Why Being Unemployed and On Disability Pension is EXACTLY Like Being On a Holiday*

*I was being sarcastic.

Also, I will be talking about “Government Benefits/payments” but I won’t be naming the benefits I am on for privacy reasons.

Ok so no funny meme today, because my computer is being stupid.

Anyway, onwards!

So I’ve had a LOT of people, (friends, family, strangers, etc) say things like “Oh I wish I didn’t have to work/could sit at home and sleep/watch tv all day/etc, but I have bills to pay” and variations thereof. Now some of these people are not trying to be offensive, they just are a little naive about the world of chronic illnesses, and a couple of these people just say the wrong thing at the wrong time (speaking before thinking, that kinda thing).

BUT some of these people are neither of the above. They legitimately believe that people who cannot work, either permanently or for a limited period, due to illness and receive any kind of Government assistance to ensure they don’t end up on the street (sadly some people still do) are just “LAZY” and “DON’T WANT TO WORK” and just sit at home lounging around being a drain of the “hard working folks”.

Let that sink in for just a minute.

And yes, all of that DID need to be in bold.

Ok, here is a bit of back history, for context:

I am in Australia so I can only speak FROM MY EXPERIENCE* (*I am NOT saying this is the same for everyone, merely my experience) about applying for, receiving, being terminated from a job while sick (and in hospital yay) and the stigma that goes along with all that.

From late 2013 to mid 2015, I was on a type of Government benefit that was minuscule amount, barely enough to live on (and I was living in my friend’s study at the time) and I had to take unpaid time off work to seek treatment for my illness. It was FUCKING HARD. I worked in addition to this payment (which is allowed, but when you earn over a certain amount per pay period, a certain amount of money per dollar is taken out of your benefit). It then reached a point where I couldn’t work at all.

I applied for my Government benefits in 2015. It took multiple certificates from my doctors, a lot of patience, several interviews with the Government psychologists and several months, before I received notification that I had been approved. It was a great relief.

I still managed to work, casually, I usually got about 3hrs per week in a retail chain on the checkouts. My income was/is not sustainable to the costs of living.

I have been in and out of hospitals (sometimes medical, sometimes mental illness related) since late 2013. I had to take time off work multiple times, and then eventually my casual job managers decided they didn’t need me anymore and terminated my contract. I was in hospital at the time, and I didn’t find out until 4 months later (usually Feb-June is quiet in retail so I knew I’d not have any hours for awhile, but then it went on longer and longer and I eventually rang them and found out). Thanks for that.

I have never been unemployed since I started my first job at the age of 17. It was a massive blow to find out I was officially unemployed. I have always prided myself on being able to earn my own money, make my own living. And all of a sudden, I wasn’t able to even earn $70 a fortnight by my own hands. $70 may not seem like much, but I had earned it, I had worked for it. I made it from the sweat of my own brow. It was mine.

And then all of a sudden it was taken away. It broke me. I still cry about it. I feel like a fucking useless failure.

Since then I have been relying on my Government benefit and my partner, to pay the bills and get by.

Late last year, after being ditched by two psychiatrists in the space of 6 months, I spiraled into a very deep depression, and my anxiety turned into severe, debilitating social anxiety and agoraphobia like symptoms. I became, quite literally, housebound. Unable to get out of bed, feed myself, go to the letterbox, go out without an escort, catch a bus, to do any house chores (laundry, washing up etc), my life became the same four walls.

Now you know some back story of my situation, I’ll address the “lazy at home watching TV all day” thing:

That. Is. The. Stupidest. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Heard. You. Morons. Remove. Head. From. Anal. Sphincter. Then. Speak.

Here is my day-to-day routine:

7.30am: Wake up, take meds.
8.00am-unknown amount of time: try and get out of bed.
Unknown time (due to unknown amount of time trying to get out of bed) – unknown time: Try and eat something
Unknown time – 4.30pm: Try and stay alive, keep breathing. Wait for my partner to return and yes, a large portion of time is spent on the couch in front of the TV.

SO. I DO SIT AND WATCH TV ALL DAY!!! IT’S ALL TRUE!! THE THING EVERYONE SAYS ABOUT GOVERNMENT MONEY IS TRUE! THEY ARE LAZY AND DON’T WANT TO WORK!! WHAT THE INTERNET SAYS IS TRUE!!

-_-

You stupid morons.

The only reason I “sit on the couch and watch tv” is because I need something to distract myself from my own mind. That sounds like a cop out to some people, but it’s honestly true. My mind is so deep, dark, frightening, *insert every descriptor used for mental illness here* etc. I can get lost in my head for days, weeks even, if I am left alone for long enough.

I am not on holiday. I am not lazing around. I am not lazy. I do want to work. I have a chronic illness that currently impedes my ability to work. Government benefits are barely enough to live on.

If you see me in social media in a pretty dress and with nice makeup, looking “normal” if you will, you may make assumptions on how I could afford those clothes if my income is so low? You may see me using a relatively new Mac laptop (which I am currently typing this on), using an iPhone 7+, and wonder how I could afford these on such low income? You may see my tattoos, there are 7 in all currently, with an 8th being added on April 1st this year, and you wonder how I got them with no money.

You take all this into your brain hole, and it swirls around and you start to think that the internet memes and misguided blog/social media posts, about the benefits given to people ARE actually true being misused! You put 2 +2 together and think you get the idea. You think, “if she can have pretty dresses, nice makeup, tattoos and the latest technology, obviously she’s just lazy and doesn’t WANT to work and is blowing her money on luxuries!”.

Maybe you don’t think this, maybe you actually look at the behind the scenes situation, that there are things called “lay by” here in Australia, there is a thing called the “internet” which enables you to access goods, such as makeup, at a cheaper price but still good quality, and also that some things are saved up for, like money for body modification (tattoos). There is also a thing called “generosity”, people who give you items or vouchers towards expensive “luxuries”.

That’s the issue right there: Generally, people only judge on what they can see on the surface. They see me in my pretty dress, but they don’t know how long I had it on layby for, how long it took me to pay it off. I get a lot of compliments about my makeup (check out my personal Instagram to see some examples! @xlipstickqueenx) and I love wearing lipstick. What they don’t see is the company I bought them from online (even though I do tell people and link them everywhere – people still don’t understand) has very inexpensive prices for very good quality products (plus they’re cruelty free and vegan, which is a major bonus. Also the brand I am talking about is ColourPop). My laptop, was “sold” to me by my best friend, though she way undercharged me by several hundred dollars. My iPhone, it’s on a contract with my phone company. I pay an amount each month to pay off the cost of the handset. My tattoos, I saved up for them. It took a long time.

People need to STOP believing everything they see online (and yes I am aware of the irony I said that, online, but still) and stop just looking at the surface. Understand that a person can be below the poverty line, and still have an iPhone 7. Not everything is as it appears.

Ok, I’m tired now. My rant is over.

xoxox

 

 

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