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To worry about mentioning nice things?

(19 Posts)
APieOfButter Fri 10-Jun-11 14:25:27

I've just been wondering, and I'm probably asking for a slagging here, but here goes...

I claim benefits. My DH works, but only part time, because I have a serious mental health problem. Or at least it can get serious - it is bipolar, which means that often I am fine, sometimes I am in the depths of despair, sometimes I am so full of energy and ideas and so on that I don't sleep and do really, really stupid things. I have also has psychosis in the past (although that seems to be much better these days, I will apparently always have that risk). I worked full time for six weeks around Christmas, and I am still recovering - for about a month or two, I was completely unable to look after the children at all, make a cup of tea, leave the house, etc, and I still have panic attacks quite regularly (to the point where going to a class at the very small community centre, with eight people, is a major point in my week that has me on "red alert" all day - when I was younger, before my first major blip, I was heading for a 1st and would happily stand up to talk to a lecture hall full of students).

However, to an outsider, I probably seem fine. In fact, when I am in the "up" bit I probably seem really outgoing, full of energy, overbearing in conversation, self obsessed, wildly creative and so on. Because, tbh, I am when I am in that state. Which is what makes that state the most dangerous - I have lost count of the amount of times the police have had to be called when I have run off on some scheme, and my finances are shot to pieces because of the way I get in debts that I don't even remember. Not to mention the fact that I stop taking medication etc.

Anyway, that is the background. The main point being, I claim quite a lot of benefits. We are not rich, but I could see why someone might think we weren't poor, if that makes sense - me being in the house most of the time, and the kids being at nursery (we still get most of that paid for as I am incapable of looking after them all day by myself) means that I can bargain hunt, grow veg, make food, etc. As such, while we are not secure, we can pay the bills and have some treats without too much worrying. By treats, I mean we can have lunch in the local pub about once a week, the odd bottle of wine, the kids have plenty of books, etc - nothing massive, but these things don't mean a huge hole in our finances. We also go to a pub quiz quite often, but always come out with a profit as there is a cash prize, so we don't count that. Suppose it is relevant though, as if we didn't win, it wouldn't be a big deal - we'd just not have drinks afterwards or something.

I'm rambling now. Anyway, whenever I post on fb or wherever about anything that is a bit of a "perk" to this lifestyle (as I try not to moan about the downsides) I know for a fact that some people will judge. For example, if I ask if anybody fancies meeting for a brew on a day when I am feeling up to it, I know that looks like I am always up to it, and am just idly wanting some company on my life of leisure. If I tell somebody that I have bought a new item of clothing, you can almost hear them thinking "with taxpayers money". If I see someone when I am out and about with the kids, they think I do it all the time. I am in the process of applying for a bus pass, but I worry that other passengers might see and judge, as I am able bodied and (most of the time, if I am well enough to be out alone) I don't look "mad". At the moment, my computer is on it's last legs, so i am considering buying a new one - as my main link to the outside world, it is vital - but I worry about people finding out i have a new computer.

AIBU to feel I always have to be careful, or should I just ignore it and go about my life as normal?

If you vaguely knew me (ie you didn't know me well enough to know the details of my illness, but enough to know I don't work etc) would you judge me for having nice things? If you would, is there any way I could minimise your judging?

ZXEightyMum Fri 10-Jun-11 14:28:45


At all.

But I can see how you can feel defensive. You shouldn't, obviously, but it is understandable.

Fantastic post by the way.

Hassled Fri 10-Jun-11 14:32:12

I think I'd wonder about it, as in I'd think "they don't seem too skint but yet they don't work much - I wonder why they don't work?", but I'd probably assume you were job-hunting or that there was more going on (as, indeed, is the case). I hope I wouldn't judge. For all I know you could have some spare cash because of an inheritance/private income etc - I wouldn't just think "they must be benefit scroungers".

It sounds like you've had a hell of a tough time - sod what people think. If you need a computer and you can afford one then go for it. The welfare system is there to protect and support people in your position, and there but for the grace of God etc - I might be in your position one day. You just don't know, do you?

debka Fri 10-Jun-11 14:41:41


I totally understand. My mum has advanced cancer and some days she feels well enough to go out on her bike, the next day she may well be in bed all day or out in her wheelchair.

I am happy for you that despite your bi polar issue you can still enjoy life and have nice things. Those who judge- they should count themselves lucky that they CAN look after their children, hold down a job, and not suffer with MH problems, or,in my mum's case, expect to live a normal lifespan.

I think you sound lovely and i'd come to the pub with you. smile

MrsTwinks Fri 10-Jun-11 14:46:51

its understandable but 1, i dont think "friends" would ever think that, if they did they aren't really friends.

and 2, if dh works you'd be surprised what people think you come home with money wise. In my last job i was p/t and horrendously underpaid (at one point less than dole) but everyone seemed to think I/we could afford to go out for dinner at 3 minutes notice, or pay 70 odd quid with ease toward MIL's birthday, I worked out once that one birthday for IL's cost us a fortnights wage from me, in gift (got in advance on offer) and then being badgered into night out and dinner to "celebrate". I would try not to worry too much. Don't feel guilty about having a "nice" life IYKWIM, i know from my own mental health experience its part of what keeps me calm and together xx

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Fri 10-Jun-11 14:51:34

YANBU - just because you are claiming benefits doesnt mean that you should never have a luxury again and your kids shouldnt have nice stuff to play with.

I can understand why you would feel this way but really you shouldnt! You dont need to justify yourself to anyone - mental health problems are serious and just coz we cant see them doesnt mean you shouldnt get help for it!

Yeah, agree, anyone who judges you aint no friend!

APieOfButter Fri 10-Jun-11 15:01:55

I think it is made worse by the fact that a lot of my old friends don't have kids. So, to them, even child benefit seems like a fortune, when children don't appear to actually cost all that much, especially tiny ones. I have had childhood friends (who are ok most of the time, and who have been friends since school, hence why I don't want to bin them off) tell me to my face that they would never have children that they couldn't "afford", that if they claimed benefits, they would keep it quiet and not "dare" to "show off" like I do, that people should work even if it makes them ill, that they have been "down" and managed to still work and so on. I have also heard them slagging off mutual friends who claim even small amounts and sometimes go to the pub or buy a dvd.

Even my own family do it, seemingly not connecting the hordes of benefit scroungers, who get free money for sitting on thier fat arses and can afford to rent houses with gardens, with me and my backside/outdoor area.

APieOfButter Fri 10-Jun-11 15:04:51

The last paragraph was meant to be a quote from my family, btw. I have yet to find these "hordes", despite living in one of the most deprived areas of the UK. I just see lots and lots of people desperate for work or struggling with illnesses, and the very few and far between person taking the piss.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Fri 10-Jun-11 15:04:54

There is a massive difference to being "down" and being bi-polar. At the end of the day it is no one elses business where you get your money from! You know what you go through on a daily basis, you know you are entitled and that is that really.

Punkatheart Fri 10-Jun-11 16:31:41

True friends will understand. Anyone else - who cares! You seem to be an intelligent and articulate person making the most of your situation. Live your life and remember to take your meds, as they will obviously help!

WholeLottaRosie Fri 10-Jun-11 16:40:26

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

EvenLessNarkyPuffin Fri 10-Jun-11 16:51:45

Some people will judge. A very small number who have all been on Mumsnet recently. They will do it in an unthinking way, as your family do, depite knowing someone who receives benefits, because they won't include their friend/family because they deserve the help. Then there's a hardcore of nasty people, who all seem to know someone though a friend who goes abroad twice a year and has a plasma screen tv, and who have been kicked off the Daily Mail comments boards for being too reactionary.

Take your tablets and don't waste your time worrying about it.

passivelyaggresive Fri 10-Jun-11 16:52:04

I bloody hate benefits scroungers - sit around on their arses all day expecting the tax payer, that'l be me to subsidise their lifestyle when me and my DP struggle to put food on the table with him working all the hours god sends.

That said - OP, I DO NOT MEAN YOU!!! You are just the sort of people the benefits system is there to support and you must not feel any shame in it. You didnt choose to have mental illness and i know how damaging that is as i suffer from extreme anxiety and depression. it is just that mental ILLNESS. Would you feel so guilty and self concious if you were "physically" sick? And yes, you and your family absolutely deserve to have nice things - just because you are on benefits due to illness doesn't mean you aren't entitled so a quality of life that so many others take for granted.

Maybe i am niave but i would think that most people would feel the way i do. I think it was good that you posted this at a time when there seems to be such a trend for benefit bashing on here. Yes there are lazy arse scroungers on benefit and maybe some people will think you are the same, but from your post you are obviously intelligent and articulate and i am sure once people get to know you they will see you as such.

Once again, thankyou for your frank and honest post - and i wish you all the best x

iEmbarassedMyself Fri 10-Jun-11 17:03:11

Not everyone is judging, and the ones that do are idiots who you can do without.
There are only a few that do judge, they just happen to be the ones that people take more notice of. I wouldn't judge you for having nice things.

LittleMissFlustered Fri 10-Jun-11 17:45:25

I could have written two thirds of your post OPsad Don't feel guilty. The benefits you get are supposed to be for you to make your life bearable.

Hoping you're keeping well. Mental illness is not funsad

LaurieFairyCake Fri 10-Jun-11 17:53:26

There are some people who are not going to be able to fit in to the capitalist idea of 'successful'. Whether they have disabilities or mental/physical illness. That is why 'society' steps up to look after them. We have been sold a right bill of goods by capitalist wankers that almost criminalises negative contributors to society while letting off the rich that screw the system angry

However, your effort at managing your illness, your striving to do the best you can for your children and stay well is incredibly laudable. To all intelligent people with half a wit you are important, useful and deserving of support.

People that don't think you are, are frankly fuckers and you should feel free to ignore their ignorant cuntishness.

wine - good mental health smile

fedupofnamechanging Fri 10-Jun-11 17:58:02

OP, benefits exist to support vulnerable people who are unable to work and who need a bit of help. You are one of those people and should not feel guilty about accepting what a caring society should freely offer. You haven't chosen to be ill and your children shouldn't have to go without nice things just because you are getting some financial help from the state.

I think it's the nature of people to be judgy and a bit mean sometimes and to open their mouths and not engage their brains first. That doesn't mean you should take any notice. If they understood properly the nature of your illness then they wouldn't be making judgements about you and would recognise that you deserve all the help you can get.

Adversecamber Fri 10-Jun-11 19:09:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 10-Jun-11 19:32:16

I suppose one way of stopping people judging would be to keep your private business to yourself. It's no concern of anybody else's what money you have/don't have.

I wish elderly people had more access to benefits money, more available for severely disabled people too. I'd like to see a more level playing field really. Some people on benefits have quite a bit and others have very, very little. I'm not saying at all that you don't deserve what you have, I just wish the other groups of people I mentioned had it too.

I have no time for benefit scroungers, we all know they exist.

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