Being a disabled “student” and benefits

It’s looking a lot like I might not be going back to university this year, and a bit like I won’t return for 2 years. That’s a long time, and I keep trying to post about it, but it’s all a bit overwhelming right now.

They want me, and I think I want me, to do the day programme for personality disorders. They’ve agreed to take me on if I can financially afford to live there (it’s in the city my university is, not home). The progamme has a 6 month preparation group in which time you have to go 4 weeks without self-harming. Ideally they said it would take less than 3 months though.

After that there is a one year programme, three days per week, followed by a 6 month discharge group where you just go once per week to help you apply what you’ve learnt to life.

There are currently three issues that the clinical lead has. 1) How I will manage preparing food and eating there, plus food shopping, as he said these are big parts of the day and things they see as very important, and they don’t focus on eating disorders although some patients may have them, it’s not what the service is for – my psychiatrist wants me to go back to the day programme at home which is for eating disorders to get myself to a better place again, I am considering going once a week.

2) My level of risk is too high and they don’t want me in therapy if I am going to find it too difficult and potentially do something which is life-threatening. Like, my risk is too high? It feels weird having that as a reason to not allow me to do treatment. 3) The money, the bloody money.

I’ve had a few emails from university, and there’s a meeting tomorrow morning to find out whether they would grant me an extra year interruption, as they usually give one maximum and it’s down to the course whether I can have two. According to the university I will no longer be a student i.e. not able to access university facilities, but according to the government and the benefits system, I will still class as a student, and therefore unable to claim benefits. Someone suggested at university that I leave the course, then reapply directly into third year when I’ve finished treatment, but I am 99% sure that isn’t a tempting idea.

I may have found a loop hole. I think I can apply for PIP as a student, and if I get PIP, then I should be entitled to ESA and housing benefit. But the other issue is I don’t know if I meet the requirements of PIP now. I will do when I am in the programme but I need the benefits when I start the programme and they won’t assess you based on things that aren’t currently in place.

It’s stressing me out sooooo much. I feel like I’d rather run away, and go back to university which feels like a “safe” option. But realistically it’s not that safe at all. The week after term finished was horrendous, and I can’t keep living life like this because although I don’t believe I will ever die, I also can see why people think I may.

I am, on a better note, more pro this than ever, and determined to create a different life for myself.