I want to start by saying that I’m managing, that I’m not broken, but, that I know I can’t keep things going as the situation stands, without significant impacts.
That’s what I want to speak about, the impact of poverty on my physical and mental health. How, if I track my life from 2019 to now, I can see just how messed up things have become.
It wouldn’t matter how much money I had right now in a way, the damage is done.
Poverty, slowly but steadily, removes your true voice. It takes away the strength to fight, to believe that we are worthy.
Over time, our friends have stopped asking us to attend events, stopped inviting us to places because we cannot afford to join them. Our circle has reduced so much and as a single parent to a child with additional needs, that has slowly destroyed my sense of self worth and my ability to get out and try to enjoy life.
My body ‘feels’ broken. I am experiencing a very difficult menopause and despite multiple attempts to garner healthcare support, I am unable to due to a family history of cancer. I’ve given up asking. So I just suffer and I don’t use that word lightly.
I can’t properly care for myself any longer, and that is so very sad to me. I gave up smoking and drinking alcohol, I tried to eat healthily but it’s so expensive now.
I recently had a minor accident and really hurt my foot. I absorbed the pain and carried on because there is only me to take care of things. I found out from my doctor when I could finally get in, that I have a suspected hairline fracture on my foot. I’ve just carried on, because although rationally I know I need to rest, realistically, I can’t. I can’t afford to get help to do jobs in my home and I have no one to help with my son.
I absorb the pain and I think well this is all you can do, but it makes me so so sad that I even matter so little to myself now.
I am not the person I was in September 2019. When I finally had help with my son, I had a part time job, I had possibilities and a bit of hope. I was building back up after difficult times and honestly thought we can do this, things will get better, they haven’t.
Recently, my stepfather died and the devastating effects of that have hit me hard. I come from a fractured family and have no support at all from them. They hid his death and I found out by accident. I cannot tell you how that felt and as I add that to the mountain of suffocating beliefs that I don’t deserve better, I know that getting out of this dark place has become something I just cannot see.
Whilst I keep telling myself you aren’t broken, the reality is a very different story…
I’m trying hard to keep the faith and I support others through voluntary work and a listening ear, so it isn’t over, yet.
I wanted so much more for my son, how sad that so much greed and apathy to the lives of people on low incomes has rendered any dreams that I had, void.
I do think that we have survived a lot, and maybe we can get through. But the crisis in the actual ‘cost’ of living this way is far from over for so many of us.
4 years of not knowing how. Going through ups and downs of a breakdown of a marriage, shared parenting and downhill projection of what I would be financially capable of, and finally it was here - my first abroad holiday post divorce. Although I would have loved it with my kids, having that ‘Pray, Eat, Love’ movie moment was also necessary. I might not have had the endless pocket money to spend on things, putting presents to bring back for my kids the main priority, the experience of feeling refreshed was souvenir enough.
Finally what I wasn’t expecting, was that in Britain we might be complaining of the cost of living, but in the Mediterranean it is something they have come to terms with and just knuckle down and work as hard as they possibly can. Their restlessness inspires me that however my year will end, I will not give up on dreaming of getting to my end goal too and that is to be on the road back to work as well. Sometimes fresh inspiration is all you need to spark the innovative ways, in order to create your own opportunities in life. Cost of living will not continue to define the goals I haven’t achieved, anymore.
I am looking forward to the children starting school in September, so that I don't have to pay nursery fees any longer. I am looking forward to saving some money from those fees to perhaps put towards driving lessons, as this is something I've never been able to afford to do. I will really miss Changing Realities, and the end of the project is something I am not looking forward to.
That’s a very hard question to answer.
I make a lot of ideas up of things that I want to do or that need doing.
Some thing happens that ends up putting a stop to it.
I’ve dreamt of learning to drive over the past few years but then I just can’t afford to do the lessons and buy a car.
I have put a new plan in place in regards to controlling money better so it’s not spent wrong and hopefully that will allow me to save.
Partner started a new job back in May, which if he does really well there is a good chance of being on a higher wage and sorting our lives out
Dealing with life's problems, it's like living on a hamster wheel. Sometimes everything's fast, sometimes slow, but forever constant.
There's no beginning, no end.
For months now, I'm compelled to wake up in the early hours, 3 nights a week, in order to check the social housing list... It's become so habitual, so engrained in my heart & soul I don't seem to be able to let go of looking online through tired eyes.
But If we could find somewhere more suitable, somewhere cheaper then I could save enough spare money to at least think about a replacement for the old unreliable car we have.
As if we haven't cut back on tons of life's little luxuries already & continue to unplug electrical appliances where ever we can or wash less often or deny ourselves fancy foods or a full meal or go without where we can. All in the name of the cost of living crisis.
This week for instance, a property came up. Weighing up all the pros & cons is easy enough. All without being able to see inside the place is a different matter. I want to bid on the place... I remind myself we need a real good reason to turn it down if I do bid... can I take the risk of bidding on it then getting to view it only to find it doesn't have all the things on our wish list? After all "beggars can't be choosers"
It's hard being a 'beggar'.
It's hard having to compromise.
Trading off one thing against another. Some outside space, for a more energy efficiency property? Or the security of social housing that's only a fraction cheaper to rent, compared to the insecurity of a rent increase at any point?
I have aspirations, this wasn't the life I imagined I'd be living. Yet here I am. Stuck on the loop of property poverty.
I'd best sleep on things... If only I could.
I wish I was supported by my council. As I am a single parent working full time however needs support from council. But I don't see any help offered or when I applied nothing was offered. Seems everything is in books or on their website. But in reality no help.
Do I have time for myself?
Yes I have spare time but rarely get to spend it how I would choose to. I miss going to the cinema, enjoying a meal or a night out with my partner, going on day trips and visiting places with an entrance fee. I would love a spa treatment or to sit all day in a jacuzzi and soothe my aches and pains away. I want to sky dive, ride horses, llama trek, go zorbing, bowling, clay pigeon shooting, ocean fishing, have a city break, go to gigs, festivals and go on a road trip. I would like to try painting on a huge canvas and not feel inhibited by the cost of materials, or attend craft workshops just to try something new. I used to go to the gym, roller rink and swim several times a week but now I have no money to do any of these things. Instead I try to enjoy free activities such as walking, foraging, pet care, reading, guerrilla gardening, puzzles and brushing up my maths skills in my spare time but usually I make myself do them rather than actually enjoying them. It makes me tearful to think about that. 😥
My hopes is that I have money to manage to live but also to have fun.
That my son is healthy and me and his dad can come to sensible agreement on shared parental leave.
I have opportunities to get a better job to provide for my family and what I'm interested in, including learning opportunities.
To get my son to sleep on his own.
To maintain and stay in a healthy relationship, love wise.
Make friends and have me time.
Despite how little money I have, and always weighing up whether I can put the heating and the dehumidifier and the oven on, I am feeling very festive this year in the run up to Christmas. My 18 month old is enthralled by the lights and trees we see going up around us. I am glad she’s not of the age where she has any expectation about what Santa will bring!
This week I gave two lectures at a university, I dropped my child off at her dad’s at 5am to get there on time. It’s paid work but by the time I had paid for 2 tubes, 2 trains, a taxi and a bus to get there, and bought a coffee and breakfast at the station and then some lunch on the way home, I only get to keep about half of what I’ll be paid. I’m proud of having got this far in academia, of having a paid (though zero hours and infrequent) lecturing job - after years of doing it “for the experience” - and of managing my PhD while I’m a single mum. But I also wonder after all this time studying and working and volunteering to pursue a career in academia, if it’s ever going to be worth it. Higher education is falling apart and early career academic positions are so precarious and badly paid, I wonder how I’ll ever get to the other side of it to have the comfortable research and teaching job I’d love and that would enable me to afford to do a psychotherapy training at the same time. Still it’s good to have these ambitions as a focus. It’s so easy to feel myself, my identity, disappearing into poverty and single parenthood. It’s good to remind myself that it’s precisely this view of the world that makes me a better, more empathetic and socially aware, academic