Monday, 29 January 2018

Job Centre

Not since my working days over a decade ago have I dreaded Mondays as much as I do at the moment. Monday is signing on day except I no longer sign on because they have me in a sort of limbo at the Job Centre where I am not eligible for any benefit but still need to appear to receive NI contributions. Is it a worthwhile trade off? No. I mean it might be somewhere down the line but at the moment  its got to the point where I am giving serious consideration and to be honest its most likely probable that I will ditch it.

It seems a bit silly I know. In essence I go to the job centre and talk for 5-15 minutes and then that is me for the week. And in return I get my NI contributions which are a virtual thing that I cannot pay bills with. The alternative is getting a job and through this process I have looked at mean seeing some I would love to do and applying for some of those without success. To be honest though I know that if I got a reply I would panic and an interview would probably send me into meltdown. The truth is I am not ready to work yet. Its as simple as that. But the DWP have declared I am without ever seeing me and despite the fact 3 years ago they claimed the same and I fought them and won my case. The Job Centre are under the impression I am fit for work too because if I tell them I am not then I will be told not to come back. But I am not fit for work. Another limbo. I must go through the motions knowing there is no way I could work at the moment.

So why bother? That has been what I have been asking myself. Mainly I keep going because I thought in the beginning if I kept attending then eventually the anxiety would go away and that would free me to go for interviews and get back into work. That was the theory at least. Well actually the real reason I went in the beginning was to get some sort of money coming in but that didn't happen so now I have been going to get used to appointments again. But having first attended in November things are not getting better. In fact in all honesty things are getting worse and I am going backward. I fear a return to the dark times and have been reliving past bad times again I had forgotten about. On paper it looks like it comes down to 5-15 minutes of my week but that is not the reality. It takes up much more than that and each week it seems to take up more time.

Last Monday for example my appointment was 15:05 so given the job centre is in the next time I was not there to collect my son for the first time in years. My wife was working too so she had to arrange for another set of parents to collect him and keep a hold of him until I got home. So I took him to school and did some CBT amongst other things then around 14:30 walked to the train station and got the train into Hamilton. This in itself was enough to start the adrenaline pumping and although its just a short journey I felt really cold and shaky as I got off and made my way to the job centre. I got there 5 minutes early and its the same every time. I went from being freezing to having to take of layers because I was soaked in sweat and my face was burning. The shaking persisted. I sat there with a few other people in the open plan area and some people at desks while security guards roamed. Sitting there the panic just spiked and kept on spiking. I kept my head down looking at the floor and rubbing my hands. I could not stop the urge to run. It was like an alarm in my head I could not escape and when I looked up it was out the window to where I could breathe if I just left. Seconds felt like hours. This is the way it is every time. My mouth was so dry I needed water. I had brought water but my hands were shaking so much I did not want to draw attention to myself and even if I did drink water then I had a fear I would need the toilet because there are no toilets there. This persisted. Turns out someone was off and they were running late so for half an hour I sat there until finally seen.

This time it had changed and I didn't like it. Since I am in full blown panic for 95% of the appointment I do not question and struggle to retain. I no longer had to "sign on" as I had been doing and instead was being moved to something else. She went through terms of work I would look for. Originally I had been told baby steps but after signing I had agreed to at least 30 hours a week doing any type of work 5 miles from home it had "Universal Credit" at the top. I had been asked many times if I wanted to apply for that and said no and yet it looked like I was being signed up for it. It was all getting too much to be honest for what I was getting back. The experience every week is something I really struggle with but its not just in the job centre. The only good thing is that point where I realise its over and the adrenaline washes away leaving me feel good and relaxed. That night though and for nights after I struggle to stay awake as it physically drains me. That should mean good sleeps right? Unfortunately not. It just means I am like a zombie for days because my mind is filled with worry over these appointments so I wake with panic and come the weekend its all I can think about as the dread lingers.

Its not working out as I hoped and today I took the unusual step of cancelling my appointment. I do generally feel too ill to go but since cancelling I am starting to see the feelings of nausea, upset stomach, shaking and some other things are anxiety. I see clearly now that this has been building and building to the point its making me feel ill and on top of that making each appointment harder. That is what has me pondering whether to go on with it. I see how its affecting other things and sending me backward. For example on Tuesday I went to collect the boy from school as I was do and in the playground was suddenly hit with panic out the blue. It was bad. So bad I started to walk out knowing full well I could not leave my son but also knowing I had to leave. This was what I used to experience a few years ago and this is how much its affecting me now. Years ago I would go and my wife would stay but I was alone and had to stick it out. I did it but again its something I was on top of which I am now struggling with. When we went up North at Christmas I was in panic for the first 20 minutes of the journey and close to asking my wife to turn around. This again is like a few years ago. Even at home its been happening. Two weeks ago I was in the living room before school while the kids were getting ready and I had a full blown panic attack out of the blue. There was nowhere to escape to but I considered actually going out and walking about for a bit it was so bad. In all cases they finally went and in all cases I was never in any danger but its because more and more of an issue on a daily basis rather than just quarter of an hour a week.

Today then I have escaped it but that in itself tell me its time to give this real consideration. I am not benefiting from it in any way. If its sending me backward as it appears to be would it not be wiser to end it? Of course but there is a stubborn part of me which thinks if I can overcome it then I will feel better for it. On the other hand though if I don't I may set myself back years and regret not intervening when I knew the time was right. I haven't cancelled yet but I will give it some thought for the rest of the day.


ADDY said...

So sorry the anxiety has gotten a hold of you again. You were doing so well too. The thing to remember is that you CAN overcome it, as you have done before. Capitalise on your successes and don't dwell on the failures. You'll get there again one day.

Rab said...

Thanks Addy, Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.