previously on dominocat…

I wrote this in notepad whilst I was trying to figure out how to get my site back up
You know that saying about waiting for a bus then they all turn up at once? This is my blog. In fact, changing webhosts and having a brain spack trying to get my blog back up has been a boost for Things Happening, because they’ve all waited until I’ve no means to tell THE INTARNET.
Anyway.
In an hour, I meet my new counsellor. In June last year, I had an assessment with the psychology department and the deal was that I would go on the waiting list for CBT. I was told that it would be hard work, and that it would last no longer than 8 weeks or so. That day, I realised that I would need to be in a Good Place mentally to do this, and spent the rest of the year trying incredibly hard to not get depressed again. I know that sounds a bit weird – it goes like this. Any time I started having negative thoughts, I made myself do something else. I played a happy song and sing along to it. I knit some bright pink socks. Anything that will put my mind elsewhere, and away from the negative and intrusive thoughts. I seemed to spend the whole time on the verge of a mental precipice, afraid that one false step would see me tumbling over the edge into the abyss. As it turned out, someone else pushed me.
It’s fair to say that for the last couple of months, I haven’t been in that Good Place. Strangely, it seems to have kicked me hard since I handed over my appeal statement to my solicitor. Somewhere inside my head, I’ve heaved a sigh of relief, and relaxed. A bit too much, because I lost control of the depression. The symptoms are the usual suspects, coupled with a lot of anger over the situation – and I am absolutely knackered. My physical health has suffered, and I think this year so far, I’ve had about two or three weeks of wellness where I’m not suffering from a D&V bug, or a neck spasm or a bad cold or a back spasm. Those well times have been spent feeling exhausted, feeling the need to recover completely – but it never happens, because some other health thing always happens.
I am worried that the psych bloke will think I’m feigning to get out of the work, or that I’m not suitable for the therapy or something. I’m worried that my brain won’t work properly, or that I’ll bugger my back again just as I’m getting somewhere. Most of all, I’m worried that I’ll fail.

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I finally finished it

I’d done about 75% when I got a message from Wonderful Legal Secretary with a gentle “ahem”. Something I’d promised her would only take the weekend to do, had taken two weeks so far.
I think the problem I’ve had is that I *know* that this is IT. Once that statement is submitted, there’s no turning back, there’s no “hang on, I forgot to mention x which is CRUCIAL to my appeal”. Part of me was afraid to write “the end, lots of love from dominocat” because I couldn’t quite face that finality.
When WLS nudged me, I realised that duh! I have to finish it and let her and Lovely Solicitor read it, so they can make sure it’s right. So, yesterday I emailed her my four page thesis on “My Health, and Why I Think That Doctor Was an Incompetent Fart”. I breathed a sigh of relief, and with a strange feeling akin to having a *massive* bowel movement, I went about my day.
Mr D had taken a day off work to take me to the doctor. She asked how my mood was, and I made a face, and said that this benefits appeal was getting to me a bit. I said that if it wasn’t for WLS and LS giving me so much positive encouragement, I don’t think I could have coped with it. What she said to me is something I want to pass on to anyone who is faced with a disability benefits appeal and is feeling a bit shit about it:
She told me that if I hadn’t appealed, I would have probably had to go and sign on. I mentioned that Mr D would also have to take time off work to take me to the job centre. She said that in being interviewed for Job Seeker’s Allowance, the interviewer would take one look at my abilities and what I can and can’t do, and wonder what the hell I was doing there. Of course, I would explain that I’d had IB turned down, and that I couldn’t face the trauma of appeal. Dr H said that the job centre would advise me to appeal, as there was no way I could feasibly be a ‘job seeker’. I’d have gone through an extra interview and extra stress for nothing.
When I first got the decision, it looked so damned obvious – these people at the Benefits Agency were either blind or stupid or something. I was livid, and could clearly see in my head in the space of a split second, everything that was wrong with that medical. That initial anger takes a lot out of you. When you go through the appeal itself, you realise what a pain in the arse it’s going to be. For someone with borderline OCD who needs to feel in control, it’s my worst nightmare. I send off a slip of paper to say I want to appeal, and I haveto wait until someone has scrutinised my medical report, until I get a massive wad of paper through the post that looks like a book manuscript, etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
I guess what I’m trying to say (because it’s starting to sound like I’m putting people off) is don’t give up. If you can’t get a solicitor, pester the CAB. It sounds like (according to Dr H) that the Benefits Agency is failing a *massive* amount of claimants, based on the idea that the fraudsters are less likely to appeal. No, the people with mental health problems are less likely to appeal – and this action by the government to try and meet John Hutton’s targets of getting 1m people off IB is misguided and cruel, and makes me more angry than I think I have ever been in my life.
I guess the key is to channel that anger into something positive…
When I got home, I had an email waiting for me from Wonderful Legal Secretary telling me that my statement was brilliant, and not to worry about a thing. I wasn’t going to put this, because I know she reads here, but I read that and cried a little bit. Whatever happens now, I think the hard part is over.

Gosh, they’re quick!

But at least the CAB has stood up and said something about the Incapacity Benefit Reforms proposals.
“People with mental health problems are particularly likely to be wrongly assessed”
What, really??? /sarcasm
In my opinion, we already are. The current PCA assessment works for people who know how to work the system. People with genuine mental health conditions like mine are more likely to be honest, and in my opinion, are more likely to have benefits denied than someone who is committing fraud and knows exactly what the Benefits Agency is looking for. The PCA awards points for malingering, and takes them away if you try to improve your condition.
I also note with interest the comment about assessing doctors being “rude and insensitive” – how about doctors who know nothing about the mental health problem they’re supposed to be assessing?
I had already considered writing to mental health charity MIND, and my MP about this, now I have back up.
The full press report can be found here.