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