Before you read this post there’s a few things I’d like you to know about me:
I’m a ‘nice’ woman; I speak eloquently and articulately with a Sussex accent.
I’m educated to degree standard; I have lots of qualifications and do a lot of reading at home, just because I have a thirst for knowing things.
I can turn my hand to lots of things; cooking, baking, crafting, sewing, writing, homemaking. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none.
I am an exceptional hostess and have a lovely, cosy, welcoming home, filled with Laura Ashley, vintage pieces and La Redoute botanical prints.
My everyday life ‘uniform’ mainly consists of Joules, Boden, Noa Noa, Hobbs, Whistles and Laura Ashley and my makeup is the good stuff from department stores, with a little bit of high street thrown in.
I have a Cocker Spaniel and we like to go on muddy walks in the Sussex countryside.
I own four pairs of wellies, including Joules and Hunter.
Based on this information I expect you picture me as a sort of home-counties lady-what-lunches with a husband called Alistair (who works in finance and is the main breadwinner) and a couple of rosy cheeked children, who join us on our bi-annual trips to Center Parcs and dress exclusively in Mini-Boden and Petit Bateau. It’s probably safe to assume I vote Tory too. Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of these things and I apologise if I have offended anybody who does have a husband called Alistair who works in finance and is the main breadwinner and takes the sprogs to Centre Parcs twice yearly and dresses exclusively in Boden, Mini-Boden and Petit Bateau. I mean, I’m secretly jealous. I would love to go to Center Parcs and have two rosy cheeked babies and wear Petit Bateau all day every day. I can take or leave Alistair, truth be told. But I don’t have or do these things, and I voted Labour. So, here are another few things I would like you to know, that you wouldn’t know about me from the summary above, because that’s the ideal version of myself I have presented to you, but you would find out if you scratched the surface:
I have terrible anxiety, which manifests in OCD, midnight Ebay and Amazon splurges, excessive worrying, cancelling plans and staying at home if I can possibly help it.
I have two invisible illnesses which are classed as disabilities; Migraine and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ M.E.
I can’t have children due to the Glandular Fever I had at Christmas 2005, which kickstarted an early menopause (so the specialists think) and caused me to develop M.E.
I have taken anti-depressants ever since I found out for sure I can’t have children, in March 2014. So, coming up for four years.
I have very recently been diagnosed with Asthma, following a year of coughing, chest infections and viral bronchitis, where I cracked a rib. Yes, I cracked a bloody rib. You couldn’t script it.
I am often tired, due to having M.E. and am not very good at pacing myself, often doing too much on ‘good’ days and burning myself out in the process. I don’t like to admit I can’t do things.
It doesn’t take much to wear me out.
I have worked since I was 14 years old. I am now 36. Don’t worry, I didn’t go up chimneys, I’m not a Victorian. I had a paper-round six days a week and would zoom around Pebsham Estate on my bike at 5am delivering the news to the locals. Sometimes they’d pin £5 notes to their front doors for me; it was great and a very lucrative business to be in for a 14-year-old whose only expenses were batteries for her Walkman, the occasional Mars Bar and Strawberry Millions sweets.
I am extremely sensitive and have a bleeding heart; I give any change I have from the local shop to the homeless man who sits outside. He’s so nice and I wish I could do more for him.
I am a hard worker and will help anyone if I possibly can.
I have a very strong moral compass and sense of justice.
I am a feminist and would, without question, have been a Suffragette 100 years ago. If I'd have been a man, I would have signed up straight away to fight for my country.
I really want to be a Kardashian and I watch their show religiously.
I have lost two ‘main’ jobs due to my disabilities and countless other ‘little’ jobs and opportunities due to unreliability and incessant illness.
As of today, Tuesday 6th February 2018, I am officially unemployed, due to ill health. AGAIN.
My heart is broken as this job was my dream; working with children, on a farm out in the sticks, where I wore wellies every day and came home covered in paint, glitter and playdough. I was at College getting my qualification and had plans to go to University this September to do a degree, with the aim of becoming a first class, innovative and inspiring teacher.
Right now, this second, instead of running around with a bunch of 2-5 year olds, I am wrapped up in bed, fully clothed, with two pairs of socks on and a scarf, feeling emotionally exhausted, depressed and cold (the gas went off last night and I don’t have enough money to put any more on the meter) with the beginnings of a migraine tap, tap tapping behind my eye. I tried my absolute best to keep my job, but I just couldn’t do the hours required because I was always ill. I picked up every bug, I’d regularly get home at night with flashing lights in my eyes, was often physically sick after driving home, I was exhausted and had no energy to do anything except lay on my bed every night, dragging myself around the park so that Polly got her evening walk and pretty much collapsing when I got home.
But on the outside I look perfectly ‘normal’. You may notice I have dark circles under my eyes, or I look a little pale, but you may just put that down to me not wearing any makeup. I can put on a fine act where I’m jolly and funny and say all the right things required of me in a social situation, strolling around in my Joules wellies, with my beautiful little dog trotting along beside me when all I want to do is get home as quickly as possible and fall asleep. I can’t tell whether it’s the M.E. or the anxiety making me this tired. I think it may be both, working simultaneously together. You wouldn’t notice that my heart is beating entirely too fast when I have to go to the shop, or to town, or to the GP or anywhere that’s not home. You wouldn’t notice that I literally have no idea what to do with my life, or how to keep a job or that I am living in poverty. Which will be the topic of my next blog post. Poverty. How, in 2018, do we have so many people living in cardboard boxes and tents, begging for a few pennies just to get them through the day?
I am now in receipt of Universal Credit, because, well, what else was I supposed to do? It is there, after all, to help those of us in dire straights. I say I'm ‘in receipt of’ UC but I haven’t actually had any money yet. I have been living on fresh air, a small amount of Statutory Sick Pay I received last week which went on the bills I couldn’t pay in January and the love and kindness of the wonderful women amongst my family and friends who have fed me and listened to me and mopped up my tears and helped as much as they can. I have been informed that I shall get the grand sum of £344 this Friday, which I’ve been waiting six weeks for, and out of which must come my rent (£495), gas, electric and water, bills, food for myself as well as my beloved pets and keep us for a whole month. I’ve phoned them. There’s nothing they can do about it.
At this point in time, hope has officially left the building.