Too unwell to work but can't afford not to… help!

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  GingerbreadJustine 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #27071 Report


    tl;dr – I’m pretty ill, mentally and physically, and don’t feel well enough to work. Is there any way of surviving financially if I leave my job? Has anyone else managed as a single parent without working?

    I suffer with several disabilities both mental and physical, and all invisible. I have Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder. I also struggled with post natal depression. Basically, I’m a mess.

    My daughter’s Dad cheated on me whilst I was pregnant so I left him. I was then in a relationship with the man I had truly loved for the past 14 years. I went back to work after maternity on the 12th December, he walked out on me at 2am on Christmas Day. My life crumbled, I was already struggling with my mental illness at that point and I just gave up. I had to deal with the crisis team and several mental health teams just to survive. I went on sick because I just couldn’t cope. My ex then informed me that he had a new girlfriend on my daughter’s first birthday, in February.

    I found a new job, working in mental health because I wanted to help people like myself. The job is so much more challenging than I anticipated. I’m not coping and my managers are unsupportive. I have relapsed in a big way. This isn’t just since having my daughter though – every job I have ever had has resulted in me burning out, having to go on sick and then handing in my notice because my panic attacks and depression have become to much to bear.

    Now, as a single mum to a 16 month old, very demanding, still breastfeeding, up 5 times a night little girl, I’m at my wits end. I do not feel able to work, honestly. I hate saying that as it feels really shameful but I don’t. But I don’t know how I could ever survive financially without working. Are any of you single mums not working, or have you had no choice? Any advice at all would be so welcome as I just want to give up right now.

    #27076 Report



    With your child that young you could stop working and get the full whack universal credit and housing benefit. But I wouldn’t want to be trying to survive on that tbh….

    In your scenario, I would firstly apply for PIP. That’s a benefit that runs alongside and can be paid if working.

    Secondly I would speak to HR at work before doing anything,  asking perhaps for flexible working. OR go to doctors and ask for a fit to work note that say specifies you can only work x hours or conditions. It maybe that you burn out trying to do everything but with a reduced expectation you could manage.

    Are you receiving support for your mh issues?

    Fwiw I have a lot to do with this area and it zaps life out of many employees.  If you genuinely don’t want the job, rather than just leaving I’d look at finding something new.  With universal credit you can work and still receive money so you could find that you work less and earn more.

    Look at a benefits calculator.

    #27079 Report


    Thank you so much for your response. I probably didn’t include enough information in my earlier post, but it seemed to be getting really long!

    My house is mortgaged, so unfortunately I’m not entitled to any housing benefit help. I get the lower rate of daily living for PIP.

    I spoke to my manager about flexible working and she said because I’m still in probation I won’t be allowed, even though I’m under continuous employment. I only work 22.5 hours per week, and apparently the trust has a new policy that states that staff aren’t allowed to go under 22.5 hours – I’d asked to drop down to 16 per week as I felt I could manage 2 days.

    I have a care co-ordinator, and I’m still under the mental health team. I see someone every few weeks as I’ve struggled so much. I’m on the waiting list for psychotherapy which is 22 months at present.

    I’ve looked at some cleaning jobs, about 10 hours per week, but they all tend to be super early, which as an early riser is perfect for me however I can’t get any childcare at the time required.

    Which benefits calculator would you recommend? I used to the Turntous one I think it is and it was very inaccurate so I may well have done something wrong, but I have an appointment with citizens advice next week. I think I’ve probably done everything I can at this stage, it’s just so stressful knowing what is best to do.

    #27086 Report


    With a mortgage you’d eventually be entitled to an interest only loan.

    Tbh uc is t great and really only works well if employed. You’d struggle to survive with the debt you’d accrue on uc alone if not renting. Unless receive a large amount in maintenance?

    Try entitled to calculator. They’re only as accurate as you input.

    Legally you’re entitled to apply for flexible working every year that you work there – once. Now obviously they may well refuse based on what you’ve said. And you’re stuck if in probation etc and a permanent role because another role may be less secure.

    As an alternative have you rung up  the employee support line?

    Going down fit to work note with guidance from gp is an option as is asking for occupational health referral. However if you’ve  not  passed probation this may make them wary.

    Do work view you as meeting the role?

    #27088 Report


    Not really. It’s taken me much longer to get to grips with the role than they would have liked, which they have voiced. However I feel there is inadequate training for such an intense job. It is basically taking crisis calls from people experiencing suicidal or self harm thoughts and sign posting them on to the correct channels. My training was literally – listen to other people take calls for a while, then start taking them yourself.

    With my own mental health being as poor as it is at present that is very overwhelming, so it took me much longer to start taking calls. I think they can see I am struggling too (I have spoken to them) and honestly from a business perspective I think they see me as somewhat of a liability at the moment, which wouldn’t be too far from the truth. I’m making silly mistakes in my personal life – leaving my door open by accident, leaving my changing bag with purse and money in the trolley at the supermarket etc. I don’t feel that I am well enough to be handling such a serious role – I fear I could do more damage than good by making a silly mistake.

    I don’t get a large amount of maintenance. Just the standard as recommended by the government. I personally don’t see the point in an interest only loan, as I’d have to pay it back anyway. And as far as I understand that is only if you haven’t had earned income in a while? I’ve considered selling my house, however being on the property ladder is the only bit of security I currently have.

    Thank you so much for all of your help, I really appreciate it.

    #27090 Report

    Hi Tonisturrs

    Its good to see you getting some support here on the forum.  Don’t forget that you can always call our Single Parent Helpline.  We have a team of advisers that are really experienced.  They should be able to help you explore your options.  It will take time to get through, but calls are free.

    Hope that helps, Justine

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