When you receive your first student loan, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the sudden possibilities opening up before you. Having worked part-time over the two years before I started University, I already had some level of control over my finances – but a student loan, which has to last across several months, is entirely different from a monthly wage, and I wasn’t used to assessing how much it actually costs to be self-sufficient.
I have always struggled with the notion of identity. Living with bipolar, it is so draining to have to maintain a balanced and stable sense of self when my mood can vary so much from one day to the next, it requires hard work and a targeted effort. The person I present to the outside world depends heavily on the state of my mood; the Katie everyone else sees never quite seems to accurately depict the Katie I feel on the inside.
2016 my husband, Neil, was diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. At the time he was only 51 years old and was still serving as a Police Officer. We had two young daughters 6 & 5 years old and had a busy life with work, school, friends, family and the activities that come with a young family. I was 41 and was working part-time to accommodate childcare. We were careful with money and despite a large mortgage and a house that needed work we felt quite comfortable; able to afford camping holidays, a second-hand car and the odd meal out.
Domestic abuse comes in many forms. One of the least well-known and hardest to detect is financial abuse. It often starts subtly – a small loan or some cash going missing. For me, it started with a few car journeys – out to a local beauty spot he knew of, or a lift to work in the morning if I’d stayed the night before – and could we just stop to pick up his mate, too? It’s not really out of our way.
As well as taking a toll on your bank balance, all this eating also impacted my weight and overall health, both mental and physical. My relationships suffered, and I lost countless work hours to the void of binging and depression. The more I binged, the worse I felt. The worse I felt, the more I binged, and the more I spent – and not just on food.
My parents came to the UK in the mid 70’s to study. They intended on returning home to Iran after they graduated, but like so many Iranians in the UK (the 2017 census found there were approximately 70,000 Persian Iranians here) as the Iranian Revolution took hold, they were forced to seek asylum, and so their planned futures suddenly became a blank space.
10 years ago, on a Friday night, tucked up in bed I was woken by a loud rap at the door. A scene we’ve seen so many times in TV dramas, it’s the police and they ask you if you are Mrs Jones, can they come in, tell you to sit down, they have some bad news. My husband had killed himself at the friend’s house he was staying at following our recent separation.
Many people often describe their experience of finding out that they are pregnant as joyous, wonderful, even exhilarating. I always thought I would feel the same. However, upon finding out that I was pregnant, I distinctly remember feeling fear and acute distress.
There’s a saying that goes, ‘don’t worry about [the cost of] babies, they bring their own pizza.’ But as a queer woman, I don’t worry about the cost of raising a child, well, no more so than anyone else. I worry about the cost of bringing a child into the world and the many unknowns of the financial and emotional cost of doing so. My partner and I know that we want to settle down, buy a house and start a family.