I had been receiving DLA and then PIP for the past 5 years or so, because of my mental health and Ulcerative Colitis. Following a mid award review which started in August 2017 and a medical assessment by Capita in November 2017, my PIP award ended on the 11th December 2017.
I have been reflecting on this a lot over the past 6 months. Financially the impact was significant, as it meant I also lost my Tax Credits award from the 11th December, and any day I expect a bill for £500 over payment following the year end tax credit review.
I have been lucky and been able to earn a little more money through the work I do and been helped by family.
I think the assessment found me no longer eligible, because I have moved into an acceptance phase of my illness. I accept the limitations of what I can do, because of my Anxiety and Colitis and have found a way to live which suits those conditions.
To explain further:
I work from home, on a part time self employed basis, undertaking digital marketing, with my work sent to me via email. I.e. I don’t have telephone conversations, I don’t go to meetings, I can schedule the work I am doing around my health, so I can do it mostly at anytime of the day or night to accommodate my illnesses. I don’t have to worry about toilet accidents, because I work from home – I don’t go out. When I need the toilet I can just go to the loo. I haven’t got to manage a commute to work. If I have to go to the loo half a dozen times – I can – no one is watching or asking ‘what is he upto’. If I have an accident, I don’t really think about it because I can just hop into the shower and stick my clothes in the washing machine.
I have learnt that routine is CRITICAL for my well being, so every day I get up at about the same time, have two cups of tea, shower, get dressed in a clean black t-shirt and jeans, take my medication and then have a coffee and a smoke as a reward, before being at my desk at 10am. Therefore, I am deemed as not needing help with dressing, washing or taking meds.
Because I accept the way I am for now, I don’t go to the doctors or attend therapy. So this means I don’t need help with that. I think the fact I hadn’t seen a doctor for a year – went against me, the assessor made a big thing about it, to the extent of saying she thought I should go to the doctors about my anxiety. But if I am accepting the way I am and I have found a way to survive – why do I need to – I am tired of trying different medications to no effect and therapy session, the group sessions make me so anxious before and during and don’t get any easier – why do I have to go?
I have a massive battle with food, I binge eat and probably have a eating disorder, but I can microwave a meal and eat supermarket prepared food and takeaways – so I don’t need help with cooking.
I manage my money, by checking my bank and credit card accounts fastidiously, every day and recording meticulous records – I run an old edition of MS Money. If things go wrong: I panic and need the help of someone else, but if my finances are ok and no surprises – I manage. Therefore I don’t need help with money management.
Decision letters from the DWP make reference to the fact I am working, so that clearly went against me.
My point is that because I am accepting the way I am (my illnesses) and am lucky to have found a form of work to accommodate my illnesses and am not at the doctors every five minutes does not mean I am well.
I manage my social anxiety by have very extremely limited social contact.
I manage my generalised anxiety, with medication and by avoidance
I manage my Ulcerative Colitis flare ups with medication, and accept having to go to the loo at lot in the mornings and feeling bloated and in pain.
I manage my incontinence by always being by the toilet and only leaving the house in the morning in exceptional circumstances, having carefully planned what I eat and eat as little as possible the day before.
I accept that I get depressed and my mood crashes and when that happens I just have to ride the blackest period out in bed for a few days, then crawl my way back into my routine
I know what to do, if my depression gets really bad and there are risks, I am more aware of what my triggers are now.
I am NOT happy – I survive. There is a lot I want to be able to do and even more that I feel I ought to do. But I have got to a stage where I am doing some work, wanted a break from different medication trails, therapy and constant trips to the doctors and decided to accept me and take a break from it and get on with it.
The cost of that is to loose my PIP award and Tax Credits