To work or not

Just raising the mattress last night by 4 inches meant I woke this morning without any pain in my back or lungs, the answer was there just waiting for my stupid brain to catch up with it. For somebody that used to be paid for having an analytical and creative brain, it really is a bad show to say the least. Yesterday was my normal day for the shopping from Asda to arrive, the delivery guy was one who comes here a lot and we have talked about all kinds of things in the past few years. Just as he was emptying one of the last boxes he asked me how the job hunting was going, I know I smiled before I said I had given up on it. It’s two and half years since I last worked and as I discovered no one was willing to employ someone who could only work from home. The government wrote me off the day I was made redundant as being housebound meant I couldn’t make it to the Job Centre to sign on, that meant I was too ill to work, something at the time I didn’t agree with.

I guess that anyone who found themselves suddenly without a wage the fear of how we were going to survive would be high in their mind. Yes we are lucky here in the UK and due to my health I was luckier than most, the benefits I get are higher than the normal job seeker, but it is still a million miles from what I was earning. I really thought that by now we would be in deep trouble and that our home would be at risk as paying the mortgage would be beyond us. Of course, Adam is bringing home a wage but that hasn’t changed any, it is still the money we always had coming, into our home and going out as fast as it arrives. I can admit now that I was scared, really scared of the future I thought was ahead of us, but here we are still in our home, still paying the bills and still with a small amount of my redundancy pay sitting in the bank. It has been eaten into over the past two years, but at a much slower rate than I thought it would and I am now on a drive to spend less, just to raise that buffer against the world back to the limit we are allowed to have. For the first time yesterday a question appeared in my head, why did I keep pushing myself to work, when life without it has had so many pluses?

When all the stress of getting back and forth to the office where removed and I worked from home only, my health improved slowly, the biggest change was in my eating, I could, I slowly weaned myself off the gastric tube and started eating solids again. When I stopped working altogether, well everything else seemed to improve for a while as well and I do mean everything, a gain that has slowly disappeared again, but it gave me a spell where my condition improved before heading back down, I had a short spell of respite. For years I fought to work, I pushed myself out of fear of losing everything and yes our financial position was improved by pushing myself, but how much damage did I do? Now I know that we would have survived financial, maybe not quite so well as we are, but we would have done it, we would have managed. Living on benefits isn’t a cushy option, but it is possible to do and if you rent your home unlike us, well it is even easier as the government pays rent, but doesn’t pay a mortgage. If you are at this moment feeling as though work is just too much to deal with, well it might be the best option to just stop. My doctor tried and tried again to get me to stop, but I refused to even take time off to recharge, if I had really know the difference it would have made to me, well I would have looked at it more closely as a real option.

My health clearly isn’t up to managing a job any longer, everything that has happened to me in the past 18 months has taken away the physical and mental capability required for the type of work I did. After a full year of searching and firing out emails across the country I faced the fact I would never work again, it isn’t an easy thing to accept, as work has been the centre of my life for a very long time. The thought that I can no longer earn enough to give both of us a good lifestyle is hard to come to terms with, far harder than accepting the government handouts. I guess none of us like to feel useless, I can’t actually be sure if I was more scared of being useless or of not financially supplying for both of us a good level of lifestyle. It is a hard question to answer as both are so totally opposite to the life I had and thought I would always have. Finding yourself written off by people who have never even spoken to you, just because on paper you add up as someone incapable of work really hurt me at the time, strangely I now thank them for it. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t been made redundant if the government hadn’t decided I was unemployable. What I am reasonably sure about is that my health now would be far worse and I might now be facing the same situation two years on, but starting at a much lower level all round.

Chronic illness and work don’t really mix, there is no reason why anyone can’t work through most conditions in the early stages, finding that point where life has to change is hard. I had it taken out of my hands and I was forced into a position of no choices, but I do think now that it is something that everyone who is ill should start to plan for. Work out your finances, look at what you can claim and think carefully about the advice your doctors give you. The government in the UK are making it harder and harder to claim disability benefits and I don’t see that changing in any way in the near future, it may and has lead to many people who are unable to work being forced into trying to find a job. It’s a little made to find yourself grateful for having really bad health, but that is the position they have put me in, I either need perfect health and the ability to go out there and work, or to be at least as ill I am now, so that we can financially live. It’s made it a rather mad world for all of us.


Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 05/03/12 – Room 101

The sunlight is so crisp this morning that you can see at the same time both the warmth and ice that is still in the air. These are the type of morning that has people out heading to work with that little extra spring in their step. Sitting here where I spend nearly 80% of my waking hours, I have a clear view across the living room, though the bay at the sky and the flats opposite. My husband is one of life’s nosy people and he frequently blocks my view as he has to know what is…….

1 thought on “To work or not

  1. I’m in a very different situation to yourself regarding money, work and personal circumstances, but I really struggled to stay in work back in 2010. I started at DWP (oh the shame of that hated organisation!!)in 2005, when I’d only had the Fibro and couple of lesser things since the 2004, but was not finding it causing me too much bother. Of course, that began to change and by 2007, I was struggling, but being stubborn and not wanting to be on the “other side of the fence”, I carried on 5 days a week, with what I was hearing on the other end of the phone(my job was taking benefit claims on the phone and putting info on computer)getting more and more stressful and the organisation themselves not being very supportive as you as their employee.

    Procedures and statistics started to change more and more, for the worse of course, no matter how fast you were, how reliable (I was all of those things) they hassled you all the time and I couldn’t cope and got very depressed with it all. By 2008 I was much worse, went down to 4 days a week and that helped for a while, but then it was discovered I had Osteoarthritis in many joints, would need at least one hip operation, even when I had that and had to be off 3 months, would you believe they still did “back to work” chats on the phone, I had to go in one day on my crutches, even though it was set out what I’d need to recuperate!!!

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, there were major issues with my son and not being allowed to see my gorgeous Grandson, who I’m very close to, I almost cracked completely and left in October 2010, claimed Jobseekers Allowance as I was terrified of trying to claim sickness benefit as I knew what they were doing to people on it and thought at that time, maybe I could still do some softer work or maybe part time. Would you believe they initially turned me down for it, saying I had left with no good reason!!! I was outraged, know too much of the system, so immediately appealed and sent a letter telling them in no uncertain terms why I had left and that much of it was down to them as an employer. I got a letter soon afterwards saying I could now have it!

    Of course, despite applying for loads of jobs, getting interviews, nothing has really happened, as soon as they see my age at the interview, my walking stick, etc., they don’t want to know, then you get the, “why have you been out of work so long”, made to feel it’s your fault. I can feel that I’ve got much worse, my retention of information is very bad, the fatigue and memory loss is a major issue and i really don’t think I’m capable of doing a paid job in the jobs market the way it is and what’s expected of you. But at age 52, 53 this July and the awful things this Government are putting those of us of working age through, I don’t know how this will pan out and it’s so worrying. I now have until 68 until I’m technically “pension age2 and that could increase?

    Sorry not to end on a positive note and I’m too tired to be typing this as been out all afternoon, but while it’s fresh in my mind, if not a contradiction in terms!!

    Take care, Marion


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