Well Alex at CAB was very kind and understanding.
Which is just as well really.
She's the CAB debt counsellor who's ascertained what I already know.
1) I'm not entitled to housing benefit as my mortgage was taken out after October 1995
2) £59.15 a week will not cover my debts and living expenses
3) Throwing myself at the mercy of my creditors is, frankly, my only option
She even pulled out huge books and let me look up the grounds for appealing benefits decisions.
And, frankly, there aren't any.
Even mental illness is not considered an excuse anymore.
Basically acts of God, fear of violence and coma will get them re-thinking their decision. Not much else.
Alex told me that she was going to write to my creditors and offer them £1 a month until "I'm back on my feet".
I told her that HSBC weren't very forthcoming when I went to see them about halving my repayments and lengthening the repayment period.
She told me that until the CAB get involved most creditors don't take up such offers.
Then she congratulated me on finding a loan with such a low interest rate. 6.9% was very good, she told me. Then she told me that it was very rare to find someone so organised.
I'd brought large sections of my filing system with me and had packed two large shopping bags with them.
Yes, she went on, it was very rare to have a meeting to be so short, as most people were very disorganised and couldn't answer basic questions like "How much do you spend on gas?"
I told her that wasn't much of a consolation and got quite teary.
She started packing up and making reassuring noises and I took that as the end of the meeting.
Brilliant. I'm in oodles of debt, with no income to speak of, but at least I'm organised.
The OCD does come in handy now and again.