Going nowhere.

My morning began with a letter on the doormat.

For the last 16 months I’ve beem receiving ESA – Employment and Support Allowance, or sickness benefit – mainly because I suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Recently, due to family difficulties, my condition has reached epic proportions. I burst into tears in shops and in the street; I suffer seizures; I have days when I can’t leave my home. Sometimes I can’t cook meals and I survive on dried fruit, nuts, cereal, and yogurt. My condition is difficult and embarrassing, particularly as all the while I’m watching myself from the outside, and disapproving of my weakness.

This is the truth about the woman that is me; the woman people say is strong.

Going back to my story; anyone who’s on ESA gets sent assessment questionaires to fill in every so often, and is afterwards hauled up for a medical examination to find out whether they are still entitled to the benefit. I recently received one of these forms, to be returned by October 7th at the latest. I filled it in and posted it off at 9.30pm on the 20th of this month. The letter I received this morning was dated September 28th. It was from the Health Assessment Advisory Service; it said that they hadn’t received my questionaire, and requested that I fill it in and send it back as soon as possible.

I suspected it was some sort of a test – they get me to fill in a second form, and then compare the two; or maybe an attempt to drive me to suicide.

I got dressed and went straight to the local Jobcentre for advice. I had palpitations by the time I reached the entrance, and the moment I walked in I burst into tears and my legs began to cave in.

Well done Jane – a great entrance as usual.

The woman I saw was very kind. She said assessment forms go missing quite often, and she’d call the assessment centre to ask them to look for my form but that she couldn’t guarantee that they’d bother, gave me another form, and told me not to fill it in until I had spoken to someone from the Health Assessment place, who would phone me.

She then reassured me, mopped me up and sent me away after giving me her name, and saying I could ask to see her if I needed any more help.

I felt it would be best to immediately get a copy of the medical letter I had sent as evidence of my illnesss, in case I deteriorate to the extent that I’m unable to do it later, so I went to my GP’s surgery, where I initially managed not to cry. In my effort to be stoic, I came across as an angry person, and the receptionist thought I was in there to make some sort of trouble. I saw the sudden guarded, almost frightened, look on her face as she asked me if I was a patient at the surgery. Guess what I did in response.

You’ve got it. I burst into tears, and  blubbered repeated apologies while another receptionist guided me into a side room. She calmed me down, got the gist of what I wanted, spoke to my GP, came back and said he was bogged down with work, but he would call me later. As for the reason I was there, I had two options; she could ring the psychiatrist at the Riverside Centre and ask a letter to be posted to me, or I could go and pick it up. I realised that I should have gone to the psychiatrist instead of the surgery, and I told her I’d collect it. She advised me to ask Riverside to fill in the assessment questionaire for me.

She reassured me, mopped me up and sent me away.

I went to the Riverside Centre.

I burst into tears and buckled at the knees. A very nice woman took me into a side room. She printed off a copy of the letter. She gave it to me. With regret, she told me the centre was unable to fill in my questionaire as I was no longer registered with their services. She recommended that I ask the doctor to re-refer me there because I’m such a pathetic mess – though she put it far more kindly than that.

She reassured me, mopped me up and sent me away.

On the way home I got a call from a man with a lovely Welsh voice. He was from the Health Assessment Advisory Service. He explained that assessment questionaires are sent to a National office, and then have to be forwarded somewhere else – in this case Camarthen, in Wales. The letter I received was part of standard procedure. I could ignore it. I said there was no need to worry about me – I’d only briefly considered jumping off the bridge, or words to that effect. He responded in a gentle, reassuring way.

A while after I got home, my GP rang. I told him it had recommended that I ask to be referred back to Riverside. He asked me how I felt about that idea. I replied that I didn’t see the point, because the first time I’d been referred it was to a counsellor who said there was nothing she sould do for me, because I was one of the most self-aware people she’d ever seen, so counselling wouldn’t help me, and CBT wouldn’t help either, because I was already using all the tools that CBT teaches. The second time I was referred, it was to a psychiatrist who recommended a drug that did me more harm than good.

My GP agreed that it may be pointless to go back to Riverside, and suggested that every time I am in a stressful situation I take the beta-blockers he prescribed a few days ago, and see how it goes.

So -other than getting a letter, nothing much happened today.

The Daily Post #Test

©Jane Paterson Basil


66 thoughts on “Going nowhere.

            1. Combine the two and you’ve probably got it – funny and playful, but when I get scared I roll up in a spiky ball in the middle of the road so nobody can reach out to save me 🙂
              Except that they did reach out, and discovered my spines were soft, so now I’ve stopped pretending I can manage on my own.
              And that’s a good thing.

              Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh… wow… and ouch that is. I’ve known many people in your situation here as “social services” from various levels of government are cut to the bone and then some. It’s an ugly world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a result of capitalism going crazy and everyone wanting a slice; those in poverty cast the wrong vote ignorant of the fact that they’re only pawns in the game.
      Hmm – does that sound like a poem?


  2. Glad you are writing about it and even trying to give it a slight humorous twist. Sometimes all we can do to save a situation we feel we’ve flubbed. I’ve had a few of these lately, Jane, and I, too, react to frustration with tears which I hate hate hate, but at least it is a coping mechanism..not just internalizing everything. Hope all improves from here on. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s getting worse! This morning I broke a nail!
      Seriously though, I store the difficult bits of my life out of sight, then I laugh and play. That’s why, until last weekend’s crisis, my family didn’t know how ill I was. But it’s ok – I’m ok.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I mean it. I went to the supermarket today. I got everything I needed AND a beautiful new frying pan. When I’m in a poor frame of mind I can’t buy anything but essential supplies, and sometimes I don’t even manage that.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I don’t consider myself of the anxiety attack type yet I give myself a time limit when in a store – they’re such horribly confusing places. I had a friend with me yesterday so I was able to hold off a bit. Stocked up real good, spent too much, but now I can avoid shopping for a good while. There’s bad energy in those places, maybe it’s the greed, the overpricing that seems to leer at you and suck the energy right out of you. Makes me feel like doing a five-minute “Hate!” thing as in “1984”…

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Ah, the electricity (Electric City!) I never made that connection. All I know is, I feel weakened when I go into a large food store, or a closed mall. Some people I know seem energized by it though. Weird.

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. I HATE shopping. I can’t even do garage sales. If I have stuff I don’t want I give it away as fast as I can. Maybe it’s more about the money part: I despise the entire concept of money but particularly the incredibly debilitating belief that money has any intrinsic value.

                    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is what this system does to people – anything to try to get you off the benefits. They don’t care how it affects people, they don’t care how many people are pushed to breaking point through their indrhand tactics. All they care about is money.
    I’m glad you found a few sympathetic people along the way. And you’re wrong – you are a strong person Jane. If you weren’t you wouldn’t bounce back every time something like this happens.
    Take care x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right – I bounce back. Yesterday was no big deal – just something that passed by, leaving no trace.
      Someone in Barnstaple was sanctioned at a Jobseeker interview for laughing when asked why he hadn’t put his phone number on a form.
      But it wasn’t me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Any excuse. Treating people as if they’re lesser because they’re going through tough times. Yes, there must be a few who’ve used the system, but they’re few and far between these days. Punishing the powerless – how proud we must be of ourselves to treat our citizens this way

        Liked by 2 people

  4. What a tough day it’s been, not to mention years. This quote from your favourite Leonard Cohen might soothe you some- ” There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” appreciate the cracks, coz you’re bursting with sunlight 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

          1. there are some topics that i want to write about, but sometimes i hesitate. mostly because i dont know how people will react. some issues are sensitive and i dont want anyone to think i am mocking it or something. and neither can i explain that i am really not going through everything myself…sometimes the character seem too real to me to not tell their stories.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You’ll find the confidence to share those things, although your stomach may churn as you click publish. You’re gaining a small knot of solid supporters who will respect all that you write.
              To a good writer I think the characters are always real, and you know yourself that people very like them are out there. You’re telling the stories that they keep silent through fear.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. the first book that i got published had 11 characters in them. 11 short stories. with every character being very different from each other. and yet when people read the stories, there was always one or two that they related to. which brings me to the point – there is no work of fiction anywhere. someone like that really does exist somewhere. it’s not purely co-incidental.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Teaching of YLea: Everything conceivable is real. If you can think it, imagine it, write it, say it, picture it, and of course do it, it exists. You draw your information from the infinite and that is non-judgmental. If you want to see five pink elephants fly over your house at midnight in a full moon, that scene is as real as the bus you’ll take in the morning to travel on. Limits to creation only exist in minds brainwashed and controlled by the Matrix. We live in a “civilized” world that needs to crush creativity in order to subjugate. That is not life’s, or nature’s way of doing things. The System that seeks to define and marginalize creativity is predatory.

                  Liked by 2 people

                    1. ??? To colour inside the lines means to toe the line of the status quo… to think outside the box means the opposite. Which is it? This whole civilization is predicated on a system of control of “Paint by numbers” and “Don’t ever dare think outside the box ’cause the Box is your Salvation… bow your head, get on your knees, be thankful, give prayers of thanks and say a loud and heartfelt Amen!”


  5. Well, Jane, that’s bull that you’re not a strong woman. Strong women fall apart the same as any other woman. BUT they continually pick themselves up and keep going. Just look at Metalflowermaker, for example. Like you, what she’s going through should have done her in by now. But it hasn’t. Like you she struggles with all kinds of infirmities (many of the same type as you), but what does she do? She keeps going. You and she are two peas in a pod. Two of the strongest women I know. You are ONLY not strong, Jane, when if you get knocked down you stay down. And the fact that you don’t says volumes about who you are. I have WAY MORE FAITH IN YOU THAN THAT, sweet pea. You are one of my heroes! Flaw and flailing for sure, but so damn heroic in your fight to live your life. {{{ ❤ Jane ❤ }}}

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You say the loveliest things Calen.
      It’s no more than the will to survive, and for me survival is more than ending my life wetting myself and drooling in a long-term institution.
      Oh, and as long as I have passion in my soul, words to describe it, and good friends to support me, I cannot fail to thrive xxx

      Liked by 2 people

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