My childhood mostly consisted of lots of physical and mental abuse, so by the time I was in my early twenties, I was struggling with life, and how to cope with all of the obstacles being thrown at me.
I then spent the next fifteen years trying to fit in with people, I had absolutely nothing in common with; and, whose personalities contributed to my current mental state.
Moving on, in my mid-thirties, by some miracle, I found myself in a relationship, and that’s when the problems started because I had built so many systems to protect myself, it was near impossible feel affection; I had blocked so much of ‘me’ out that I felt I was undeserving of affection. When you have been told you’re worthless for over a quarter of your life, you start to believe it, and then it’s just a matter of criticising yourself and punishing yourself if anything remotely pleasant happens.
So there I was in a relationship without understanding the rule ‘it takes two.’ We were together for nine years and the one thing my partner taught me is that I am not some hideous monster underserving of love and affection. But old habits die hard; and our relationship ended.
I have now come to a stage in my life where I associate with people whose company I enjoy but after years of been unemployed and suffering financially and mentally through state benefits and politics, I found myself slipping back into old patterns. The last few years have been a real roller coaster ride, with sanctions, food banks, tribunals, endless job rejections, becoming a fully qualified teacher, ditching old associates, and making new friends.
On the 31st of December, I was sat in Arden House waiting for my name to be called out, and you could not find a more depressing place to be on New Year’s Eve. The one thing I have always hated is feeling like I am not in control of my life, and I feel like state benefits do this. As though in any minute your whole life could be turned upside down.
It is this fear of the unknown that makes people unwell. I am not a religious man but by sheer luck, karma or whatever you want to call it, I passed my assessment, and the shock did not end there(!) because they put me into the support ESA group. Even Karen (the lady who came with me) was gobsmacked.
So I am looking at the next two years with great joy and guilt; struggling with having pleasant things happening to me
It will take a while to get used to being on benefits but I shall try to use the time productively and not be too hard on myself. I remember what my counsellor said:
“What does David want?”
I want to be happy and help others.