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Killing themselves may not be their Intention… / 31 October 2010

I’m HIV+ and dealing with depression and in practical terms that means I lack energy and I get anxious and I find paperwork and officialdom daunting. I’m on Employment & Support Allowance and Housing Benefit and receive lower rates of DLA for care and mobility. That said, I undertake permitted work, I can earn up £92 per week on top of my benefits, though work has been scarce. 

On September 8 I went for a medical assessment as instructed by the benefit system. On September 14, and again on Sept 28, I received my E&SA direct into my account as usual. In October I noticed my bank account was getting closer and closer to my overdraft limit. Finally, yesterday, October 27 I went through my bank statements and worked out what was missing and phoned the DWP.

The nurse who had examined me at the medical assessment deemed me fit for work and so my E&SA has been stopped. I now have the option of appealing or going on to a lower rate, i.e. Jobseeker’s Allowance. No one informed me of this decision, so in the meantime I’ve had to top up my bank account with a credit card.

I saw my GP today and he assured me I am not fit for work, and I am not to blame, and that he will support me as necessary. I’ve written to my Tory MP asking for help and to have the E&SA reinstated. I see my psychiatrist tomorrow, an appointment I already have as she is helping me deal with anxiety. I see a disability rights advisor in a week to make my E&SA appeal.

I’m lucky. I am articulate and have friends who support me. But I feel very much as if the rug has been pulled out from under me. The poem that keeps going round and round in my head is this one:

what does it mean to self-harm?
self-harm is a broad term for many acts that cause personal harm,
from not looking after your needs - to scratching, cutting, burning
or hitting yourself, swallowing or putting things inside you.

why do some people self-harm?
self-harming is a way of dealing with unbearable feelings. You
may be overwhelmed by painful emotions. Injuring yourself
may help you cope.

is self-harming attention seeking?
self-harm is often treated with mistrust. If someone you care about self-harms,
you may feel helpless when faced with their wounds,
and your own feelings may cause you to blame them.

is self-harm an attempt to commit suicide?
self-harm is about trying to stay alive. Many more people self-
harm than commit suicide, and most people don't risk their lives.
Of those who do - killing themselves may not be their intention.


Keywords: access issues,benefit cuts,hiv,self-harm,