As regular readers will probably know, I suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. Now when people ask me what that means I usually say something like "I find it difficult to cope with large crowds or situations where I'm under intense scrutiny", and they're usually very understanding about it whenever I'm having panic attacks. Some passers-by have actually stayed with me to make sure that I'm well enough to get on with things, which is always a great help.
Now recently I had been going to Seetec in Norwich for what I can only describe as compulsory job search sessions - one day a week at first - the initial plan was to do a work placement as well, but thanks to panic attacks suffered in the first couple of days that was knocked on the head. (and led to me ending up off sick for a few weeks before getting called back in to start the job searching sessions - on a one day per week basis while they tried to find another placement, but failed miserably.) I was still having problems with the panic attacks, but they hadn't been as severe as before, thanks in part, to having a couple of Mars bars (other chocolate bars are available) on standby, but sometimes I'd need them to try to keep my blood sugar at a reasonable level, thus killing two birds with one stone so to speak.
This week I was supposed to start going in for five days a week (as I wasn't on a placement) but things didn't start out too well.
Tuesday was a half day, so I thought I wouldn't have too much to go wrong. Whilst on the way over to Seetec's premises on Oak Street in Norwich I started feeling a bit dizzy. I was about to keel over when a cyclist stopped to see what was up, while a couple passing by was able to take me over to a nearby church building to enable me to compose myself. Managing to get over to the offices, albeit a few minutes later than scheduled, I signed in, found a space and got on with things, hoping that I'd be OK for the rest of the day. However, around a couple of hours into the afternoon, I felt as if I was going to pass out. Luckily one of the other clients (or should I call them inmates as the atmosphere at Seetec was more akin to a prison than a training centre) alerted one of the advisers on duty who took me to one of the interview rooms to recover. At the time I had put the episode down to my blood sugar level being too low which led to me feeling faint. Anyway, around 15 minutes, a glass of orange juice and a few biscuits later I was more or less back on my feet and ready to carry on.
Wednesday morning was more of a nightmare. A panic attack I had on the bus to Norwich hadn't subsided, and as a result, I ended up almost passing out as I was turning into Colegate. Again, thanks to a couple of passers-by I was just about able to recover enough for them to help me get over to Seetec. What they also did was to get a paramedic to call me to check to see how I was doing.
Seetec themselves were, to put it mildly, less than helpful.
I was taken to one side by one of the advisers and basically told "you're no good to us in your current condition." before adding "You can either carry on and do your job search, or go now and see a doctor. But if you do go, this could affect your benefit."
Seetec's attitude was mercenary to say the least. Not only did they leave me feeling let down, I was more stressed than ever - which led me to decide "health has to come first". And with that I made my way over to the nearest bus stop.
Eventually getting home around lunchtime, the rest of the day was spent dealing with jobcentre stuff and a visit to the doctors. A frustrating end to the day summed up on my Facebook page as follows...
"So Seetec send me home after almost passing out whilst at their
premises one afternoon, and suffering the same experience on the way in
this morning. I'm now off sick for at least two weeks, and feeling
extremely p***ed off at the way Seetec have treated me. They were told
that I suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder at the referral interview,
but they appeared to conveniently ignore my condition, and failed to
make an allowance for it at all.
I'm now waiting to find out what the jobcentre wants me to do as there's talk of me being moved to either Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit. I just hope something can be sorted out soon.....
- Mark Radbourne
- Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom
I'm a former hospital radio/club/mobile DJ, avid record collector and amateur musician (playing guitar, keyboards, recorder, harmonica and percussion.) I've even filled in on bass guitar for a couple of local bands as well (although that was quite a few years ago). Also interested in Motorsports, Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts and Classic Television and Radio from the 1960s - 1980s.
Why am I on here? Well, I'm just trying to make some sense of life before it's too late...but who cares anyway?