Well, last week I finally posted off my ESA application form. All 20 pages of fun and frolics were finally completed in my teeniest and tidiest handwriting, so it would fit in the boxes. I made sure that when random questions were asked, I answered them as fully as possible. For instance, there was one question that asked "can you go up and down two steps, with a rail, unassisted" to which the correct answer is yes. However, the full answer is "yes, but I can't move my wheelchair or rollator up or down those steps, so when I get where I'm going I can't actually move any further as I do not have my wheelchair or rollator." I would imagine that is a very common answer on this form! It just seems so limited in scope when illnesses are so wide in their effects.
I hate filling in DWP forms at the best of times, but I found myself particularly hating this form. I think it is because of what it represents, that if the Government has it's way I will have my benefits withdrawn from me, simply because my partner earns too much. In theory this is fine. I won't starve, I won't be homeless, I will be warm and clothed - but I will be completely and utterly dependent on my partner for EVERYTHING.
Currently my partner pays the mortgage, the bills and most of the food shopping. He pays for holidays and little extras, like my new tyre for my mobility scooter and my new rollator. He also shops, cooks, cleans and drives us everywhere, pushes me in my wheelchair and generally worries about how I'm doing.
When I have no income at all, I will have to go to him with my hand out to request money to pay for a haircut, or some new shoes. I will have to ask him if he minds buying me some shampoo or deodorant (and praying he buys the right one). I will have to ask him to pay for me to go out for lunch with my friends, on the rare occasions that is possible. In short, there will be no element of my life that is independent from my partner.
I hate that idea. There will be nothing that I can manage without my partner being involved on some level. That is a horrific weight to have on a relationship. It is hard enough knowing that he has to manage all the physical things in our lives, and that he has to keep earning a good salary so we can continue to live in our home and run our car. To add that extra burden to him, of knowing that without him, I would be completely stuffed, both physically and financially is so unfair. To make me completely dependent on someone else is unfair too. It is horrible to go, like a child to a parent, for "pocket money". It just feels wrong and I know I won't do it. I'll just go without, unless it is essential. I will hate asking for money. It was hard enough applying for the benefits, that I had contributed to, by paying National Insurance and Income Tax for 10 years. Going to someone I love and asking him for just one more thing feels impossible. He already gives me so much.
The anger making thing is, he also pays his Income Tax and National Insurance, and he's expected to pay out more because he chose to share his life with a sick woman. It would certainly make a lot of people think about getting involved with a sick or disabled person if they knew they would have to support them, without aid from the Government, for the rest of their lives.