I wished to discuss a little about how my mental health has been affected by my immigrating to the UK, because both immigration and mental health are subjects on which I look for support from the Lib Dems through good campaigning and policies.
I have for nine years now been in the UK, but when I am standing in that line for non-EU passports (I cannot afford the application fees even though I have been eligible for citizenship for long) I cannot help not hearing the same interrogations that are going on like the ones I recall when I initially came here and was questioned by a scary big scouser for at least two long hours – how much of cash do you have on you? you are staying for how long? – I cannot help not thinking “that was how it began…”
I have never seen any signals of anybody having a difficult time as I did, however – I was lucky just like them as well because I do not think that flashbacks could be handled by me when already I am immersed in the travelling stress and at this point home is so close to me I am just anxious to get there.
That initial time I returned to the UK, my responses to the questions I was asked were feckless – I had just dropped out of higher education because of my mental health being poor, so suspicion was what I was met with because they were not positive that I had to go home for any reason – and led to additional questions and having to wait during which period another planeful of fresh arrivals were attended to and then additional questions. My partner who came to meet me was waiting. They discovered him and asked him questions to find out if my answers were matching his own. My luggage which had been checked already was brought out and searched through. Finally the border guards had to agree that there was no reason to stop me from getting into the UK, however they appeared to be a bit disappointed by this.
Am I sounding paranoid? Well, it is only paranoia if they are not out to actually get you is how an old saying goes. And as a person who immigrated I cannot be doubtful that the nation that I sacrificed so much and worked so hard to come into is out to attack me more recently than ever before. My observation is not just an intellectual interest but a panic that ic visceral of the unfolding conversations down at the pub and on social media. I am disturbed when even the political party I am a member of because they were pro – immigration has pride in having interpreters cut for people having their driving tests taken and discussions about “British families” and “British workers.” There is a feeling like we who are non-British are never talked to, but only talked about. Much less are we talked with. A matter of liberty and life to us is an abstract debate to some.
The closest I ever approached to a honeymoon was in the streets of Chicago where I had been wandering in hysterics with a face that was tear-stained and red, because it seemed that bureaucracy was going to stop me from being given a spouse visa. We were at the consulate of Britain, possessing paperwork but however we had forgotten something. Was it possible to sort it on time? Flights had been booked by us back to the UK; because we could not afford him to have additional time off my husband had to be in work on the Monday.
It worked out eventually, but not prior to my becoming very panicked even to become an embarrassment at the pathetic figure I must have appeared. Initially I was concerned that at that British consulate I was going to be a famous spectacle, but it occurred to me that they should see people who are hysterical and frantic regularly: to the staff her this could just be paper work, but it was our futures and lives that were at stake in this side of the bulletproof glass.
Neither my spouse who is from Britain nor myself could lay claims to any type of benefits in the entire period of the first two years of our marriage. This was a truth that was hurtful to us. I was very unwell mentally and it was the most that I have ever been in my whole life – my younger one had suddenly passed away prior to when I wanted to emigrate – and when my marriage was two months old my husband’s employer became bankrupt. Honestly I do not know how we made it through in the first number of years. I think by blurring memories my brain was able to shield me. In addition I also did my best not to dwell in thought about them, due to the fact that my heart gets broken by them. This is probably not how a bride who is young is expected to recall her period of being newlywed.
I despised undertaking the test on Life in the UK, the one regularly known as a test of citizenship though it is not nationality that you would receive with it but a type of resident permit known as Indefinite Leave to Remain. An option open to you later is citizenship, but what is mandatory is ILR and just as expensive and complex. I despised the test not due to its being difficult but because I realized that the implementation of the test was to get xenophobes pandered and all it really achieved was evidence that I can communicate in English and make a payment of a fee (the test can be attempted as many times as you wish in order to obtain a pass mark, but each time you had to pay what was quite much for me).
I know that the system through which my immigration to the UK was done has only turned out to be more draconian after I achieved it. I know that I would never have been able to accomplish it under the present system. I visualize my life over the past nine years – the activism and work that I have done, the strong associations and friendships that I had to find replacements for in a large part for the family I abandoned who are 4,000 miles afar from me, even the residential building whose mortgage the name of which is mine and has been permitted to remain on, which I am working to fix up in a hard way. I do not know who I would have been with all of these having happened. This country has made me the person I presently am in very real and harsh ways, and yet all it can inform me now is that I am not wanted by them.
Seeing Facebook comments, hearing a bit on the radio, or reading a news story on the issue can still ruin me in a bad way for several hours afterwards. My hubby has begun to alert me when not to focus on the headlines of news, providing me with a sort of warning triggers which people commonly associate with tales of assault and abuse and such similar trauma.
However, for me being an immigrant and immigrating has been traumatic actually. It’s other things as well – vital if I desire to retain my wedlock for sure – or else I would not bother going through with it. But it is difficult and it is getting more difficult the longer I am still here when I had expected that it would be much more easier.