Tag: PIP

Clearing out my flat and trying not to go out of my mind

I didn’t know it had been so long since my last post. Life is chaotic. Either I’ve been too low to write, dealing with flashbacks and triggers or scrambling madly to keep on top of more and more pressing demands.

Perhaps I’ve actually achieved quite a lot, with the unending support of my fiancé. We had to put in a “mandatory reconsideration request” with the DWP for his Personal Independence Payment (PIP), including a lot of extra information and details of everything they had got wrong in their report about him. This meant a huge amount of research and writing. In itself it was a daunting task. There were others we tackled this past fortnight too. Perhaps I should feel pleased we did it. Instead I just feel exhaustion, anxiety and upset (at the lies in the DWP’s report and the ramifications for us of his PIP being cut). If I could feel some sense of achievement I’d feel more thankful and encouraged; I’d see how God is leading us step by step. When despite hard work there is still a maze of uncertainty and upset and no conclusion to the situation – in this instance, we have to wait indefinitely to hear back from the DWP as there is no timeframe within which they have to respond – I find I can’t see what we have achieved. Even when others can and are optimistic.

This month several notably positive moments got lost in the anxiety and depression and desperate hamster-wheeling to meet deadlines. For instance I had a couple of great psychology sessions at the hospital. I need to take the time to build up from that.

Meanwhile as a way to try not to lose it completely I’ve been clearing through my flat – again – putting everything I can for sale this time. I haven’t sold as much as fast as I’d hoped but it’s better than nothing. At least it feels like I’m adding a little more to our savings for our future. Listing items for sale online takes more time than I’d expected, accounting for photographing, pricing, listing, checking postage and keeping on top of enquiries.

I signed up to eBay which I haven’t used for some years. It’s been helpful and I’ve sold a couple of things, as well as buying a couple of cheap smaller size clothes I needed as I’ve lost weight. However straight away I am faced by constant temptation to buy things I don’t need, or binge spend when I’m low. I’m worried what I might do if I shop on there when I’m “gone” (when I’m dissociating) and I spend impulsively, taking me back to the state I was in when I shopped and shopped and accumulated bags of things I didn’t recognise or recall buying. It would be worse to fall into this now when it’s not just me but my fiancé’s life that would be affected. I need to put some safety measures in place.

Ginny xxx

Sleepless at the latest precipice on our path – PIP, and hospital

I so want to be asleep right now but my brain’s awake with useless whirring energy. This week has seemed so long already. My partner was admitted into hospital on Monday night after a fall and worrying symptoms. He was “only” in til Tuesday evening and thankfully is now safe at home but more question marks are hanging over his complex health difficulties right now. We feel so lost navigating the way through to get him the treatment he needs and cope with the process.

On top of this we found out today – through a text message he received whilst he was in hospital – that a big chunk of his PIP (a Benefit paid to people with disabilities) has been taken away following a review he had a few weeks ago. No warning, just stopped; just a text message with no details and no support. We are waiting for the letter detailing the decision. It seems crazy as his condition has worsened so much since his last assessment but it was what I feared would happen, because of my own prior experiences with PIP assessments. This is what seems to happen to so many claimants. With this cut, he will lose his car, because he has it through a mobility scheme tied to the component of PIP they’ve taken away from him. We are both dependent on the car to get anywhere. I will now be housebound except for when I can afford door to door taxis as I am too physically disabled to reach the bus stop and can’t manage on and off a bus without help. He will be in a similar situation. I don’t know how we will get to his almost daily hospital appointments. £25 – £30 per day on taxis there and back is impossible on our budget. I don’t know if we will qualify for hospital transport. Thankfully there are a few weeks before the car is taken away. We can appeal the decision on his PIP but I doubt a new decision will be made before we lose the car. His other Benefits may well also be affected because the rates paid are linked to receiving a certain rate of PIP or not.

So at a time when my partner is already under utmost pressure and stress with his physical and mental health, a legal case relating to one of his injuries, anniversaries of painful bereavements and traumas, finances, and multiple problems involving lies and deceit from people we placed trust in (leading to the collapse of several projects that we so hoped would bring stability and security to us and another family member and the apparent loss to waste of hundreds of hours of work) – now this. Now that one bit of security is gone.

It is hard to know how to carry on. It is hard to know where to get the emotional and physical energy to do what we have to do. I don’t know how to act or respond seeing the person I love suffering, hurting, being treated terribly, being let down and abandoned. My brain kicks into gear with the adrenaline in some way and buzzes with lists of what we have to do now, different outcomes and scenarios. But my emotions can’t keep up. Nor does my physical body. Right when my partner most needs me and I most want to be there.

It feels as though we are trying to find our way on a path through a jungle. Each side of us is dense vegetation and tall trees we cannot see through. We work our hardest at following the path, staying on the path, walking onward. We cannot see far ahead as there are always blind bends. Beyond each blind corner we don’t know how the track may twist or split. Even trying to be prepared for each possible eventuality isn’t enough. There’s always a stone, a thick fog, a sudden precipice you couldn’t see. Worse still, sometimes there are gaps in the foliage and you see through to sunlight and in the distance, a view stretching ahead of a safe and beautiful place. You work out the route you need to take on the rocky path you’re on right now, to reach that place, and your steps are a little lighter. Then without warning, a branch bends down from the trees surrounding you, coils round your middle, it drags you high in the air, spinning, crushing you, and then flings you as hard as it can and you fall back into the jungle again. Any sign of the safe place is gone. You find yourself beside another path but you have no idea what path it is; certainly it’s no longer the one you had worked so hard to follow.

It’s hard to keep on getting back on the path and you lose hope that any of the paths really lead out of the jungle. You almost know that the moment you think of the beautiful place, a branch will grab you and fling you as far away as possible from everything that have you hope.

That’s what it feels like. It’s self indulgent to express it but that’s what it feels like. Focusing only on our pain does no good, but that’s what it feels like.

We do still have homes. We do have the chance to appeal this decision. We can choose hope. We can do all we can to save money. We have so much more than many people and our lives are so different together. I can at least be here always, for my partner. We can trust that Jesus is with us, beside us, reaching for our hands.

I just needed to get it out tonight. Thank you for listening.

Ginny xxx

Hitting when you’re already down…

I really don’t want to talk as if I think the state or the world owes me something. It owes me nothing. However it does hurt when it seems that the systems that are supposed to help you actually hit you down hardest when you most need help.  On its own it shouldn’t be a big thing but when it seems to be the norm it gets too much on top of being ill already.

Recently I claimed for tax credits (for readers from abroad or who otherwise don’t know, this is a small benefit paid to those who are working but on a low income, have children, or have disabilities).

I had first claimed in Spring last year and my claim was rejected before they had even gathered all the information needed. I was so ill at the time I just let it go. I claimed again since starting my new job in November, because I am working part time on a very low salary. The first step is to fill out a form online to request a claim form, then to wait up to 2 weeks to receive the actual claim form.

Monday, I received an email saying that I am already in receipt of tax credits and if I believe this is not true, call this (expensive) number. I called this number and asked to be called back as the call was so expensive for me since I had no landline (can’t afford more bills) so had to call from a mobile. They refused and said they have no facility in the building to make outgoing calls, which I found very hard to believe.

I explained that I am not in receipt of tax credits. I was told that I do have a tax credits award and the award is nil. Right, so I’m not in receipt of tax credits. Yes, you have a tax credits award and the award is nil. Sigh….this could go on for a while. .. eventually I persuaded them to take the details of my change in circumstances. Then the operator’s computer froze so he transferred me to another operator without explaining any of the background and I had to repeat the entire process again. By this time I’d been on the call for about 30 minutes.  They repeatedly asked the same questions and did not listen to my answers. I repeatedly told them I couldn’t afford this call and needed to be called back. I have a few pounds a day to live on and the call had taken just about all my food money for the week. The operator actually told me that because my phone bill does not arrive for a week or two they hadn’t cost me anything! At this point even I could not quite believe their determination to prove they had no responsibility for anything.

Then came to trying to claim for the disability element of tax credits.  I was told that I wasn’t entitled unless I was already in receipt of PIP. I knew this was wrong – that is only one of the qualifying conditions. Online and paper documentation I had when I made my claim made this clear. The operator refused to budge. I insisted to speak to a manager. 5 minutes on hold. …

The manager immediately contradicted what the previous operator had said. But still insisted they would not consider the disability element unless I was in receipt of PIP. I pointed out that he, his colleague, the online and paper documentation each said something totally different, so I needed to know which was the case. He threatened to terminate the call and told me I was making things very difficult.

I suspect I was making it very difficult for him to continue reading from his script without listening to what I was actually asking…. :/ 😦

Then I had to insist that he give me a straightforward answer – was it essential to be in receipt of PIP as he was saying, or was the written information around having a disability which puts you at a substantial disadvantage getting work, correct?  He refused to answer and put me on hold. When he came back on the line he read a lengthy script about the qualifying conditions which confirmed that all the information I’d been given up to that point was wrong. Had I not insisted to this point, I would have been assessed incorrectly for the benefit. I still believe I will be assessed incorrectly because when I tried to tell him the reasons I qualified for the disability element and to ask what proof they needed of this, he talked and shouted over me and forbade me to speak otherwise he would terminate the call. 

By the end of this process I had been on the phone 55 minutes to a cost to me of £25. I still had not been able to get an answer as to how to submit the documentation that would support my claim (and that would have supported the claim I had been rejected for last year, had I only been given the opportunity to provide it). I had been given different information about eligibility from each person I spoke to and from all the written information I had.

By the end of the call I was so distressed, panicked, angry, for seeing yet more financial problems …. this was the very last straw this week and I couldn’t cope anymore. I went home, cut and took a handful of pills, not enough to try to end it, though that was what I wanted at that time, but in order to make it stop and knock me out. All through the next day I didn’t leave the sofa and took more pills to sleep.

Stupid and childish not to be able to cope I know but there really comes a point you can’t go anymore and when you meet obstruction even where you should be able to get help you’re entitled to, sometimes you just crumble.

Ginny xx