How I am: an Update 

Hello readers,

I’ve missed you and I wonder if you have missed me.

A lot has happened since my last post. There’s no gentle or easy way to say it but my mother died. She had been very ill for a long time and in November 2016 she died. I don’t really want to write about that but it is important to me that you all know.

I did not know it at the time but while I and my family were trying to cope with my mother’s worsening health, her death and her funeral, the DWP had quietly stopped paying my ESA.

In fact, they’d stopped paying my ESA in September. Without telling me. Or giving me any reason why or instructions on how to fix whatever problem they had.

After several phone calls, we found out that we needed to fill in an ESA 3 form. That was before we realised that my payments had stopped. We weren’t told that the payments had been stopped until after we’d completed and returned the form and phoned them to ask if they’d got it.

They said that my payments would be backpayed and paid on the 20th of December. Which was 2 days ago.

I’m yet to be paid or even told in writing why my payments were stopped. All I did “wrong” was move house. I tried to tell the DWP in advance, sending letters to several addresses but none were received apparently. They heard from the local council that I’d moved and then stopped paying me.

They haven’t told me the conclusion of my WCA either.

I’m sure it will all be okay for me because I have a boyfriend who is able to phone them and chase it up until this is sorted.

So, yeah. Dear readers, that is why I’ve been quiet of late.


Another Work Capacity Assessment 

I’ve got a WCA this week.

I’m flipping rapidly from panic to despair to calm and back again to panic. Because I should get the right result but the consequences of the wrong result are unthinkable.

Astute readers will recall that I very recently had a WCA – less than a month ago. That one was cancelled ten minutes into the assessment because I have a condition that only a Doctor is allowed to assess and the assessment company had booked me in with a Nurse. The DWP or the assessment company or someone had lost so much of my information as to lose half of my conditions from my file.

The reaction of the staff at the assessment centre suggested that this was not an unusual event.

So now I have a work capacity assessment this week.

Can you see me now? Bi Visibility

I’ve a lot of posts still in drafts but I have been dealing with moving house and the DWP and a lot of Real Life ™ stuff and don’t currently have home internet. 

But bi visibility is important to me. I’m bi and I’m happy with that. I’m still learning to be proud of it. 

Here are my previous posts about being bi:

I could pick a side… But I won’t 

Bi Visibility Day 

Pushing it in people’s faces 

Yes, you are “bi enough” 
Can you see me? I’m bi and I’m trying hard to be visible and not subsumed into other people’s assumptions about what I am or what I should be. 

Yes, you are “Bi Enough”

If you mostly like men but you have this one woman or nonbinary person you’re attracted to, yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

If you mostly like women but there’s this one nonbinary person or man you’re attracted to,  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

If you mostly like one gender of people, but the person(s) you’re in a relationship is another gender,  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

If you’re in a long term monogamous relationship with someone of your gender and sometimes you have crushes on people of other genders,  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Same applies if your partner is a different gender to you and you crush on people of genders different to your partners’.

If you’re asexual and you are romantically attracted to more than one gender of people,  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

If you’re only sexually attracted to one gender of people and you’re romantically attracted to more than one gender of people,  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

If you’re only romantically attracted to one gender of people and you’re sexually attracted to more than one gender of people,  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

If you’re sometimes more interested in men than other genders and sometimes more interested in women and sometimes have no gendered preferences and it changes a lot (ie if you’re like me)  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

If you’re sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of more than one gender, whether that’s “these 60 or so men and these 3 women” or “this woman and this nonbinary person in particular” or just a feeling you get when you imagine kissing imaginary people of a few different genders,  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
Inside or outside of a relationship. No matter your gender. No matter your age. Monogamous or not. Any age. First relationship or fiftieth.
If you are attracted to people who aren’t all the same gender as each other,  yes you are “Bi Enough” to describe yourself as “bi” or “bisexual” but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

I am bisexual. Other people in my position might call themselves gay or homoflexible or queer or fluid or biromantic homosexual. Or something else! And that’d be okay if that worked better for them. Bisexual works for me.

Another Entry For My “DWP Diary”

Sometimes this blog of mine is just a diary of my interactions with the DWP. I’m even considering going back and tagging such entries “”DWP Diary” for ease of reference.

I got a letter this morning inviting me for a(nother) face-to-face assessment – or Work Capacity Assessment scheduled for three weeks from now. Already I am feeling powerless and scared. I’ve done this before and I know it’ll probably go my way but the potential consequences if it doesn’t are terrifying. If I were to somehow end up in the Work Related Activity group, the results could even be life-threatening. It’s a heck of a huge thing to have to try to keep from thinking about. I got the right award last time. I’ve only got more ill since then. I’ll be being backed up by my boyfriend and by letters showing that I got referred back into long term therapy *partly because my GP and therapist expect my mental health to plummet in response to being reassessed*. Yeah.

I suspect it will all be terrifying and awful and make me very ill… and get the right result because it’s pretty obvious what the result should be.
But nonetheless, the system is set up to put me through this torturous examination of every task I need help with and why and ask me these same questions every couple of years.. quite possibly for the rest of my life.

How can anyone think this is a good idea?

“I’d never date an asexual person” – Guest Post by NeswtQueer

​I hear this a lot.

“I’d never date an ace person.”

“I’m not sure I could be in a relationship with someone who’s ace…”

“Ace people just aren’t for me.”

Working on raising awareness and creating support in my student community, I’ve heard this from strangers, friends and people I respect. As an ace person, I get it. I understand what you mean. But it always hurts, and here is why.

The problem is that you don’t mean what you say. You mean that sex is an important part of a relationship to you. You mean that you, personally, cannot imagine a relationship working for you if it doesn’t include sex. Often people mean that they cannot imagine a casual relationship without sex. Sex is important to you. That is valid. Everyone experiences relationships differently, and people know what is important to them. It is okay for sex to be important to you in a relationship. However, that is not what you said.

“I would never date an ace person” and “I do not want a relationship without sex” are not synonymous. For one, sexual attraction can have very little to do with the amount of sexual activity a person engages in. You don’t have to be sexually attracted to someone to have sex with them. You don’t even need to be sexually attracted to someone to enjoy having sex with them. Not to even mention the vast amount of ace people who experience sexual attraction rarely or under certain circumstances ­ such as grey­ace or demisexual people.

Would you be willing to have a relationship with someone who may grow to be sexually attracted to you in time? Would you be willing to be in a relationship with someone who was only sexually attracted to you if they felt extremely close to you in that moment? For some people, the answer would now be yes.

Saying that you would never date an ace person seriously hurts. Not necessarily because we want to date you specifically, I personally would never want to date someone who valued sex in a relationship much higher than I do, but just brings echoes of all the acephobic things we’ve heard before. It brings back all the times we’ve been asked whether we can still have relationships, painful visions of when people ask if we’re robots, or plants, every time we hear “Wow, are you even capable of love?”.

“I’d never date an ace person” screams “I believe ace people are lesser due to their identity” and “I think sex is such a fundamental part of humanity that not having sexual attraction makes you less human.”

In future, pick your words carefully. You have every right to know that sex is an important part of a relationship for you, and that you would not want to enter a relationship with sex off the table. However you do not have the right to discriminate against an entire identity which houses a vast amount of people who are all as different and wonderfully unique and diverse as any other.

Five Years

Five years ago today, I graduated from my BA.
Four years and about eight months ago, I broke.
I had a nervous breakdown that was soon diagnosed as PTSD. The nagging pain in my legs spread to every part of my body. Fatigue made everything hard work and slowed down my brain. I got a rash across most of my body that appeared suddenly and left suddenly a full year later. The rash is the only symptom that has ever gone.

I am tired and in pain and easily scared and easily confused. I have been for nearly five years.
I’ve been unable to walk unaided for nearly five years.

It’s kinda bittersweet to realise that I did graduate and did get a degree because of what had already started to happen to my body when I did. Because it would be too easy to dismiss the last five years of my life as “and then I never did anything else of note” because I live in a society where only (paid) jobs and grade-based study counts as an achievement worth being proud of.

I’ve done 2/3rds of an MA that I will probably never be able to finish. Making that happen was a huge achievement. Knowing when I should walk away? That is a gigantic achievement.

In the last five years, I’ve moved house four times. I’ve fought for and arranged my own social care despite the general awfulness of that system – twice. I’ve been assessed for ESA once and PIP twice. I had a year of living on emergency loans from the University and not having enough money for anything past food and rent. I’ll call getting through all that an achievement.

I’ve spent years negotiating my way through the NHS and the DWP and local councils and care agencies. Three years with all that and a University and Student Union bureaucracy as well. This is skillful and useful and an achievement worth celebrating.

I’ve had relationships. I’ve had the strength to end relationships. I’ve deliberately gone looking for love and found it. I’ve kept friends. I’ve made friends.

I’ve written this blog, even if I’ve written little else. I’ve read books even if fewer than I would like. I’ve tried new foods. I’ve made a serious commitment to learning a new language.

Every week I do things that make me leave the house and go somewhere I have to talk to other people. And every week I go to therapy.

This is not the after graduation life that I envisaged. This is not the adulthood I was promised. It’s strange looking at the young man in my graduation photos because I know what happens next and how very different it is from what he wants to happen next.
But it’s also strange looking at him and knowing that I now would not want what he wanted. The stressful academic career he wanted – I wanted – seems unappealing. Perhaps this is because I can see his breakdown coming. He’s been close to burnout for months and about to throw himself into more studying and more student politics. Sooner or later, he (I) was always going to break. It was just a question of how soon and how severely.

I like the life I have. I’m grateful for it. I think I manage what I have well and that I make myself and others happy. While it’s odd looking at the life I once wanted, I know that the life I am living is really quite close to being the life I want now.