The Obligatory Year-In-Review Post

TW: mental illness, disability benefits

It would be far, far too easy for me to claim that “nothing happened” this last year. My ill health forced me to take time out of my degree and to spend pretty much the entire year chasing up disability related benefits. It’s been a hard year.

I think, though, it has taught me a lot about myself. Mainly that I’m not as helpless as I often feel. I mean, who found me a new house to move into? Who got Adult Social Care to assess me? Who sorted out my claims for Personal Independence Payments, Employment Support Allowance *and* Housing Benefit? I did.
Who decided it was necessary to take even more time out my degree and organised for that to happen? I did.
Who is living in a house which contains no other members of his family for the first time in years *and* actually making that work? I am.

And whilst I’ve been doing all that, I’ve managed to maintain a social life, two romantic relationships and to keep politically active.
That’s not nothing.

With no partner living in the same city as me, I’ve discovered to my surprise that people like me in my own right, not just as one of a pair. I’ve also discovered that I can hold my own in activist circles when I thought I needed someone to back me up. I’m glad I’ve learned (finally) that I usually do know what I’m talking about and people want to listen to what I think.

I started this blog in 2013. It’s the first blog I’ve had under my own name – which is oddly freeing as I’m not trying to hide from my stalkers any more. I don’t worry about them reading this because I refuse to be ashamed of anything I write here. Yes, I am trans and bisexual and disabled. I claim benefits and I may not ever be well enough for full time work. I refuse to be ashamed of that.
I have things to say and I’m going to say them.

My new year was Rosh Hashanah and I thought up hopes and wishes for the next year then. Right now, I don’t know what 2014 will hold for me. I’m hoping to finish my degree, have a break from running around after benefits, spend more time with my two wonderful partners and to, well, stay alive as best I can.

When I was younger, I didn’t expect to live to be 25. I couldn’t see a future for myself that lasted that long without me taking my own life. This year I want to make it to and past my 25th birthday. This year I want to prove my younger self wrong and show him that even mentally ill disabled queer trans people like me get to have lives full of love and happiness that he couldn’t have even imagined.
It’s not much of an ambition but it is mine.

2013 (and 2012 before it too) was not an easy year for me. There’s been tears and mental health crises. But there’s also been joy and triumph and solidarity. There’s been love and hope. Things have changed massively from how I thought my life would be but I know I am making the most I possibly can with what I have.
2014 will bring it’s own challenges and difficulties, no doubt. But I’ve learned this year both that I can take on challenges myself successfully and that I don’t have to.

Happy New Year. Especially to the woman who’s loved me and wanted me throughout all the hard stuff and to the man who made the leap from being my friend to being my partner: I love you both and I look forward to continuing to do so for as long as I possibly can ❤

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