Who are you? What makes you who you are? Do you ever think about that? When people ask you who you are, what do you answer? Do you say that you're so-and-so's sister or brother, son or daughter? Do you say that you're the person who lives at number x of y street? Do you identify yourself by the job you do, the people you work for, the people who work for you?
I'm going through a time of flux at the moment, and a time when I don't know what to say when people ask me what I do. What do I do? For the past six years, up until the end of August this year, I could say that I was a student. First of all I was a student with the Open University doing my undergraduate degree; then I was at student at Newcastle University doing an MA. Now? Now I, um, now I'm not very sure.
In theory, I'm a writer. In theory, I'm writing the rest of my book about asthma, and a children's book about my cat. In practice, I haven't actually written since I finished my MA portfolio. I needed the break. I needed a rest after getting utterly exhausted from having to keep going through the course of my studies. I want to write the books I'm 'writing', but I'm stuck in a rut of not writing. To be honest, I'm a bit low. I have nothing to focus my mind on writing, or anything else for that matter. I need to get writing again, but the stuff I'm writing for my book about asthma is very emotionally draining, and I'm feeling a little fragile.
And what then? What about when I've finished the book? What if nobody wants to publish it? Can I call myself a writer if I haven't been published? And that question is relevant to both when I've finished writing the book and to now. I don't want to self-publish. Yes, it's a possibility, but it's not the route I want to go down. I want to be published 'properly'. This is a bit of a ridiculous question to be worrying about at the moment, given that I've only got about 30 000 words of my book at the moment. Also, my supervisor for my Post Graduate Certificate portfolio suggested a publisher she thought might be suitable for me to approach when the time came, so it's even more ridiculous to be worrying about it when there's a slight possibility of a publisher.
So if I don't identify myself by the job I do or don't do, then how do I identify myself? What about you? Who would you say you are if were to take your job/career away? Is it by family? I have parents, yes, and siblings, yes, but they don't define me. Their existence doesn't say who I am, even if their existence contributes to who I am...
I'm confusing myself now...
But there's more, more to do with my identity and the question of who I am. It's difficult to explain, but it's to do with having carers. They only come three times a week, although it was recently suggested that I have them more frequently. I turned down the suggestion. Yes, it might be helpful, but it makes me even more dependent on others, and thus strips me of independence. I'm only thirty eight. I don't want to be dependent on others for normal things of daily living. I don't want to have to be reliant on others to cook my meals, to clean my house, to do anything for me. It might seem like a dream to some, to have people come in and cook for you, do your ironing, clean your home, change your bed linen. Perhaps it is if it's a choice, but when it's a necessity it's different. When it's a necessity it challenges your perception of yourself, and it challenges others' perception of you too. Suddenly you become the needy one, the one who can't do things, the person who is not quite so easy to be with, the person who is different. I don't want that. I know that I am that.
On the whole, people who care - either professionally or voluntarily - are good people. They want to help. Help is good, but help can also be limiting. The fact that I have these people to do things for me means that I don't do them for myself. That's great if it's things that I can't do any more, but not so good if there are things that maybe I could do for myself sometimes. I don't know what these things are, if I'm honest, but I suppose that what I'm getting at is that sometimes disability can itself be disabling. Because there are things you can't do then sometimes it is presumed that there are other things that you can't do so you suddenly find that they're done for you. Again, there are no specific instances of this that I can think of, but I know that this has happened, and I resent its possibility in the future.
The more that things I can do/am able to do are taken from me, either by health or carers, the less I know about who I am. The less I know what my identity is. All I do know at this point in time, is that I don't want to be the person who does nothing, who needs everything doing for them, who needs help all the time, who is difficult to be with, who is different.
I want back some of who I used to be.