The UK Benefits System Is Making Me Suicidal

A stock photo, via Pexels, of coins, overlaid with the title "The UK Benefits System Is Making Me Suicidal" because I couldn't find another image to encapsulate the PIP experience

Note: As well as talking about suicidal feelings related to the PIP and Universal Credit systems, this post briefly mentions self-harm and gaslighting.


Let’s start from the beginning: the first time I claimed benefits, when I applied for PIP in November of 2017. PIP, managed and awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (or DWP) is awarded to disabled people when their disability makes their day-to-day life more difficult. It stands for ‘Personal Independence Payments’; you can imagine, especially if you read my post on the myth of independence, my disdain for the name, but that quickly became the least of my problems. 

I vaguely remember that the man on the phone who set up my claim was nice and inoffensive, but I remember with clarity which part of my university I was sitting in when I made the call, my back to the vending machines as I sat on some chair or sofa made of prickly, cheap magenta fabric. I remember these details, because for me, claiming PIP was a big deal. It was an acknowledgement of my complex additional needs and a big step on my journey to accepting that I’m disabled, and that that’s okay. 

Except, uh, the government had other ideas.

To claim PIP, you first fill out a 33-page form which asks you, in excruciating detail, “how your disability affects you”. The form asks about your toileting habits and your abilities to keep yourself clean, which makes it more than a little uncomfortable to fill out, especially if you’re asking somebody else for help with it. You get a hearty 3 months to fill it out and return it, which is a bonus, but the process is miserable however long it takes you. Afterwards, you send off your form and wait patiently for an assessment appointment, which takes insane amounts of time, and then you attend your assessment.

This is when you learn that what you put on your form did not matter.

They ask you more or less the same questions they asked on the form, but this time in person (or, during these times of Covid, over the phone) and you answer them. You’re allowed to bring another person for support and to help answer questions, but the assessor gets to run the show, and one bitc–valuable employee of Capita didn’t allow my partner to speak at all until the very end, something I was absolutely not prepared for. 

Don’t worry, though, because that doesn’t matter either! Regardless of what you actually say or how you actually behave, they’ll send you a decision letter (many weeks later) that will make you want to kill yourself. Mine described my demeanour as “relaxed and calm”, which is a very odd interpretation of “so anxious that I was actively pulling scabs off of self-harm wounds”, and contained some outright lies as well as some fantastic leaps of logic (like, I mentioned enjoying video games so they decided that I didn’t have any problems with self-motivation. I think I brought up video games as an example of something that distracts me so much that I forget I’m hungry, thirsty, in pain or in need of a wee, but they hear what fits their agenda). 

This is the bit that makes me want to kill myself: when I have been vulnerable and poured hours into a 33-page, honest reflection of my life as disabled person, and then I receive a letter that makes me doubt my memories of the appointment, informing me that I actually don’t struggle with anything. From that, my disordered brain extrapolates that I must be an abled person who is just being an over-sensitive baby about the fact that they can’t cope with adult life. It takes my support network a lot of labour to help me stop spiralling in that direction.

If you want to appeal (and you probably will), you first send a request for “mandatory reconsideration”, which you also spend extremely painful hours writing. You send that off, you wait more weeks, and then, usually, you get rejected again. If you haven’t already committed Capita-gaslighting-related suicide or starved to death, you might choose to take it all the way to a tribunal.

Remember those weeks of waiting I described earlier? Weak sauce. To get a tribunal date took me, I believe, over a year. I phoned every couple of months to check they hadn’t forgotten about me, and each time I asked I was told some absurd number of weeks by helpline workers who ranged from bright and helpful to sounding genuinely annoyed I had called. I don’t keep good records, but it looks like I was preparing for my tribunal on the 30th July, 2019. 

That is not a typo. I started my claim in 2017, and after months of waiting and panicking and doubting my own reality, I finally found someone who would listen to me. In the middle of 2019.

The tribunal was, oddly, the most painless part of the whole affair. Apart from the general terror induced by being in a new setting and trying to communicate with real adults, I felt at the time like they were listening, and I was proven right when their decision came through: I did, and do, qualify for PIP. It was a huge relief.

Until late in 2020, when PIP stopped appearing in my account. I phoned them, and apparently I had been sent a letter about a reassessment, to an old address that I no longer lived at. They didn’t, at any point, seem to think that they hadn’t heard back from me because, oh, I dunno, I’m too disabled to keep all my records up-to-date? They didn’t think that maybe they should try my phone number, which they also had on file, to check I had received the letter (or at least to check I wasn’t dead). So instead of reassessing me and continuing my claim, they stopped it altogether, and set me back to square one.

The word count on this post is getting daunting and I haven’t even ranted about the bitch who didn’t note down my use of the Nottingham Sexual Violence Service because “we can’t report on anything that happened previously, including promiscuous behaviour”, but I don’t really need to study her in detail, because she is one cog in a violent machine. 

And I haven’t even started on my rant about Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is what you get if you don’t have enough income to stay alive. They were, when I applied in the summer of 2020, orders of magnitude quicker than PIP, but the problem with Universal Credit is that it’s seemingly designed to make your life so miserable that you give up and get a job. You’re assigned a work coach, who phones you too often and with too little notice to chide you about not having a better job yet. (Mine did not, but I think only because I’m disabled and was in crisis.) They’re meant to help you through the process of being declared “Not fit for work”, which grants you an extra £300 or so a month – this was less painful than PIP, and I was successful first time, but it still involved filling out a long, miserable form. They also tell you what you need to do admin-wise, such as turning your claim into a joint claim when you move in with your partner.

Turning my claim into a couples’ claim when I moved in with my fiancee meant losing the “housing costs” part of my Universal Credit, but I expected that. What I did not expect was for her income to be used as a reason to give me literally no money. The “Not fit for work” component gets deducted from just like the rest of it, so if your partner earns money, you get nothing. If you have trauma about being dependent on someone else for money and housing, this may make you want to kill yourself.

If that doesn’t, maybe this will: if someone in the household is earning, they don’t necessarily pay you the same amount every month. On average, you get about four days’ notice regarding what they’ll be paying you this month. It doesn’t matter if you need to budget! You spend the whole month not knowing what money you’ll have next month, and then you have four days to do some very intense maths. Maths that makes you a little suicidal, you know, because you know that even if you can make ends meet this month, next month might not yield a penny of Universal Credit.

My entire experience with this system has been negative. I want to be fair, but there is literally nothing nice to say about the UK benefits system. It is killing people. It is trying to kill me. I just wanted to share a brief (believe me) summary of my experiences with the DWP; I don’t have a grand point to make here besides, “Wow, this fucking sucks. It’s disgusting that the government is making people suffer to this extent simply because they’re disabled and/or poor. There are better ways to do this, but they’ve been foregone for a reason: the cheapest, easiest thing for a government to do is to drive people away from claiming benefits wherever possible, regardless of whether they need or deserve them. This just really fucking sucks.”

Alright, Fine, I’ll Write About The Fucking Pandemic

Content note: This post is about the coronavirus pandemic, and also mentions suicidal ideation. If that’s not your jam, no worries! Read some older posts or come back soon, and keep up with me on Twitter if you want to know when I next post!


I haven’t wanted to write about the novel coronavirus pandemic. I haven’t wanted to cash in on that sweet, sweet SEO while people have been dying, separated from their families, scared and in pain. I haven’t wanted to remind y’all of how dire things have been, still are, might yet get. I haven’t wanted to speak out of turn, being a sex blogger and an English student and not a medic or epidemiologist or anything else relevant.

But I’ve reached the Fuck-It Point now, so I’m writing about the fucking pandemic.

It has knocked me for six. I am super privileged in that I haven’t had to shield (though my mum has) and I’m at a fancy-bitch university that was already prepared to take action. There are lots of ways in which coronavirus could have ruined my life, and it hasn’t. But it has ruined my life in two very big ways.

The first is that it has absolutely annihilated the limited sense of safety I had when navigating the world. There’s a one-way system in most shops now that makes me fear the telling-off I might get when I autistically wander off and accidentally violate the rules. Everyone looks to be on their guard and that unsettles me. The only thing that unsettles me more is the idea that the government was and is willing to send people out into education and the workforce in the name of “herd immunity”.

Knowing that the government would let me die for the sake of their bottom line is not news to me, as a trans, autistic, mentally-ill person. Seeing them be so brazen about it, though, and watching them send small children back to school now as tiny, adorable sacrificial lambs to see whether it’s a good idea to open things up or not, that’s terrifying. If they’re brave enough to send PR-friendly little people onto the firing line, what the fuck is next?

The other, more obvious way that this pandemic has ruined my life is: all my plans have been cancelled. Yes, yes, I know, like every other motherfucker on Earth, except – I’m autistic. I don’t like change. Plans changing suddenly makes me feel ill. I spent all of January and February getting my brain ready for Eroticon in March, and then found that the organisers had (rightly, responsibly) cancelled the event. I had outfits planned and a workshop timetable written up and the same hotel as last time booked for the same number of days. And then it was cancelled, and I sobbed.

Eroticon is an exceptional example because, in some ways, I put too many eggs in that basket. When booking my tickets last summer, before anyone could have possibly predicted a global pandemic, I told myself, “Well, now I’ve gotta stay alive ’til March!” and took it as a challenge. It would be rude to kill myself when I’ve already bought a ticket, after all. But its cancellation, amid increasing disruption to my uni life, kicked the wind out of me. It seemed like the universe was recommending I kill myself so strongly that it was also killing tens of thousands of other people, as collateral. I cried a lot about how I had caused the coronavirus pandemic, until I could be convinced to phone my psychiatrist.

I miss seminars. Sorely, sorely miss them. I miss seeing my mum. I miss dropping in on my girlfriend and her cats at a moment’s notice. I miss Pick’n’Mix and loitering in Primark with people who are also game to make fun of their products and by God I miss nights out. (I have already planned my outfit for my first night out after lockdown. It involves a very slutty dress, and Doc Martens, for dancing my absolute tits off. Y’all are gonna love it.) There are so many things I feel robbed of, and the autistic six-year-old who still lives in my brain has spent a lot of time reminding me that “It’s not fair!”

But of course it’s not fair. We live in a world where human lives are treated with less respect than the invisible numbers that make up the stock market. Avoidable deaths are happening everywhere. People are going bankrupt. This pandemic has been more unfair on other people than it has been on me.

And yet! Here I am, complaining! Because I want to remind you that “Other people have it worse” is not the same as “I have it great”. Because I want to tell other autistic people that they aren’t suffering with all this disruption alone. Because, God damn it, I deserve to vent, without explaining myself, just because my feelings are real and valid and eating me alive. I plan to vent more with angsty poetry and singing too loud in the shower, but this was my public vent. Because this pandemic fucking sucks for all of us.


The pandemic and subsequent lockdown that’s going on right now means that I’ve lost a lot of work opportunities (because every other fucker at my agency is snagging jobs before I can). If you want to help me out, please do consider buying me a coffee or commissioning transcripts or captions from me!

Where I’ve Been

A selfie of Morgan, resting xir face on xir hand and looking into the camera with a neutral, if exasperated, expression. Morgan is a white nonbinary person with a blueish fringe and multiple piercings, the uniform of mental illness

Content warning: This post alludes to the general misery of mental illness, as well as suicidal ideation and self-harm. Give it a miss if you need to – you matter more than my analytics! 


So, I accidentally became a company director.

When I say this, people ask, “How do you accidentally become a company director?” Their confusion is understandable, but honestly, I’ve been in a haze of mental illness for such a long time that most of what I do feels accidental. Like, oh, look at that, I wrote a press release. Oops, I tripped and fell and submitted a PhD funding application. Oh, fuck, it looks like I’ve submitted coursework for my MA. 

But also: oh, fuck, I accidentally didn’t speak to my girlfriend for literal weeks. Oh, look at that, I forgot to eat today. Oops, I don’t have enough of my meds to get me through the weekend. And, of course, ah, shit, I forgot to be a sex blogger for a month or two. 

This post is two things. It’s an explanation as to why I’ve been away from my blog for a hot minute, and a celebration of all the insane things I’ve been up to during said hot minute.

We’ll start with the company director thing. My mum is my co-director, and initially, I was sort of a placeholder company director, a name to write on the paperwork until we got someone else on board. But, you know, it’s a community interest company, and it’s one I believe in very strongly. So, slowly and accidentally, I’ve started actually doing things as a company director. I made us Ko-Fi and Patreon pages. I put together the Facebook fundraiser for this weekend, when my mum will be shaving her head. I wrote a press release and contacted local news outlets to ask where I should send it. You know, real casual-like. 

Christmas makes my brain very weird, so I didn’t celebrate it. I hung wallpaper instead, mostly on my own. My mum acted as a second pair of hands on occasion, but I get weird when I’m doing DIY, so upon my request she mostly entertained the dog and stayed well out of my way. This was also the case when I replaced the toilet seat after losing my battle with the original broken one. And when I unblocked the outdoor drain. And when I rearranged the furniture.

I realised halfway through this whole process that I was using it as self-harm, what with my dodgy joints and all, but at that point it felt too late to stop. I carried on twisting my hips, pulling my ribs out and climbing ladders in my flip-flops, and only noticed bruises and scrapes hours or days after they’d occurred. The haze of mental illness hung heavy around me, so my memories of that whole process are blurred.

I did all of this stuff with deadlines looming in the distance. Four deadlines, to be precise, which required me to write a cumulative total of 11,000 words. The problem was, it was enough of a challenge to be in my mum’s house, where a lot of my trauma happened, without hurting myself any more than I already was. And my focus can never stay on anything at my mum’s house, because I’m waiting for the next Traumatic Thing to happen. So I didn’t touch my coursework.

And then I did, all at once. On Sunday/Monday, I stayed up for 37 hours (with a 90 minute nap in the middle) to write the 8,000-odd words I still had left to write. I had an energy drink at 11pm. I had a shower at 5am. I picked at the recent self-harm wounds on my arms and I cried about statistics. But I submitted the bastards, all four of them, and we’ll see soon enough whether they were actually coherent enough for me to secure a pass. 

I still went to my Monday afternoon seminar, too. I could have skived, what with the exhaustion and the mental illness and it being the first week of term and all, but it was the module I’m the most excited about, taught by an academic I really want to impress. So I turned up, and I babbled near-incomprehensibly about gender and bees, and then I stumbled back to my Daddy’s house. And I accidentally reminded myself why I liked to pull all-nighters all the time in high school: because exhaustion numbs everything, like a nip of booze does, and makes the world easier to cope with, and because I got so much done overnight. I would like to forget this information again, because I used to spend a lot of my time drunk on exhaustion, and I’m sure it wasn’t good for me. 

All of this is to say that I’ve been in a blurry, often-dark place lately. I have had moments of frantically Googling “how to drown yourself”, and moments of dizzying triumph and relief. I can barely recall any of it. I feel like it goes without saying that I haven’t been in a sex-blogging mindset very much as of late, because I’ve been alternating between being busy and foggy and in crisis. 

However! I have had some sex-related triumphs, among all the grown-up uni- and business- and wallpaper-related triumphs. This weekend, I’ll hopefully be posting about my slowly-improving relationship with masturbation, and how that fits in with my sex-related intention-setting for 2020. I’m only a month late, and honestly, with how chaotic things have been, that feels like a triumph in its own right.

Thank you all for your patience with me while I’ve been Going Through It™. I hope that the content I put out in 2020 makes that patience worth it.