Citizens’ Advice Bureau

I tried to write this entry before but I hadn’t taken the time to investigate the workings of the WordPress iPhone app, and lost the entire fucking thing. I am mad, but I do want to record this matter, so I will try again.

I went to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau today, to obtain assistance with and advice on my Disability Living Allowance claim. Believe me, I do not like this. I am an intelligent, until recently hard-working and, on the face of it at least, personable woman. And yet here I am claiming my living, or at least trying to do so, from other people, the poor sods who actually work for their fucking money. I am a dolescum now, and I hate it. I hate it, I hate it, I fucking fucking hate it.

Anyway, my advisor was a friendly, just-short-of-middle-aged woman called Colette. She is a volunteer with the CAB. Other than whatever the relevant expenses are, she is totally unpaid, and yet she loves her work.

This fact led me to ponder her obvious altruism compared to my infernal misanthropy. Since I have been off work, I have often thought of doing some voluntary work, but do I really have the requisite people skills?

Anyhow, Colette – clearly very knowledgable regarding DLA – dutifully filled out the majority of the mammoth form to what appeared to me to be considerable effect. Nothing escaped her notice. For example, we discussed my ability to cook. Unless Mum or A specifically encourage and monitor me, I just don’t do it. That was duly noted on the form, but Colette, upon hearing of my self-harm and two suicide attempts as a teenager, decided we should add a reference to this; cooking is difficult because using a knife may encourage further self-harm.

For the record, I disagreed with her. But she said that (a) the DLA form considers the worst case scenario and (b) I could self-harm. She asked had I genuinely not thought of doing so recently. I was a bit concerned about answering this truthfully, as I had brought Mummy Dearest with me (I can’t deal with unfamiliar situations on my own). For the sake of her sanity, I have kept my present suicide ideation and fantasies of self-harm from my mother. However, after a bit of procrastination I relented and admitted in as rudimentary terms as the situation allowed that I still do have these thoughts. I do need this fucking money whether I like it or not, so there is no point in witholding information from the SSA.

I found myself liking Colette, even though I am not sure I would get on with her socially. She suffered from depression for some time herself, so was able to empathise with my misery. She did confess that prior to her depression, she subscibed to the general societal idea that mental ill health was simply angst or attention-seeking; however, when she experienced the misery of real depression, obviously she reassesed that view. Interesting to hear views from someone who has experienced both sides of the fence. I’ve been mental for so long now and through so many of my formative years that I don’t know what I thought before.

My mother appeared to want to befriend Colette and actually asked why she had become depressed. I was mortified at this blatant intrusion into the woman’s private life, but Colette herself didn’t seem to mind. Apparently, she was intimidated out of her home and guns were involved.

This upset me on two counts: in the first instance, the incident was probably related to the despicable tribal warfare that permeated Northern Irish society for so long and to some extent still does. I should add that I love Northern Ireland in general; I just abhor sectarianism.

Secondly, I was full of self-disgust as here was another example of someone who has a genuine reason to have a mental illness. I don’t and yet I am totally consumed by it. I am pathetic.

Anyway, if you don’t know, the CAB is a charity. I gave them £10, money I could ill-afford, but that they deserve and need regardless. Please consider donating if you can; more details will be available on their website at www.citizensadvice.co.uk.

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