Diary Day 80: Finding Somewhere To Live on Housing Benefit – Fate Smiles Because I Had To Be Open About Having CFSME

I am typing this post from the spare bed in the laundry room at my Silver Surfer Dad’s house.

I moved in last weekend and this week has been such a total sea change from what it was like before.  Life’s changed completely and beautifully opened up again. 🙂

And I’m not only feeling relaxed and good about life either. As they say, as one door shuts, another one opens and, well, no truer has that phrase ever been than what’s happened this week.

Being open with strangers about having ME

I usually don’t tell strangers about my health condition. I mean, why would I?

“Hello, I’m Lindy, nice to meet you. By the way before we get to know each other any more I’d better tell you a secret – I’ve got ME.”

I am still myself even though I have ME. I want people to take me on face value and if I choose to tell them at some later stage that I have a health condition then that’s my choice so no, I don’t tell them immediately.

Yup. I’ll sit down with them, feel riven with brain fog, seasick with post exertional malaise  and knowing that a conversation will wipe me out afterwards but I still want to feel like myself, so I’ll struggle with it to keep the belief that I can still do that and have ME for as long as possible!

Being open with estate agents…

The search for somewhere to live has been really challenging because from the start, I’ve had to tell total and complete strangers in estate agents offices not only about my financial situation, which is embarrassing and revealing enough but also what illness I have. There was no avoiding it.

I tried to do every introduction over the phone and deal with them this way for this reason. That was way up the list and far past doing phone calls because of not having the energy to arrange meetings, to be honest.

The place where I live in London is shaped along one long high street. I want to walk down that high street and not have people looking out of the glass windows in the numerous estate agents’ offices saying: “That’s the woman who has ME.” *shiver* no, that’s not me at all!

But I’ve had to come clean because I’ve had to explain I was on Housing Benefit. Eventually I got used to telling people on the end of the phone that I had a disability, and over the first phone calls I developed a script that I stuck to.

Some of them asked pointed, blunt questions in return which I had to answer as calmly as I could, even though being asked:

“…..and a doctor has diagnosed you, has he, I mean, it’s an official illness is it? I mean, I have to know about it to tell the landlord,” was one of many low points with an estate agent on the phone! that conversation blindsided me so much it rendered me speechless.

When I moved into Dad’s I was relieved that for a while I could have some respite but it wasn’t the end of the search, oh no.

Fate stepped in…

After the inevitable crash this week, I started to come around in time to get back onto Zoopla on Thursday morning.

Looking on Zoopla when the pressure of a move-out deadline is no longer hanging over you is such a different experience, much less frenzied, desperate, hopeless and intense.

On Thursday morning there was a flat. It was a bit more expensive than I’d like it to be but it was in the right area and the photos suggested it was in really good nick.

I rang and spoke to the agent. This is the agent who started me off with my search, 2 months ago when I viewed one of their flats and it fell through. In all that time we hadn’t spoken again. I asked him about the flat and he said he’d call the landlord to find out if they’d consider me, before suggesting a viewing. This has been standard practice, by the way.

See that row of chickens?

I wasn’t counting any chickens. I’ve been turned down so many times that I made a cuppa and thought about something else instead.

When he called back, I didn’t even say much to him first off, so I was pleasantly surprised when he said he’d spoken to the landlord and they seemed fine with my situation. I was so surprised I said: “really? Really, really??”

“I think so,” he said.

The next thing I thought was: “What’s wrong with it?” because all the flats I’ve viewed, bar 1, where landlords would accept Housing Benefit tenants had something wrong with them. “There’ll be something wrong with it,” I decided.

I arranged to visit it on Thursday.

When it’s right, it’s right..

As I walked up the road and found the front door, something clicked. It was light, clean, in the perfect setting, in a protected, safe building. Inside it was absolutely right too. 🙂

When it’s right, you know it, yeah?

I felt this rush of: “Oooh yeah!” I turned to the agent and told him I loved it then double-checked with him that the landlord was:

a) aware of my situation fully and

b) prepared to accept me as a tenant as a result.

“I think so,” came the reply, “but I think he might like to meet you first..”

“Sure,” I said, head reeling with the beauty of this property, “anything, tell me when and I’ll be there.” Friday morning it was. It was great it was quick, I didn’t want to hang about, bad for me emotionally.

I met the landlords. I wasn’t nervous, because the agent told me they wanted to know more about my guarantor. So I spent ages talking to my guarantor on Thursday about their salary, how long they’d been in their job for, whether they were completely au fait with what this would mean etc. It was like preparing for an interview.

The landlords arrived. We made friendly conversation until I said: “I hear you want to know more about my guarantor?”

They did. They’d also done some homework about the benefits I was claiming. Their homework was wrong. They thought I paid Council Tax, which I don’t. They also thought I was on JSA / WRAG rates and I’m not.

But far more importantly than that….

“How much did the agent tell you about my health condition?” I said.

“Oh he mentioned what it was,” came the reply.

“Um. Do you know anything about it?” I said, prepared to launch into explanation mode.

“We do actually,” was the reply, “we’ve got a family member with ME…”

For a full couple of seconds my face must have been a picture. We all sat in silence and looked into each other’s faces. Eventually he said:

“So we know what you are dealing with and we decided that if we could help anyone in your situation, we would do..”

WHAT !!!!! 🙂

From that moment onwards all the conversation floated by in a haze. Yes, they are worried about things financially but we talked everything through in detail. We also talked about their family member too.

At the end they said: “I don’t need to hear anything more, I’m happy,” and gave the agent the thumbs up on the way out.

I’m waiting for the official go-ahead but it’s looking really positive.

And when I was talking with them I felt none of the embarrassment and horrible stuff about having to be so revealing with strangers which goes to show that once you open up and tell the truth about who you are and what you need, the universe bloody listens!

© Lindy 2015

4 thoughts on “Diary Day 80: Finding Somewhere To Live on Housing Benefit – Fate Smiles Because I Had To Be Open About Having CFSME

  1. Oh Lindy how fabulous!! OMG! Fingers are well and truly crossed. And I won’t pinch you either to try and wake you from this seeming dream 🙂
    Reminds me of a recent call I made to my computer repair man, who out of the blue revealed his teenage daughter had ME – and I hadn’t even told him I had it… but he knew!
    A small world or what? 🙂


      • Well, he hasn’t called me back about the upgrades I want to my computer – and that was several months ago now – so perhaps not! Ha!
        I expect he’s been busy. He also happens to be a bomb disposal expert – I know, I know – and gets called out a fair bit for old ordinance discoveries.
        I really must call him again, but I don’t want my PC out of action. Bit of a lifeline really 🙂


      • Sorry for taking bloody ages to reply….has he been called away on an urgent bomb disposal mish? I ask myself. Might be that his daughter isn’t well – we all know how that happens often all of a sudden with ME.
        I couldn’t live without the internet and a computer full stop. Having a PC out of action is unthinkable – what DID we do before the internet, I can’t remember….;-)


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