Paperwork rears its ugly head

The last week or so has been great - I've not felt depressed, been working hard and getting out and about, and generally felt ready for anything. Then, just when I seem to be doing fine, all cheery, well-balanced and confident, I'm confronted with a form from HMRC to fill in. Not my tax return, it's a claim for Housing Benefit - I moved in August and it's taken me this long in failed attempts (and, in the process, cost me all my savings). Anyway, I sat down at the desk thinking, 'I can do this, no problem, fuss about nothing, it'll be a piece of cake'.

So far, I've ticked two boxes and been asked what trading period I'm showing. Already my heart's racing and there's ringing in my ears and shadows around the edges of my vision, my hands are numb and shaking so much I can barely type, I feel sick and my whole body is shivering. I'm terrified of doing it wrong and getting into more trouble, but reading the things I need to fill in, my brain shuts down and I just want to cry.

They want a breakdown of my expenses for the last tax year, by category - I don't know that, all my receipts are in the form of email notifications, I kept some paper receipts too but I lost them, along with a box of other paperwork which included my accounts, when I moved house (in the stacks of cardboard boxes, I must have taken the wrong one to the tip -.-). I carefully added them up for my tax return already, but not by item type! I do my best, I just find numbers and protocol so hard, especially when it's unfamiliar. What will happen if I get this wrong? I'll lose my home if I don't get this claim sorted out soon, will I go to court, or get a fine which I can't pay?

I'd go to the doctor for help with this, but I haven't even registered at the surgery yet - I don't understand why I have this paralyzing fear of paperwork and red-tape, people say things like 'don't be silly, it's easy once you get started on it, nobody likes paperwork' etc, but I'm sure this isn't normal, I don't know anyone else with such a phobia of protocol that they get panic attacks from simple form-filling, and the worst of it is that society these days is saturated with it. You want help? Fill in a form. Not sure how? Apply for support, by filling in forms. Can't manage that? Oh dear, you'd better fill in a form to explain why, fill in a form to register for the doctor, who will probably ask you to fill in some forms to let him know what the problem is. (Yes I know the surgery one isn't scary, same with the dentist, it just gives me an unpleasant feeling doing it, like being covered in black oil - sorry, that sounds mental but it's the best way I can explain it). This got worse after my nervous breakdown.

I'm sick of this, I hate being this way, in other respects I'm quite bright and capable so it makes me angry and frustrated that I have this stupid crippling fear that I can't seem to beat.

10 Replies

  • When it comes to paperwork, I am really bad, Hazel used to work in Government and She does all my TAX, PENSION and other paperwork I seem to get from so many government departments.

    When I was a Volunteer in Mental Health the members would come into the centre and gain help there.

    When I put expenses in for my Voluntary Work Hazel does most of them a well as my brain is somewhat confused at this time.

    All I can suggest is that you go to CAB, if you have one locally, sometimes there are some day centres that may be able to help. you need to find them locally.

    Generally I always thought you need to keep all your paperwork to show what you have spent. With me I fill in a form and show my milage, the Office will then confirm my mileage from home to meeting and return.

    When at work many years ago they took my milage, checked it and then paid any other expenses I had, I had to keep receipts

    You could try that although I do not know how thing work now. especially when self employed


  • Thank you Bob,

    Ah you're very fortunate - my ex used to help me with all this, now I'm on my own I need to fight my own battles - the CAB is an excellent suggestion though, thank you! Actually, the council office themselves are helpful too, except that the lady who I saw last time was very curt and sneery, and there was some paperwork I had to go away and do myself because I needed to cross-reference figures - it took me almost a month to screw myself up to do it, which meant a last minute rush, accompanied by an inner chant of, 'Why do you always do this to yourself, you're an idiot, what are you?'!

    Yes, I usually keep everything, there was just such an upheaval when I had to move in a hurry, and I'm not very organised at the best of times. Thank you for your thoughtful advice! :-) x

  • Hi there and don't be so hard on yourself about filling in forms etc. Everyone has

    Their things that they fear, one mans meat and another mans poison thing. I do t mind paperwork but I know some people hate it.

    My suggestion is to do your best with it, coukd you get anyone at all to give you

    A hand with it. If you are know,ing, withholding any info then try not to worry. At all.

    If I was there I would help you.

    Please look after yourself and don't panic.

    Hugs to you sorry for rushed reply.

    Hannah x

  • Thanks Hannah, for your sympathy and support (hug) - nope, I'm always totally above board with it, I just find it so daunting! True about personal fears, I'm fine with snakes and spiders, heights and small spaces I can deal with, but show me an official paper with gaps to fill in and I go all to pieces! Oh well, at least I can laugh about it!


  • Oh Aleisis it made my head ache just to read your post! I so feel for you as this is such a horrible task. Could you get a friend to help you? One trick I have learnt is to go through first and put down the easy information ie your name etc. Answer the questions you can then make a note of the info you still need. Write it on a list then tackle it one by one. Hope this helps. Bev x

  • Thanks Bev (hug)

    Good trick, yes, that helps a lot!

    I had to do my tax return today too, which I always dread, but I found that I'd actually done half of it already, I must have started it in May and forgotten, that was such a nice surprise! This coming year I'll make a point of doing that.

    Cat :-) x

  • HI Aleisis, I am exactly the same. as soon as a brown letter comes in, i get myself into such a state , which results in hiding in my room, as i think i will lose my housing benefits and esa.

    The last time i received one of these forms or should i say book. i went to a welfare officer who gave me a lot of help to fill the book. I also made a photocopy of everything to be on the save side. as a lot of times my memory goes and i forget.

    You should maybe try your local housing office , as that is where i found the welfare officer.

    hope you get on ok xx

    sanji 1802

  • Hey I think everyone hates that letter coming in and forms can be so confusing! Is there anyone who could help you with it ? Maybe you could take it to your local council and they can advise you on information you don't have.

    Hope you get some help with it and try not to panick , take your time bit by bit x

  • I read your post and thought thats me, then i had to sign in and all that makes me frustratedbecause I have had so much trouble with that, go ondaugters ipad or my phone and nothing seems simple. But like you I cant handle paperwork. I feel like its all to complicated,i dont know whats required or I dont know it just makes me angry or idiotic feeling. and recentally i had a phone call saying i owe money back because of an over payment, man was very nice, but I had help during this time because of being depressed and notdealing with paperwork, i threw about 2 bin bags of documents away after that and what doyou know I now might of needed that. i once had a passport form for over 6 months which got done needed to be on the quick in the end which cost more. you are bit more educated them me, but i can talk ok but just seem to sound childlike with my writing, Alli seem to dois scream at form questions etc "What the eff doyou want" or " you should know this after the last effing formi sent" or "I dont understand aaaaaaaah" so no you are not alone but it sucks, its constant and its causedno end of "you didnt do this letters". and trying toexplain I get the childlike response, when its not what I,m trying to say. eff it, I feel you, and you knowwhat reading through this I cant even seem to express it how I feel it. Goodluck

  • Seriously feel your pain . I sit here and look at simple paperwork or Internet forms and just can't get over that hump. I know I can get screwed , even jailtime in some cases for not doing it but I procrastinate so much . When I finally take action it's a hailstorm of emotions , also as you said it even gets to the point where reading a simple question drives me nuts because the words just don't seem to connect in my head , I've gotten so flustered it has brought me to violence ( not against ppl just walls furniture and unfortunately expensive things I used to own ) if I don't lash out I go another route of panic a my nerves get so bad I either vomit and or end up light headed a dripping sweat . Things like this post , no problem , anything I could do wrong or put in the wrong place makes me so second , 3rd 4th .....guess my self I get into a tornado of confusion and over think my over thinking . Drives me nuts . Even filling out apps for finding a new job ( which I currently have to do ) . Also like you said , to get help ( from the doctor I don't have , paid by insurance I DONT HAVE , due to paperwork I never did ) it's sorta like being told " We can help with your fear of heights , RT after you climb that mile high cliff RT there " . It has really destroyed my life at times . I guess I feel a lil better knowing I'm not the only one like this . Unfortunately it doesn't help me change but knowing I'm not the only blacksheep is comforting . Good luck my fellow anti bureaucrat .