I Can Hardly Maintain Myself

09.02.15 (Day 413)

14.42

That’s the conclusion from DWP following my recent assessment for eligibility for ESA. I am entitled to Earnings Support Allowance because I am recognised by those in authority as being long term unfit for work.

It wasn’t a scam, there was no bullshit; I am at last able to prove and produce a piece of paper to confirm that I am genuinely unwell. Yes, I still have a drinking problem, which is recognised as an addiction. Those of us with addictive personalities don’t do it for the fun of it: it is recognised as a mental health problem. More importantly though, my chronic depression is now recognised as being long term. There is no root cause any more than there is a cure. I am simply unwell, like so many others. Like so many others, I am avoided because of this label I bear. It’s not a badge of honour but my manic depression to some extent is what makes me what I am. So live with it. I have to.

So the conclusion of the assessment is that I’m incapable of looking after myself. This is subject to debate, depending who you talk to. The main thing for me is the final recognition. The stigma will continue among the uneducated who are afraid to talk to me but that’s their problem and not mine. For my part, I’m pleased to be able to prove my doubters wrong.

As a result of the assessment, my ESA payment has been increased. I’ve also got back pay for the considerable amount of time I’ve been waiting for recognition. I’m now in what’s called Support Group. This means that I am highly dependent on external assistance, or some such shit. I am unable to help myself, which is subject to debate although I haven’t nicked anything – nor been nicked – since February last year. I did not bullshit in the interview and am merely receiving money to survive for as long as I am unfit for work. I paid my taxes when I was working and writing is not work, before anyone thinks otherwise.

I no longer need monthly sick notes from a doctor: I am long term ill. My priority for local authority housing has been increased. All I have to do now is pass the next assessment, due one month today, for PIP: another benefit I’ve been waiting an age from and the one which replaced DLA. I am officially disabled. I can get a free bus pass and everything. Like I said, I paid my takes when I was earning and make no apologies for taking something back. So shoot me. Once that PIP assessment is out of the way, my housing priority will increase still further. With the back pay I’m due though, I’ll be able to afford a deposit on a private rented property. I’ll get my own pad again. Then there are the small matters to attend to: getting my worldly belongings from my ex-fiance in Sidcup and starting mediation with my ex-wife to gain access to my kids.

So in a vain attempt to contain my excitement, I’m having a little day of self-congratulatory celebration. I left the safe house at 11 this morning and don’t plan to return until sometime this evening. For me it’s a day out and for them it’s a day off. Call the plastic police because I’m sitting in a pub. Drinking a pint of cider.

Earlier I met the mother ship and treated her to lunch. She’s been reading my first book and liking it very much she says. Then we went on a shopping spree, during which I acquired a new watch: a rather natty black number with an orange face, for now. The straps, faces and face dials are available in a variety of mix-and-match colours, so I may buy more parts to reflect my changeable moods. And a pool cue. I’ve been asked to play for the local pub’s pool team and always had my own cue when I used to play years ago, so it seemed rude not to get a new one. There ends the splurge as the money has a home: a home for me.

In about an hour, the eldest of my daughter-types is meeting me for a review of my new book, or what I’ve written to date; which is not a lot. This is the foldy one, who’s sixteen. I was hoping to see the middle one yesterday but aren’t allowed and the youngest one – aged fourteen – remains wayward. My clingy thingy has un-clung and is on the runaround. Tomorrow I’m meeting my kid sister, The Courts – aged seventeen – in this very same pub: so arrest me. Then on Wednesday – in this pub – I’m meeting a very dear friend nearer my own age. I’m very much looking forward to catching up with her as it’s been far too long since we drifted apart.

For now my writing arms are loosened up, so I’d better get on with the second book before my fold-up reviewer arrives.

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