And, how does that make you feel?
Inside my head, my eyebrows raise, incredulously. Outside my head, I know the costs of giving a satirical answer. The person asking the question met me for the first time, five minutes ago. Literally. She works for an agency that works for Atos. At the moment, most of my energy is going into not transferring my contempt for the system into utter contempt for her. She is asking how having BPD makes me feel. And I am (I suppose) supposed to answer coherently, to explain how I experience a disorder of emotion, with no reference point, or experience beyond my own emotional thermometer.
What she writes determines what Atos send to the DWP. She is keen to stress that she does not make the decisions. She is twice removed from the DWP: diffusion of responsibility: not her fault if the cuts affect me. This is the way the system works these days. It’s also how Hitler’s bidding was done. It’s my duty, not my choice, to take this action. Agentic shift. It’s not for me; it’s for the agency by whom I ‘m employed. Arguably then, it’s not really for The DWP, or Atos. They’re kept at a distance.
With a friend, I feel empowered. Calmer. Because what is said we can remember together. If there is an appeal, I can check in with my friend, to know what was said, rather than relying on my own stress-ridden memory. I am emotionless – formal – clinical. I answer the questions, show the extent to which I can (not) move my right hand side.
I have shut down now. Not slept properly. Unkempt. Worried for hours over what is going on at home, what may happen for my housemate, what state he is in. What I’m going to do if asked to move – with no job – with a job that is miles away. In therapy. Not in therapy. I tic violently. I bat aside the stream of suicide ideation. I’m tired of it. I am listless, ploughing through day after day, ticking one thing off a to-do list, moving to the next. I am flat and empty. Robotic. Tasks go in – work comes out. Repeat ad infinitum.
I am not sure how much longer I will last like this. It’s two weeks to the end of term. Three til I can down tools. And then the hard work of actually doing relaxing – with a whole set of different stressors – will begin.