Sometimes I think it would be nice

…if people could just do their damn jobs.

Sorry, everyone, I’ve got my grumpy hat on today.  Feel free to wander away elsewhere if you don’t feel like overhearing my Mutley-esque mutterings.

Today I got two letters in the post.  Neither was from the DWP, which means I’ve now been waiting for over two months to find out whether or not I’m going to be sent for a medical, or if my claim is being allowed to continue without it.  Two months is a long time to spend on tenterhooks, panicking and feeling your stomach fall through the floor every time something’s pushed through the letterbox (and of course it’s almost always a flyer for the local evangelical church, or a fucking Betaware catalogue…).  I really wish they’d pull their collective finger out and just decide one way or the other.  It is what they’re being paid to do, after all.

The first letter was from BT.  They’ve noticed that I don’t seem to use my phone much anymore.  They stopped just short of saying ‘Ha!  Look at you, you lonely, friendless bastard’, but only just.  (Actually, to be fair, they probably just assume I’ve started using skype or something similar instead.)  Anyway, their response to this state of affairs is that they’re going to refund the credit balance on my account, and cut my monthly payments.  All very lovely of them – who wouldn’t be pleased to know they’re suddenly going to get an unexpected lump of cash in their bank account? – except for the fact that my new monthly payment is going to be £3.50.

So, they’re refunding my credit, which means my account balance with BT will be £0.00.  With payments of £3.50 per month, by the end of the next quarter I will have an account balance of £10.50.  At this point they are going to deduct my next dose of line rental, which will be – wait for it – £30.  In other words, I’m going to be in debt by £19.50, assuming I don’t make any calls at all.

Anyone with a couple of spare brain cells to rub together could presumably see that this is a problem, and that there are two better solutions.  One would be to leave my credit balance where it is, as at least it would be a while before the shortfall between the payments and the outgoings would catch up with me.  The best solution would be to set my new monthly payments at £10 per month, plus maybe a couple of quid extra for any calls I might make if I got a sudden attack of sociability.  That way the arrangement could continue in force pretty much interminably, as opposed to BT’s solution which guarantees that the amount is going to have to be adjusted again, and, what’s more, in only three months time.

I don’t know if this decision has been directly taken by an actual, real life idiot, or if it was taken by a computer that had been set up by an idiot.  My guess would be that it was the latter.  I also don’t know if it’s straightforward idiocy, of if it’s an underhand marketing technique – i.e., I’m supposed to think to myself ‘Oooh, money back just in time for the Christmas shopping!  And really low monthly payments going forward, too.  Gosh, BT really are astonishingly good value, aren’t they?  I certainly won’t sign up with that rival company.’  Either way, they aren’t doing their job properly – setting my monthly direct debit to a level that will cover my regular outgoings.

The second letter was from an art therapist at the local loony bin mental hospital.  When my 1-2-1 psychoanalytical sessions with Yvonne came to an end a month or so ago, we ‘agreed’ that ordinary group therapy wouldn’t be useful for me, or, at least, not at present.  (What she effectively said was that I would need to be established on meds before she would be comfortable that I wasn’t likely to be a ‘destabilising influence’.  I think this was code for going totally bat-shit crazy in the middle of a session.)  She suggested an art-therapy group instead, as a way of ensuring some regular contact between me and the rest of the human race, but also as a way for me, hopefully, to learn how to be comfortable in a group of people in a way that is a lot less stressful than an analytical group.

I was always relatively sceptical about the idea.  I’m worried that I’ll find myself sitting in a room trying not to guffaw wildly as some poor person explains that they’ve drawn a picture of an onion, because they’ve just realised that, like an onion, we all have lots of layers…  I’m also worried because I have all the natural artistic ability of a small whelk.  I’m a very verbally- rather than visually-oriented person, as you can probably tell from the screeds of turgid prose I’ve excreted all over this blog.  (And yes, that sentence was deliberately wordy – it was a kind of joke, although, obviously, if it had been an actual  joke, I wouldn’t be having to explain it in a set of brackets…)

Anyway, I agreed to at least meet with one of the two ‘facilitators’ for the group, and see whether they and I agreed that I was a good candidate for joining a group the next time a space became available.  I understand that places are fairly heavily limited in the outpatient group, and that new members are only allowed to join (and existing members leave) at pre-arranged dates in order to make things as stable as possible for those who take part.  It was the letter inviting me to this initial consultation that also arrived this morning.

The letter itself was fine, although I was a little dismayed to realise that I would be meeting with the male facilitator and not the female one.  I always tend to be more uncomfortable in the presence of male ‘professionals’, partly because all this wishy-washy talk-about-how-I’m-feeling crap feels so decidedly un-blokeish (yes, even poofs like to feel like blokes sometimes), and is therefore easier to do with women.  I know this is silly – the kind of men who go into jobs working with people like me are pretty unlikely to be the kind of men who think that emotions are something you only feel during a penalty shoot-out.  If I’m honest, I’m also always worried that any male I meet might end up being cute, and that would be an added distraction – I mean, I’d probably spend the whole meeting giggling girlishly and trying to suck my gut in…

What really irritated me was that the letter said that I should use the enclosed map and directions to find out where to go, and that I should also try to read the enclosed leaflet in order that I would have some idea of what was involved before the meeting began.  All well and good, apart from the fact that the envelope contained a single sheet of paper – the letter – and nothing else.  I’m not too worried about the map and directions – I know the hospital reasonably well (it’s the same place as I meet with General Psychiatrist), and I’ll just turn up early enough to ask at reception.  Not getting a chance to look at the leaflet is more irritating, but I daresay it wouldn’t have contained anything that won’t be covered in the appointment anyway.  But I’m still annoyed that whoever it was who was supposed to put the extra pieces of paper in the envelope didn’t bother to do their job properly.

Of course, I’m also annoyed because all three of these situations – chasing up the DWP, dealing with my direct debit, asking for the leaflet and directions to be sent to me – could be fairly easily sorted out with a phone call.  Except I won’t be sorting them out that way, because I can’t.  Even the idea of digging my phone out of the cupboard I hid it in a while ago and plugging it into the wall is enough to send me into a panic attack.  There is no way – literally no way – I could sort out even one of these things.  Not even the BT direct debit which, if they haven’t changed the system, I could change using their automated system without once having to speak a word.

I find this state of affairs incredibly frustrating, and, if I’m honest, this is where a lot of my irritation is coming from.  So really I shouldn’t be complaining about other people not doing their jobs properly, and, as with everything else, I should be focussing on the changes I need to make to fix the things that are really bothering me.  It’s just that focussing on my own failings day after day after day gets really tiring.  Sometimes it’s a relief to blame someone else for a change.

This entry was posted in About me, Anxiety, Depression, Psychology, Sexuality, Social Anxiety, The benefit system, The NHS. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Sometimes I think it would be nice

  1. la says:

    Think you’ll have to phone the DWP. I know that seems a horrendous prospect, I know, believe me, but they’re not a ‘proactive’ agency and I’d hate to think they had turned down your claim and not told you. I’m not sure if they’ll talk to anyone but you because of data protection but maybe one of your health workers could call for you? (My dad now deals with my council tax because I can’t handle it at all. I’d just end up screaming “You are literally making me sick!” down the phone at some poor sod. Again.) They’re all a f-ing nightmare to deal with. I once got a letter from the DWP asking for the information corresponding to the checked boxes. Only no checked boxes. And no reply envelope either. And no address on the letter. But a long form asking questions I’d already answered a hundred times before. They also lost my birth certificate. My real physical birth certificate. This isn’t encouraging to plug in your phone is it? I’m sorry. But I can empathise with you about how shit it is.

    Art therapy might be interesting. As long as you don’t have to put on a leotard and pretend to be a cat :)

  2. I find art therapy quite helpful. I was very skeptical beforehand but I even opted for it as part of my day care programme. It can be a good way of approaching things you really can’t handle the idea of talking about any other way.

  3. Cellar_Door says:

    I wouldn’t worry about your whelk-y artistic ability…I like to consider all my attempts at art as ‘abstract’ and I highly recommend it. It means people can’t criticise it for fear of being branded a philistine :0)

    As to all the other incompetence…oh yes. I won’t start because I will just get into a rage and I’m trying to have a chilled night. I think about them in the gym where I can put the anger to good use. I suggest punching a pillow in the absence of gym equipment to hammer….

  4. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    la – you’re right, i should contact the dwp, as if things get mixed up with my benefit, that could have a really bad effect really quickly. The thing is, i’m still getting my benefit paid into my account as regular as clockwork, so i know that (well, up until last Monday, anyway) they haven’t stopped it. I’m more or less certain that my form has fallen down the back of a filing cabinet somewhere, and quite a large part of me doesn’t want to risk disturbing things so long as i’m getting my money through.

    Sorry to hear about your council tax hassles. It’s always seemed to me that council tax – and particularly council tax benefit – offices are the most inefficiently run of all forms of official bureaucracy, and that’s saying something. My local council sent a newsletter round the other day, and in it they bragged – actually presented as a good thing – that it ‘only’ takes 6-8 weeks to process a benefit application (though, of course, longer if it’s in any way complicated).

    intothesystem – i’m doing my best to keep an open mind about the art therapy. I know a lot of people do find it very useful, and i dare say most of my worries are actually just prejudice. Oh, and good to have you around again! :o)

    Cellar_Door – ooh, abstract art therapy, what a brilliant idea. ‘To you it may look like some random scribbling with an orange crayon and a couple of black pencil marks here and there, but it’s actually a highly sophisticated analysis of my feelings about the search for “happiness”. I mean, at the end of the movie, the hero always rides off into the sunset, but after the sunset must come the inescapable dark midnight of the soul.’ Yeah, i reckon i could get into that… ;o)

  5. Have you been for your meeting about art therapy yet?

    I hope the facilitators are good. I find they can be hit and miss. At the hospital I was at, one was amazing and the other is less so. Unfortunately I see the rubbishy one for my day care. Bah.

    I do find sometimes I will just go and end up wasting the session. On Wednesday I was incapable of any sensible cognition, so I ended up drawing a grid on a piece of paper and colouring it in with watercolours. Completely pointless and there was no meaning to it, other than it was something to keep me distracted, but it was hardly groundbreaking on a therapy front. I got annoyed when the therapist was trying to find meaning in it. I had to tell her I was only doing it because I had no idea what else to do with myself as I felt like crap. Oh well.

    Hopefully next week will be more productive. Some people in the group are doing some really amazing work.

  6. Pingback: Art thinking « Aethelread the Unread

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