It strikes me as odd, in fact no, it strikes me as bloody ridiculous that the benefits system is so easy to fiddle but so difficult to work for those in need. The hoop-jumping and form-filling is easy as pie if you know what you’re doing, or are especially determined. But if, like me, you forget to eat some days, then remembering to reply to that email/letter that’s been sent is about as likely as becoming the Queen of Sheba.

See, stress is a major trigger for me, and many others, and filling in forms with information you don’t have from other forms that you have lost in the confusion and general haze of mental illness is nigh on impossible. So, as you can imagine, it’s also incredibly stressful. The stress then leads to more things getting lost, or forgotten, as your brain melts down and the crazy takes over, and before you know it you’re hiding in your bed in tears, screaming for it all to go away.

So the practicalities of life can be somewhat difficult, before you even get to the complicated stuff like benefits forms. What the government fails to understand is that, on a bad day, I forget to eat, drink and sleep because of my illness. I forget what day it is, what month, what year even. I have found myself having to check my Facebook profile to find out how old I am on several occasions because I have forgotten that basic detail about myself. And that wasn’t even on bad days, that was just run of the mill memory failure. That’s my life.

There are days that I simply cannot face checking my email because just the thought of the task makes me feel dizzy with stress, and I can’t risk that much stress because it could lead to another breakdown, another trip to A&E, another sliced arm, shaved head, psychotic episode, etc, etc. In fact the best case scenario is a night of crying, shaking and wanting it to all be over, and that’s really something I want to avoid.

So while for the average bear it might seem painfully simple; just a small form, just a couple of emails, just getting out of bed, it’s really not. It’s a mammoth task on top of the other daily stuff that needs doing like showering, having some form of social interaction or drawing the curtains.

Sure, not every day is like that, some days I can function much like anyone else, but those days are not the norm. Those are the days when I charge around trying to get on top of things, throwing washing in, changing beds, checking post, doing shopping, in preparation for the regular failings to return.

In my eyes a change in benefits system would move from form filling to assessment; your GP, psychiatrist, psychologist, specialist and whoever else can testify that you suck at life, maybe not everyday, but enough to be a serious problem and prevent you from living a “normal” life. Surely that’s a better system?


  1. Domsigns

    Bureaucracies don’t do that kind of thing very well.. They only exist to reduce people to check boxes and rules. Independant decision making and common sense are not considered desirable qualities in government employees

    1. Mrs TeePot

      Sadly you are right, they can’t pull up facts and figures to twist from case-by-case work.

  2. Becca Boot

    It would be better that way – much, after all health professionals (should) know what your condition does to you, how it affects you – especially when it comes to OTs & psychologists/psychiatrists. However the health professionals that asses you SHOULD NOT be employed (directly or indirectly) by the DWP. This means no ATOS. They should by your usual doctors, the ones that know you best, the ones that you feel you can be the most open with. If there is a form that needs to be filled then the Dr should fill it out with you so they can answer questions properly that they might not be sure of otherwise.
    Why do I say no ATOS(or equivalent) well I had a ATOS Dr & a NHS OT come & asses me within days of one another, they asked almost all of the same questions but their reports were completely different. One (guess which is which) said I could walk 200m , the other said I couldn’t walk at all & placed a reccomended an electric wheelchair once the house was suitably adapted. One said I could do stairs fine, the other recommended that I should either turn a downstairs room into a permanent bedroom or invest in a lift, & offered me a wheelchair lift (£12000) for the front of the house so I could access it easier (0.6m high to he front door). One said I had no trouble standing – the other offered an electronic hoist to transfer me from chair to chair(£2500). The second report also offered me a number of smaller less expensive aids that the first said I didn’t need.
    The first = ATOS
    The second = NHS occupational therapist

    1. Mrs TeePot

      So sorry to hear your experience but you highlight the point beautifully. ATOS are even worse because they’re making money out of saying people are fine, it is of no consequence to them whether it’s the truth or not, the government hasn’t asked for accuracy, it’s asked for people to be found fit!

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