MENTALLY, I feel like I have been beaten. Prior to this battle with the Home Office, I was always able to find ways to cope with any stress or anxiety through my art or talking about it to friends or family.

Now, I feel unable to cope on my own. I’ve lost my passion for art and I feel like I just want to shut down and I close up and rarely want to speak to anyone except Tony, since this is a situation that no-one else can really relate to unless they’ve personally experienced it

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I was lucky to find a support group on Facebook but social media is a trigger for my anxiety. I hate to admit it, but I get so jealous of everyone I see on social media. My friends are all getting on with their lives – starting families or progressing in their careers – and I feel stuck.

This also stops me seeing any of my friends while I’m in the US. Every time I have, I always feel so down as it makes the reality of this situation come crashing down with such crushing anxiety and depression that I choose not to see anyone, as I know afterwards I will feel too much pain in my heart.

Not only am I separated from Tony, the person I love most in the world and the person who literally made me complete, but I am also stuck. I’m at a dead halt all thanks to the Home Office.

From the age of 15, I have either been in school full time, working full time, or a combination of working and studying. But for over two years now the Home Office has taken away my right to work. I paid a lot of money and put in a lot of effort to get a masters degree and I have yet to be able to put any of those skills to use.

I feel used by the UK Government. They welcomed me and my money with open arms to allow me to study and finally find a place where I felt most at home and a person that made me excited for my future like everything was finally falling into place. But as soon as that degree was completed, I had to fight to stay in my new home. Tony and I had to fight with everything we had just to be together and, unfortunately, we lost the battle.

A video by Juli telling of her struggle with the hostile environment

The Home Office forced me back to a country I haven’t considered home since 2012. The US is not my home and I don’t feel like I belong here. I’ve felt more at home in Scotland than I ever did in the US. Edinburgh welcomed me with open arms and not only introduced me to the love of my life but also made me fall in love with Scotland.

So besides the awful feeling of being 3000 miles away from Tony and a five-hour time difference, I am also in an undesirable situation living out of a suitcase – sleeping means I am mostly house bound. This not only prevents me from seeking full-time employment but it also severely impacts my mental health.

I cannot seek help from a doctor. I tried speaking to my mum’s doctor, but he cannot provide me with care since I am struggling with my mental health. I was able to get on Medicare but the doctors who accept this are few and far between and have waiting periods of over three months for an appointment. So the Home Office has not only been the root of all mental health problems I have been having, they also sent me to a country where I am unable to get help for them.

I’ve never experienced anxiety like this before. I have trouble sleeping, often not being able to fall asleep, but if I do, I wake up every hour or so. I also suffer from panic attacks daily. I have trouble controlling my emotions and find myself crying almost every day. When I’m out in public, I can’t control the random outburst of tears and have found myself wiping them away at the grocery store because I hear a song that reminds me of Tony or remember a joke and realise I’m so far away from him.

All I want to do is be with Tony so he can make things all better, but I can’t. We are grateful to have technology that allows us to see each other with video chats, but for the Government to say a Skype relationship is equivalent to an “in person” one is ridiculous. Video chats sometimes make the pain worse because after the call is over, the reality hits really hard.

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We missed my birthday, Christmas, New Year and our wedding anniversary – all of those holidays had to be celebrated with video chats. We also missed Tony’s birthday.

Sometimes I worry that even after this nightmare is over I will still suffer from the crippling anxiety and depression because there’s never a guarantee that we will be successful when it comes time to apply again. The Home Office will literally control our lives for five years after I am granted this visa.

Tony and I want to start a family and we want to finally live our lives together happily and free of the stress and worry that we will be separated again. The idea that we will have this constant worry looming over our heads really scares me. I already constantly worry about when I will finally have my life back, but to know that I won’t be in complete control of my life and my family for years to come is terrifying.

Love is a beautiful thing and if someone is lucky enough to find true love, I don’t think a government should be able to taint that with discriminatory policies. I also worry that I will never be the same person I was before this visa process.

It’s hard to even find the words to accurately describe what this process has done to me. No-one should be forced apart from their spouse and their home just because of their income.

It is even worse when you know you meet all the requirements and are forced apart due to a mistake. I feel like I’m living a nightmare and there’s always a rain cloud over me … so much sadness, stress, and heartache or I feel nothing at all, just emptiness.

One minute I can feel nothing and then next minute I feel as though my heart and soul are being ripped apart while being punched in the gut and there’s a battle between demons inside my head.

It’s torture, plain and simple.