Saturday, 25 October 2014

The journey from work to welfare

Is not easy. I had my own hiccups along the way, but this experience we've had with David this time has been horrendous. There's always the issues of adjusting mentally to being sick, to not being able to work, to feeling like you're not contributing to anything, worthless, like you should be getting back to work as soon as you bloody well can and to "suck up" your illness. All these things go through your mind and are part of the adjustment, or the recognition, of your illness.

Then you have to seek welfare to survive.

Often with illness, both mental and physical, there is the guilt of not working. Like you've failed. Like the illness should just go away. Terribly inconvenient illness you know. Getting in the way of life's success's and all. Often even the act of seeking welfare is humiliating in itself when you've spent your whole life paying your way.  In the great majority of cases you have just been traumatised by a recent mental or physical disaster.

I've had quite a bit of experience with Centrelink and dept of housing over the decades. I know all about how to deal with them as my wife and I were recipients of both their assistance when raising our daughter. Once the Centrelink computer lost her tax file number too. David however has had fuck all experience even with Centrelink. He like me has worked for decades, but he never had the need for assistance. Suddenly he had to get help from Centrelink from illness.

He had no paperwork. Not even a birth certificate. No drivers licence (I don't either btw - the cops seem to have a thing about it). It was a great thing just to spend time and money to get enough ID together to even get in the Centrelink door.

He had no idea how Centrelink worked. He thought he was bothering them to ring them about something. He didn't know how accident prone both the branches are and the Centrelink computer is as well. That mistakes happen, and you have to be proactive in nursing your forms through their system. He knew none of that and it had a big impact on his mental health when it became apparent to him the maze we were presently negotiating to get money not even enough to live off.

He wasn't very computer literate. His area is nursing, and he knows how to work all the stuff at work. But he didn't even have an email address (*faints*). He had little idea about even how to navigate around online, and correspondingly wasn't set up for internet banking or anything. Much of proving poverty is being able to spit out bank statements on demand. This became a question of late to social workers and the like, how do people get through all this bullshit without a computer?

Add to that all the fuck-ups and bureaucracy along the way by various agencies. It turned into a recipe for disaster. All in all, as finally the Carers Allowance is being fixed up this week for him, it's taken 3 months for him to transition from work to getting everything that he's entitled to from Centrelink. We began this whole process at the start of July.

During that time all we've had for much of it was my partnered disability support pension of $760 a fortnight. Gone into huge credit card debt and nearly ended up losing the place we're in, and all the mental health issues that go along with that. The experience broke both of us mentally, me in particular having three panic attacks in a month, two of them very severe. The thought now of having to deal with any more bullshit is beyond us, I guess that was why the housing form became so hard to do.

Today we are both still dealing with the horror of those weeks. Can't say either of us are doing very well there. We've been told by professionals that it showed the strength of our relationship as most couples would have split up in that time. It was complete hell. Ironically our love for each other became the shining light in all of that and we were drawn even closer to each other.

But on a lighter note, I did find comedy in the midst of it all. The printer had been pumping out shit for days, and this one form at the end printed out this. It printed the whole page, along with the grey screen using my printer ink, and had a bit of black typing in the middle:

"This page left blank intentionally" 

No comments:

Post a Comment