Friday 1 November 2013

Don't lose faith

I've been a bit quiet since my last post. I don't even know if talking about it openly would affect my claim, but I've been a bit worried about mentioning things to do with ESA appeals on here. I won't go into a massive rant about it all but I will keep you updated.

Ok so I'm appealing to go from the Work related activity group to the Support group. I'd been to an initial meeting to be told I had been placed on the Work programme, and would be in the Work related activity group for 6 months. The dwp apparently had said that they believed my Fibromyalgia was a short term illness. I've probably mentioned this in previous posts, but I just want to be clearer here (as much as my foggy brain lets me anyway!). I wasn't happy about the 6 month thing but I wanted to give this group a go; challenge myself I guess. It turned out to be completely unsuitable. Most of the staff seem lovely and the two advisers I've seen so far are very nice and appear to want to help. Most of the 'customers' (I hate that term) are jsa claimants and most of them have very different needs, but the requirements and treatment are pretty much the same as for esa claimants. There's only a couple of advisers for esa claimants too. It's just the fact that it's believed I could be looking for work by March, can go to group sessions etc. It's making me flare up every time and there is no way that I'd want to make my illness worse. I was 10 minutes late for my last session as I'd got really panicky before I went out the door. It wasn't quite a panic attack but I was having the breathlessness, dizziness, sickness thing and felt like my heart was beating ridiculously fast. I've heard of people becoming bedridden and if I can avoid that, I will. Also, my mental health was pretty much ignored in my assessment as I wasn't rocking back and forth in my chair and I kept eye contact (their words, not mine). Do they not realise it is possible to look fine, whilst having horrible anxiety and suicidal thoughts? I may cry fairly easily, but I'm pretty damn good at acting fine. Clearly that's gone against me now.

Ok, so I put my appeal form in, said I'd be sending a gp letter as evidence etc. I went to the gp and was told that dwp would send a form to them if more evidence was needed. They didn't, so I failed that part. So I'm carrying on and am in the middle of collecting the evidence I need. I've had a visit from a lovely disability advocacy service too and they'll be helping me. All the paperwork I have to try and go through makes me flare up too. I'm trying to concentrate for longer (not working!) but it is taking me a while to get through it all. I went to see my psychologist yesterday as well. I think this was my 4th or 5th appointment?

I felt really on edge yesterday. I don't know why, just couldn't keep still. If anything, it helped me talk about pretty much everything I wanted to in that session, even if I did feel exhausted after! I think I forget that even having a conversation costs spoons. I also felt weirdly numb and detached. I don't know if it was just the brain fog or something, but I felt like I was watching myself say the words. When the Psychologist asked me how I've been recently, all I could say was "I really don't know". Maybe I haven't really let myself stop to think about how I felt? Anyway, we covered the appeal stuff and how I was getting on with asking for help. I've been doing ok with that, although my mum usually has to ring for me. I do get phone anxiety most of the time. Making calls isn't too bad as long as I know what to say and have a bit of an idea of what to expect as a response. I tend to note down the things I need to say so I don't go completely blank. Answering phones, I'm not so good with. If I don't recognise the number or it's a withheld number, I'll ignore it and hope that if it's important, the caller will leave a voicemail. Mum has had to answer any work programme calls because I've been getting seriously panicky. I don't even know why! It'll only be about an appointment or something. It's not like they'll be bombarding me with awkward personal questions. When I was working, I used to absolutely hate answering phones. It's something you have to do in practically every job though, so some colleagues/employers didn't like it when I clammed up or let them answer the call. I hope I can work again in the future. I don't know when I'll be able to because I'm struggling so much, but I hope that one day I will be on medication that works. Not cures (unless a miracle happens lol), just works enough to make working a possibility. So of course if/when I can work, I will need to be much more confident with phoning/answering calls.

So we addressed the phone anxiety. I have to try and answer the landline at least 3 or 4 times a week. A bit of exposure therapy I suppose. I don't think I've ever been great with phoning so it's about time I sorted it out. We also discussed my future. When I think about how I am now, and how the future might be, that tends to trigger the depression. It's made me extremely pessimistic. Ever since I was 13 years old, I wanted to be a Clinical Psychologist. It is my absolute dream. But I need to be healthy enough to train, get lots of experience, do lots of courses. I also need to be stable enough mentally that I can deal with the kinds of things that clients will talk to me about. I need to be prepared to hear some pretty tough, upsetting things. I can't show my emotions too strongly when I need to be strong for them. I can't burst into tears because I really feel for the client. Of course I need to be caring and compassionate, but I also need to be professional. We spoke about this in length and how I felt like I was never going to get where I wanted to be because of my health constantly letting me down. The psychologist didn't think it was out of my reach though. It will just take some time. She said I should look at courses now and it will surprise me how accommodating lecturers etc can be. I hope that's true. I've been looking at online courses but I don't know how to find the funding, and I suppose I've lost a lot of faith in myself.

We covered a couple of other things but I think the main points were that I needed to plan things out and not be afraid to ask for help and be assertive about my needs. I need to have a little bit of faith in myself.

Other than that, I suppose I've been trying to act a little more positive. I don't feel more positive, I'm just trying not to sound constantly moody on social networking sites, even in real life (a bit). I don't want to push people away. It does feel a bit fake though.

Ok, I'll leave it there and keep you updated :)

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