It’s been a good week, for a few reasons.
The first is that hypomanic eBaying sometimes pays off, and bloody cheaply at that. I have wanted a rocking chair my whole life. ‘Tis a modest want (it being a rocking chair, it warrants a ’tis. Bring my vermooth), but they’re so damnably expensive that I leave “shabby chic” (i.e broken, scuffed and crap) furniture stores with tears pouring down my face. Not in sadness, you understand, but in rage that some people have that level of disposable income.
During my most recent Funny Turn I bid on a gorgeous (fake) leather rocking chair on eBay, thinking I could drag it on the tube from Kent. Which is stupid, really, given that:
a) I am about the size of a hermit crab and
b) I have the strength of the weedy, loser hermit crab that gets beaten up by all the other hermit crabs.
I won it (whoops) and for the princely sum of £20! So overjoyed was I that I sifted through similar eBay listings joyfully bellowing, “FUCK YOU!” at their absurd price tags.
I am not usually a Look What I Bought type person. Those sections in loathsome lifestyle Sunday supplements titled, “What I Bought This Week” make me want to headbutt their writers until death. Stop waxing idiotic about your fucking meaningless purchases you use to prop up your failing self esteem!
But… look what I bought this week!
It really makes my mentalist, “rocking back and forth in a room” a lot more glamourous. So far, I’m the only person who has reclined on it who has not had a snooze.
Even better was that I posted, “Er, fuck, seemed to have bought a chair in Kent, I have no idea how to get it back up here” on Facebook and my lovely fellow blogger Karita offered to pick it up for me! So not only did I have an excellent chair to sit on, I also had the opportunity to meet someone I have liked from afar for ages under quite strange circumstances. Nervewracking but hooray! I met her husband, too, and we chain smoked, talked about mentalism and had a gay old time. Marvellous!
(I thankfully didn’t win any of the more absurd shit I bid on).
The second reason this week has been a good one is that I spent a day in which I was social. Four people in one day! That’s good stuff. I also met someone who answered questions with human beatboxing, and that is…well, that’s just great. My best friend Stephen also wrote something lovely about me on his blog which almost made me cry. It is the second nicest thing ever committed to the internet about me; the first being someone on CaB remarking that I had, “nice tits”.
I haven’t been very productive this week but it was mostly due to lazily enjoying feeling fairly normal and getting out of the house.
I’ve been okay, and I think the reason why is that I’ve been sleeping regularly. Not a lot, and a few times I’ve had to take Seroquel to help (almost run out of them now) but still sleeping. Sleeping really seems to be the key for me. If I sleep too little, I go doolally, and sleeping too much very, very obviously impacts on my mood and makes me depressed. Last week, I panicked a bit because I had taken Lorazepam and Seroquel to calm down (this was at the tale end of the hyper episode, which turned to rage and me screaming and trying to kick the shit out of everything), and I slept way too much. I woke feeling desperate and suicidal, but I made sure I didn’t sleep the next two days, and it seemed to leaven things out.
All of this has pretty much confirmed in my mind that the initial diagnosis of bipolar rapid cycling was spot on. People close to me agree, there. I have huge mood swings for no discernible reason, which, when you boil it down, is it, really.
That said, I’m being offered no treatment- no DBT for borderline (my social worker doesn’t think it will be useful, she doesn’t think I have BPD), no medication (and I have always been too afraid of being bollocked to tell the doctor and social worker that my medications haven’t worked because I stopped taking them and didn’t tell them- yes, I know, sorry), so, hopefully, if I don’t go totally mental, I’ll still be discharged and see how it all goes. I think I should probably take some medication but am also wondering if I can manage it alone by being very careful in my sleep. I’ll try again for the next month, and if it all goes tits, I’ll hit the panic button, and we’ll see.
Thing is, though, I don’t seem to have many other problems these days. I hate saying that because it feels like I’m tempting fate. Which is bullshit but you can’t rid yourself of all superstition, even if you’re like me. I have massive mood swings that are fairly bastardy, but that’s about it. Everything else seems to have kind of shimmied away. No self harming, no crazy flip outs. I deal with everything in a far calmer way, am almost, in fact, unfazeable. I think I am, mostly, “healthy” mentally. Bad body image aside, but these days I make sure I eat (I was never a bulimic who binged, I threw up normal amounts of food. So not bulimic, but pa purger) and keep my fingers away from my throat. I’ve put on weight, but sighingly accepted that because I don’t fancy getting more dental work and seemed to damage my metabolism quite a bit with it all. I’m being, AHEM, mindful. Which helps. And going out with someone who has such a healthy attitude towards food and for whom it’s a huge part of their social life also helps. Robert is like a Mediterranean grandmother. I’d miss out on so much, and I don’t want to any more.
So, I wonder where I’ll end up? Well, on the streets sometime soon, if George Osbourne and Iain Duncan Smith have their way.
I’ve avoided writing about the budget because I begin to panic when I even think about it. I can barely bring myself to even read about it without wanting to spit in disgust. Reward the banks, penalise the poor. It’s not an attack on “benefits dependency culture”, it’s an attack on the sick and disabled. People screw the system and in these times we need the extra cash in the coffers. My problem isn’t so much with the idea of getting people off benefits- I want to work within the next year. It’s the ethos of it. The, “pull your bootstraps up” bollocks, the fact that the government basically blames a lot of sick people for their own problems. It’s as if they were reading the venom on HYS and thought, “My gosh! You’re right!”
As a mentalist on benefits, over the past few years I’ve felt under fire. I don’t read the comment pages on newspaper sites anymore for that reason. It makes me so uncomfortable that people out there view people like me in such a derogatory way. I’m scared of even posting the cost of that chair in case someone shouts, “HOW DARE YOU BUY ANYTHING OTHER THAN GRUEL WITH YOUR MONEY?” I did work, I worked my arse off until I was too sick to do it anymore. I’ve worked since I was seventeen, worked instead of getting an education because I had to support myself. At the moment, I’m still too unstable to work, but I want to. Anyway, it’s not people like me, is it? I forgot.
I had another IB50 form to fill in in March. Only last week I received notification that I met the threshold for incapacity, which means I don’t have to go to a medical. I was petrified of that- as I opened the envelope, my mouth dried, my heart started hammering through my chest wall. I’ve only ever been to one medical and so was so confidently crazy that the person performing it rang the Jobcentre to see why the hell I couldn’t get Incapacity Benefit and stated I should categorically not work. She seemed to have a mental health background, or at least, she was very knowledgeable upon it and believed I was manic. I still had to work as I didn’t have enough contributions due to years of temping. We all know how that ended.
I’ve heard so many horror stories of medicals. People I know have bought suicide kits to their appeals. And yet they’re getting harsher. I’ll definitely have to go to one early next year, when I’ll be moved over to the ESA. I am dreading it.
They talk about ending the “benefits dependency culture”, and yet they target DLA, a non-means tested benefit! It’s there to cover the extra cost of being disabled.
I’m in a strange age bracket where, if my DLA was taken away from me, I’d also lose my home. I receive the Severe Disability Premium because I get middle rate care DLA, and lower rate mobility. I have an indefinite award which means I’ve been judged ill enough that it’s likely I’ll still be ill in two years time. This is true; even though I am managing myself fairly well, the nature of my illness means it hits me out of nowhere. I didn’t exaggerate on my DLA forms, and that almost makes it more galling. I was telling the truth when I wrote that there are times I am so depressed I can’t get out of bed to urinate so I kept a pot close to the bed. I have indeed burned down four cookers due to my inability to concentrate. I have indeed propositioned strangers in the street. It’s all true.
I was happy when I received the indefinite award when I renewed it because, if you’ve ever done a DLA form, you’ll understand how bonecrushingly humiliating they are to fill in. I spend most of my day-to-day real life trying to hide the extent of my mental health problems. I’m open here, of course, but I am often reclusive for that reason. On those forms you have to go into the tiniest and most private details. Seeing on paper how rubbish you can be is upsetting. And doing it for monetary reasons is even more so. It’s emotional prostitution.
I’m under 25 so I can only claim enough Housing Benefit for a single room. Disabled people under 25 who receive the right benefit (Income Support and the Severe Disability Premium) are exempt from that rule, so, I live in a one bedroom flat, which puts me- and I’m aware of this- in an absurdly priveleged position. For people who have physical disabilities, the single room rule exemption means they have room for people to come and care for them, and for their various apparatus. In my case, it was helpful because my mental health problems made it difficult for me to live with people. When I did share houses, it was at the time when it was clear I was mentally ill, which got me into trouble and made it very uncomfortable. And also fairly vulnerable. At one of the points in which I was sharing, I was suffering from psychosis, hearing things and very paranoid, so I could barely get the courage to even leave the room and lived in fear. Having social phobia also did not help.
A one bedroom place frankly gives me the privacy to be as mad as I like, and also gives me the space to have people stay with me when I need it.
If I lost my DLA, I’d lose that. I don’t want to live on benefits forever. I never wanted them in the first place, but I needed them. I am dedicating what time I can properly use (i.e time not spent being mental and finding it impossible to focus) on writing right now, to put myself in stead for the future, and then I will come off benefits. If I’d never been able to claim them (and it looked like for a while, I wouldn’t be), I don’t know where I’d be right now. Homeless and dead, probably. Having a stable home has improved my situation tenfold. But that’s going to end for a lot of people too- the Housing Benefit cap will be set at £400 a week for a four bed house. That may sound like a lot, but consider families living in London. The rent here is ridiculous, and it’s not like families can just sticks and move somewhere cheaper when their kids are in school. Chuck the poor people into the cheap ghettos!
The crux of it is that the budget cuts aimed at sick, unemployed, disabled and poor is that it’s founded on suspicion and dislike. The assumption that you are dishonest, idle and inherently unworthy. It’s a Victorian, upper-class sneering attitude to take.
Where will the work come, and how will people will be to undertake it given the cuts to NHS services, particularly mental health services? In the smallest sense, my social worker confided in me that my psychiatrist had been so brusque, bad tempered and rushed at my last appointment because the cuts had meant that they were drastically understaffed. That appointment made me cry and has also made me fairly against the idea of seeing a psychiatrist again. That’s one tiny event caused by cuts affecting one person; in the future, access to services will be more difficult to obtain, and treatment is going to suffer. So how is the nation supposed to be healthy and well if they cannot find the treatment and support they need?
In short, bollocks to them all and I wish I’d pissed and shit on my vote then shoved it up Nick Clegg’s arse. I don’t even want to continue writing about it. I could have been all intelligent and academic, but nah, at the end of the day, I’m selfish and worried personally about what’s going to happen to me.
Filed under: Bipolar Disorder