Storying Sheffield

Shame is the hardest feeling to bear

The author of this story wishes to remain anonymous.

My story is that when I had to stop work around eight years ago due to dissociating and self harming, I had to claim benefits. This was after around 25 years of working. I felt so humiliated and at a loss as work brought meaning to my life and I felt a failure. Having to attend any meetings with the employment people was a trauma in itself bringing on huge feelings of guilt and shame.

I had been asked to attend a medical to prove that I was unfit for work. I had asked my psychiatrist for a letter and he forgot to do it. Mixed in with the feelings of abandonment came a fear of being judged by a doctor and the shameful feelings surfaced. Shame is the hardest feeling to bear and I felt I couldn’t face the interview. The only way I felt I could escape was to overdose and I ended up admitted to the hospital.

Also the filling in of the forms for the interview made me feel like I was useless and made me relive the trauma of my past. It looks at everything that was wrong with me. My belief is that the whole process led me to feeling suicidal and wanting to end my life. I felt like I was a burden to society even though I had contributed so much but I couldn’t see that then.

People with poor mental health are fragile, and to people who are well it may seem strange but small things can knock you and make you feel that you cannot cope. The benefits system does not recognise that at some points people cannot work and to hound them mercilessly and to try to force them into work is cruel and disturbing.


Organisations campaigning for better support for disabled people and people with mental health conditions include:

DPAC (Disabled People against Cuts)

NSUN (National Survivor User network)

MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network)

Black Triangle