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About benefits

Discussion in 'Benefits' started by Mynameiskez, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. Mynameiskez

    Mynameiskez LADA · Well-Known Member

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    Hi there.
    Sorry this is probably going to be a long post.

    I currently work full time in a demanding office job. I'm also nearing the end of a part time phd that's taken 5 years.

    I was diagnosed almost 3 years ago.
    I've got a long history of depression too.

    Just before my diagnosis I had noticed that I suffered lethargy and stuff led to focus. more than ever before (I've always been a fairly high achiever). I was diagnosed by chance but pleased to have an answer. I thought that bringing my levels into line would help.
    3 years later and I have the same issue. this last year has been dominated by a severe depression triggered by the suicide of someone i knew (not a close friend but I was one of the people to find him).

    I've completed a course of cbt and emdr since and am currently weeing myself off anti depressants.

    However the lack of focus and lethargy are still at large. after a days work I do very little at home. I am not motivated at all. it also takes a lot of effort to stay focused at work.

    I can't help feel that I am giving what little energy I have to my job at the expense of my quality of life. I am petrified I will lose 5 years work and not complete my PhD too.

    I earn a decent (not massive wage) but it doesn't pay for any luxuries to compensate.

    I'm considering looking into benefits and wondered if anyone has any advice on this. I'm concerned because I know how very difficult disability assessment are these days. externally I look and seem fine. I can do anything in want to really, but I struggle through lack of energy. also following my treatment on paper my depression is fixed. for the most part it is. But I'm a people pleaser and don't want my therapist to be dissappinted. she really did help the worst of it but I can't say it's gone, it's just less intense.

    I wouldn't know where to start really. what benefits? how to apply? how much can I expect? can I still study and/or do some work.

    I really don't want a life on benefits but I can't keep giving all I have for a job that's not THAT fulfilling and spending my spare time under the duvet hopine that no one calls on me for any social obligations. from what I can see the government will do everything in its power to keep you in a job if you have one.

    All advice and guidance recieved with gratitude.

    Best wishes
    • Hug Hug x 1
  2. mist

    mist · Guest

    Good luck getting benefits. I tried when I had cancer and they said I wasn't unwell enough..:joyful:
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. asparagusp

    asparagusp · Guest

    Welcome Kerry. In my opinion thank your lucky stars you are still in work. The considerable pressure you will receive from the authorities to find work will be harder to cope with. You would be better to look for another job whilst in work.
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  4. AndBreathe

    AndBreathe I reversed my Type 2 · Master
    Retired Moderator

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    Hi Kerry - Sorry to hear you are struggling to juggle your lot at the moment and finding it a bit overwhelming.

    Sadly, as both and achiever and a" people pleaser", it's not easy to either ask for help, or indeed to talk about the help received maybe not quite right.

    On the other hand, your therapist could well be horrified to consider that whilst she had helped you initially she is not longer hitting the mark. Most therapists really do care how their patients/clients are faring, and they too like to please.

    If you are still in active therapy, I would urge you to make yourself have a true heart-to-heart about whatever/however you feel. Your sessions are a safe environment to do that, and whilst it's likely to feel horrid at the time, it's likely to be key in the way forward.

    You mention you are weaning yourself off some medication, Is this a supported withdrawal (supported by your medical/therapist team), or something you have decided for yourself? Of course, I have no idea, but it could be that this isn't quite the right time to do this weaning, or maybe the pace doesn't match your mood?

    I totally empathise that you seem to want to be off these meds, but that could be contributing to the feelings you are having. I know when my sister-in-law was coming off anti-depressants, she had all manner of issues and it was a bit of a juggling match for a while to adjust things to make family/work/study (she was doing professional exams at the time) feel in any way do-able.

    If it really isn't hanging together for you at the moment, perhaps a short while away from work, supported by your Doctor (with a medical certificate) could just give you enough respite to begin to pick up your pieces again?

    Do keep posting. There are many folks here who have been on similar depressions journeys to your own (although I hope nobody will have had to endure your own root cause), so will have support to give you. Sundays can sometimes be a bit quiet on the threads, but it usually gets a bit busier in the evenings.

    I really do hope you begin to feel a bit chirpier soon.
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  5. Prem51

    Prem51 Type 2 · Expert

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    @Mynameiskez Hi Kerry and welcome to the forum. I'm sorry to hear you are feeling so low. I have depression too so understand how it feels. I used to dislike taking antidepressant meds and would stop taking them as soon as I could. But the dp would return again and I would have to start taking them again and endure the bleak dark mental pain again until they took effect. I now think I need to take them continuously. They do keep the dp at bay and I'd rather take meds than go through all that pain again. You should consider staying on them for the present time at least until you sort out your employment situation.

    I can't give you any concrete advice about benefits as it's over 30 years since I had to claim any. But I believe that if you voluntarily leave employment or are sacked you would be disqualified from claiming benefits for 26 weeks. The welfare system is now geared towards preventing people from getting payments. If you haven't seen it you should try to see Ken Loach's film 'I, Daniel Blake' currently in cinemas which will give you some idea how the benefits (or lack thereof) system works now.
    Even if you do get some sort of payment it can be sanctioned (cut or stopped) for the slightest reason, or in error.

    I'm now retired, but when I was employed I found that going to work took my mind off my dp, and I felt better than being at home on my own.

    I can't tell you what you should do, only you know your own circumstances. But I would suggest you try to stay in your current employment. If you are having difficulty coping with your present role perhaps you could talk to your employer about being moved to a less stressful job, or working part-time, less hours or days.
    If it is a large employer and you have been there over two years they should make adjustments to help you deal with your illness. Large employers are more aware of their responsibilities to people with mental health issues, and should help you. And they don't like losing valued employees. If you don't feel comfortable speaking to your line manager you could speak to the HR people if you have a HR department. Also if you are in a trade union you could speak to them as they could advise and support you.
    Going part-time would also give you time to complete your PhD.

    Leaving your current employment would be a leap into the unknown. You might not get any benefits, and even if you did you would be pressured into finding and taking ANY job, Which would almost certainly be worse than your current one, probably minimum or low wage, on temporary or part-time contract, and/or on a zero hours contract just getting some hours when the employer needs you.

    I know you currently feel that your problems are huge and insurmountable, but that is part of your illness. The dp will pass, things will get better. It sounds like a platitude, but I've been there and things really do work out in time.

    The best advice I can give is don't make big life changing decisions when you are in depression. They will probably be the wrong decisions and might make things worse. Be kind to yourself, take life one day at a time, even one hour at a time. Make big decisions when you are in a better place.
    Take care of yourself.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. ally1

    ally1 Type 2 · Expert

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    I will tell you my story
    I am on ESA after being on incapacity benefit. This has been going on for a few years. I was told at the time that I had PTSD and depression, I had lost my job because of a sexuality incident. To get ESA, you are first on a basic rate for 13 weeks, then are given a medical, you will either be told to go onto JSA if they feel you are not ill enough for ESA, or are put into work related ESA which is more then the basic ESA or into the support group of ESA which is more then the work related group. You are then reviewed at regular interviews. Forgot to say, I have now been diagnosed as having bipolar with depressive episode with PTSD.
    You could also claim for PIP, but that is very hard to get, I used to get DLA, until it changed to PIP. I have tried 3 times to get PIP and have been refused on all 3 occasions. I would love to work again, but I will have to explain to employers why I haven,t worked for a few years.
    I hope this has helped you in any way regarding going onto benefits
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  7. Maggie/Magpie

    Maggie/Magpie Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi and welcome.
    I've been on benefits for many years having had a break down and diagnosed with severe depression. The NHS kept my job open for two years but had to finally give up on me returning. I went straight on ESA and have been in the support catagory ever since. I know I wouldn't survive financially on just that. I'm lucky in that I receive a payment from an earnings replacement insurance I took out with a mortgage back in 89. It means I'm not entitled to any additional benefits but compared to others I know on benefits who really struggle to make ends meet I survive a little easier than them. I'm also lucky in that I receive PIP as I have other problems as well now which allows me to go out occasionally with friends but more importantly allows me to see my children once in a while.

    But being on benefits is not the answer, its tough, adds more stress as you don't know from week to week how your going to survive. There's rarely room financially for any extras, you can't just go down the road and buy whatever you like when you feel like it. It's not easy to obtain benefits any more and chances are they will pressurise you into going back to work anyway. If I was you I think I'd try and keep the job. If I could I would be working, I hate the humiliation of being on benefits, of not being able to save anything, of not being able to put the heating on in the winter because your scarred your very old boiler wont work any more and your have no hot water either and knowing you can't afford to buy a new one if it breaks down, so you put on more layers and huddle under blankets. I know others on benefits would be entitled to a new boiler but I don't because I'm on what they call contribution base ESA so not entitled to anything apparently. But enough of me i'm digressing.

    I've been where you have, if it was me I'd stick to the job, don't think your entitled to ESA or JSA anyway if you give up a job. Try speaking to your GP about how you feel, like its been said already they may sign you off on sick for a bit so you can have a break from it whilst your going through some changes with meds etc. I don't know anyone who likes to be on tablets but it sounds to me that if your still feeling depressed you shouldn't be coming off the anti-depressants yet. If their not suiting you then ask for a change, there's many options available. I'd suggest you try looking for a new job now, it's always easier to find a new job whilst your in one, try going part time and apply for working tax credits to make up the difference, it will take some of the pressure off for a bit and might be the solution.

    As for your PHD, you can be on benefits and still study that's not a problem.

    Anyway good luck with it all.
    Lets us know what you decide to do.
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  8. tigerlily72

    tigerlily72 Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi there

    You've had a lot going on in your life and some difficult and a distressing situation to deal with. I too have a history of depression and anxiety but I've learnt how to manage it and what to do when I feel that I'm getting low again. I too have completed CBT courses which are really useful. You have to retrain your brain's way of thinking. I was on anti depressants until around August this year but decided, without consulting my doctor to see if I could stop them. I have and my Dr is pleased.

    With regards to your employer - could you have some "reasonable adjustments" put into place? This could be a reduction in hours on a temp basis i.e. a later start and or earlier finish time, change of duties. It could be beneficial to obtain a "Fit Note" from your Dr stating what support and adjustments you need to remain in work. Depending on your employer, an occupational health assessment could also prove very supportive. I've had both of these myself which helped me through some difficult periods.

    You may not feel like it, but studies have shown that you are better off in work, with adjustments to support you. Have you applied or tried to claim Working Tax Credit? Depending on your housing situation you could be entitled to help with your rent and council tax, even though you're working. Have a look on the GOV.UK website for more information and contact your local council for advice about housing benefit.

    If you give up your job voluntarily and apply for Jobseekers Allowance you will be asked to complete paperwork giving your reasons for leaving and whether you spoke to your employer to try and find a solution to remain in work. It is possible that due to you leaving voluntarily that you may not be entitled to JSA (Jobseekers Allowance). Also, the rules and conditions for receiving JSA are strict and the benefit regime is changing. You have to be available and actively seek work on JSA.

    ESA is a bit different but if you are placed in the Work Related Activity group then work related activity will be expected from you. You will also have to attend a medical assessment. If you do not score enough points to remain claiming ESA you would then have to claim JSA.

    I hope this helps and you start feeling better soon. There is a light at the end of the tunnel . . . Keep walking towards it. x

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