I’d like to start by saying I am incredibly grateful that I live in a country which does offer welfare benefits for those of us who are ill, disabled, of retirement age and so on.
You must fight a system based on fear, on penalties and on paranoia.
You must face a system where the starting point seems to be that you are guilty of fraud until you prove otherwise.
You must battle a system which seems to be designed to reduce claimants as much as possible.
You must meet a rigid timetable set by the benefits system but don’t expect them to do the same.
You must repeat yourself over and over again to different people, on different forms and don’t you dare forget to say something because that could make or break your claim.
You must provide full and detailed information, you must alert them to any changes and yet, in return, you do not get a transparent system.
You must deal with staff whose sole purpose seems to be to misunderstand you, to invalidate you, you minimise or erase your health issues and to treat you like a liar.
Don’t be foolish enough to have co-existing illnesses or disabilities. Don’t be foolish enough to have a complex multisystemic disorder that affects you in multiple ways. Don’t be foolish enough to have a fluctuating or unpredictable condition. They will intentionally fail to understand.
Expect to be treated disrespectfully. Expect to be taken to task on every little thing you do. Expect your words to be manipulated. Expect to argue about pedantics.
Prepare for paranoia. Prepare to be scrutinised. Prepare to feel judged and worthless. Prepare for your mental health to suffer, even if you had no mental ill health previously. Prepare to feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall. Prepare for a system which is devoid of common sense and compassion. Prepare for your assessment to state that you are absolutely fine. Prepare for an appeal to declare otherwise. Prepare for the stress that this long, drawn out process involves. Prepare to feel guilty on good days. Prepare to feel paranoid if leave your home.
Do not expect to be treated humanely. Do not expect to be treated as a human.