Tag: rent

Crashing

This is a hard post to write.

I have not been coping physically with my job for a long time. I have really tried to ignore this. Since I started it made my pain levels worse and ever since they have kept increasing. I kept hoping it would at least stop getting worse and maybe that I’d get better at coping with it. I wanted to be able to do it. Be some kind of normal. My job sometimes helps me mentally, engaging in something creative and focusing on helping customers and giving the best service I can. It takes my focus outward which I’ve long believed is really important in staying well. The tactile aspects of my work, handling the different fabrics and trying to create attractive displays, can in themselves be grounding and soothing. Additionally, it’s an area where I can try`to do some good and not feel useless. (I know that’s something I need to work on, how connected my sense of worth is with others’ outward perception of me, but I can’t deny it helps for the time being.)

Now I’ve come to the point of crashing completely. In the last 3 months in particular my pain and physical weakness has increased faster. Since around the time of my operation I guess marked a real down-turn physically and it was to be expected really that  my fibromyalgia symptoms will be worse for a while afterwards. Everything is worse really, my back problems (I had a slipped disc years ago), arthritis…

I know I haven’t really talked about it so maybe this sounds weird. Whenever I talk about my physical health I worry it all sounds stupid, nobody would believe me, I’m a fake and I should just get on with it and everything’s my fault. (There’s a lot I have to work on there too, I know.)

I feel like I’ve crashed suddenly. Gradually it has got harder and harder to – move, to put it bluntly…  Getting harder to get through the day….harder to be able to get home, having to sit and rest, and crumpling as soon as I get in, lying down most of the evening… Today I have had to spend most of the day lying down. Pain and shakiness in my legs makes any standing and walking really hard. My legs are cramping and jerking out of the blue. I can’t feel in my right foot normally and at the same time the pain is really bad through my lower back and hips, worst on the right… I’ve had all this before although not as bad, but I am very scared right now. I feel scared and shaky and lost and so tired. I slept a lot today too. My support worker came this morning and I was so tired I was struggling to literally get words out.

So I find myself admitting again that I am probably going to have to leave this job. The physical deterioration from trying to meet its demands is too much. I have tried to look into reducing my hours but it does not look as though this will be possible. I;d have to massively reduce them in any case. My manager has been kind and understanding in her approach but has to follow the sickness absence procedures set down by the company. Since I have been off sick 4 times within a 6 month period, this is flagged as a problem. I can well understand that it is not fair to colleagues to be off too frequently and I know myself that I am struggling more and more with daily tasks, which is increasing my anxiety and in turn my psychotic thoughts and my fears about what colleagues are saying and thinking about me and making it harder to cope with the hallucinations and all the mental struggles of every day.

Outside of work the effect is great too. Not only are the pain and mobility problems an issue, but I have no energy or coping resources left to manage day to day tasks like keeping my house clean, keeping in touch with people, doing positive things to bring a balance to life outside work, or perhaps most importantly right now, giving the energy to therapy and recovery that I need to. The months I have left with the PD service are precious and working on making use of my individual and group sessions is demanding. I want to be mentally “present” for it, not shut off protecting myself because I’m desperately trying to cope with pain and utter exhaustion.

I’m going to be referred to Occupational Health so I await to see what they will suggest.

ergonomic occ health

I also have to follow my doctors’ and my support worker’s advice. I believe they would all prefer me to reduce my hours. My support worker definitely thinks so.

The one thing that ironically, in a twisted way makes this situation possibly not quite so bad, is that I may actually not be worse off financially working fewer hours or not working at all. I want to talk about this more in a separate post shortly. It’s a bizarre situation that doesn’t sit well with me. At the moment I am struggling in pain and making myself physically worse every day, working part-time, earning just above the minimum hourly wage.  I receive less than £10 per week help towards my rent, I am not entitled to any help at all with things like council tax*, and although I was initially assessed as eligible for a small amount of tax credits, this decision has now been changed and I have been told that I am not entitled to any.  Now, I strongly believe that it is morally right to work as much as I can and not to expect to receive handouts when I could be earning myself. However, what I cannot get away from is that on my current earnings whilst I am working as many hours as I can (well, I have to admit now, more than I can) I cannot live. I do not have enough to cover basic bills and simple living costs and I would not be getting by if it were not for regular help from my family and even occasionally my very good friend who has lent me money for grocery shopping when money has been tightest.

Not only can this situation not go on – I am over 30 now and I simply cannot go on needing financial help from my dad; I have to support myself – but the cost of this job physically is just too much to go through to still not be able to live. It is painfully ironic that because if I were not working or were working fewer hours, for example for a few months or so whilst I complete my therapy, my financial situation would actually be more stable because of the greater help I would get towards rent and living costs. That makes me really really uncomfortable and it isn’t right. Yet I have to be able to live.

It isn’t the main factor that has led me to this point. If I were coping physically I would keep going and if I could I would see if I can increase my hours. But I’m forced to accept that just isn’t so and physically things are not good right now.

I feel really worn out and vulnerable right now. The last time I was so low physically, about 7 years ago, I didn’t feel so afraid or sad. I wonder why that change has come. Perhaps I feel more responsible now. Perhaps I am sadder about potentially leaving my job because there are aspects of it that I genuinely like this time. Perhaps I feel more of a failure that this has happened again.

I need to focus on the good things that could come out of it if I do have to leave. My health problems are not life threatening or anything that serious and so many people are going through much worse, much more medically severe, perhaps without friends to help them and understanding doctors. In moments I can see that there can be ways that in the next few months I can try to turn things around.

I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. Tonight I just needed to get all this out and admit that I’m scared.

Thank you for listening. I can’t imagine where I would be right now without this blog and the support of you lovely people who read and care and comment. There’s so much more I should say on that. I hope you know how much you mean to me. Hugs xxx

Ginny xxx

(*apart from the 25% single person occupancy discount. For non-UK readers, council tax is a roughly monthly fee payable towards local government spending like policing and other emergency services, refuse collection, some elements of care for vulnerable people, etc. Most working adults pay council tax. The amount payable depends on the value of the property you live in.)

Image not mine, sourced on the ever useful Google – I am afraid I do not know the artist (it says in the top left I believe but I was not able to expand it to read it.

Not my day off

Today has been demanding. It’s one of those days that seems too much to have been only one day. I got big stuff done but also I’m losing time in unsettling ways and I know I was dissociating a lot between the different tasks and meetings I had to do, slipping out of being engaged with what’s going on and what I’m feeling and struggling to come back. Nevertheless I got through quite a few challenges.

Last night I knew I needed to tidy and clean my flat. My support worker was coming today. Also I hadn’t been on top of the housework since my operation and it was bothering me more and more. Recently I’ve started to find a greater sense of order and calmness if I don’t have too many things disorganised around me. This is interesting because til now, I’ve tended towards accumulating things I don’t need and not being able to keep my house ordered, not exactly hoarding but not being able to face items and paperwork and household tasks without going into panic.

Yesterday I was very anxious about today but put some of the physical drive from the anxiety into cleaning and then went on to clearing out some of my cupboards. By late evening I’d cleared 7 big bags (between rubbish and charity shop) and set 3 more big bags of things to try to sell at a car boot sale. The fact I don’t have a car for the boot element of that plan is potentially problematic 🙂 but there are the odd few table-top, largely indoor, sales in community centres / church halls here in the summer and I’m hoping I can find one to join in.

Today was a struggle to get up. Everything hurt. Still, I got together the papers I needed to show my new support worker (more on this tomorrow), then it was off to my care coordination appointment with my CPN. This wasn’t easy to go to because, although my last appointment was okay, in the two previous appointments I’d been really distressed and felt I didn’t get heard when I was desperate and at risk. Today’s appointment was actually really good. We looked at some DBT skills and we did a review which was overdue (every 6 months or so is a review appointment). I’ve not yet felt able to discuss with my care coordinator exactly what went wrong in the difficult appointments earlier this year when everything was going to pieces. I’m scared I’d lose control and the feelings of anger and not being believed would return and I’d do bad things and be back where I was. However my care coordinator and I have managed to move forwards having 2 positive appointments. I was scared after what I’d done – how upset and angry I’d got – he wouldn’t believe me or want me anymore and they’d know how bad I am and that I didn’t deserve help. That hasn’t happened. That’s something that I don’t usually get to experience.

Straight after my care coordination I met my support worker, H., who is from a housing support charity I was referred to recently. He is going to help me sort out my benefits like Housing & Council Tax Benefit, Tax Credits and disability benefits,  as well as liaising with my landlord about the rent arrears that I got into when I lost my job last year. It was a long appointment. We went through the background to how I’d got here, financially and in terms of my health, and we looked at lots of documentation, my income and my benefit and Council Tax notices. This took a lot out of me and I came so close inside to panic and losing it and emotions shooting too high. H. was very calm and non judgemental, which helped a lot. (More on this in the next couple of days.)

Then I had to rush to my GP appointment, which was the first since I’d been very distressed and angry at the surgery a couple of weeks ago;  also the first since my operation and finding out endometriosis isn’t actually the explanation for my pain and gynae issues. I’m still working through what happened in today’s appointment. I was dreading going into the surgery because I’m still terrified of what I did and how much I lost it. I was ashamed and embarrased and knew that they probably didn’t want me around again. I knew I’d really upset and inconvenienced and disturbed people. I’d scared people. That’s the worst thing,  the harm I caused, the bad I’ve always feared getting out of me. Talking to the GP  and discussing what happened and then also talking about my physical health was really emotionally charged.  It’s hard trying to deal with a lot of uncertainties about my physical symptoms. I know not having endometriosis is a really good thing but not having any explanation for all the things I thought it explained, and the fact the doctor isn’t really interested any more in investigating what may be wrong – well, that’s hard and triggers all my fears that it’s all in my head, I’ve made it up or I’m mad, it’s my fault. …

After the GP it was off to the pharmacy with my prescription, then finally home.

It’s been quite a day. I had a soothing bath tonight. Today was the first day I could have a bath since the operation (don’t worry I promise I did still wash 😉 !). The doctor sealed the wound with dissolvable stitches so it was important not to soak them in water too soon or they could have come undone. Also it was not safe to try to get in and out of the bath whilst my mobility was further reduced with post op effects. Falling is a risk for me anyway because of the problems the fibromyalgia and arthritis cause in my legs. So, tonight was a good little relaxation and refreshment. The little things do help!

How has your day been?

Ginny xxx

 

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

Is that an absinthe with your coffee? – These fragile little changes.

Is that an absinthe with your coffee? – These fragile little changes.

Wednesday was a really difficult day. I had come back from my stay with my friend and my goddaughters and started to have a glimmer of the thought that perhaps, mentally I was feeling a little bit better for the first time since well before Christmas. I wanted to hang onto the good that the weekend with my friend had given me.

In what has become a frustratingly typical pattern, as soon as I began to take hope in this and the idea that I had a rest day to recuperate before going back to work the next day…. bang went that one.

First I got a letter about my Housing Benefit. Somebody thinks I earn nearly £300 per week and therefore they have stopped my housing benefit. My claim had already been suspended for several weeks whilst they recalculated the (clearly extremely complex – ahem!) change to my income caused by the fact that I am working 2 more hours each week. So I have been receiving no benefit whilst waiting for the decision to be made, and hoping to receive a payment. Now they have stopped it completely so I have nothing. £300 per week coming in would certainly be nice but certainly is not true! I have no idea where they got that figure from. It’ll be another trip to the Housing office on Tuesday to try to sort this mess out.

Then I spoke to the CPN working with the Victim Support services. She had been meant to call me a month previously. I am still too upset about what she told me and how she handled things, to be able to write very much about it. Basically she still flatly refused to help me or even in her terms “signpost” me to support.  The Personality Disorder Service have given her the impression that they are doing trauma work with me and meeting all my needs, which is just absolutely untrue. They are not, they have told me they have no intention of doing it, and they are not helping me access the services that would do it. She continued to block me at every turn as I tried to suggest ways she could help me.  Apparently I am just not allowed to have the support any other victim of crime would receive, just because I have a personality disorder, and apparently, everyone thinks this is fine and wonders why I’d need any help with the nightmares, hallucinations, flashbacks, panic, etc, etc…

I was in complete distress after that call. Once again, I felt as if I’d been tricked into trusting someone, brought to the edge, cut open, left as raw as possible (going through the inevitable distress of making the statement and reliving the memories and the vulnerability of having started to trust somebody to be there), then kicked, ridiculed, not believed and rejected. It was like going through being a victim of someone’s abuse and deception again.

Something inside me was different this time. Something resisted the instant urge to cut and cut til the noise stopped and overdose to freeze everything out and enter the safe, numb world and preferably lose consciousness. Perhaps there was some little thing inside me, built up during the weekend with my friend, or built up from the strength of having resisted self-harming for several days, and the grace and mercy of my God. This time I decided to make it different.

I didn’t shut myself away. I stayed outside and walked. I went to a cafe I know I like and that feels safe. I ordered a coffee (it’s the best coffee there, in my opinion) and the suspicious green concoction pictured. No, it isn’t absinthe 😉 don’t worry. It’s a very refreshing drink made from almond syrup, mint syrup, ice and very cold water. Odd, I know. LS., my favourite barrista there, invented it. Anyhow… so I ordered my coffee and I sat and wrote down everything I was feeling about what the CPN had said and how I’d been treated by her and all the wrong information that had been passed from the PD Service and other sectors of the mental health trust. I sent the PD Service and email to say that I would now be making a formal complaint. I also sent them another email requesting in writing the discharge summary / care plan and letters they have so far refused to allow me a copy of.

I went and got my nails done. I went home and made myself some food for dinner. Okay it was only cooked frozen veg and chicken with considerable assistance from Captain Birdseye*. But it’s the thing most reminiscent of cooking myself an evening meal that I’ve done since autumn. After dinner I didn’t binge-eat. I had some more coffee and I made several greetings cards. (Hand making cards is a hobby of mine when I’m feeling more well.) I took the proper dose of my tablets and I slept. I had nightmares and had to move back to the sofa half way through the night, but at least I slept in the bed for a little while.

So, you see, I did what I could to break the pattern and keep some strength going and not resort to only what hurts me most. Instead of cutting and cutting the hurt into myself, I wrote it all out on paper. Instead of imploding I started to take action, beginning my complaint. Instead of agreeing with the voices shouting ugly, evil, liar, etc, I pushed them away and did something nice for myself and something nourishing. Instead of letting the destruction going on in my head take hold, I tried to create something positive and pretty.

Here’s to these little changes.

Ginny xxx

[*For those readers not from the UK – “Birdseye” is a popular brand of frozen / part-prepared meat and fish products; Birdseye fish fingers used to be advertised by the character of “Captain Birdseye”]

Financial disaster again

Financial disaster again

Disaster is a strong word, I know, but it’s what it feels like right now. I know that many people have suffered and struggled with far more and I am fortunate that I do not have my own family to support – no partner, no children – it is only me, otherwise this would be hundreds of time worse.

I had to leave my last job for my health. I could no longer cope and I was getting daily bullying, harassment, intimidation, pressure, then was told I was completely useless anyway. I tried to make a choice to stop my health deteriorating further and to enable me to keep on going to my therapy sessions. I hoped it would be a choice for the positive. I was so so thankful when I was able to find another job quickly. Although it was much lower paid I could do part-time hours that I needed and I thought it would at least give me a chance. I was just starting to hope again.

Mistake.

Wrong again.

Why haven’t I learned my lesson by now?

I found out last night that instead of the nearly 1 month’s pay I was expecting next week, I will get just 1 week. They have some strange system for temps of pay being at least 2 weeks behind everyone else, and something I don’t understand about different cut-off dates according to when you start for when you get paid. Apparently you get the pay you’re missing at the end of the temp contract. I assume so that if you leave without giving notice they can withhold it.

Even my manager didn’t know about this and couldn’t believe it. I am very thankful and appreciative that she phoned payroll and tried to get things sorted out for me, or an advance. She really did much more than I would expect a manager too. It isn’t really her problem. But payroll flatly said there was nothing they could do.

So now I have the prospect of living on 1 week’s pay until the end of December, which evidently is impossible. Rent? Council tax? Electricity, gas and water bills? Food? Travelling to my hospital appointments? And let’s just pretend to forget that Christmas is coming up and I have nothing to give some of my family or my godchildren! It was already a total pardon-my-French mess because I was paid only Statutory Sick Pay when I was signed off in my old job, and wasn’t told this until after the event, so I didn’t know to claim Housing Benefit as soon as I should have done.

I had just climbed out of debt and now I will be straight back in again – overdraft? Applying for credit cards? I don’t know. That would be the best case scenario. I do not know how I’m going to live. I’m already eating rubbish because things are so desperate financially, trying to live on coffee and toast and whatever I can find in the pound store.

This really was the last straw last night and I was completely wrecked. It had been awful already before this. Just as soon as there was a tiny bit of hope it was smashed away again, like God and the world is saying, how dare you hope, how dare you think you can have anything good, you don’t deserve it, you’re dirt.

I was put through to a support line and there may perhaps be a possibility of a loan until next month, but if it were all to be paid back next month I have no idea whether it would help or just postpone the same situation happening again next month.

I was distressed at work (in private) after this was all dropped on me – none of it was explained before I started work and even my manager didn’t know. I know I’m fortunate to possibly be in a situation of getting help from my employer and not many people would have that assistance. But I just don’t know.

And the support service were helpful and did seem to appreciate some things when I explained my situation but they also said if you think you want to be kept on you will really have to prove yourself, perhaps they will forgive you this time for having a meltdown but if you ever let it happen again there are any number of people standing beside you, if you aren’t strong or if you have any time off your job will be taken away and given to the next person. This was the support team, not my manager, and they do not actually have any say on my performance or whether I have a job or not. I already thought and knew the things they said but it did make it even more painful and anxiety provoking to have it spelled out by another person who is there to provide support.

I wonder whether it’s worth going on. Is it just postponing ultimate complete disaster? I should be more thankful and hopeful but I’ve really run out of strength. I really needed something to hope in.

Ginny xx