that a lot of people in mental health teams aren’t well educated in anything but bipolar or schizophrenia, which is understandable, but finding some quotes from the dsm etc. can help.

        Feel absolutely free to email,

        Ellie x.

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      2. I’m really sorry I never replied to this yet. Since my small op it has been a tough month. I really appreciate your comment and your support and I’m so sorry for being so slow. I’ll reply properly or email you in the next couple of days xx

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