So! An update in handy pocket format.

In the past week, I’ve had quite a few requests for a, “What is going on with you, woman?” update.  I had written a rather long, verbose post.  But instead, here’s the HANDY DIGEST!  Contains embarrassing information.

  • Quite a lot has changed.  This is actually an introductory sentence, not a bullet point, but I feel it would be shivering and sad had I not awarded it the status of
  • bullet points like this.
  • And this.
  • First of all, I wish I could retract my Guardian article about the transformative wonderfulness of Personal Budgets/Direct Payments.  After five months of waiting, after being told, “M’lady, it’s all in hand.  Educate thyself.  Just pay for all your books and such like”, it turns out that I actually owe everything. I have no funding- none- for my Certificate of Higher Education course.  I’m not sure what exactly happened, but they seem to count disability living allowance as income.  Thus, I pay £160 a month for the next twelve months, leaving me not only seven months in arrears, but broke.  I can’t afford it.
  • My social worker is spitting, but alas, from the distance of her holiday right now so I’m not sure what’s happening.  She is furious.  She has sent a raging email, that uses- hark!- the words, “inhuman” and “illegal”.  She said that this was my route out of a life of benefits dependency.  My heart sank and cracked when I read the words, and shrivelled when I realised that they were true.  She’s also citing my mental-improvement, given that I have something to focus on and be careful and well for, and how I’ve been doing (I’m not being modest.  I’m proud of this.  My first module mark was 74%, and that’s the module one of a first year degree, and I know that’s good for someone with the Seven GCSE qualifications) I’ve been doing.  I have worked my considerably sized arse off for this.  It’s given me something to talk about and think about rather than my own tiny microbe life which consists of just trying to get through the day.  I don’t know what to do.  I’m on my second module and struggling because of
  • depression, not just mine.  I’m rubbish on both counts.
  • It’s also physiology.  The aforementioned depression-not the sedate, serene kind- is making it very difficult to concentrate and remember things.  I’m also just a bit of on the d-d-d-dense side of this topic.  It fascinates me, but I find the scratchy, unfriendly numbers and alien words hard to relate to.
  • At this point, I don’t know if I can continue my course. It has knocked my motivation.  I often feel it’s pointless, and I’m waiting to be chucked off, to be called out of class and told I have to go home.  I feel like I don’t deserve to be there, because I’m scrappy and skint and I am ashamed of it.  I already felt like a pathetic charity case.  Now- what am I now?
  • I can’t afford any of that money.  I couldn’t anyway, but I especially can’t now because
  • From next month, DLA will comprise the entirety of my income.   I’ll no longer be claiming any out-of-work benefits.  The reasoning for this is simple- my tenancy ended at the same time as my boyfriend’s.  His ended favourably.  Mine ended on the terms of my delightfully crooked landlord, who said I could stay on, providing he raise the rent of my tiny flat that doesn’t have any door handles by almost £300 a month. In the immortal words of Michael Hilland: AYE YER MA.
  • So, we decided to move in together.  We love each other, really, quite a bit.  We spend all our time together.  We are siamese.  There is also the fact that sometimes, I’d like to feel like a real human being, in a real home, and not the last-ditch-shit-better-let-this-out hovels I end up in because of my circumstances.  I want- very much- to just live with the person that I love, like, y’know, a couple.  It’s something I’ve never written about here.  But it is so incredibly important to me to have a home.  I need one stable vein running through my life.  I need to be able to sleep and retreat.  We want our lives to be together, and we’re happiest that way.
  • I’ve f0und somewhere to live.  Robert has a job-not one that could support us, but it’s a job he works over 16 hours a week in. This means I wave goodbye to my benefits, aside from DLA.  I think- although I’m not sure- that I can claim enough housing benefit to cover most of my rent.  The rest, and my share of council tax, will be paid by my DLA.  And, after that, there’s my money to live on.  It’s not much, at all.
  • I made this decision after a lot of ARGH FUCK.  It is worth it.  I’ll find some way to get money.  I feel assaulted by the government recently, like many others in worse positions than me.  I almost don’t care if I am too poor to eat, if I can’t finish my course because I can’t pay for it.  I don’t want to be at their mercy.  Whatever happens happens on my head- my neck, my own lovely guillotine.  I hate waiting for the chop. I am happier being the one with her hand on the lever.  I’m sick of looking over my shoulder.  I’m sick of feeling a lurch in my stomach whenever I check the post.  I know that even if I have a breakdown right now, the outcome will be the same. I’ll lose my benefits anyway.  Here it is.  It is in my hands. On my head.
  • Students, slow handclap thanks.  You’ve had the biggest platform imaginable and for the most part peddled your own agenda.  We would have appreciated some solidarity at the protests against welfare reform that are resulting in suicides and will result in homelessness and mental disintegration across the country.  Please just show some support, eh?
  • So, we’re in financial “fuck!” straits.  We’ll be able to pay our rent no matter what- it’s the priority, we love our flat.  We were incredibly lucky to get it.  It’s in South London and when the bedroom window’s closed, you don’t hear a thing, not a bird or car or a plane rumbling by.  It’s been years and years.
  • We haven’t moved yet and don’t until the 7th, which in itself is going to turn my mane grey, because- well, lots of reasons.  It’s in South London.  I like it there.
  • I am trying to view the lack of money as a motivator.  I’ll carry on in my course that I can’t pay for and will be kicked out of any minute.  I’ll wait for responses from universities.  Nothing yet, except from one I had to withdraw from due to realising the journey time would be about 5 hours a day, at best.  It’ll all be academic-AHAHA-withut finishing my course.  There is no funding- I have checked.  I will write, aggressively, almost petulantly, hoping someone thinks I’m good enough to pay.  I’ve applied for fifteen jobs.  I have received not one response.  I feel ready for work now.  I have had the predictable response to stress (becoming a bit ill), but I’ve handled it quite well.  If I don’t get into university this year I try again next year.  If I can’t finish my course this year- I have no idea what to do. Save up and finish my modules another year, and apply again.   I wish someone would cast an eye over my CV.  Three years as a professional mental is good for some, the some suspiciously quiet. The rest- it’s understandable I’m not hearing anything.  I feel tainted.  Like I wiped my arse on it all and fired it merrily through every window in Britain.  DO NOT TOUCH! Infected.
  • As I can no longer claim benefits, and I’ll be out of my borough, this is also the end of any support that I have had.  It’s goodbye to the community mental health team and all the secret-hush-hush help.  Aside from them, I don’t really have any support.  I have Robert, but it’s not that fair to push all my fears onto him.  He can’t help that much either, except for reassuring.
  • I also can’t afford my prescriptions and I’m not- or not going to be- on any benefits that entitle me to them.  I can’t afford reduced rates, either.  I’ve been back- fairly regularly- on Seroquel.  Sleep.  It is everything.  Ah well.
  • I see a psychiatrist on the 1st.  That’ll be interesting!
  • All in all, these turn of events have made me feel like a complete wastrel without much of a future.  But bollocks to such thoughts.
  • I am likely to get into trouble for writing this post.

Despite all this, my mood is somewhat better.  It’s either due to lack of sleep or that I feel hopeful that I can sort this out.   Somehow!

So, there’s an update.  I tip my hat to you all.

14 Responses

  1. i can’t believe they count DLA as income! that is fucking nuts. i also totally agree with your social worker that this is totally a positive thing to do and definitely a step towards getting *off* benefits and surely by fucking it up for you the benefits people will only find themselves scuppering themselves too because you will end up more stuck than you are now?

    i know from my own experience (and i know i’ve said this to you many times but fuck it, once more can’t hurt) that it really really is good to have a positive course to focus on, i did the interview for mine while still on a section 3 (they gave me day release! well, 2 hours really) and having something to really focus on, to use my brain on that wasn’t just driving myself mental, and to meet people and so on, it was a bloody godsend. it’s done me the world of good and i think anyone with half a braincell (ie probably not the DLA people) could see that this kind of thing is massively beneficial to people. obviously it doesn’t make the illness go away, but it sure as hell helps to have something to think about that isn’t the shit in your head.

    what a bloody nightmare. have you spoken to mark pimm about this? i know he’s the disability support as opposed to finance but i bet he could pull strings in the right places if needs be.

    as for the physiology bit, i know exactly how you feel, i love my linguistics course and reaaaally enjoyed learning neurolinguistics this term, the classes were great, so interesting, but then i got to the essay and it was all analysis of brain scans and stuff, i have a very bookish brain, and i found it incredibly hard, it was a real struggle. harder even than my bloody dissertation! but i did it. and i think you can too, you just need to be in a positive place to start with, and if all this shit is going on with DLA people then that won’t help AT ALL.

    i’m really glad you have a good SW, and i’m also glad you’re moving with rob, i think even if financially it’ll be tough, you’ll be able to look out for each other!

    another person to try might be sean – i think i mentioned him before, he’s chair of the student council or something like that. i know him fairly well (just not what his role is!) – i’m actually seeing him on tuesday so i could ask (anonymously) if he had any advice for such a situation…

    my fingers will be very crossed for you🙂

  2. I can empathise strongly with how the money situation has left you feeling. Last year I went to college with the noble aim of picking up an HND & then heading to uni & magically having a life that had a bit of purpose. It was fine & dandy initially but I spent from September until December trying to get the Student Loans people to pay me, had a massive lack of cash, couldn’t afford the rent, got very very depressed because of all that just knocking me off my feet & it all ended with me dropping out because I ended up missing over a month of work, including exams & was still fretting over cash so couldn’t really focus on catching up. I finally got the money owed to me in February, a month after I quit :-\

    I really do hope things go better for you. It’s a great opportunity & it would be terrible for it to be destroyed because of government buearucracy bullshit. Fingers crossed for you.

  3. Hello seamen,

    Thank you, I will be watching your progress and if I can help any in any way with Bi Polar (40 years experience) Please ask .

    David Gosling.

  4. DLA is NOT income for the purpose of any means tested award/benefit . What is the erring organisation?

    Congratulations to you and Robert! Hope the move goes as smoothly as these things can🙂

  5. … I was all full of anger and sympathy through the post, and then got to the comments and saw David Gosling’s slight misspelling of your name, and am now pissing myself with laughter. Sorry😛

  6. Oh, I’m getting angrier.
    What the hell is this country?!

  7. Grrr, your post has made me very angry. Not at you Seaneen, of course.

    All the government rhetoric lately has been about giving people “a hand up, not a handout” but this just shows that they won’t give people a hand up either, the fucking cunts.

    My advice, for what it’s worth, is to put your soul into the course – as you have been doing – and if it gets to the point that the educational institution goes “look, we need your fees” you will be able to show them the work you’ve done and it will inspire them to give you as much help and support as they can.

    In my experience, teaching staff (especially for mature/older students) are very compassionate and very wise. Make sure that, if things begin to get critical, all your teachers know your situation and I hope you will find an ally amongst them who will take up your cause.

    So sorry to hear that you’re going through all this, it’s dreadfully unfair.

  8. Argh! I honestly cannot believe you have been rejected for funding your course. I hope your SW can fight this best she can – she sounds great. Your college must be able to do something – is there a disability co-ord that can help? They will be able to point out that DLA is not income – DLA is non-means tested for a reason! If they won’t give that will you get disabled students allowance instead? Also – I wonder if Alison can help – she went to college and was getting DLA – I assume she didn’t have to pay for it.

    I’m glad you’ve found somewhere to live as that must help on the stress front, although it sounds like the money side of things is a nightmare.

    Remember if you struggle you can ALWAYS ask for another referral to a CMHT in your new trust from your new GP.. Or even the PCMHT if you feel you are “too well” for the CMHT these days.

    What benefit were you on before – Income Support or Incapacity Benefit? You should have built up some NI Contribution credits, so even if Robert’s income is more than the allowance you may be able to apply for the contribution elements of either JSA or ESA depending on if you feel ready or not to work. I hope you can find a job though and not have to worry about the benefits side of things – it will give you far more self-esteem to be working, but remember there should be no shame in claiming those benefits when you are entitled to them and need them to live. No one should be homeless and surviving on pennies.

    Also – Why will you get in trouble for writing this post?

    Hope things pan out okay. Thinking of you. xx

  9. Hi Seaneen, DLA isn’t even counted as income for Legal Aid purposes (and you can probably imagine how mean they are), so it’s crazy that it’s income for these purposes. Are you 100% sure that they’re not just dicking you around? I should, but don’t, know who administers the Personal Budgets Scheme. There may be an appeal right? You may want to see a Legal Aid lawyer who specialises in welfare benefits. You can search for one on CLSDirect website, rachel

  10. to any ‘crat that might be trolling here, DLA does NOT count

  11. I wish someone would cast an eye over my CV. Three years as a professional mental is good for some, the some suspiciously quiet.

    ask the CAB/?

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