My health issues and how they affect me daily

Alex Tiffin

I suffer from several chronic health conditions which affect my day to day life in different ways. Despite these, the Department for Work and Pensions has deemed me fit for work despite objections from my own doctors. I’ll explain the main conditions I have below.

Functional Neurological Disorder (FND)

Functional Neurological Disorder used to be known as Conversion Disorder before much was understood about it. Because of any FND, I am wheelchair bound as I can’t feel anything below my knees. I also have weakness in my arms that varies in severity, at it’s worst I cannot feed myself. There are other symptoms I won’t list for personal reasons but they make life extremely difficult at best.

Living with FND is a struggle you could go to bed with good upper body strength, then wake up with none. There’s no sign it’s going to get worse, it just happens. There is also no cure for it. You can learn to manage it, some even improve to near normality but, it’s variable and much is still unknown. Stress can have a major effect on it, which is probably why since going onto Universal Credit I’ve deteriorated so much.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

images (1)

Living with BPD is very difficult. You have to learn you triggers and also learn how to react to people. I have two emotions; happy or sad, and both are at the extreme end of their respective scales. There is no in-between. This means I can often react in a way that seems excessive. For example, what is mild criticism to most people, can seem like the end of the world for a BPD sufferer. I am learning to control it but, that’s a work in progress.

Trying to figure out if someone is angry or just giving criticism may sound odd but I can’t tell a lot of the time.

I can have extreme highs were I dont sleep for days and completely burn myself into the ground, to lows were I stay in bed for days or even weeks and just hide away. This is the condition I struggle with the most.

I also suffer from depression and anxiety. I will not go into detail about these too much, as I need to be responsible not trigger anyone else. I have documented examples of how these affect me. Both have worsened since claiming Universal Credit.

Crohns’ Disease

I will keep this one brief as it’s quite self explanatory. Crohns’ Disease is a condition that causes swelling to the intestinal tract. This can be from your mouth to your rear end. Usually it is your intestines but not always. Certain foods will cause it to flare up, things like onions, garlic or fatty foods are the most common.

When I get a flare up it is incredibly painful and I often end up in hospital because of it. So far I’ve escaped needing part of my bowel removed but, I’m aware that that it’s always a possibility.

I have to be careful what I eat but also I need to eat healthy to stay well. This has been a major issue for me as you’re aware.

I’m incredibly grateful for the food that I’ve been able to get from foodbanks but when I say I have to avoid garlic and onions this includes in powder form too.

Tinned foods use garlic and onion powder near on, 100% of the time. It has been far from ideal if I’m honest.

I have to weigh up whether to eat and risk pain or not eat and risk pain…

But it is what it is.

Polycythemia JAK2

Polycythemia specifically the JAK2 mutation, is a blood disorder. My body creates too many red blood cells. I have to have frequent blood tests to check my levels and if they’re too high I need to have blood drawn, about a pint usually, to alleviate it. It can vary to two pints in a month to none for six.

This condition makes me very lethargic and doing mundane tasks can be a struggle.

My health since Universal Credit and am I fit for work?

Credit: Crippen Cartoons

So, those are my main health conditions which, by themselves are difficult but when combined together are life altering. I have to take a number of medications that can make me ill or tired. I do my best to carry on like normal but some days it’s just too much. How I’d be able to work I just don’t know.

It would be unfair on an employer to expect them to be fine with me just not being able to work for weeks at a time. I’d love to work but my health is so variable it just never works out. I have tried.

Since going onto Universal Credit my health has taken a nose dive.

  • I’ve gone from 11st 3lbs to 9st 5lbs in five months my obvious lack of food is to blame for this, also I’ve had an increase in my Crohn’s flaring up.
  • My hair is now falling out in places and my teeth are loose.
  • I’ve made an attempt on my life and my mental health has deteriorated significantly, most days I’d rather just stay in bed.
  • My pain levels have also risen, as I’m less mobile my muscles and tendons are tightening up.
  • I also have two collapsed disks in my spine which are agony almost all of the time, due to lack of movement.

All in all it’s not been great. However nothing lasts forever and I just have to stay positive.

Anyway, I thought I’d share my health conditions so you can see what the DWP class as fit to work these days.

Thank you for reading a brief look into my health and I’m sure over time I’ll share more.

Alex @RespectIsVital

I don’t get paid for what I do but if you’d like to make oa donation to help me continue you can do so by clicking here. Regardless I will not be stopping writing about the disaster that is Universal Credit

19 thoughts on “My health issues and how they affect me daily

  1. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with all that! It’s ridiculous that they didn’t put you in the “support” UC group (can’t remember the acronym for it). Can you appeal?

    1. And how do you propose someone who’s housebound and wheelchair bound does that?

      Even the jobcentre don’t know what to do with me. Six doctors wrote I was unfit for work but a non medical DWP assesor overruled them.

      I’d love to work but sometimes I can’t even wash, cloth or feed myself

    2. Everyone is a Tax Payer since Tories doubled VAT. So you’re basically a ‘nobody’ Mr Tax Payer. Please fuck off?

  2. Look fella there’s lots of people with medical conditions who do something. I nearly died few years ago I’ve been left with numerous health conditions I don’t work full time but I do something I do what I can and its much better for your self respect and your life instead of sitting about moaning waiting for handouts from the state. Its gonna be hard but you’ll feel so much better about yourself

    1. Perhaps you should take the time read what is posted before polluting the comments section with your asinine drivel.

      The biggest barrier that the disabled have in finding work is, unsurprisingly, the fact they have disabilities. Even those of us with variable conditions, who may be capable of work on some days but not others, are highly unlikely to find an employer who is willing to take them on. Even part-time employment is precluded by our inability to look into the future and know precisely the days on which we may be graced with sufficient vitality to do the most basic of jobs. As Alex alludes to, this also makes perfect sense from a business perspective; why would an employer hire someone who may not be well enough to turn up, let alone do the job they were hired for?

      Moreover, your notion that having the disabled just “do something” – ostensibly under the threat of destitution – is somehow going make them feel better is just ridiculous. Not only does it ignore the very obvious fact that they often can’t, it panders to the same vacuous “work as a cure” rhetoric which has helped systems like UC see the light of day.

      I wish I could just dismiss you as a troll, but I’ve met enough people with your attitude to know that you believe what you type. All I can say is that you truly disgust me, and if you would prefer to see disabled people drag themselves down the street over allowing them a measly few thousand a year in state support, then I suggest you take the advice of the the commenter above: fuck off.

      1. What JC said. I’m sick and tired of being told get s job then when half the time I can’t leave my bed.

        Health isn’t predictable in many people add in multiple conditions like myself and it’s impossible.

        I’d love to work so much but no employer would touch me with a barge pole.

  3. Mate, i hear you. I’m surprised by your not being on ESA, but then they would have had to pay you more when you migrated to UC (if that’s how it happened?). Best of Brit-luck to you, keep blogging!

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