An Introduction

Welcome To A Jackals Voice. The intention of this blog is to be an outlet for myself and others on topics that are not generally discussed...

Friday, 16 June 2017

Lost in Welfare

It has now been over eight months since my condition worsened. Prior to my current condition, I worked full time as a Barman doing up to 50 hours a week, more on some occasions. I took pride in my work, and despite my anxiety, at that bar I was home. Nothing and no-one could intimidate me there. I felt like a valued member of a very close team. In all honesty, I probably loved my job too much and should have made more time for other things. I justified it by saving to go abroad on my first holiday in many years, and certainly my first holiday that I would be paying for myself. I was happy and overly proud of myself. When I got ill, I lost that security and sureness of self, and was left with nothing to show for it.

Currently, I am unemployed. Given the state of my condition, working in a regular capacity is pretty much out of the question. Aside from running this Blog I have very little to keep me occupied. I am now living of ESA payments and am applying for PIP. Whilst the logical part of me is saying that this is only temporary, and that I am entitled to receive help, the old me is ashamed.
I've never been one to accept hand-outs. I am a terribly proud person, and up until now I have prided myself on being self-sufficient. I refused help before because I would rather struggle than accept defeat. In my own mind, accepting help was a weakness, and I didn't need anyone else. If I had been asked a year ago if I would be living on benefits, I'd have laughed. Yet here I am.

I will say that I fully approve of the welfare system. I think it is wonderful that people who are in need of help can get it. Providing a person genuinely needs help, I can't say I've ever looked down upon people who are receiving benefits. That is, until I look at myself. I feel humiliated that I'm having to ask the system for help. It got worse when I realized I wouldn't be getting enough without applying for more help, and then had to ask friends and family to help me keep my home.

My condition has humbled me to no end. I still try to go and see my friends when I can, just to have a laugh and a joke. However, every time the topic of work comes up, I begin to talk like that barman who lived only to work. Suddenly I'm all proud and I talk about the hours I work,that is until I'm reminded that I don't actually have a job anymore.  As you all know, friends will always make jokes, but every time my unemployment comes up, a little part of me weeps.
Clearly, I have some hang-ups about asking the system to help me. I have hang-ups about asking for help regardless. However, this got me thinking; 'Why am I so upset by this?'. The answer to that question varies, but the answer is never truly justified. It boils down to stigma in the end. Whilst I do try not to judge people for how they live, I am judging myself. I know for a fact that some people look down on those that claim benefits. You only have to look at the embarrassed faces of the people in your local job-center to know that.

The reason I have brought this up today is because I feel that this is something I need to address, and most likely other people need to address too. The stigma placed upon people that receive benefits and the stigma against people with mental conditions connected. No matter how you look at it, to judge someone poorly, based on something that is out of their control is completely wrong. Whilst we have all heard the horror stories of benefit fraud, it does not give anyone the right to put people down for asking for help. Then again, if any of you have any experience of trying to claim benefits, you should know how hard it is to get them in the first place, let alone commit fraud. In my opinion that is a lot of effort for a very small pay-out.

To ask for help is not weakness, it is simply a request. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, but something to be embraced. In this day and age, no-one should feel ashamed for either of these things. The system is there for a reason, so use it if you must. If you'd broken your arm would you be ashamed that you couldn't do your job? No, it was most likely an accident. Therefore why should any other condition be any less valid?

I realize this is a touchy subject for many people, and I hope I have not upset anyone. In all honesty I simply wish to address a problem that I have with my own circumstances.
Now over to you. How do you feel about the welfare system? Perhaps you have your own issues with benefits? Maybe you yourself are claiming benefits and are unhappy?
Please leave a comment below or contact me at my e-mail.

This has been A Jackals Voice.

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