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Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Prove it.

It's that time again. One of my least favourite times as a person living with depression and being in receipt of government benefits, it's time to stand in front of those who will not be fooled and prove the crazy. Answer the questions that will show them whether I am fit for work. In fact the way this is done has changed somewhere and today I received a questionnaire that I have to fill in and return, I can take a few days to complete it, in case it is difficult. The questions are clear and there are multiple choice answers.
Do you have trouble controlling your bladder or bowels? Yes. No. Sometimes.
Can you lift an empty cardboard box? Etc, choose one answer.
Can you lift a carton containing a pint of liquid ( eg Milk)
Can you reach and touch a top pocket when you are wearing the jacket?
Can you learn to do something new, like set an alarm clock?
Can you learn to do something more complicated like using a washing machine.
I think I'm in here, I can do ALL those things, clearly I should be out working, because I can lift an empty box, set my alarm clock to wake me up to put my pants that I have not shit in, in the washing machine that I learned to use ALL ON MY OWN!
 I am going to start looking for work in brain surgery or head office of Tesco because frankly, I see now that I am capable of most anything, there is not stopping me.
Apart from the fact that I can't stand to be around people, burst into tears when I go somewhere and forget how to drive on the way home and sit snot crying in a lay by because for the love of crazy what the hell? The so small it seems ridiculous to even mention point that I often, when feeling overwhelmed by huge tasks such as having to answer a question about oh, what now, oh, I know, anything at all these days, will find me answering with a bellowed "WHAT?!" that leave the questioner stunned or perhaps shaking wouldn't matter at all, would it?
 If say I had a job in Asda, or somewhere and a customer were to ask me where the high juice is and I bellow "WHAT?!" at them, would that matter? I mean it's not like I pee myself at all and I can easily remove a handkerchief from a top pocket even if I happen to be wearing the jacket or blouse at the time, so dexterous am I. I am beginning to understand the governments way of thinking because I think that matters. Shouting is OK, crying...go with it, release those emotions, do not release bodily fluids from anywhere but your eyes though and you'll be fine and also, if you can move an EMPTY cardboard box, you can practically restock the shelves at Sainsbury's single handed, couldn't you?
And, look, I an get places, I ran away even, didn't I? All the way to Plymouth, on my own without even worrying that I was going to crash. I took forever to get home though, what with all that forgetting to drive stuff. Did I even tell you about that? About how I was driving along the Embankment at tea time, which is rush hour of you work, tea time if you don't, because you may be ill, or depressed or just lazy and claiming benefits because it's so EASY to get money for nothing. So I was driving until quite out of the blue, I forgot how to drive and started to kangaroo and rev and stall and jump and WHAT THE HELL? But, BUT I was on the way HOME you see, so that wouldn't, in theory, stop me working, would it? As long as I could get there and get through the day, without forgetting how to control my bladder and retaining my ability to lift the carton containing a liquid, such as milk. It would be fine.
I've filled in the form and quite quickly too, I have included a copy of my impressive mental health testing, where I scored higher than the highest score because we must not be afraid of blowing our own mental health triumphs, or trumpets whatever the saying is.
It won't matter anyway because let's face it, I am still going to have to find my way to the latest office of choice where I will have to go in and speak to the very bored and probably semi retired doctor who is impartial ( my arse) and answer the questions about whether or not I can watch a TV programme and how many steps I can walk before I run out of breath and, if the past is anything to go by, the impartial doctor will write to the benefits agency and tell them that I am perfectly able to return to work because our government is excited to be helping people 'like me' back into the work force. People like me. They don't even know people like me. The very term is insulting. There are no other people like me. I am unique and no matter how far they look they are never going to find a whole group of people 'like me'
They will stop the incapacity benefit component of my benefits which, last time I looked, was about £30 a week and they'll add my number to some statistic and publish it saying that they have succeeded in increasing the number of people on benefits back to work. Which is a lie because I won't be back at work, I just won't be getting that benefit, until I go to tribunal and I sit in front of 4 people this time and I tell my story and they listen, instead of ticking yes or no answers on a set form. Then, if it goes the way it has every time before, they will overturn the decision of the Dr and they will tell me that I am not a liar and I am not a parasite on the taxpayers of this country and I am, indeed in capable of working. Then I will leave feeling relieved that I am not looked upon as a lower than low leech of British society but am an actual broken person who can't do every day things to support my family financially and I won't feel even a jot of satisfaction or pride. Just relief that it is over again, for now, until next time.
How much simpler would it be, for the government to write to my GP and ask her if she thinks I am capable of work, if she thinks that the unseen and unprovable sickness that is all in my head is genuine. How much kinder and easier and more effective would that be? Someone who is feigning depression would be so easily caught out if this were the way to check up on us all. Someone who is faking will not see their doctor when they cannot function another day without help. A scrounger wouldn't refill prescriptions, would they? I don't know, I can't fathom why anyone would do this if they didn't have to. When your mind works like mine it is easy to feel that this is secure, whatever money is coming in is regular and if you know how to live and budget you can do it, you know week by week what will be coming in and you do it. One week at a time.
If your mind works like mine you can't imagine ever doing anything better or bigger or braver because new things don't work out.
 Brave is getting up and breathing and  going through a whole day without making everyone else miserable. Brave is going out when you really just want to stay in, with the curtains shut and the phone switched off. Going out to work isn't brave, it's impossible to imagine and it's something to watch other people do with a sense of being amazed.
Usually, when I get the letters that tell me it's that time again, I start to think and worry, this time I feel like I can't even find the energy to do that. It is what it is, so what?
 I don't have the sense of burning indignation or a feeling that I must show that I am not faking it. Meh, let them think what they will and do what they will and I'll just keep waking up and breathing and putting one foot in front of another. 
H is away for a couple of days, I don't like it when he is away but I do like missing him. I like being reminded that he is as splendid as he is and seeing what he does every day that just is, all those things that we don't realise anyone is doing until they don't do them and I really love the feeling I get when he comes home.
I love H and I don't have to prove it.



Blogger Sara P. said...

And your friends love you... So much.

3:11 am  
Blogger Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

Ugh. I can't believe you have to go through this AGAIN!

12:20 pm  
Anonymous Gretchen said...

Let me be honest and tell you that while I don't understand completely what you're going through I do understand in the slightest way. My anxiety has reached levels where merely walking to the bus stop with the kids causes me to sweat, feel sick, and make me feel as though I want to run screaming back home. My anxiety regularly hits levels which tell me, as a broken record would, "turn the car around.turn the car cannot do this. turn the car around.". It is embarrassing for me. It is a situation that causes me to feel as though I am less of a person. To have to go and tell this to a tribunal of people would make me feel even more awful. I cannot imagine. It is hard enough to admit to others the amount and level of anxiety I have. Frankly, most people who've never experienced anxiety just look at you as if you're "special" and have the a look of pity towards me that almost makes me feel as though I need to shower. Yikes, I went off on a tangent there. Your way of sharing gives me strength sometimes Helen. I want you to know that. I love you so and wish that you didn't have to go through all of that. :(

5:21 pm  

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