Hi folks. How are we all doing?
I woke up this morning feeling down. Last night’s wobbler had taken its toll of my mood. I had written back to a guy who wanted to meet me and disclosed my bipolar illness. I gave him the address of this blog. There was no further communication from him. Another one bites the dust?!!
Well you might say, why did I disclose and possibly deprive myself of a nice, friendly meeting over coffee? The answer is this. I panicked at the thought of meeting someone who didn’t know, and would ask questions, and maybe create awkwardness, and I would feel like a liar and a fraud for leading him to think I was perfectly normal etc. I am no liar. I am no dissembler. I’m an honest person. At some point in the conversation the subject would come up. I would have to explain why I haven’t worked for a living since the year dot. Why I am not currently doing anything of much at all, except attending my various support groups. I couldn’t face it all dear reader.
It would be interesting to include in my ‘profile’ on the dating site my bipolar credentials, and just see how many winks, likes and messages I get then. I mean, sociologically interesting. As a sort of experiment. Of course I knew that it would probably render the whole exercise pointless. Disclosure of a serious mental illness is social suicide. I may still do it, toward the end of my three month subscription, and just see what happens!
Anyway. To today. I felt pretty rough and didn’t particularly want to get out of bed. But staying there is not generally an option for me, unless I am physically ill. I have an active and restless mind that won’t switch off, and remaining in a horizontal position tends to increase my anxiety. I’m better up and doing.
So I had my bath. Contemplated the fact that a friend was coming round this afternoon and got out the clapped-out Hoover. It cuts out after about five minutes, then comes on again ten minutes later. So the vacuuming has to be done in short bursts. Which is a good exercise in patience I guess.
Then I somehow managed to get up the courage to clean and mop the kitchen floor. Thought again about my need for a personal assistant. Let me explain.
Under the ‘personalised budget’ scheme I have applied for money from the local authority to pay someone to come round and help me with whatever needs doing, or give some moral/emotional support. I put down that I would need them twice a week for two hours. I tend to hold back from asking too much. My conscience won’t let me, because I consider that I already receive a generous level of benefits and am unwilling to play the system and take the piss.
However it has to be added that I will very likely face a cut in income next year, when I will have to start paying back some of my Housing Benefit due to ‘under-occupancy’ – I live alone in a two-bedroom house. There may also be a cut to disability benefits, when Disability Living Allowance becomes Personal Independence Payment. Thanks, Tory government. You are causing a lot of the most vulnerable people in society even more anxiety, insecurity and hardship than they already experience. Way to go.
Talking of which, I’ve got an interview at the jobcentre this afternoon. They want to establish whether I am still entitled to my benefits. Guilty until proven innocent as it were. I’m probably not as anxious about all of this as I should be. I tend to think though that my psychiatric credentials are well enough established to avoid a cut in or removal of benefits, if one can be avoided that is. About thirty hospitalisations, the last less than two years ago. A respected, ‘sexy’ diagnosis which includes psychosis – unlike, say, ‘depression and anxiety’. Only schizophrenia inspires more awe than Bipolar One.
Anyway, getting back to the issue of the personalised budget and my need for a ‘personal assistant’. I filled in he form with my care coordinator the other day (well, she sat there while I filled the form out). As I progressed with answering the questions and making my case, I felt more confident that I have good reasons to ask for this service. Twice a week for a total of four hours is not much to ask, and it could really make a difference to my life. This person could help motivate me to clean and tidy my house – not do it for me, but maybe help or at least watch while I do it! They could give me moral support to fill in forms, write letters or make difficult telephone calls when necessary. They could just be a listening ear when I need to talk.
However. And it’s a big however. It has to be the right person for me. I know from experience that many people will not be right. They will have to like and respect me, and have a genuinely positive approach to life. I will have to feel I can approach them as a confidant, be open and honest with them. I don’t want just a generic ‘carer’, or someone who is harried and stressed out from having to make too many home visits in the course of a day. Someone patronising who sees me as ‘ disabled’ or unfortunate.
Which is why I am racking my brains to think of someone I know who can fulfil this role. I have a friend coming round this afternoon who may possibly be interested or failing that be able to recommend someone else (as she knows nearly everyone in the neighbourhood!). She would be ideal. She is a clean and tidy person who is brilliant to talk to. She listens and has a positive outlook, and we have known each other for about fourteen years…She isn’t currently working, but is on Job Seekers Allowance. I have a feeling the arrangement would only work for her if she could factor in some other small jobs. I don’t know if she will be willing to do that. We’ll see.
Financially I am actually very lucky (despite M’s best efforts to render me bankrupt). Housing-wise, ditto. And today a brown envelope revealed something nice for once. A seventy-pound refund for my relinquished TV licence. Hey, I could maybe buy a new Hoover with that!
So here’s to counting the old blessings.
Love, Zoe xxx