Ever since I made the mutual decision with my employer to give up my job, my financial situation (on top of everything else) is a worry. I know this is the case for many people in this day and age, illness or no illness, but I often get stressed about the future of my financial situation. I have always intended to go back to work when I am fit and well but as time goes on its harder to see the finish line in this world of unemployment. As I mentioned before, I keep myself busy with volunteer work to keep my mind active and give me some sort of purpose (more a reason to get up in the morning). At present I am happy with my ratio of volunteer work and rest, but obviously I wish I had the ability to do more.
Coming from a hard working family means I have always had a good work ethic. So it’s hard to see my family going out to make a living around me when I am stuck at home because of my illness. I would love more than anything to have a ‘normal’ working life, where your weekdays are for work and evening and weekends for play. I miss the interaction with colleagues and the responsibility and pride that comes from doing a good job. I do my best to get this satisfaction from volunteering and creating awareness. That is why I have put myself out there for the world to see.
The prospect of benefit reforms in this country is a little worrying. Simply because I know from personal experience it is always the most vulnerable that suffer hardship and have to explain themselves for not being at work. Arthritis is a fluctuating disease that means sometimes you’re reasonably well and could probably do a days’ work. But on most days this is not the case and you may well be confined to your bed. This is why it will be hard to judge who is eligible for benefits under the new scheme. Medical exams for Disability Living Allowance, for example, have shown in the past for me that I was perfectly capable of work which couldn’t have been further from the truth. And now, the prospect of having all benefits taken away if you fail these ‘tests’ and being forced back to work is daunting. I wonder how the government intend to help these people with disabilities, which are not necessarily deemed severe enough to be on benefits, to make a smooth entry back into the workplace?
I am fortunate that I have a roof over my head. I live with family who provide me with what I need at a small cost which suits my very low income from the benefits I receive. But I know that many people with this disease do not have this ‘luxury’. They live alone, have no family close by and have to go out to work to meet ends meet. I do not pity those people, I admire them greatly as I don’t know where I would be without the support of my family. I had to return home to my parents because things had got so bad, I couldn’t afford to live alone and I couldn’t afford to live without the physical and emotional support they provide. I encourage those who are in the situation of struggling with your disease and finances to seek help, sooner rather than later before all these changes take place.