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Mental Health and Benefits, My Assessment

11 February 2017 | Post A Comment

The more pressure I put on myself to try and write, the more anxious and stressed it makes me. It's a cycle I am so strongly trying to fight out of. I know that writing on here gives me a release and a focus and I desperately need that at the moment. So I am giving myself a shake and going to blindly write down letters until they form sentences and submerse myself in a web of my own words. 

I think I have been unemployed for almost 6 months now. Wouldn't it be nice if in that time to 'relax' I had seen some improvements? There has been none. A big reason it hasn't been a time relax is because of the constant stream of demanding benefit letters and novel length forms to fill out and send back at short notice. A bit like having a job really.

I attended my benefit assessment today. I had been dreading it and hated every second of it. It took every ounce of determination to not run out and attempt to keep it together through the barrage of probing questions. 

"Do you have panic attacks?" 

"Yes" I said, staring at the closed door in a room I felt trapped in, very aware that it was located down a long corridor. 

"What causes these panic attacks?" 

A number of things, but I could only manage to spit out "feeling trapped" through my silent tears, keeping a deathly stare on the door handle and feeling the panic rise in my chest as the woman's apathetic eyes burned into the side of my face. 

"What happens when you have one of these panic attacks?" 

At this point I break down and I feel so defeated at being reduced to a sobbing mess when I was trying so hard to keep it together. She dismissively hands me the tissues and waits for an answer, between gasps and gritted teeth I manage to answer "the normal things that happen during a panic attack". If I listed my symptoms I was trying to fight I know they would have come to life in front of her and I also know that I would become unable to answer any further questions. The flow of tears increased when I realised that watching me hyperventilate and scream in her office may have been the best convincing argument that I am unfit for work. 

She types for a while as Rob comforts me and I try to calm myself. I imagine the words leaking from her fingers, 'unable to correctly explain the symptoms of a panic attack'... She then noticeably glances at the scratches I have made to my hands in times of extreme anxiety and asks very politely yet bluntly, "do you burn yourself?", the list of questions continued.

The benefit system in the UK deeply angers and frustrates me. It so heavily favours visible illnesses. The harsh scrutiny genuine cases suffer is simply humiliating especially as we are all aware of the ingenuine cases that manage to slip through. 

It will take up to a month to receive a letter of the result of this assessment. I am almost certain that my benefits will be affected in some way but I can only wait with increased anxiety and stress until that letter arrives and try to distract myself in the best ways I can in the mean time. I hope that involves a lot of writing on All Things Beautiful if my infuriating mind allows. We'll see.

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