Benefit scrounger…………….Yeah Right

As promised, I am going to have a big rant about the Media and MP's calling anyone who does not work a scrounger. Me and #raspberrytalk used to run a photography business called Campbell Photographic
Running your own business is a lot of work because you have to do a lot of admin as well as the actual job. Also there’s meetings with potential clients, marketing, etc … the list goes on. So me and #raspberrytalk are not what some people call “work shy”, we are both far from it. Before we ran our own business I worked as a sales assistant and #raspberrytalk was a Senior Store Designer for Sainsbury's. Both my job and #raspberrytalk’s could mean long hours and sometimes for #raspberrytalk it meant days, even weeks, away from home.
My husband was someone who could run a business meeting of contractors, architects, etc, or someone who could organise and keep happy 300+ people at a wedding for group photos, etc. When we ran our photography business we would both have to interact with people we only met once or would not meet until the day of a photoshoot. My husband was a very confident, strong willed man. These days #raspberrytalk suffers massive panic attacks at the thought of going out to the supermarket to do food shopping, or hides trembling in the kitchen if someone comes to the front door. Sometimes he has really bad aggressive outbursts when he will scream and shout at people or himself, but then he’ll try to stop and control himself by self harming. He will scratching himself until he bleeds or hit himself in the face/on the head and punch or head butt walls in a panic.
Physically, a good day for him is a day where he can have a shower and wash his hair (with my help of course) without collapsing from exhaustion. A bad day will mean staying in bed crying because of the constant pain, unable to think clearly or speak properly and drifting in and out of sleep because of the fatigue (but never feeling rested or refreshed). He has not got the physical energy needed to do a job and because of his mental health problems there is no way he would be able to interact with people safely. For those of you that don’t know what problems my husband has, go to the WELCOME PAGE. Now ask yourself, could you work if you had just one of those problems let alone all of them? Choosing to be my husband’s CARER was a natural but by no means a easy one. It meant I could no longer work because my husband needs continual care and supervision. This meant money would be tight assuming the DWP recognised the fact that my husband is ill and needs a carer. Those of you that regularly read my blog will know that we have had to battle to get the benefits we are on currently. We had to fight to get his DLA. It took over a year for the decision to be overturned at tribunal, which meant during that time I was not allowed to apply for CARERS ALLOWANCE.
During that time #raspberrytalks conditions had also gotten at lot worse, which meant by the time he was awarded middle rate care he could barely walk! So we then had to reapply to get his mobility award … which is another story!  My husband is also receiving ESA which, after 6 months on assessment rate, he was sent for a Work Capability Assessment with ATOS. You can read about his horrific ordeal here – #raspberrytalks WCA horror story.
I'm sure a lot of you have heard a lot about ATOS and their assessments and trust me, the bad stuff you’ve heard is true. Me and #raspberytalk know first hand what these guys are really like. After going through what could only be called torture, mentally and physically, for both myself and #raspberrytalk he got granted his ESA under regulation 35.2. Certain claimants to be treated as having limited capability for work-related activity.
35.—(1) A claimant is to be treated as having limited capability for work-related activity if—

(a)the claimant is terminally ill;
(b)the claimant is—
(i)receiving treatment by way of intravenous, intraperitoneal or intrathecal chemotherapy; or
(ii)recovering from that treatment and the Secretary of State is satisfied that the claimant should be treated as having limited capability for work-related activity; or
(c)in the case of a woman, she is pregnant and there is a serious risk of damage to her health or to the health of her unborn child if she does not refrain from work-related activity.

(2) A claimant who does not have limited capability for work-related activity as determined in accordance with regulation 34(1) is to be treated as having limited capability for work-related activity if—
(a)the claimant suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement; and
(b)by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work-related activity

For now both me and #raspberrytalk are getting benefits. I’m currently getting Carer’s Allowance, but this is only because he won his appeal for DLA (which is going to have to renewed later this year). We get joint ESA, which we had to renew before Christmas and we are still waiting to hear back ………….
Sounds like a lot but it’s not. I get Carer’s Allowance, £59.75, but as this is classed as income (35hrs+ per week for £59?? Well below minimum wage Mr Cameron!) our ESA is reduced by the same amount, which does make me wonder why I even claim carer’s allowance. But any money is better than none, especially with all the changes to other benefits such as housing benefit, etc. We do get an extra Carers Premium of £30 because of #raspberrytalk’s level of disability, but it’s still not a lot.
Even being on these benefits we struggle to pay bills. When we go food shopping we always look in the reduced section, we look for the best deals and when we do eat we always reuse any leftovers for another meal. Nearly all of our clothes are bought from charity shops. We don’t go out every other week for a meal or buy ourselves nice things. We did go out for my 40th birthday, but that was a treat and we saved for the whole year for it. Despite what the media would have you believe we don’t go away on loads of expensive holidays - we haven’t had a proper holiday since 2005, except for a reduced, last minute weekend at Warner because the car service cost less than we had allowed for and a couple of visits to #raspberrytalks dad in Scotland.
So anyway, I am now having to be a full time carer, which is a lot harder to do than a normal 9-5 job or run a business. As a carer you get paid less than minimum wage and in some cases you never get time off. We live in constant anxiety and stress because we never know what each day, hour or even minute is going to be like because of my husband conditions. We live in constant fear of the dreaded “brown envelopes” arriving or debt collectors banging on our door because of the money we owe. Also when you do eventually get offered some help, it is usually very little, not really suitable and usually too late.

So what’s the real point of this rant? I just wish the media would stop focusing on the people that are clearly not in the same situation as me and raspberrytalk or the majority of real people out there that are in need. I really wish that certain MPs and TV shows would stop calling anyone on benefits scroungers, work shy, malingerers, etc.
I don’t want to get political but the MPs are really making things worse by shouting their mouths off about something they really know nothing about.
I hate the fact that we have to live on benefits and will probably be on them for the rest of my life. #raspberrytalk hates the fact that he can no longer provide for me and himself. He is also frustrated that he can’t do any of things he did before he became ill or that he has to rely on someone else to look after him.
I really wish just one of those MP’s could step into my shoes for even just one week or month.
Special thanks go to:
Raspberrytalk’s family for their continued love and support.
sam pledge
@pritipatel (yes she’s an MP, but she has helped me and @raspberrytalk with the DWP).   



My Health Part 2

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Some of you may remember me writing a blog entry about my own health. For those of you that didn’t, you can view it here
I wrote that back in June last year and since then a lot has happened.

I think I will start with my mental health. Well I finally got referred for some counselling, but unfortunately the only kind of counselling available on NHS is CBT. But I thought I would give it a go anyway …. and you know what? It has actually helped!
I have become a bit calmer as a carer and I have also worked through some of the guilt I had bottled up. So in this instance CBT has helped, but the only trouble with it is that it only deals with the hear and now and not the past.
So what about my physical health? Well I personally don’t think that has changed much. It’s no worse or better, but I do now at least have some answers.
For the past few years I have been having problems with my legs. To cut a long story short, I saw a neurologist back in January this year and he has given me a diagnose of Fibromyalgia. Yep, the dreaded F word! Those of you that read my blog and have followed my blog will know that my husband @raspberrytalk suffers with this condition as well.

So is this just a strange coincidence or is there more to this condition? This is something I will talk about more in another post.  

Also, I have been given a diagnose of a condition called syncope, which is basically another word for fainting spells (well that's how I understand it).
So, I have some answers to what was and still is going on with my health. Meanwhile I am still having to care for my husband full time. One of the things my CBT lady wants me to do is to have more me time, which I have done, but I have only been able to do this when family were visiting. Yes, having time for myself is important, but it is hard to do when you are the prime carer for someone with not only physical health conditions but also mental health problems.
Since last June I have had loads of blood tests. If I remember right some of my markers were slightly high, so the docs wanted to check them a month later. When they rechecked them they were then showing up normal, so that was the end of that.

The neurologist put me on vitamin D and he also requested I have some more blood tests! Hopefully these will give the doctors and me some more answers.
I also have a had a psychiatric assessment because I was having hallucinations. The psychiatrist basically said there’s no real help they can give me because they no longer do counselling …. what a waste of time that was …. never mind.
But it did give me opportunity to talk about things, however briefly, and I did get prescribe something to help me sleep. I now no longer take SERTALINE but instead I am now taking MIRTAZAPINE at night to help me sleep … seems to helping so far.