I have been living on a Disability Pension since 1986, I have to say it's been both challenging and rewarding and I hope to be able to share my experience with you.
I was eligible all those years ago because of my first bout of opportunistic infections which resulted in developing early onset dementia and due to the fact I could not work I was placed on a pension this also meant that I was able to apply for housing. I felt at the time I was loosing my independence and I fought the the process with all my ability at the time, which was not appreciated by those that felt that they where doing this for my own good. I only saw this as a loss, a loss of choice of where I lived what I could do where I was able to go as the loss of income and depletion of my super was extensive. During this time I spent over $100,000 on treatments, specialists and alternative therapies as the government only started assistance in 1996.
The 10 years in between was very difficult to deal with, I was confronted with the fact that the greater majority of those living with the virus were only living for about 5-10 years. many blew their super ran up their credit cards and lived life with out a care for the future. I did not do this and seeing my independence fretted away in a inane way of fighting the inevitable death to the HIV/AIDS virus. I tried the treatments that my brothers and sister wouldn't or couldn't endure as it was expensive and insurance was not available, in fact we were not able to get insurance to assist in the tidal wave of expenses that accompanied the virus and still does. I have tried a lot of different treatments over the years some more bizarre than I would care to admit too, I have never had anyone slap fish over me ,but it was not suggested at the time so I will have to leave that there.
I had to come to erms with a future on a limited income I have learn to hard way, it takes a lot of self control to get a head and stay there. It means that you have to make some lifestyle choices that may increase your isolation as going out to pubs and clubs dinning out and going to the movies or theater are not in your reality if you want to pay power and living expenses on time and in full. Once you live a few weeks without food and in the dark as the power is cut and fending off the creditors while finding the money to reconnect and pay the bond that the company require toensure that you don't fall behind again.
I have learnt the hard way that you need to pay basic services every fortnight , this means once I get my pension, the bills get a small payment. I now have a better standard of living than I did in the begining. I could not imagine having to find large amounts of cash to settle a bill. I have taken advantage of no intereat loans to put solar panels on the roof and buy rainwater tanks to decrease costs overtime. I run the car for trips over 5 kms from home all the rest is walking or on the bike. I love to cook so I very rarely buy takeaways, it's not perfect but it works. I know it means a lot of self control but at the same time its good to know I have some control over my situation. I understand why others find the whole experience demoralizing and bloody hard going, but if you want to have some control over your life you need to make some hard choices.
Well I will share some more next week till then stay safe and take personal responsiblity because you could be around a lot longer than you could ever imagine.