So, yesterday my sister made me leave the house to go see the Home Options Team in Grimsby.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m being made homeless in a few weeks; one of my options was to go to this team for advice after registering for social housing.
What a waste of time.
Not only couldn’t the person we spoke to offer much advice or help but she displayed such a blatantly discriminatory attitude – not to me, that ‘looks middle class’ advantage I have made its appearance again – about certain of her clients that I was slightly shocked. The woman we met made it clear my sister and I were not like her usual clients; no drug or alcohol problems, not pregnant, educated to university level. Apparently that meant my options were limited.
Pretty much my only option was to find a room in a shared house; the housing benefit I’d get would cover my rent and they’d be able to give me a payment from the Home Options Bond Scheme to pay my deposit etc.
I’d have to give up my dogs, my scooter and my books.
Do I need to explain why that would not be a good thing?
We tried to tell the woman about my depression, and explain how a shared house was not a suitable environment for me, that my dogs are more than pets, they are a major lifeline for me (people struggle with this idea for some reason) etc. She clearly thought I was up to something. Unfortunately for her I have a diagnosis from the GP, a history of anxiety and depression, and know the name and dose of my medication.
Her next salvo was to claim my depression couldn’t be ‘that bad’ because ‘you’re here today’.
Really? Guess what bint, the only reason I got out of bed, the only reason I was there was because my sister forced me to leave the house. She drove me to the Resource Centre, walked me in, did all the talking and made sense of what was happening while I coasted through pretending to be normal.
I get that people become jaded in that sort of work, it must be hard listening to so many distressed people every week, possibly feeling threatened or enduring physical or verbal abuse. I understand that single, childless women in their thirties are not a priority for the welfare state; there are other, more vulnerable groups who need the resources. I don’t have a problem with any of that.
What I have a problem with is the clear prejudices displayed by someone who’s work is to help the vulnerable and disadvantaged. I find it disturbing that this person feels it’s perfectly acceptable to treat me better, with more respect even though she couldn’t really help, than she would someone in a less privileged position.
I also resent her assumption that she knows more about my mental health than I do. I am the only one in my head. Everyone who struggles with depression experiences it differently, each of us have different root causes, different triggers, different coping mechanisms; only we know what’s going on in our minds. Even if the advisor has had/has depression, her experience of it will be different from mine; what might be easy for her may be the equivalent of climbing Everest for me – not impossible but difficult nonetheless.
I had a bit of a bad day today, partly because of yesterday’s exertions and dealing with that attitude, and also because I’m worrying about finding a job and somewhere to live.
Not a surprise really.
I had to sign on today after my work placement. It wasn’t exactly a fun experience but at least I got some reassurance that I will have some money next week. The advisor I signed with went to school with my dad in the seventies. He didn’t give me any hassle and explained where I’d gone wrong filling in a form.
I went to my sister’s after to have a cry and cup of tea. I had a chat with my brother-in-law, my niece got the Jammie Dodgers out, when my sister got home we went for a drive round Immingham to look for houses for rent. It was pleasant, once I’d stopped bawling like a baby.
I’m trying to keep bobbing along, because the next few weeks are going to be difficult.
On the positive side, I’m going to look at a house tomorrow; my sister has found a couple of other houses for me to consider and is going to arrange a viewing. She’s my babysitter/escort/driver at the minute; I’d be hiding in my room until they dismantled my bed and forced me into the scary light of day otherwise. I’m really grateful for her support because she has other commitments, namely the darling children, my decrepit bro-in-law who needs putting out if his misery (joke), not to mention her job and organising mother for this move.
And now I must go. I’m rambling and tired.