Has ESA empowered me? No, but it has saved my life, writes "Nora".
Many years ago I had what seemed an innocuous injury, a complex break to my leg that refused to heal. I was working at the time, and tried to continue working as best I could.
I lived in a very old house with economy 7 heating and quite ludicrously high heating bills. As my savings dwindled away at an alarming rate - they were insignificant to start with - the cold actually started to bite. I found myself wearing firstly a coat indoors, then a hat, and finally gloves. It was at this point I knew i had to really start cutting back, so I started to maximise the cheap electricity rate, turning off the freezer in the day, measuring water into the kettle, and when the battery went on the ancient laptop, using a car battery charged overnight to run it. After 6 of the most horrendous months imaginable, sleeping fully dressed under a pile of duvets and blankets, my IB finally increased.
I wasnt sure how I had managed, but by this point I was very ill, living with the bare minimum of everything, including hot meals, struggling to cook or wash. I was then visited by a representative from the Job Centre who recognised that I wasnt fit for work, I was desperatly ill, and asked did I know about Disability Living Allowance (DLA). I didn't, so I applied.
A further 3 months passed and my IB increased again. I now started to appreciate those few extra pounds - I could now afford to use my gym prescription that my GP had given me. I could afford a taxi to the GP, so I was getting better care. I could afford to eat slightly better. I was still on a financial tightrope, but those extra few pounds served to be the balance pole that helped me not to fall.