Men Tell Their Stories

Lessons Learned

My story starts from my childhood (don’t they all). I will not bore you with the intimate details, suffice to say it mostly consisted of lots of physical and mental abuse, so by the time I was in my early twenties, I was well and truly “fucked up".

I spent the next fifteen years trying to fit in with people I had absolutely nothing in common with AND, in some cases, these where the sort of personalities that had contributed to my current mental state, but I moved on.

In my mid-thirties (by some miracle), I found myself in a relationship, and that’s when the problems started. I had built so many systems to protect myself, it was near impossible feel affection. I had blocked so much of 'me' out. I also felt I was undeserving. When you have been told you are a 'worthless freak' for a quarter of your life, you start to believe it, then it’s just a matter of thrashing yourself, if anything remotely pleasant happens.

So there I was, in a relationship, without understanding the rules ”it takes two”, We were together for nine years and the one thing my partner taught me is that “I am not some hideous monster undeserving of love and affection”, but old habits die hard and our relationship eventually ended.

I have now come to a stage in my life where I associate with people whose company I enjoy, but after years of been unemployed and suffering at the hands of the DWP (and its bureaucracy), found me slipping back into old patterns.

The last few years have been a real rollercoaster ride, with sanctions, food banks, tribunals, endless job rejections, before I became a fully-qualified teacher, ditched old associates and made new friends.

On the 31st of December, I was looking at the real possibility of been thrown back into 'the bear pit', commonly known as 'Job Seekers Allowance'. As I sat in Arden House, waiting for my name to be called out, you could not find a more depressing place to be on New Year’s Eve. The one thing I have always hated is feeling like I am not in control of my life, something the DWP excels at making you feel. Like any minute your whole life will be turned upside down.

It is this fear of the unknown that makes people unwell. I am not a religious man, but by sheer luck, karma or whatever the hell you want to call it, I passed my assessment and the shock did not end there, because they put me into the support ESA group.

Even Karen (the lady who came with me was gobsmacked). So I am looking at the next two years with great joy and guilt, remember when I said I struggle with having pleasant things happening to me? It will take a while to get use to this, but I shall try use the time productively and not be too hard on myself. I remember what my counsellor said “What does David want?“. Well, I want to be happy and help others.

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A HUGE thank you to David for his blog. Short, but sweet. I'm sure he's not the only one going through problems with the DWP. If you've got any tips or ways to help, leave them in the comments below.