ESA, WRAG And The DWP’s Cunning Plans

Most of the search terms that bring people to this blog are based on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and people wondering what to expect once they are given the benefit (ESA) and sent to the work program.

As I am unable to write about me at the moment I thought it would be a good opportunity to enlighten people to the idea behind this program and the genius that is Iain Duncan Smith’s plans for the long term unemployed, especially those of us on sickness benefits.

It is really quite simplistic and can best be explained in the following 7 words

IF THEY CAN FUCK YOU, THEY WILL

Sadly that is the stark reality, if by some miracle you make it through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and are placed into the work program you will made to feel like such scum that eventually you will do something that results in the DWP/ Job Centre sanctioning you and losing your benefits.

The providers of the work program take nothing into account when it comes to your mental health, your needs and requirements. When I attended Seetec I offered them advise on how to help people with anxiety, they were having group meetings with 20+ people and one lady there had a panic attack. I spoke to the manager of the centre and suggested to them that they have one of the empty rooms in the building available as a place for people to go if things were getting too much for them. I may as well have asked them to wipe my arse with bread and make a sandwich out of it based on the reaction, and subsequent lack of anything being done.

What they will do is make you attend workshops whereby the best option they can suggest is to become self employed, nearly every session I attended they tried to force me onto this workshop. I sat in on one to listen to the wonderful success stories they could provide us with, the tales of how many people they have got back into employment….. forgive me while I go and repair my sarcasm detector which just exploded…

The biggest success story that they could tell us about was a couple they got off of benefits who now did Car Boot Sales for a living… oh yes that weekend tradition of selling off crap for pittance.. which of course can only be done during the summer months assuming that it has not been pissing down with rain the night before…..

If you are given any appointments to attend work program providers, do not expect any help if you are unable to make it. They will simply mark you down as not attending and will inform the job centre where you will most likely be sanctioned, and not even notified about the sanction until after your money has been stopped.

Attend everything they ask, grin and bare it because the big plan of the DWP and IDS is to make you come off benefits by hook or by crook. If you simple say “fuck it” and give up the benefits all that matters to them is that in the media they can proudly state that x amount of people are not claiming benefits anymore.

We are not people with feelings, illnesses, ailments we are simply scroungers to be put through as many hoops as possible, and sadly too many of us cannot cope with this treatment and lives are lost – which again results in propaganda statements about people coming off benefits.

The media are hardly going to say “55000 people are no longer claiming benefits, because they have taken their lives due to the DWP/IDS killing machine”

The worse thing about all of this is that it will only get worse, zero hour contracts will become the norm and the MP’s will continue to get pay rises…. and a change of government will make little difference. The next stage is that we are expected to spend 37.5 hours a week looking for jobs, if we cant get a decent paying full time job they will expect us to take multiple part time jobs to make up the difference, and we will be forced to sign up to a website that is full of fake jobs and scams….

Naturally as we are British and have a stiff upper lip we will continue to hold our ankles and take it…

 

#mentalhealthselfie

Proof that I do smile now and again! seeing as there is a big no make up selfie campaign doing the rounds on twitter and facebook to raise awareness of cancer here is my own version for mental health

mentalhealthselfie

ignore the chins – operation fat bastard is underway although the score so far is treadmill 1 – moose 0

and no make up in sight…..

Guest Post – Mark

I have followed Mark for a long time on twitter and he is someone I have great respect for! I was delighted when he agreed to write a post for my blog and I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.

Music is helping Mark in is recovery and you will be pleased to know I have added his songs to the blog below.

This post may be triggering for some as it talks about suicide so please be careful if this subject may be too much for you… now over to Mark

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My story starts on Oct 17th 2001. The day my life changed forever.  I was working as a musician and working for a production company. I also ran 4 performing art schools for children. That day was a normal working day for me another gig another show. During that day we were on the road driving towards the venue when I was involved in a severe road traffic accident. I was a passenger and we were hit by a drunk driver coming round the corner at high-speed. That’s the moment the lights went out and one life ended and another life began. People were killed but I ended up in hospital seriously injured.  So began a long dark journey. I suffered broken bones and a brain injury. After months of recovery it became very apparent that I was not the same anymore. Headway got involved and so began the long slow process of starting life again and trying to recover only now it was different.  I suffered a frontal lobe brain injury. My emotions and everything about my personality had changed. I also found I couldn’t do what I used to do so on that day I had my life stolen from me. Another way of putting it is I was raped of my life. Months went into years and years. I was diagnosed with clinical depression PTSD and borderline personality disorder.

During the following years I attempted to take my own life on several occasions.  From taking overdoses to standing on a train track waiting for a train to come. The train didnt come. Once I was allowed to drive again I also drove to the lake district and took another overdose but some how I was found by the police and was rushed to hospital. We lost our house our cars are savings and most of what we owned .During this time I spent a lot of time inside an acute psychiatric hospital on a secure ward . I did not want to live any more because my life had ended as I saw it , I couldn’t earn the money I was earning and I couldn’t look after my family. My family went through hell my wife wanted to leave me and my children needed counselling. Such was the damage on our lives. During this time I was given a CPN called Kelly Perkins . She turned out to be an angel a saviour . I now owe my life to her. Along with many talking therapies  CBT and others. She along with Lyn Atkins another angel from headway kept us together as a family. Without their help we would not be together today.
Another problem I encountered was the lack of understanding from some family members. Often stigma is very close to home and  on one occasion drove me to another suicide attempt.

In 2010 we decided that the best thing we could do was to move to try and start again as everything around us reminded us of our old life. We moved from Bedfordshire to Dorset.  We settled into a quiet life by the sea. This was the first time I was trying to live a new life with some hope. Sadly during the spring of 2013 I suffered a relapse and ended back inside an acute ward. I was again suffering extreme anxiety depression and suicide thoughts again.
During my stay I found an old guitar and for some reason I started to play a bit again. This resulted in my wife bringing in my guitar.  I now found I had words and songs pouring out of me so I started to write and write.

During this time I had also started to become aware of Dorset Mental Health Forum. Somehow through my recovery this time I found a new purpose and that was that I had a passion for mental health issues and all the songs I was writing was about my lived experience , I had found a new voice and so I started to talk more openly about it. I was on a new meds regime and these were starting to work. I then found myself having meetings with Dorset Mental Health Forum. This led to me getting involved with something called Tea and Talking in conjunction with Time To Change leading to becoming a peer specialist for the forum now I had found a new purpose in life and that was to spread the message of recovery and to tackle stigma. I have been recording all the new material which is now nearly finished and will be available soon. Recently I was inspired to write a song for the Time to Talk campaign which I have done. I have also been asked to write a song for Blue Apple Hero’s about PTSD .
My passion and focus is now on raising awareness and sending out a message through music and speaking that recovery is possible even from the darkest place. I will live with what I have for the rest of my life but thanks to some great people and of course my wife who has suffered greatly  and family I move on to a new life, one that is wanting to see and help others who suffer . That’s my lived experience and I share it in the hope that it brings you hope.

Mark Storey

Mark can be found on twitter here

If you would like to submit a post for this blog please get in touch with me via twitter/facebook or email using the contact page

Antidepressant Withdrawal

I knew it was coming, that it wouldn’t be plain sailing. Despite people thinking, and treating me like I am an idiot I went into cold turkey with my eyes wide open expecting the worse but hoping that it wouldn’t be that bad.

And in all honesty it has gone a lot better than I expected…but the last few days have given me a big reminder that the battle is a long way from over.

As everyone knows – because I have had so much expert opinion sent my way… it is not advisable to just give up antidepressants and I am not advocating it for anyone, but it was something that I needed to do and in the main I am feeling a lot better mentally as a result.

There are some symptoms of Antidepressant Withdrawal that I am dealing with, so thought it would be a good chance to share with you how things are.

The following comes from webmd.com the full article can be found here

Symptoms of Antidepressant Withdrawal

Symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal depend on the specific medication you have been taking. Studies have not revealed factors that predict the chances of developing antidepressant discontinuation symptoms – including how long someone has been taking an antidepressant – although some research has found that discontinuation symptoms may be more likely in people who have had a more complete initial response to their antidepressant.

Symptoms most often occur within three days of stopping the antidepressant. They are usually mild and go away within about two weeks. Symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Tremors
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting

Currently the biggest issue for me is the Electric shock sensations which is irritating to say the least, as someone who has had a fucked up sleep pattern for years the trouble sleeping is a pain in the arse but one that I am used to but 2 out of 16 symptoms is pretty good and I will take it!

According to the article these should last for a few weeks from stopping the medication so as we approach week 2 of “cold moose” I am hoping they will soon disappear.

I have not had a single “dark” thought since coming off the medication..

The mood swings are not an issue, but what I am finding is that I am getting pretty frustrated with people lately, the cause for this seems to be that my bullshit detector has returned! I am thinking so much more clearly in regards to the attitude of people towards me and this is leading me to frustration. A crossroad if you will between giving people the benefit of the doubt or simply walking away from them, however I have spent the past few years accepting shit because I felt that was what I was entitled to…

Wouldn’t it be lovely if people were honest all the time instead of this game playing, bullshitting, say what I think you want to hear, selfish, need you when it suits me, talk to you when it suits me attitude so many people seem to be afflicted with…and breath

I can tell I am on the right track when people get offended, rightly or wrongly, by what I say and I couldn’t care less. I am actually sick of apologising all the time just for a quiet life. Do I ever get an apology when they are in the wrong? Of course not..

I want to surround myself with more positive people, people who want to bring the best out of me again. I would rather have 2 friends who pick up the phone, or knock on my door than have 100s of people who are passengers on the moose train. I have been very lucky this year to have already seen around 20 people in real life, not just connecting via social media.

Sadly some of them have moved on without me and as much as I miss a certain person I will not be reaching out to them, dropping me was their choice and I respect them for that, even though I don’t agree and if you are reading this (and 100% they know who they are) I hope you are well.

So with that in over…. I do have some good news

Operation Fat Bastard is a go..

I have rejoined the gym and cannot wait to get my winter coat off! Getting out the flat and back into the swing of the treadmill and yoga was one of the things I wanted to achieve for 2014 – so that’s one tick on the “to do” list

All in all I can’t complain too much, I am ready for the fight and feel like coming of the meds has thus far been a success. I am not naive enough to think the storm has passed and the black clouds will not try returning but I am confident that the future is looking positive because I am back in control.

Like it or not the Garry that I used to be is becoming more and more vocal and breaking though the barriers that depression had put in front of him…

 

 

7 days

Before you start singing Craig David or Sting songs – depending on your age I thought now would be a good time to update you on the Cold Moose Experiment.

A week medication free for the first time in almost 2 years, yes it was risky to do this and while I am aware that it is still early days I can truly say that I have not felt so strong mentally in at least 5 years!

The best thing personally is that I have spent some awesome time with Brandon. He has been away at his mums due to being ill but when we have been around each other we have laughed so much – it has been great.

I have laughed and smiled so much lately – forget that strange looking yellow thing in the sky everyone is asking about, the new phenomenon is the lesser known smiling moose currently doing the rounds of Woodford/East London.

I have been out and about the past few days, visiting relatives even going to the cinema. My stomach woes are currently gone! I feel like a normal person in terms of the IBS issues. The early morning spells of being locked in the bathroom being scared to leave the flat again appear to have disappeared. Now its worth mentioning that the IBS issues were a problem BEFORE the medication entered my life, but I am convinced the stress was as a result of the meds, the anxiety and panic attacks were as a result.

There has been a few problems since I stopped taking the meds – it is not all plain sailing

I have been having dizziness problems, especially when I am out walking. Not enough to make me lose my balance or worry – but every now and again I have to stop in my tracks for a few seconds. Hopefully this will ease as my body readjusts to “normality” in terms of a lack of chemicals.

Secondly is the return of the sex drive! this is not good when you have tennis elbow :D

On the plus side I may have to seriously consider moving to Canada – click here to find out why!

_73510716_moosesexbuttons

Anyone else out there willing to support moose sex? if so please wear one of these badges so I can identify you!

Any Canadian readers please find me one these badges! I must have one!!!!

I feel alive, I want to get out again – hit the gym again and keep this fighting spirit going.

It may have cost me some friendships but I feel like this has been the right decision – so far.

Long may it last…. if not then please let the sex drive stay! priorities are in the right order..

Cold Turkey (Moose)

I realise this post is going to cause a few people to worry and panic but please just support me and not lecture me….

I was in bed for 4 hours before I actually managed to sleep last night, my head was full of ifs, buts and maybes about my current situation and I had a damn good thinking session and have come to a big decision. No idea how it will turn out but I need to try something.

I have decided that I am no longer going to take my antidepressants (pause for dramatic effect)

I can’t get any lower or feel any worse than I do at the moment and this is WITH the meds..

So what if

the meds are making my anxiety worse?

the meds are making my stomach worse?

the meds are making me reliant on them?

by increasing the dosages it just makes me feel more addicted  dependant to them and I have an addictive personality as it is

I feel like giving them up may make me have to fight some more as I feel like a quitter lately because I have let the depression overtake me, safe in the knowledge that the meds would do the job..

I have to try this at least and see where I am in a few weeks time because something has to give, and I dont want it to be me!

Asking For Help – Eventually

Okay I will admit it, I am pretty fucked up at the moment, and by pretty fucked up I mean REALLY REALLY fucked.

Denial of how bad things are in mooseland has reached breaking point and “fake it till you make it” just does not work for me so grudgingly I went to the Dr today. Garry made an intervention on behalf of moose if you will….

So what exactly is wrong?

in simple terms – FUCK KNOWS..

I am in a mess if truth be told and hiding has become a specialty, hiding away in bed from the world outside, barely setting foot outside the flat, still I guess in someways it can be seen as progress that I am actually sleeping in the bed and not the sofa… I am averaging about 18 hours a day in bed at the moment not all sleeping, lots of frankly bizarre dreams which wake me up a lot. It is unusual that I remember my dreams as it is but lately some of them are just insane. The theme of them has changed recently but not for the better! Before they were constantly about Sheryl, now they all revolve around me being alone with no where to turn. I would love to describe them fully but to be honest they freak me out a bit..

I am tired of fighting constantly, fighting to keep going forwards when I feel like I am in reverse. It feels like I am in a boxing fight with my hands tied behind my back and my energy levels are at an all time low.

It seems the harder I try to move on with life and fight the worse things get!

On top of this is a few revealing insights that have been given me to, all meant in the right way yet devastating in the truth that lies within them

I do try to be a good person and to help others, but is there really a hidden agenda behind my willingness to do this?

Do I really just help others because I want them to notice that I need help?

Do I really push people away to see who comes back? if this is the case how many times can I keep doing it before I end up with nothing and no one?

I know I am desperate for therapy and help but its still not forthcoming from the mental health team. It is nearly 2 years since I was referred to them and in all this time I have had 2 appointments. One was a 30 minute chat with a cpn who simple said I was not bipolar – I still have my doubts about that! and the other was with a psychologist in November who said I would hear from them “soon”. Thankfully my dr is writing to them today to try and chase this up as she can see that I would benefit from therapy and that I am getting worse and not better.

Is the only way to get help for mental health problems to access them via  A and E? thankfully I am not considering a visit there anytime soon but how long is soon for fucks sake.

I need help and I need it sooner rather than later

and worryingly this is just the tip of the iceberg…..for now lets hope doubling up my medication will have some effect or have I just become immune to them now as well….

 

 

 

Quick Update

I am still here, still struggling to write and still dealing with more shit than I can currently handle – as always most of it self inflicted but moose is still fighting and just about clinging on.

Things have been improving in terms of how I am viewing myself, I am starting to get my confidence back again, helped by actually having a sex life again! yep moose has found his game again and rutting season is in full flow…

Hard enough (pun intended) to believe that one person finds me attractive but even better is when its a few people

BUT even better than having a few admirers is when they actually come over and visit! So besides being worn out by “moose meating” (I LOVE this phrase, thanks Mary for coining it) and an attack of the deadly man flu I do feel fairly positive again.

So much so that I am actually driving myself mad by a lack of activity! I have no plans currently, all the things I wanted to do have had to be held back until September/October time in terms of courses. Financially I am fucked and cant afford to implement any of my other goals until I get rid of this huge debt I am paying off – for someone who has such bad credit how the hell these companies keep giving me loans I do not know! but 3 out of 5 are paid off and slowly but surely I am getting the others down… I would say I am currently on the bread line but I cant afford bread… Money and Moose is not a good mix at the moment but I am proud that I have managed to clear nearly £800 of debt since the turn of the year although the struggle feels never ending!

I have had some amazing moments of clarity the last few days and can start to see a bright future, once I get this fucking debt cleared! I am very grateful to a few people who I wont name who have kindly donated via this blog to help me out – you have no idea how much this has meant to me. The friendships I have made since I started writing have been wonderful and I am honoured to have you in my life as friends and “mooseketeers”

My down moments are actually horrendous at present BUT with each one comes a new strength and peace of mind as I can process all the issues that are holding me back. Stepping back and being able to look at things as an outsider is a real positive and one that came from this blog.

At some stage who knows I may even take the advice I hand out to people and use it for myself! but I am taking Janes advice and working on a list of things I want to do and although I am two months behind schedule this year I am already doing things this year that I havent done for a long long time.

I want to get more involved with charities this year and get myself back out there again, these four walls in my home are starting to depress the hell out of me, once this poxy weather improves I intend to make the most of the sunshine again. I have places I want to visit, friends far away that I want to annoy in person and dare I say it…find a new Miss Moose.

Today is the first day in a long time that I have felt able to actually sit here and write a post,  this is a good sign because I have missed blogging! It has helped me so much, made me grow as a person and I want thedepressedmoose to be more famoose than ever! I am starting to realise that the only person who is hurt by my hiding away is me!

The penny is dropping again that I DO have a lot to offer and now I want to strike while the iron is hot.

It also helped seeing my face on Mind’s facebook page! who doesnt love a bit of fame now and again!

Moose in his first modelling shot for Mind!

Moose in his first modelling shot for Mind!

 

what has also been fun is people actually interacting with me via my facebook page! I need to pay more attention to it and get people talking- after all its how I have turned many of you from readers to friends! drop by the page, like it and say hi! find it here

so much for a quick update! but was good to feel the writing bug come back again!

so tell me, how are you REALLY doing?

Rant of All Rants…

I don’t write as much as I would like these days, the crippling self esteem issues make me feel like I have nothing much of interest to say at the moment particularly as the days seem to be exactly the same.

That being said I was visited by a very close friend who came over from Ireland just to give me a kick up the arse, which was much needed and it has given me the strength back to voice a few things that are bugging me!

Hold on to your horses folks and you may need to cover your eyes as this is going to get a bit sweary.

I am sick to the back teeth of people being snide, abusive and down right wanky towards me!

So here is a list of things that I am not…

Firstly as much as I would like to, I am not well enough to work! so you sending me messages telling me how you have to go TO WORK etc etc do not help me feel any better about myself. If I could go out to work and not spend the whole day worrying about where the toilet is, how my anxiety will cope with change do you not think I would be doing that?

I am not a cunt! I do not treat you like one so dont treat me like one in return! Whilst I spend time taking your mental health into account please remember that I have my own illness to combat.

I am not here to boost egos, confidence or just be used when you need someone to talk to. I see the pattern whereby when I need someone to talk to the invisible cloak comes out and I have to deal with things myself. It’s great to talk to someone as well as offer someone an ear but it has to be equal!

If you dont like something I say, tweet or post just fucking delete me, unfollow me whatever but do not message me moaning about it because I am not here to please everybody. I tolerate a lot of shit because I have worked damn hard to have some sort of reputation via this blog but no more will I be told what I can and cannot say! Kindly fuck off and take your opinions with you.

Because I didnt make plans to go to the other end of the country and fuck you it doesnt mean that you can appear every now and again with snide comments designed to belittle me and drag me down.

I am soft and weak when it comes to certain people but this is not an open invitation to use me when it suits you, I am not a door mat and despite first impressions I can do without you in my life. Step up or fuck off!

And the biggest thing that pisses me off is the amount of people that expect me to contact them first – no more me just giving if you cannot be bothered to send me a message, pick up the phone etc then time to say farewell.

I have depression, I suffer a lot with self esteem but with the help of Mary, Gary, Cougar, Sarah, Maria, Amy, Cindy, Caro and Juliana in particular I can see now how I am letting others destroy me because I do not stand up for myself enough.

When I am bad it would be nice if someone reached out to me, alas if I dont contact 90% of the people I know I hear fuck all from them.

Naturally people will automatically assume that they are being targeted by this post, but that is a sign that they have something to feel guilty about – as far as I am concerned keep that opinion to yourself because I am not interested in anyone bringing me down anymore.

And if you dont like it…. you know what to do!

Operation Get My Arse In Gear Is All Systems Go

Despite the year starting as the last one finished I have now started the process of getting my shit together again and trying to move forwards, making up for lost time spent under a black cloud the past few weeks.

Today I went back to the Dr and finally told them how things REALLY are and what a struggle it has been, and still is to an extent. The great thing about doing this blog is that I can go back over the posts and spot the signs of when things are heading downhill so I am fully aware when the cycle changes from average to shit again. Okay maybe sometimes they are good too…

This week has been really positive in terms of shaping the future, short term at least because that is what needs concentrating on.

It is amazing how much the mood can turn when someone goes out of their way for you, my confidence has gone through the roof since miss cougar stayed. It was lovely to realise that I AM attractive and do have something to offer and that feeling of the shackles being snapped off in terms of the past few months was as much as a relief as knowing I do not have blue balls anymore…..

I have wallowed in low self esteem for too long, but in many ways I tend to force myself to rock bottom from time to time and I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to my depression. If I ever get of the fucking waiting list for therapy I will make sure this is explored further.

Speaking of therapy, surely almost 2 years of waiting is long enough? In that time I have had 2 “initial assessments” but the wait goes on.. something that I mentioned to my GP today.

I have a few ambitions for this year, money allowing and want to visit some places in the UK at some point. Once I get these poxy loans paid off I intend to start booking train tickets. I especially want to visit Newcastle as I have a HUGE thing for the geordie accent so would be in heaven up there. Bournemouth, Ireland and Liverpool (Irish and scouse accents are 2 and 3 on my list!) are also must see places this year for me. So any readers with a spare room and a love for jack daniels and cleaning up moose sick please get in touch!

As far as the loans go it is amazing how people with such bad credit get accepted in the first place but I have managed to clear 2 so far with 2 to go, I am touched at the people who sent me donations via this blog which were used to clear some of the payments off.  I am working my butt off to clear the others asap. Another example of being my own worst enemy. I am pleased that there is only one arsehole who tries to put me down via this blog, Asylum Heaven kindly fuck off with the comments they are trashed before approval anyway. Most people are not judgmental and understand  the issues I have are linked to my cycles of depression but for those who want to try and make me feel worse with your comments..I wouldnt waste your time because your comments wont be approved so you are wasting your time.

Things are improving day by day, I am in contact with more people and have had a few visitors to Moose Mansion already this year with a big one next weekend when a great friend from Ireland is coming to stay! It is important to have something to look forward to and I know she cannot wait to spend time with me :D

Being famoose does have it perks! I will be strolling into Macdonalds with her using the old “dont you know who I am?” line to get a free bigmac or 2, failing that I will be walking out with more straws than I will ever need, who doesn’t love a freebie!

While I remember I have a facebook page that you should like if you are on there – for no other reason than I am a numbers whore click here to find it and share with the world! I am also still looking for guest posts for this blog, on any subject about depression, how you deal with it, if you look after someone with depression, how you cope with a partner etc etc

I love being able to give people a voice and cannot recommend enough trying to write to release some shit from your chest, it has worked wonders for me time and time again so dont be shy get in touch and send me your words of magic!

As we leave January behind and enter February remember that the year has still only just begun, things can get better if we give ourselves a little time and not expect overnight change – hard as that can be at time.

Here is hoping that I can create plenty of memories this year to share with you, even involving some of you as well – what would be better than a mooseketeers get together in London at some point!  Imagine that we can all wear something moose related and take the big smoke by storm!

And if miss cougar is reading this….maybe you can work some magic on the antlers this weekend!

flaccid-moose