Friday, 11 June 2010

Birthdays suck

So, I turned 22 on Sunday, and it sucked. I won't go into detail, because a LOT of stuff happened, but it was just a horrible day in general and involved a big falling out with Mr A's family. I spent about an hour solid just sobbing in a way I haven't done for years. Needless to say, it failed in every aspect as a birthday. We're trying again on July 6th, hoping 22 v2 goes better.

Today we also got a letter from the council. The council ALWAYS send their damn letters so they arrive on a FRIDAY so you can't fucking do anything about them. We had applied for housing assistance (yes yes, I'm a horrible benefit-scrounging loser, I know, but please bear in mind that we are roughly £1000 a month below the poverty line [the poverty line here being less than 60% of the median UK income after housing costs have been paid] so I'm sorry, but we do need government assistance. And if you disagree you can come and live in my house with my budget for a year without any. Then we'll talk.) and when Mr A handed in the forms, the woman insisted on putting down that we were applying for Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits at the same time, even though we weren't, she said we HAD to. So today we got a letter through saying that they would not assess our claim until they had seen documentation of what we were awarded in WTC and CTC. Guys, we havent even received those forms yet. They need to be sent to you, apparently, and we havent got them yet. We then have to SHOW the Housing people our filled-out forms AND show them the letter detailing what we've been awarded. We won't have the forms until next week at the earliest and we won't hear back from then for at least two weeks, add another week to sort things out with housing and two weeks for them to make a decision, and we won't be getting our back-payment and our payments for over a month, at the earliest.
On top of this, theres a box on the form asking why you haven't filled it in any sooner, and we put that Mr A is working full-time and when he's not, he's looking after me and helping me look after Baby A.B. When Mr A took the form in the woman was SO snotty about it, saying why hadn't I bothered to come down, and what was so wrong with me that I couldn't get out the house. I should point out that the form clearly states I am in receipt of the FULL amount of Disability Living Allowance. Nothing on this form should have led her to think I sit on my arse all day thinking of essential tasks I can shirk. Along with the letter above, we get a letter saying that we have to provide PROOF that I have been ill in the time-period we're talking about, which means supplying a fucking note from my GP. Er, except, my GP doesn't KNOW about my PND. You know why? BECAUSE I AM NOT OBLIGATED TO REPORT ON MY HEALTH TO MY GP. If I want to keep that shit secret, I'm ALLOWED. I am so ANGRY. It was clearly stated on the form that I have post-natal depression, Mr A works full-time, leaving at 7 and getting back at 6:30, when is he supposed to be able to go there? And I'm angry too that I'm being ordered to produce proof of my depression when that isn't even relevant to our case, only to the time-line of when we handed the form in. I don't go to my GP for every sniffle, I was sick for 6 weeks earlier in the year, immobilised for weeks at a time and I didn't go to him then (mainly out of stubbornness and because their appointment booking system is ridiculous) so why would I go to him with something so personal and difficult?
Yes I know I shouldn't be bitching about all my free money....I'm not really, I'm just upset about all the rudeness we get from them and all the red tape and things that stand in our way just to get help. You have to fill out a 50 page form and then supply 600 bits of paper and then get grilled by a super-rude bitch and then 10 days later get told 'Oh well thats not enough'. They want you to give up before they have to give you anything. Why can't they just be nice? Like asking for help isn't daunting and demoralising enough, they need to beat you around and make you jump through hoops and feel like shit on their shoes. It's so unnecessary.

What else sucks? Well... one of our pet rats died this week. The other won't be around much longer. I have a dentist appointment for Tuesday which is scary and I-want-to-avoid-y. The company delivering my replacement credit card (part of the Birthday Of Suckiness, my e-bay/paypal/email account got hacked into on my birthday so I had to cancel all my cards) has my address SO wrong it's baffling that the letter even arrived to tell us they couldnt find our house.

Right, I'm off to go watch Secret Life of The American Teenager and pretend my life is awesome.


  1. First of all...

    Happy birthday for next time around, and I'm incredibly sad that you had such an awful time :(

    Secondly .. as someone who's had many battles with bureaucracy, and is also on Those Blessed Benefits, I have to advocate the Citizen's Advice Bureau as a font of help and support. I think they may do evening sessions, if that would help? I've found venting to them, getting their over-view and help in collating info, and then quoting them at my local council/benefits office very useful.

    As for keeping your PND secret from your GP .. I understand, and it's not a question of reporting, but .. alas, it's a question of asking for help, and verification of your diagnosis. Unfortunately, councils like people who can show evidence of things: they have to be so accountable now, and are watched like a hawk themselves, and thus pass the trauma onto those who claim.

    As you receive DLA there is also the Benefits Enquiry Line 0800 88 22 00 which may help you find out what you're entitled to, and they tend to be alright.

    Finally .. oh, this is a shitter, I hated it when others suggested it to me, and in the event I don't think they can help, but .. if you're getting DLA, consider registering yourself as disabled with your county council: they will also ask if you want a Social Services assessment, but I can't advise you on whether you should do that bit...

    I know that jumping these hoops may seem a total bitch, but the more you clear, the greater freedom/energy you have to invest in the things you do like and enjoy .. because otherwise, I'm gonna end up meeting you in real life, and start hitting paperwork/narky admin officers with my stick on your behalf!!


  2. My local CAB is a bit ridiculous. You can only see then by appointment nd they're only on the phone for a few hours a day, tuesday-saturday, and ONLY to decide on courses of action, not for actual advice. Plus, I'm not the one who handles the money and benefits stuff, Mr A does, because I freak out and cry or get really rude when people are mean. Dealing with other people just once in a day takes up a lot of my spoons. It's an anxiety thing. If I have a bad run-in with someone I can be housebound for weeks. I can't go into the chemist anymore, which is really inconvenient when you have a baby on fortnightly meds.

    The whole thing with my GP is difficult....we do not see eye-to-eye, and I have made a few complaints and also had a few heated run-ins because they consistantly mis-handle my daughters medical needs. It took them *six weeks* to write the right prescription for her formula, despite it being WRITTEN on the paeditricians note, and me correecting their first mistake two weeks into the whole debacle. I know they think I'm a bossy, loud-mouthed, pushy, google-monger, but the thing is, I HAD to be. No one would listen to me when my 2 week old baby vomited everything she ate, had a full body rash and screamed non-stop. No one listened. So I did what I had to do to MAKE them listen and that's been at the expense of my own care. I never went to them about the PND because I knew what it was and I also knew there was nothing they could do. Counselling lists? Miles long. Medication? Not while I'm breastfeeding and preferably not at all unless they're willing to just prescribe me what I ask for (I need anti-anxiety, not anti-depressant). I didn't see what they could do for me and I didn't see the point in going just to tell them 'Hi, I'm depressed, there's nothing you can do or say, but I just thought I'd let you know. Bye!' Especially having had SS involved before (loooong ass story) I'm wary to do anything that will have them sniffing around my doorstep again. I never expected to have to proove to anyone what had been going on! You never think anyone is going to tell you to provide documentation of something you consider private for omething completely unrelated!

    As for registering, I'm not actually sure I qualify. I'm not sure my condition is 'permanent' (at least, not the condition for which I receive DLA) if I do get diagnosed with Ehler Danlos Syndrome or with CFS, then I will, but for now I'm sort of scared to rock the boat. I'm scared if I draw any attention to myself, they'll snatch away all our benefits, and we depend on them to survive.

    [big hugs] red tape sucks, doesn't it?

  3. I really want to respond fully to your comments, but it's getting late, and I'll do so tomorrow .. Till then, I will summarise:

    Shit a brick.
    Shit a brick.
    That's f*cking awful.
    Where do I throw the brick, through their window or directly at their heads?

    [shakes head in disbelief at the battles you've had to fight...]

    Red tape does indeed suck, and I'm itching to string some folks up with it on your behalf; not a useful feeling, I know, but...

    Is there any way you can change GP? The one I'm registered with is awful, but I've developed a relationship with others at the same practise, and they've usually been cool.



    All I can think is, try that Benefits line: they don't ask for your National Insurance number, they give general advice so won't rock your specific boat .. and do the CAB give advice over the internet? Are you close enough to another CAB office, who provide a better level of service? Shall I put a suit on, use long words, and frighten someone on your behalf??

    [big hugs right back at you] xx

  4. All the ones at my practise are terrible, so I'm changing practises soon ('soon' being when I have the spare energy to go through the process) and will hopefully get a surgery where I can actually make appointments when I need them (right now it's a phone-up-at-7am-on-monday-morning-or-you're-out-of-luck-for-the-week deal) and where my GP's don't treat me like an inconvenience and an idiot just because I refuse to take 'That's normal' as an answer. I can't trust a GP who lies to my face and when I say 'That's a lie' tells me I'm wrong instead of going away and educating himself, and unfortunately that's what my current GP's (two seperate ones!) have done on a couple of occasions.

    As far as the rest goes, we got an award letter through today! Which is a bit random and bizarre. On Friday they say it'll be ages, on Tuesday we have an outcome? We know it'll change because of the WTC and CTC but for now at least we know we have something coming in. I hink we're still going to have to dispute with them over the proof-of-PND thing, but that 'only' affects the backdated HB (which is about £3K, so important! But not actually URGENT) so we have a bit more time and there's not a rush to get it all done RIGHTNOWTODAY.