Coincidently, today’s activities have a direct link to Mental Health Awareness Day, so here’s what happened;

October last year I finished a dream Job with Aden Production, and with nothing lined up afterwards, I knew I had a struggle ahead. If I was physically and mentally well enough, I probably would have accepted any work at the time, but I’ve been there before, and pointless Jobs do not get you anywhere in life, unless of course, you have a strategic plan to use a Job as a stepping stone to get you where you want to be, but stable work is hard to come by and once obtained, can be tough to let go of. For many countless souls, a stable job can end up being a barrier between you and your dreams. Time is precious and nobody wants to live with regret. I’ve always taken risks with employment, putting myself totally out of my comfort zone in order to move somewhat in the right direction, but this time was different. Something in me had switched and I’m not quite sure how to turn that switch back on yet.
I turned to the government for financial help, but the system let me down. While I totally understand that many people exploit the benefits system and as a result, rules have been tightened, but I genuinely needed help at one of the lowest times in my life where my social anxiety was that bad I couldn’t even leave my own home. I did everything that was requested of me by the government, enduring cramped waiting rooms full stereotypes that I didn’t want to be around. It was deemed by a ‘health professional’ that looked younger than me, that I was ‘fit for work’ having only awarded me 12 points in their scoring system: 15 of which you needed to qualify for help. Awarding somebody points for their physical and mental illnesses, like it’s some sort of game, was probably one of the most demeaning things I’ve done. Especially when you’re told at the end that there’s nothing wrong with you and you should be working. Society facilitates this message over and over again as it’s easier to treat you all as numbers on a sheet, ready to switch out whenever convenient. The lack of humanitarianism is seriously frightening.

I wasn’t happy with this, so I appealed the decision and 7 months later, a date was set for my court case, but the appeal was postponed the day before the hearing. Of all the days, my rescheduled date ended up being today, which just so happens to be Mental Health Awareness day, which for some reason gave me a little more strength than I otherwise would have. I had help with the appeal process from Roger at the Disability Advice Project in Cwmbran. If it wasn’t for Roger, I wouldn’t have appealed at all, as the process was stressful and nowhere near as easy as it should be. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Roger couldn’t make the appeal today, so I had to go it alone, to what ended up being the most demeaning process I’ve ever been through. I don’t think I managed to string a single sentence together that made any sense to man, but in the end, I won the tribunal case. They awarded me ‘18 points’ for my mental health. I’m not sure what this means exactly yet, but they’ll likely give me the help that I should have received in the first place. If only they could wipe out all the stress and worry its caused to me and my family this year, not to mention the thousands of other people who have also been denied help, people of which have far worse cases than mine, but if there’s any message to take from this, it’s to stick up for yourself, don’t allow anybody to palm your illness off and say there is nothing wrong when you know deep down there is. Get help. Our minds are not invincible, they have a limit and they can break, just like a bone, only it takes a lot longer to heal.

He might be small, insignificant, hiding in his safe zone, but he’s processing the world as it rushes by. So long as he concentrates on himself and the things that are most important, he’ll survive the winter ready to burst into life again next spring.

Common Lizard