Having written about how anxiety has affected most of my life, in this post I thought I’d write about how being on Job Seekers Allowance and benefits in general has created and worsened stress and anxiety.
My first experience with Job Seekers Allowance began in 2011, I just finished college and had a few weeks off, then it was time for me to start looking for work, I had no idea what I was doing. After only a few weeks on JSA I was a offered a job at a local factory where both my dad and brother were working, I quickly learned I wasn’t destined to do this work, on what was supposed to be my second day I ran thinking this was the only way out, my stress and anxiety was at an all time high, at this point my thoughts ranged from I’m a failure, thinking my family wouldn’t want to see me anymore, I knew they’d be angry/disappointed. Eventually after several hours walking I contacted my mum (I didn’t know what she’d say whether or not she’d be angry) she simply said “it’s ok come home”, as I walked back, contacted my dad, I apologized for letting him down, yet to my complete astoundment he told me its ok don’t worry, I broke down and started crying, spent the rest of the night feeling as if something awful might happen but it didn’t.
So it was back to the Job Centre where each visit I would have to interact with staff who’d judge you immediately and security staff who’d look at you like you’ve done something wrong, my stress and anxiety increasing every more whilst having to complete weekly job search forms in order to be paid.
In February 2015 after months of improving my qualifications and gaining experience in the area of which I wish to work the Job Centre were going to force me into a mandatory work placement, at this point in time my stress and anxiety was sky high not only this but I was angry about many things going on around me that I couldn’t control, This eventually all became too much so I signed off JSA and went on to Employment Support Allowance, I’ll always remember that day that evening as I walked the dog I saw the world anew the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders and I stood tall again. For the first time in years I could just bask in the glory of doing nothing.
During this 7 month period it wasn’t always easy, having to send sick notes, which more than once the government had misplaced causing me more stress and anxiety. By September I was sent a letter which stated I was to undergo a test which would determine whether or not I remain on ESA. Alas this was not to be after what was a less than thorough assessment I was forced back onto JSA.
My anxiety has been worse than ever with my skin breaking out in a rash and my hands have become shaky not to the point where I can’t hold anything but a noticeable shakiness in my hands.
To finish this I say It’s time to change people’s perception of mental health!
© Lewis Bull 2016
Read Lewis’ previous contributions:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu