During 2018..

I’ve experienced the delights of the UK mental health system.

Having pushed for a referral into the system for such a long time due to my tendency to want to hurt myself and the permanent feelings of despair and hopelessness that I had been experiencing for months, when I finally found myself under the care of the Wiltshire & Avon Mental Health Partnership I was treated to a one-off meeting with a mental health nurse in the local Civic Centre. This then led to a decision being made about my medication by a doctor somewhere else in the area who had never met me. Brilliant. Really thorough, personalised care there guys. Well done.

I am now, thankfully, under the care of a frankly incredible GP who has gone out of her way to help me with managing all aspects of my ongoing illness and my slow but steady recovery. There’s still a long way to go but I’m certainly on the right path.

I’ve discovered my passion for writing.

I initially started blogging about my mental health issues as a form of release. I remember during one of my first counselling sessions my counsellor suggested writing a letter to somebody that had caused me all manner of mental health problems as a way of expelling all the hurt and upset from my troubled mind.

The letter would never be sent of course but it proved to be an effective method of processing those thoughts that were having a negative impact on my mental state. So I transferred that idea to this blog and started writing about things that were buzzing around in my head. In turn that led me to try writing guest pieces for other blogs and websites and eventually to my decision to try and make a career out of it.

Over the past few months I have been in contact with the universities in my area who have been incredibly helpful with both advice about the different courses that they offer and the resulting career options that they bring. They have suggested that a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Publishing is the way forward which I agree with.

In order to earn a place on that particular course though I need to complete a one year Access Course at a local college. So I’ve signed up to one which starts this coming September. Until then though I intend to keep blogging as regularly as I can, as well as continuing to create and submit guest pieces to whoever shows an interest.

I’ve learnt that the benefits system in the UK is a joke.

I remember having to claim Job-seekers Allowance many years ago during a period of unemployment. I couldn’t stand it personally. Each week I had to fill out a form that detailed all of the different jobs that I had applied for and then report in at the Job Centre in order to receive an absolute pittance. It was depressing and degrading and I was glad when I finally got back into work and could tell the Job Centre exactly what they could so with their £87 a fortnight.

Fast-forward to 2018 and I have found myself having to rely on handouts from the DWP in order to survive. Only this time it comes with added complications. Oh the joys of the Government’s marvellous Universal Credit scheme!

The thing is though is that nobody, not even those that came up with it, have a bleeding clue how it actually works!

It’s all based on what income you have as a household supposedly. So they take into account the amount of money that my partner earns every month and then apply that figure to the calculations that they make in order to determine how much Universal Credit I receive.

With me so far?

Well we still need to work out how many bedrooms I have in the house that month to decide how much money I’m going to get. According to the DWP I’m not entitled to have a second bedroom even though I’ve lived here with one for 6 years. So they’re going to take some money off. Unless I receive a monthly PIP payment of course which according to their records I don’t. Only I do receive a monthly PIP payment as they awarded it themselves a few weeks ago. So they won’t take any money off of me and will instead seemingly triple the amount that I actually receive in Universal Credit with no real explanation as to why they’ve done it or how they’ve worked it out.

Still with me?

Trying to make head or tail of the current benefits system is almost a full time job in its own right. I don’t understand how they come up with their figures at all and when I’ve asked the DWP to explain it to me they just throw a load of random numbers at me. Because we never get the same amount from one month to the next it makes budgeting nigh on impossible. It’s just a case of trying to muddle through somehow and hoping for the best.  

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