Saturday, 21 September 2013

Benefits - As IF.

      6 years ago I was a valued colleague. 
I had a good career, bright prospects and a good wage. 
I had a pension. Good holidays. 
I was contributing to society. 
I was teaching English and social skills to young, disaffected teenagers who were so often in need of firm boundaries; steady, fair reliable adults who could help to rebuild some of the trust and respect that they lacked. 
I was passionate, respected, consulted. 

      How is it then, that 6 years on, this same young woman sits with her support worker, filling in a form for Disability Living Allowance?
How did she go from the shiny, high gloss teacher to the redundant, matt -finish patient?

      The change was staged, steady. I was stripped, planed, sanded and my identity fell away... disintegrated, replaced by the illness...  
Suddenly, I'm not 'a Teacher' anymore. ("Hi! I'm a teacher too! What do you teach? Me? Oh I do Key Stage 3 and 4 English"). 
Not anymore. 
Now I'm: 'an Anorexic'

      I  don't have an income. I've lost my career. I don't have holidays.
Days slip past me. I am overwhelmed by small things. Most days end without ceremony. I have achieved nothing. Thousands of hours and nothing to show. 

      Overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what this section of the form seemed to demand, I left it blank.
And so my Support Worker wrote a few clinical / medical comments.

My claim for benefit will be submitted today. 

But really...


I'm trying so hard to see anything that would justify the use that word.


  1. It is a bittersweet surrender. I know. It is coming on two years that I am on social security disability and also Long Term Disability from my last employer, both incomes a blessing and their origin always tragic. They allow me freedom tol ive as best I can despite the illness, and so to will you.
    Love Gail'

  2. Yes. Bittersweet is a good word to describe it Gail.
    Interestingly, I have fallen into the very trap that I hate... which is the immediate, internal conviction that it's very different for you because you have a debilitating physical condition which means you are entitled to all the help that the state can give... If the conditon is physical, it somehow seems so much more justifiable.
    I hope you are okay Gail, and that today will be a good one.

  3. Hello love, yes, I am okay, today is a good day. Going to visit friends later. :-)
    And as I wrote to you my fist comment here I thought to myself that you would think as you expressed in response. Mental health illnesses are as real and valid as physical illness. Your condition is measurable, it is chronic, and can be fatal. Quite real. And by measurable I mean it is identifiable by MRI of the brain. Quit real. You are entitled.
    Love Gail