This past week has been a rollercoaster of a week. I had massage on Tuesday with a new massage therapist which was a massive step. The same day the bottom dropped out of my world when I received a letter from the Dept of Work + Pensions informing me that they had deemed me fit for work and I'd have to attend work focused interviews in order to keep my benefit. I was completely emotionally devastated to receive that letter. It was totally devastating to read that and realise the implications for my life which included a huge drop in my benefits. After years of working really hard to keep on top of all my debts I was staring down the barrel of bankruptcy. But also being found fit for work when the truth is very different and now having to prove that felt too massive to even consider how I was going to deal with that.
I felt immense panic as well as deep anger that all I've worked so hard at over the last few months to establish in my life for my healing and my future was at stake because of this one letter and this one appalling decision.
I felt helpless and very alone.
However, I had the presence of mind to phone my mental health recovery worker and my CPN, Both of them were very angry and deeply shocked at the decision and fully supportive of me. So was my practice nurse later in the day, my sexual abuse therapist was extremely angry and despairing that such a decision could be made when my mental and physical health problems are so well documented and complex.
I was astounded by the reactions of all my support workers and realised that I'm not the only one who thinks that decision is appalling and I'm most definitely not over-reacting!
It was a very hard few days, mentally and emotionally. I had several meetings with my support workers planning a way forward. I sent a letter on Friday lodging my formal appeal and outlining my reasons for the appeal.
I was then left in a place of “well I've done all I can for now and have to await their response.” It was not a comfortable place to be!
The weekend came and I was physically totally exhausted and in deep pain. The week's trauma was coming out of my body. I think it was a blessing in disguise because I hardly made it out of bed all weekend and so thoughts of self-harm or drinking myself into oblivion barely crossed my mind. My body, mind and spirit needed complete rest and that was all that my mind was full of. So I rested all weekend.
On the Saturday I received a letter from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority informing me that they've reviewed my case and awarded me level 17 compensation for child sexual assault. There are 19 levels for child sexual assault awards. So having level 17 compensation speaks of how severe they considered the abuse to have been. Level 17 compensation is worth £22000.00. It will be paid into my bank account within 10 working days!
Just the day before I had been staring at bankruptcy. Now 24 hours later I realised that my debts would be paid off and I'd have enough left over to have some financial breathing space, treat myself, replace things that need replacing and so on.
My brain couldn't compute it. It was overwhelming. It was also very validating. Someone had looked at the evidence and said in effect “I'm satisfied these things happened, I'm also satisfied that the abuse was severe and life-changing and deserves a compensation award that reflects that.” That felt so amazing especially after all the crap with the police and CPS.
On the Monday I received a letter from a police officer based in Penrith informing me that he is investigating the behaviour of the police during my case and in all the communications since. It was a very respectful letter and is the nicest and best communication I've had from police throughout the last 2 years.
It was incredible that after receiving such bad news I then received two really positive pieces of news, one of which is potentially life-changing for me.
I cannot imagine what it's going to be like to go forward without any debts and money in the bank. I've never had two pennies to rub together at any stage of my life. It's very hard to take it. I can't wait till the money is in my account and I can pay my debts off. Although I also know it will create further trouble concerning my benefits. I feel I can handle that knowing that whatever happens I have financial breathing space for the first time in my life.
Today and yesterday I've been feeling very cotton-wool headed and flu-ey. I've experienced those symptoms before over the years. It's the stress and trauma coming out in my body. It's how the ME/CFS reacts to such levels of strain. So I'm taking things very gently and being very kind to myself.
I am astounded at the turn of events and excited about the difference that compensation is going to make to my life.
As my CPN said today “you cannot put a monetary value to such abuse and damage but it is so validating to be compensated for it!”