This is a slightly edited version of the letter I have sent to my own MP after I have found myself unable to pay my bills this month and have had to do a deal with my parents where I move to France to stay with them so that they will help me. I am leaving my GP, psychiatrist, psychologist and a nearby hospital purely because I just cannot afford to live off nothing.
I know it wont make a difference, I know that nothing will change, but I wanted it out there, so that if someone in power does care they can see what they are doing to people.
I wrote to my local MP last year to express my concerns about the changes to the benefits system and was reassured by his response to my worries. However, I now find myself in the same boat as many others, having had my benefits withdrawn despite being unable to work.
I suffer with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder and have been “in the system” since I was 11. I have learned to accept that, for me, it is a lifelong illness and focus on dealing with it as best I can rather than aiming for “recovery.” Through private counselling and medication I have improved considerably but still struggle with day to day tasks such as taking care of my finances and home, and cannot go outside of my small town without a great deal of stress that brings on a depressive episode. I also struggle in crowds, however small, which makes shopping difficult, let alone attempting to work.
I used to work, before my illnesses deteriorated, and I loved it. I have attempted university twice now, having been accepted to the University of Manchester on an English Language course, but have been unable to complete more than a month each time purely because of my illness. I cannot express to you how much I would dearly love to get a degree from a prestigious university, something I know I am academically capable of, and go on to support myself through a full time job. Sadly my reality makes this impossible.
Having been found “fit for work” earlier this year I am now living off thin air as I do not qualify for Job Seeker’s Allowance, because I can’t work, but also do not qualify for any form of disability related benefit. My benefit withdrawal is being appealed by CAB but will not be heard ‘til November, by which time I will not have seen a penny for 6 months. The stress that I have been put under in trying to fill out forms, find out what help I can get and having to travel to assessments and help centres has worsened by illness and left me on more medication than I was previously on.
This new system makes it harder for those of us who truly need help to get it and, while I understand the need to cut costs, leaves many thousands of people who want nothing more than to become productive members of society without any means of supporting themselves. Ultimately these changes will lead me, and many others, to a life on the streets where we cannot get the medication, therapy and structure we need to live.
I beg you and your party to reconsider these changes.
A very upset, soon to be ex-Tory voter.