So, it was a year after I started to get PIP - Personal Independence Payment, I had my yearly assessment which went well and then I got the decision. I was unsuccessful and they were stopping my PIP!! They scored me 0 for everything! All the problems I had they ignored and decided that I was fine, I didn't have them problems. I was fuming and so was Terry who couldn't believe they were ignoring the problems I had with daily living. I appealed and again they made the same decision! Looks like I was caught up in the benefit crackdown because I look OK! I even said in my appeal letter that I thought it was offensive of them to tell me my problems weren't there and how could they judge my daily living from a 30 minute appointment in an office with a Nurse Practitioner, not even anyone specialising in brain injury! I'm now going to re-apply using extra medical reports and evidence I now have and I will be involving my solicitors.
Anyway, because of me bringing no money, I thought I had to get a job even though Terry strongly disagreed, he said I couldn't go to a workplace, I couldn't work set hours and he didn't want me to... he was right! I had to have a look round and see if there was anything that I could try, then it came to me - I always have a look in an Avon book, I use a lot of their products- so I could be an Avon lady. I could choose when I worked, work from home, working with beauty products which I love, that would be perfect! Much to Terrys annoyance, I applied.
A lady came round to sign me up and give me brochures etc to get me started, showed me my own site and how to set up an online Avon store. She also mentioned becoming a Sales Leader, this was good for someone with a lot of time on their hands like me. I could recruit reps and they would work under me and I could earn from them, this sounded easy so I agreed. This is where the fun began!
I am all or nothing, whatever I do I put 100% into but then I cant focus on anything else. And remember, I have no financial responsibility and I'm impulsive. So, in April 2016 I started as an Avon lady and had 170 houses I could cover which were all very close to me, so I started canvassing houses- my area hasn't seen an Avon lady for years so lots of people were very happy when I knocked on their door. It was clear after a couple of weeks that I would be a very busy bee.
The orders were flooding in and my 1st delivery day came- lots of boxes of individual products turned up that I had to sort and bag up for peoples orders. It was so exciting and like Christmas having all these products on my kitchen table, I think I had 3 delivery days that were exciting before it came a chore.
As well as being a rep, I'd started as a Sales Leader, I was out in town centres, shopping centres, door to door trying to recruit new reps. I was so successful with this too so now I was out signing people up, providing them with what they needed and being there to help them out, I ended up with 12 team members.
Being a rep with lots of customers and a Sales Leader with lots of team members made me feel happy, like I was achieving something, I felt like I was worth something again and bringing in my own money that I'd earned....... finally!
These feelings were very short lived.
I was running around, collecting brochures, leaving cards for people who hadn't left their brochure out, going back to collect it a couple of days later, taking deliveries, sorting orders, delivering orders, sorting money, making sure people had correct money and giving change if they didn't, if people weren't home I would leave a card and go back with their order in a couple of days. In-between all this, I would be bagging up brochures, writing out order forms and planning what houses I had to deliver to and when.
Whilst I was out recruiting new reps, I would find lots of people who needed an Avon lady so I would agree to deliver brochures to them. These people weren't all in my local area so I would drive to lots of houses out of my way to take brochures, collect them and deliver orders. Gaining new customers was exciting as I would have even better sales- more money for me! All the time I was doing this, I was still recruiting, going out for days and attending meetings, I would deliver brochures etc to all my team members and generally look after them, be on the phone when they needed me which was quite a lot, plus keep track of all their sales and try and help or encourage if someone had a drop in sales.
As I said before, I'm all or nothing- an example of this, before I started Avon, I attended Slimming World and lost 1.5 stone! Then I started Avon and I couldn't concentrate on anything else so I stopped Slimming World. This annoys me now. I was getting increasingly more tired and irritable, it was an effort even going to Headway on a Wednesday- then I would start leaving there early to deliver brochures or orders, I even missed a few sessions to do Avon related things. I stopped colouring which really helps me and gets me to focus, so things that I love and that help me were taking a back seat.
Terry was noticing how much Avon was affecting me and tried to get me to stop. I put on a massive act that I was fine and I enjoyed it, I didn't want to admit the fact that I was a failure and I couldn't even manage to be an Avon lady! It hurt so much that I used to be a carer working up to 50 hour weeks and on complex cases, to now struggling to deliver some brochures and orders. It hit me hard how much I've really changed. I carried on struggling for another couple of months, dreading anything Avon related, working nearly full time hours at what would take someone without a brain injury, a couple of hours. No-one realises how much longer things take you to do when you have a brain injury. I hated what I was doing while putting on a brave face that I was loving it. I couldn't be a failure!
In December 2016, 8 months after I started, enough was enough and I had to quit, I was exhausted. Giving up was bittersweet, it was a massive relief and a weight off my shoulders but at the same time, it was sad that I had to quit something that should have been easy and I was now letting down lots of customers who I had got quite friendly with, none of them knew I had a brain injury so I just said I was leaving due to health reasons, this seemed better than just leaving with no valid excuse.
Terry was now happy that I had quit after a few months of trying to get me to stop. So, I was now back to doing nothing! I cleaned my house and went to Headway, that's all I did. I did feel a lot better and I didn't have to do all that running around and writing out order forms at 11pm any more. I've never felt so tired as what I did when I worked for Avon. I still just clean my house and go to Headway, not much else but I'm happier! Id be happier if I was bringing my own money in- but looks like I'll only be able to get that from benefits, that's if I get my PIP back, I don't get any other benefits!
You are probably wondering what money I was bringing in when I was working for Avon... I did very well, had good sales frequently and my team bought me a decent amount of earnings.. Then you remember that I'm impulsive and have no financial responsibility... With my earnings, I spent a lot of money in the Avon catalogue! I have so many products now, I could open an Avon shop. I would buy new things for myself in shops that I didn't really need but it felt good to get them things, take them home and put them away, things I bought with money I had earned.
There's a childlike quality when I buy things, it makes me feel good, it's felt like that since the brain injury and now I was able to buy lots of new things with my earnings. I was sensible with some of it and used it towards bills, Christmas presents, petrol etc. The majority of the money was spent on one thing, something that I love, something that keeps me sane, something I couldn't be without.................
Yes, my gambling habit is back, truth is it never went away. Ill talk about that in the next chapter, that habit deserves a chapter all to itself. So, thank you Avon! All that hard work, stress, tears and tiredness for 8 months gave me lots of new make-up, things I didn't really need, funds to continue gambling and proved that I really am a failure.
That was worth it!
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