How Welfare Saved My Sanity

One of the biggest contributing factors towards my mental health improvement was getting on welfare. Or rather, not having to worry about how we’d be paying all those bills and the rent. There’s a lot to be said for financial stability, even if it is only the state-defined minimum. No more letters threatening to turn off the gas or electricity, no more anxiety attacks when checking the mailbox.

The public image of welfare-recipients in Germany is just as bad as it is elsewhere, but I learned long ago to tune such things out. Most of those who are judgemental don’t really know what they are talking about – and they certainly don’t know my husband or me.

And it looks like our “leeching off the system” is coming to end. My husband landed a respectable full-time job a few weeks ago which should see us completely independent of state support by the end of the year. I had paid off my old bank account within a year and thus by summer my name should get deleted off the “financial offender” list and my credit rating be ok again.

What the occupational future holds for me, I don’t know. Right now, my husband is the breadwinner, and I do all the paperwork that comes with his job. I don’t plan any further than six to nine months ahead anymore – none of the long-term plans and goals I held in the past came to fruition. I’ll deal with that topic once I actually become capable of holding down a (part-time) job.

I will forever be grateful to be living in a country where a welfare-system even exists. It wasn’t always easy – you sign away a lot of privacy and become the employment agency’s little bitch in exchange – but that is a thousand times better than what we went through before.

The relationship with my mother has gotten a lot better once it was not strained by financial dependency anymore, too. There are different factors playing into this other than money, since her hospital stay very much became a game changer that altered the way we interact, but there is no denying that money used to be a contributing factor to the tension between us.

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