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My Life so far – NOT what I expected

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I save a lot of pics like this if I see them on twitter or somewhere – just because I like them.  Mainly funny, upbeat,  philosophical, inspiring,  motivating etc.
Something a friend said to me in a text message recently reminded me of this picture.
It certainly describes my life.

But I’m not OK with it – yet. That will take a while.

I’m 55 – and now have nothing.

The post from 7 Feb 2015 titled Battered, Bruised and Bankrupt explains.

When I say nothing – I mean nothing financially. And no security.

No money
No income
No savings
No ability to earn any income because of all the ME symptoms severely affecting my life. (Certainly not just now.)
No Benefits – I am not well enough to deal with the process. Nowhere near well enough.
No GP ( or as good as no GP).
I do own 50% of this flat I now live in with my husband – but at the moment this is 50% of nothing (financially). As it has a large mortgage on it and there is no equity in it.
And we now have nothing to pay off the interest-only mortgage with in 8 years time. We did have various mortgage Endowments – but they were taken from us by the Trustee In Bankruptcy and cashed in.

Worked hard since 17

With Commercial Union Assurance (now part of Aviva) for 19 years.
Then Prudential for almost a year.
Then NTL ( now Virgin Media) in telecoms for 4 years

Studied for professional qualifications in Insurance (Life and Pensions) and Financial Services (for Compliance work).
Obtained A.C.I.I ( ie. Associateship Of The Chartered Insurance Institute) in the Life & Pensions branch early 1980s .
Obtained MLIA {Dip) and FPC (Financial Planning Certificate} in early 1990s.
During the early 1980s I also worked in pub jobs for 3 (sometimes 4) nights a week – on top of my full time job. I did this over a period of a few years and think I worked in 5 different pubs.
The reason – to save up for my 1st flat. For the deposit, costs and fees, furniture, etc.
I was keen to do this but not have any debt when I moved in.

All these jobs/careers I had to give up and resign from due to my health. And all the symptoms of what I now know to be ME (or CFS as it was called at my diagnosis).
NB. I left all these jobs with nothing – even after 19 years in Commercial Union.
There was no help or support from my GP at all. And I just wasn’t well enough to be able to push for more help.

Finally got diagnosed with what was called CFS in 2003.
After more than 12 years of going back and forwards to GP – but feeling I was being treated like a time-waster each time. As if I was just being lazy.
Appalling treatment really.

By 2004 I had to accept I just couldn’t risk working for an employer again. Assuming anyone would have me . . .
Although I was feeling a bit better again after some rest time, I still had a lot of symptoms to cope with. I knew I could only work when I was able to. And would often need big rest and recovery periods.
No employer could be expected to cope with this.

So the only option left was to work for myself.

In 2004 I started up the Property stuff seriously.
Buying the 2nd flat to rent out (ironically the one we now live in and are very glad to have !).
By using savings and remortgaging our home I got started.
Then managed to build up to owning 15 flats by 2014.
Mainly by remortgaging them or using additional borrowing to raise funds for the deposit, fees and costs to buy the next flat. When the value of the property had increased enough to allow this.

The point of this was to get to a point where I would have been able to sell off a property every year. Or maybe every 2nd year.
And the profit would give me an annual income.
(It is very hard to make any real monthly income from the rent – there are so many expenses and things to deduct from it.)

Ironically, if I had done nothing at all we would now be much better off financially.

Hindsight again . . . . A totally useless thing.

Remortgaging our home was a calculated risk. But it was the obvious and only option to use. Neither of us have ever had any inheritances or lottery wins !
It had loads of equity in it at 2014.
Partly because of the increase in the property market. But also because we had bought it in 1998 with a very small mortgage. We put down a large deposit of 65% of the purchase price.
This was done partly by saving up very hard for a few years and going without most things. Really scrimping on everything.
And the reason for this – our future security . . . .

Now at July 2015 – Bankrupt.

Husband dragged down with me – as some properties were bought in joint names.
But he has been totally supportive and never blaming me. And I’m so grateful for this.
So, the loss of everything – apart from the flat we are living in.
Oh, and we were allowed to keep our beloved BMW. Because it is so ancient now ! (Think I mentioned this in a previous post.)

As I explained in previous post, the Bankruptcy was voluntary because of my health.
I couldn’t go on.
And this was the only way, as I understood it, to give away all control and responsibility for all the properties. And hand over all dealings with everyone to a Trustee In Bankruptcy. ie. All dealings with banks, letting agents, tenants, insurance companies, etc etc.

It hasn’t worked out quite like that . . . .

But that’s life isn’t it ?
You get told something but the reality turns out to be quite different.

But at some point all this horrible Bankruptcy stuff will come to an end. And I will be able to “relax” and have some peace of mind.
No idea when this will be – impossible to get any clear info in writing.
And I will have the energy (well, more than just now) to hopefully find a decent “ME friendly” GP.
Not really for treatment – not expecting miracles. But just for some symptom control and support.

At the moment I have none of this. Just nothing at all.

But I’m still here.
And there are many people out there with ME or CFS who are much much worse than me.

So I’m grateful that I’m not even worse than I am. And that I do have “mini bursts” of energy. And can do some things. Even if the recovery time after it takes days . . . !

PS.
Apologies for any typing errors. I tried my best to check it before hitting the publish button.
But I really struggle to use my laptop or tablet etc. And am all out of energy now.

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Anti-Depressants

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Why Happy Pills ?

I have been on anti-depressants for over 8 yrs.
My doc was always keen to give me these since I was diagnosed with CFS in 2002/2003 – after struggling on at work for at least 12 years before that.
With CFS or ME come a big list of physical problems which can make day to day life quite difficult.
Add to that almost no NHS medical help (none that works anyway), no financial help, no practical support, no emotional support.
Plus often boredom, impatience, or disinterest from people in general.

No wonder people get depressed !

Or in my case – more stressed-out than depressed.
If I didn’t “take the tablets” I would be in danger of bursting into tears of frustration and anger at stuff on a regular basis.
Almost every aspect of my life has got harder over the years. Especially the last 2 or so years.
Right now I seem to spend most of my life working – then exhausted – then sleeping.
Then more of the same . . .
There is very little time, space or energy for much else.
Not by choice – but because I work for myself and it takes me ages to get thru stuff some days with the CFS.
If I rest – the work problems and backlog gets worse. And everything has a “financial penalty” of some sort – as I deal with property.
If I just push on and on while feeling ill – I then end up “crashing” physically and mentally. And may end up in bed for a day (or even a few days) to recover. And while recovering – the work backlog and problems all get worse.
Its a vicious circle.
And I have “lost” so many days out of my life this way over the years.

Add to this the problems of trying to do normal daily activities like food shopping, cooking/preparing some dinner, laundry, housework, household finances, personal things like having a shower, or ironing clothes to wear.
These things can be major challenges at times when the CFS is bad – and often just can’t get done. Partly because no time left, but more often because no physical energy left over to do them.
Apart from the most important one – ie. Eating !
Mind you, at times I have even had to resort to just eating some biscuits or a slice of cheese for my dinner before collapsing into bed.
Not ideal.
– Then add to that the problems of having no money to spend, being overdrawn (or close), credit card debts rising, etc. And that’s just the household finance.
– The property finance is maybe 10 times as complicated and the credit crunch/recession of the last 5 years makes this all the more difficult. But I am still managing to keep it all afloat – though it feels like it is taking everything I have got at times.

But no choice here really.
As I can’t just “make it all go away”. And in this market and financial climate it isn’t possible just to sell it all off quickly – even if I wanted to.
I always look at the long picture – and keep telling myself it will be worth it in the long run.
And that I will get there.

My GP’s view on CFS and ME was that you will not get any financial help from the state – as you have to be “virtually in a coma” to qualify. So he would not help me at all. And this was years ago – around 2003.
NB. Can you imagine how angry I feel when I watch Benefit Cheats on TV . . . . Not that I would want to rely on benefits but it would have been nice just to have a little bit of financial help at times! Just to ease the strain.
I mean other people get benefits who don’t always need them, eg. Child Benefit. But thats another issue.

This is why I got into property.
My choices were very limited. And I had to do something, and something that would (ideally) produce some money in the long run.
CFS makes me unemployable – as I can only work when I can work. And I do work most days. But I can spend 8 hours at my desk and PC – but some days only get the equivalent of maybe 1 hours work done.

But I recognise I am lucky that it does fluctuate and I do have good spells too – and actually have a life. Maybe just not every day.

This has been a long post – and maybe sounds a bit “moany”. (sorry !)
But my goodness – it feels really good to get all this off my chest.

CFS – how long ?

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In Jan 2008 I met a doctor in Elgin (David Mickel) who asked me how long I had been suffering from CFS.
I didn’t know the answer – it seemed like forever.
He then turned the question around to :
“when do you last remember feeling fully well” ?
And that was easy – the mid-1980s. Maybe the late 1980s at best.

Quite a long time ago then . . .

Its funny how it can be easier to remember a “feeling” rather than precise details. And when I thought back to how it felt when I was fully well – the time/place etc all came back to me easily without having to think about it.

But my story is not unusual.
Throughout the 1990s I sort of managed but quite badly at times. And it got harder and harder as the years went on. Especially at work.
Eventually diagnosed late 2002 or early 2003.

My CFS did, and still does, fluctuate quite a lot.
And I know that I am actually very lucky with this. As it does allow me to do things and have a life. Even if quite a small life at times.
And although it may feel “severe” to me sometimes – I think it would more likely be classed as mild to moderate CFS.

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