This is Stuart’s Story of Universal Credit in his own words. I have not edited it as I think it’s important it is read as he wrote it. He kept this diary as he went along so I think that to see he mindset at the time it is better left as it is.
THERE ARE REFERENCES TO SELF HARM AND SUICIDE PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUED IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THIS.
Welcome to the story of my first 4 months of Universal Credit (UC).
Universal Credit lead me back to Depression again after 9 months of therapy and it’s only getting much worse. I’ve only been on UC for 8 weeks it only took UC 2 weeks for me to go back on antidepressants.
This is only half the story. Let me tell you a little background on myself. Worked 25 years, I also have studied for 4 years in computer networks and technology 2010-2014. l have never claimed for benefits in my lifetime until i had a breakdown.
It took 9 months of therapy. Work took the blame. While going through therapy i also suffered a bad leg injury during that time which took 5 months to heal. Once i got the all clear (9/11/16) i planned to get my life back on track. Less than a month later i was back on antidepressants and back to therapy.
Now I await the DWP as I have to move home as i found out my landlord is not registered. Which of course am now 3 months behind rent. No matter as i had to borrow money just to pay for electricity. Of course landlord is not happy so i just get threats or mostly shouted at of get out. l have known him for 15 years but he thinks I’m lying about this hassle with DWP.
l was unlucky with a new illness which started 10/12/16. First interview with DWP 13/12/16. Stomach pain and acid problems lead to 4 different meds, 2 blood tests and now await a camera down my throat. So 2 months on, am 2 stone lighter, have had 3 hot meals in the last 4 weeks. Luckily now it seems to be finally responding to the latest treatment. My energy levels became so weak I honestly wanted it to be terminal so it would be easier for others to accept my suicide even though inside my head i just wanted to finally switch off my mind telling you all day how I was a useless person just fucking die in my mind i had every day. l did not live the last 8 weeks i just survived it.
Still I had my second appointment which was for the 19/12/16. The very same week where my health was getting much worse from belly pain and spent most of my time in bed. Which i found out i was taking the wrong painkillers as it was only making me worse. Being the week before Christmas i called the doctors on the 15th and 16th but could not get through. On the 19th i showed up in person desperate for an appointment. They were only taking emergency appointments, hence the trouble to get an appointment.
Got booked in and went home to call Universal Credit as I was told i could get an advance as i had no money at all. Was told I could have died that afternoon on my first meet with DWP 13/12/16 but when I got home i ended up in bed as my health was becoming worse even though i was desperate for money. Still it took me until the 19th to call. The very time my 2nd appointment was to take place which later i found out after showing up in the 20th thinking that was the correct appointment date. l found out 40 minutes later sitting in the job centre i was told it was on the 19th and had to go home and call UC to give a reason why i missed it. Of course i explained what happened, got a new date for the 21st also i had to give a statement to why i missed the appointment. l have phone records and Doctors records to back this all up and was on the phone to UC at the time. Of course there was no mention of it.
l lost 8 days pay which I had still not been paid my first payment yet and was only on UC for 6 days total, 8 day payment fine. Letter said this is not a valid excuse missing my appointment. What Going to the doctors?
So sorry I was sick all week and got mixed up with my dates. l have learned my lesson and appointments are first and health comes second.. Must be known all benefit claimants are lazy or stupid oh and Health too.
Just 2 months in, i had a battle for the first payment. After 3 letters with 3 much different figures what i was to get paid? £648 on a letter I got on the 11th 2 days later after 2 months of waiting the 13/01/17 payment £292. My rent was suspended on the 11th with no warning just a letter given to me on the Saturday with the lowest of them all. The day after my 1st payment this was the new figure. Still i called them Friday morning 8am, one of many of my sleepless nights added to the growing collection. I had checked online banking which is where I found out my new payment before my new letter which as I said I would get tomorrow. They said my housing was in hold and could not give me a reason why but would get someone from the housing team would call me back today. I await the call from 9am until closed 6pm no call. So Monday now, I think I may have slept 6 hours that weekend of course i had to call them on Monday after my sleepless weekend worried with my minds dark thoughts. They were not accepting my rent agreement that’s when I learned you have to beg for it which I did on the 17th. I pleaded for help as I was now 2 months behind rent and said I promise I will fix it before the end of the month. I think the lady took pity on me and helped me out. It soon proved to be short lived as the next day my sanction MR came up. That’s a whole story in its own.
Then the second payment which was my backdated claim was confirmed by a letter around 2nd Feb to be paid £620, on top of my Feb 2nd payment of £648.Some hope at last until payment day. Total amount payment was £209. Also once again the letter came on the Sat 11/2/17 the day after my payment into my account on the Friday. That’s just two payments and again it changed on the week 111i am due to be paid. No phone call just a late letter again which I didn’t get until the day after my payment.
You think that was a coincidence but of course it’s not as both letters are dated. Also of course I had late bills that i arranged to be paid on the Friday. So 2nd payment as like the 1st am again a weekend left with a very worried and not in the best of shape mind-set wise and no sleep. Oh I forgot to add that I was given notice of eviction well I say notice it was more of a get out the house by the end of the month or my house would be smashed up. “Just get tae fuck” l called first thing Monday again up all night of course about the problem and the lady said my back payment was “on task”
l honestly replied “can you un task it?” Reply “it’s not my department, i will get someone to call you back” That was on the 13/2/17. Three phone calls later I got it on the 24/2/17. Also it was less for that month too. Why the delay? No reason given.
Just to add to that sanction number 2 is heading my way for missing my work coach meeting even though i now have a Doctors line covering me for the last 6 weeks and i rang them up to let them know i could not make it.
On the 27/2/17.
l have called them more than 20 times. The best one was i had to keep in touch with my work coach or i WILL face a Sanction. Do i call them up and tell them l may not have a house soon or death seems a much better future prospect?
l have all the letters which they have sent with about 11 changes to how much am going to get, plus many of the other letters. Right now am being evicted and my only hope is the DWS will agree to my new tenancy agreement or am homeless. Thanks to a great friend loaning me a deposit for a home. DWP never even knew I got evicted.
If no deal can be found more or likely become one of the many unwanted stats to the government. I have been to the Citizens Advice twice and have to go again today. It’s been a tough weekend and I have been delaying my visit as all honestly am not sure if it’s worth fighting for anymore.
Forgive me for this long letter but in a way i wanted a document record if things go south or the slight hope i can look back at this and read my lowest point in my entire life.
l, Stuart Provan no longer thinks about the future.
Money can’t buy respect, you have to show and gain respect. I am ashamed to feel like this and ashamed of this country.
Hello am still here but only just. Am now on the most heavy dose of anti-depressant I have ever been given fighting depression (40mg) am only aloud to get them 7 at a time as I battle the easy option out of this is death. Saves paper work, saves you reading this, saves people trying to help me and saves the DWS money. I could prove them wrong and get a job after all is that not why am here? To survive and help me get back into work? Am sure that`s how the system works but I don`t know it that, as I never had to use it for more than 25 years. Anyway why did I finally get fit for work after 2 illnesses but one illness is back and it’s worse than before? Are you fit to work Stuart? Well I think I could get back to work as soon as but we are coming to payment number 4 with Universal credit. Still not got all of payment number 3 more on that later.
What has happened now since I last typed this document?
I moved home so I could get the housing payment sorted and all legal now. I will more or less get into to trouble as I picked a home out of 3 I could rent from which was slightly more expensive but within good reason I think. I just could not go down the homeless route as I could have ended up anywhere and the home am in now is across from my Dads home and my saved me to many times with money problems, my Mum who is now less than 5mins away. Mum is worried about my health as I have been very different as of late and now she can pop round to my home and see am OK.
Well back to Universal credit for payment number 3. This was now at a time where I was no longer able to deal with them after my last call where I sent my doctors lines and a letter with more information on my health. These were sent in one envelope. 2 Doctors sick lines and my letter. When I called which was to ask a question about me moving home as the 2nd month again, NO housing payment just £293 (no Sanction) but how the new house payment would work. After information which made no sense for new rent payment, l had one other question about when my sick line was up. Ok at this point you might say is he making this up but I really tried to record that call and if they have it on record I would love to listen to it again. My 1st sick line was on record and my little letter was on screen but the other sick line she had no record of. Well I told her I sent all 3 in that one envelope the first reason I got was well you must have not filled it in correct. So I asked, “so these must be uploaded onto the computer” which she said yes then I asked “did you upload them?” and she said no. That`s downstairs who do that. So you upload nothing? Yes. So how do you know I never filled it in correctly when you have never seen them? Reply “You must have not filled out your NI number so it was not uploaded”. So hang on a sec, do they look at all the sheets and check for NI numbers and if they don’t have them what do they do with them? No they get scanned and if no NI number it will not go on your record. So with no evidence you claim it was my fault even though you have never seen the sick line you blame me. Sorry I forgot the reply on that one but I asked what happens now? You will have to go back to your Doctor and get another sick line and send it to us. What send it and have a chance of it going missing again no thanks I can scan it and send it to you. Reply “your no aloud to do that”. Why not? “it that`s the rules”. What other option do I have? Go to the job centre and they will scan it. Right let make this clear, it’s my fault so I have to go back to the doctors for a sick line which is the one covering me now which you don`t have and have made zero contact about it. I wonder how I would have found that information. Oh wait now it makes sense the letter 3 weeks ago for sanction number 2 for my appointment that I called you about to tell you I would miss it and I had a new sick note. I may have hung up or said more but I really wished I had that call. No matter I had to pay £675 a loan from my great friend to able to move into my new home. For the 2 months I went with no income no help as nobody gave me any at the DWP.I had a great friend help me out with some money to pay for my new home. Remember 2nd payment was only £209 so I was behind in a lot of bills and lived that month on £6 a week. That was OK as I was unable to eat not due to having no food but my belly acid which was going on for 2 months now got me to the point where I was eating 1 bowl of Weetabix and one roll a day for 2 weeks. Some day’s it would be nothing but water. Of course not eating really makes you weak with almost no energy and in some cases having the worst heartburn I will ever have. One of them I thought it was a heart attack. Of course I never called for help as this was a chance to die without the whole suicide plan and aftermath for some people who have to deal with it.
That`s one thing about depression for me. Even though you have the thoughts of dying or the mind is on your case for you to do it. That is by far the worst part as you can`t shut a mind off unless you kill it. I know that some people who really care about you would maybe struggle or worse end up like me. So death by I never did it is perfect for me. I still feel that way today. Plane crash is my dream death as I know no pain to suffer from a slow disease just a moment to myself with a smile no more of this worry or mind shit it`s over.
Now where we at are, well after the last call my 4th visit to citizens advice but this time I was in a real mess. The manager took over my case and said she did not think I was fit for work worse than that I really needed to seek help as she was worried about my mental health. That day the Lady saved my life as I had given up and could no longer trust myself with a call to UNI credit as after almost every call it was ALWAYS something else wrong. I really started to question what was what was real and what was not. Other things were a mess like not washing myself or being able to remember to eat. Credit Union just took over EVERYTHING and called them up called the job centre called my doctor and that`s where my dosage ended up on 40mg of Anti-Depressants. Also since I have tried to take my life in the past I became a suicide risk and was ltd to 7 pills at one time. So every week I have to go and pick them up.
The house move took over so it helped with the mind and I felt this was going to be a fresh start. Some dark days but mostly kept myself busy to keep that at bay.
Getting better and even called Uni Credit again on the 20/3/17 just to ask about my housing benefit as it was all sent checked by people as I had no trust in myself of being able of doing anything right. So new tenant agreement with new sick note on the 9/3/17 handed in to the job centre.
New entry 20/3/17 l had some courage to call UC about the Rent payment.
He was nice and said I will pass the information onto the housing team and get them to call you. That’s fine 3 days have now passed still waiting on the call! They have had my new information for 2 weeks now and my first rent payment is due on the 4/4/17 and I don`t have the money to cover it. I have to stop my mood is changing.
Well here is an update which is a surprise to me that I have an update.
How come Stuart? Well am now at the point where death is by far a better way out of having to just get through a day of life with shit you get but the worst part is my mind suffers it all and it’s like a sickness to the mind with no cure but death for it to stop. I can`t get a transplant even though its damaged as it no longer works the way it used to. Poor thing am sorry it had to try so much which I had to make it go through and deal with stuff which should be simple but instead it’s fucking this again this again this again this again this again. He becomes angry OH wait that’s me?
Ok let’s rewind to the 23/3/17
Work coach calls Debbie asks how I was and told the truth as the week was going on I was becoming more depressed. Why? Well am still waiting on the housing team to call me. She noticed I had called on the Monday and said I will send them an email. Why you not phone them back? Am sick of phoning them I have to do it every month and beg for money. Anyway I knew I was starting the don`t care anymore thinking.
A surprise call happened after my W/C email at 4pm someone calls still they have to be pushed by an email from someone to do their job. Ok no reason given as ALWAYS why it was delayed but that money will be in your account today. Text message will confirm. 30mins later text message OK check accounts nothing. I will try later. Been up over 24 hours now tried to go to bed never slept Docs at 9am so over 30 hours no sleep. Docs went bad as I just moaned or ramble I forgot about Uni Credit. Why I do that? Well no change here am stuck on 40mg of don`t kill yourself pills. Still being up for 3 days you start going mad and that leads to madness. To which I knew someone who could get valium pills. One hour later I had 10 blue pills. I just wanted sleep to shut my mind off. No payment in my account still. Was almost going to take all the pills I had in the house with my blue pills but I called citizens advice as I made a promise. I never spoke to who I wanted to so I took 4 I think of make me sleep pills and called back and said words I can`t recall but am sure it was something like am not killing myself. Got to sleep big time! That afternoon after many calls and bangs on the door I woke up and it was my friend asking me what I was doing. After about a 2 hour argument where I was trying to convince him that death is better for me in the long run. Of course you can`t convince someone that your unless you have an illness which you must suffer. Hang on, I suffer almost every fucking day, So why not? Well how he did it I don’t know but got me to call Uni Credit but I had it on a 3 way call so he could listen what I have to do all the time.
After 30mins I got a guy told him no payment in my account. Hang on, 5mins later comes back and tells me my payment was sent but it was declined! I said my bank declined money? My friend jaw dropped and told me not to answer back. Of course again it’s my fault. That was on Friday at around 5pm. So Weekend next day could it be possible for 3 weekends where I can do nothing until Monday. Brilliant, more sleepiness nights of how to make it through the weekend without killing yourself. Anyway the text came and the money was there. All good yes? Oh no I just made sense of my emotions of the last 2 days which I was coming to a breakdown again.
The money is useless now as I can`t function nor live a normal life as I have no feelings nor point to anything. Even stuff I like I show no emotions. I sort of sent texts to people as I had guessed they may be my last.
I have until Monday now and it’s now the last chance salon for me. I can no longer deal with things that have to be done nor have any fight left to keep going. All of that is gone. I just wished to get on with life but that seems impossible now.
I feel death is way ahead of living now. It’s not a threat or listen to me for me going to do this crap. 100% for me I am set and I will not fail this time as I know how to do it right this time. It`s set up and ready to go. At my mind knows how to plan that as that I know what he wants. He gets what he wants when I have control of it.
Welcome to 2017, am not welcome to it I have to suffer and beg to be in it.
Maybe am dead and your reading this. Don`t worry don`t be sad it`s just a man who has no emotions so have no emotions. I wanted it. My choice.
For the next 2 days I slept and was awake no more than 4 hours. Now it’s the 29/3/17 been up all night and this is my LAST chance for help.
The above was written in Jan 2016 until April 2016 they are the times of living with depression and how I cope with it by writing which helps the mind-set. It’s my out therapy and works for me.
I have written thousands of times and most of them I don’t ever read.
It did not end there I still have two more chapters to write but still need an ending.
What happens in the next 18 months? Well am sure you would not be surprised that things do not improve! Also the sanction on my first week has a massive twist!
All I can say is I’m still stunned that I am still alive to tell this crazy non-fiction novel of a story.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and feel down or desparate you can contact these services for help or even just to talk to someone. You are never alone.
24 hours unless stated otherwise
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page
Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill
The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90
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