My disability is who I am, I am not trying to overcome my disability nor I am trying to define my disability as it certainly defines me. I am an occupational therapist, blogger and activist all because I am disabled so to say that my disability doesn’t define me would be a lie.
My disability doesn’t just define my work, it defines my activities of daily living from waking up and having to come round and get out of bed slowly to avoid falling and fatiguing later on. To when I find a position in bed that’s not going to cause me pain through the night, but is also good for my posture and I am completely okay with this. I’ve never known any different and in actual fact, I’d be lost without my routine. Although I do sometimes wish I could get up and out of the house more easily, with more time in bed! I get up earlier than members of my household who leave earlier but my body never works fast never mind the first thing in the morning!
Another big part of my life that is shaped by my disability is my personality (if the title of this post didn’t give that away). I am a big believer in nurture and that my experiences have made me the person I am today. A big part of the person I am today is my confidence, I’ve never been shy and I think this is because of my disability and it’s only until recently that I have realised this.
My dad has always said that I’m confident because I have been around adults all my life, at hospital appointments and appointments I’ve had at home, yes as you can imagine there was a lot of adult interaction there. As well as having one-to-ones at school etc, and although I do agree with dad and think this is how I became more confident, I don’t think this is why I have such a loud personality. I think I have a loud personality due to always feeling the need to prove myself because of my internalised ableism.
I am such a chatterbox, you think my blogs go on for a long time? They are nothing compared to the verbal waffles I can give you! Yes, part of this is just loving a natter and always wanting my say, of course, but I do find that I try to make sure I get my voice through not just be heard but to be understood.
In school, I was not quiet but not as loud as I am now and I found that no one knew me for who I was and did just know me as the girl in the chair who often look bedraggled with her lunch down her. I didn’t mind this but it was just the assumptions, one assumption that always stays with me is someone who was impressed by the fact I was on social media. Why? I get that we were teenagers but why because I am disabled would I not be on social media?
After going through school, college was where I wanted people to know me for me. Meaning that I became louder on social media and interacted more with those around me and I am so glad because look at where I ended up, here rambling to you lovely people!
It also has led me to signing a book contract with Jessica Kingsley Publishers this week.
Thank you so much for your support in helping me get here everyone!
Anyway back to the blog… I know I have now gotten into this habit of talking about myself and perhaps ‘blowing my own trumpet’ (as seen by the tweet above) because of the internalised ableism I have, after being seen as the disabled girl who gets her lunch down her for so many years. I often wonder if it wasn’t for my disability would I be so loud and feel the need to shout from the rooftops when I have something new and career-related going on?
Would I need to prove myself?
It’s my job as a disabled activist to show society what disability really means, I do not post loudly about career-related milestones to be seen as an inspiration. I post because yes, I’m proud of myself, yet I want to show society that my disabled life isn’t that different to a non-disabled person’s. But this makes me seem like someone who wants the attention and maybe there is a part of me that needs validation, it’s human nature. Yet, the majority of the time it’s to show my ordinary life and that cerebral palsy isn’t terrible. How many years do you think I’ve had that line up my sleeve?
I just want people to see me for me, yes a disabled girl because that’s who I am. A disabled girl who is carrying out her occupations just like the rest of society (some are adapted of course but you get me)!
Thank you for reading,
PS- From next week I will be upping my working days, and I am also working on some projects- the book, which I no longer have to keep a secret, so posts will now be as and when I get chance, I am aiming for one a month.