I seemed to suddenly end up disabled.. I can’t really describe it, it just happened so fast. Yet when I look back it’s been coming for much longer – I’m my own victim.
When I was a teenager, I suffered rape and sexual abuse. I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to deal with it. I manage for a short while – at the moment, I’m doing quite well but a meltdown is only around the corner. This experience in my teens has led to a lifetime of abusing substances (including food) to deal. When I was a younger adult I was quite partial to the odd illegal drug binge, then when I finally came round and took my responsibilities seriously and met a wonderful man who started to help me make sense of my world. I took more care of my daughter instead of leaving her with my parents and we had another baby. In that time I ate more and more and more.. became addicted to poor food sources. Then I started working shifts and so was hubby. Takeout food was a major food source. All this has relevance. I gained more and more weight and finally, my body started letting me know. An old injury to a hip from a car crash became aggravated and my other hip did more and more compensation until they both were so painful I had to give up work.
I have no idea what I thought my plans were when I went off sick… but I know I didn’t intend to still be off over 14 months later, working my way through the illness and disability benefits system.
I started an open university degree which of course looks bad on me because how on earth can I possibly do a degree and be ill/disabled??? The benefits system just feeds into stereotypes that the disabled and chronically ill are unintelligent and basically useless. But they are happy to take my student finance into account and take it off me £ for £.
Because we are in a full UC area, I have to claim sick through that. I am struggling to get an assessment because the first attempt I attended, they refused to see me because I couldn’t have evacuated the 82 steps from the fourth floor out of the building on foot, I’d need an evac chair or similar (an extra strong hunky fireman would be nice though <- see I still have a sense of humour too!). It crippled me getting to that appointment, into the building and in the lift only to be turned away at the reception booth. Allegedly it mentioned this on the back of the letter, that if I needed accessible appointment I needed to ring, but I didn’t look at the back (rookie mistake but I was so tense about the appointment it didn’t occur to me to check). They advised that the nearest ground floor assessment centre is nearly 30 miles away from where I live (I know that’s not the furthest people have had to go but it’s far enough for me – I requested a home visit, which I got for PIP with no trouble, but I was told that it had to be confirmed by a nurse or Dr. I can’t afford the £50 my GP surgery charges and the DWP refuse to help.
I was rescheduled from the original appointment on 27th December to 15th January. A few days before, I received a letter cancelling the appointment and then another rescheduling for 28th January. I was on my way last Monday when I received a phone call (they’re lucky I answered – I don’t even usually answer numbers I don’t know) to cancel it again. I’d spent so long working myself up to it that I got home and passed out on the sofa – I then ended up awake all night and passed out all day the following day. It’s taken me all week to get back to some sort of rhythm.
The next appointment they’ve scheduled is on 20th of February.. I sent my completed UC50 form sometime around the beginning of November (I completed a computerised one and the last time I accessed it was 27th Oct) that’s 3 months since I sent the form so easily 3.5-4 months since I first applied. That isn’t counting the couple of months before that I had to keep asking to have the UC50 form sent in the first place – my SSP ended around 8 months ago and I’ve been asking them since I’m sure I have.
SO, I’ve got another 18 days to worry about, not only the actual assessment itself but also, whether or not they are even going to cancel it last minute like last time, and the times before.
The pain has gotten worse. I can’t walk even as far as I could when I had my PIP assessment and I lose whole days when I’m at my worst both mentally and physically.
Which means I need to voluntarily trigger a review of my PIP. Which is terrifying me – what if they take it off me? I don’t get a semi-reasonable assessor like last time (though she did tell some porkies in the assessment – which I have a copy of but I couldn’t get the stuff together to send because I had a bad spell after I’d applied for a Mandatory Reconsideration so they did the MR from my first assessment). I don’t even know if I should put myself through the stress and despair.
I know it’s a long story and it’s not the only one I have – My dad and my closest friends have also had to go through the process so I have their stories too (however they’re not mine to tell).
Thanks for reading. I hope I haven’t triggered anyone with my share.