Illustration by Clara Nicoll

Displaced life: ‘Some days I just want to disappear’

The relentless burden of proof I carry on my shoulders is wearing me down 
July 21, 2023

Dear reader, at this point in my life nothing surprises me, which is a bit discouraging to be honest. At the end of last month, thank God, the Court of Appeal ruled that the UK government’s Rwanda policy is unlawful. But just a few weeks later the cursed Illegal Migration Bill—which I wrote about in my last column—passed. And the enormous, 500-bed, Bibby Stockholm barge has docked in Portland to house asylum seekers. It looks to me like some sort of dystopian floating prison.

I am also facing struggles with my own asylum case. I have launched a judicial review case regarding the decision by the Home Office to deny my appeal, and I have been made to prove myself yet again. Part of my case relates to my struggle with severe epilepsy. I was sent a letter from the Home Office which told me that my asylum support and accommodation would be discontinued if I didn’t provide them with certain medical documents. I followed their request and provided the necessary medical declaration letter from my GP and provided evidence from my solicitor that I had an ongoing case in the tribunal.  

This was not sufficient for the Home Office. They requested a full medical record from my GP, neurologist and hospital, so they could have their own physician decide whether I am fit to fly, instead of following my GP’s recommendation. Dear reader, how does one retaliate to such mockery? I sat for ages re-reading this letter requesting even more proof, on top of the multiple medical declarations I had sent them before about my severe epilepsy. One could argue that they are just being thorough—but how thorough do you need to be when every request has been answered? It gets so depressing to have to prove yourself over and over again.

How does one retaliate to such mockery?

I have to remind myself every day that I’m not a victim. No matter what I have been through, I’m still here. I may have been challenged, hurt, betrayed, beaten, and discouraged, but nothing has defeated me, I’m still here. I have been delayed but not denied. I will not be a victim.

But I can’t deny that I’ve been knocked for six. That burden proof I carry on my shoulders all the time, is becoming heavier and heavier. I have spent nine years trying to prove my case to them. Some days I want to pack it all in and disappear or just never wake up from my sleep. 

But then I think of my parents and grandparents and the fundamentals they taught me and the foundation they gifted me. It has not been easy living up to it and I feel momentarily inadequate at times, believing that I have not lived up to what they have given me. Currently this version of myself isn’t the best and I truly do not like it. I feel that I have fallen so far from the person I could be, if I didn’t have this hanging over my head. 

I remember how naive I was when I arrived here in the UK. That naivety still lingers, and I hate it. I am disappointed with myself that I have not grown nor learnt from it. I have offloaded a lot to you there, gentle reader but that’s how I feel most days. 

I’ve lost a valuable gift that my parents gave me: my reason for being. I don’t know when it happened, maybe it slowly ebbed away during the endless appeals to the Home Office. Even in my volunteer and activism work I do not feel useful. I feel that I cannot offer anything of substance in a relationship because I am in limbo, so I am alone. As for friends, I buried a few back in Trinidad that were an extension of myself. I haven’t felt that same connection with anyone in the nine years living in the UK.