“But you’re disabled, so how is that possible?”
It’s been a while since I have sat down properly to write one of these, as you can probably tell by the title and quote I will be talking a lot about my mental health journey and healing process that comes along with that. I will also be getting very honest about the discussions, opinions and suggestions I am regulary given by other people surrounding how I might go about doing things as a person with a disability. (I would just like to point out here that these opinions are not things i tend to ask for…but people tend to give them to me anyway) So now that you know this might get pretty personal I would not be offended if you felt you couldn’t go any further, this isn’t going to be for everyone. If you are still here though….buckle up humans, we are going on an adventure!
If you are one of the people that has been following me whilst i have been writing these blog posts then you will know that over the past 12-18 months I have been through a lot. (I am aware that everyone is going through a lot right now, with lockdown and everything else but stick with me). It is almost a year since I was signed off work, on a plane home with no idea whether I would be able to go back to work after my time off. I have done a lot of work since then and I am pleased to say that I am writing this piece from a place of healing and love, in the hope that it teaches and shows that healing is possible even with it’s many challenges.
I’m sure that you have heard what i am about to say before but healing from trauma is not linear nor is it the same for everyone but i am sure that everyone can agree that it is not easy. Trauma can mess with you, there is no escaping that, in my case it made made me question my worth, abilities and grow to hate a condition that i had spent so many years learning to grow alongside and appreciate. Like i said though, i’m not in that space anymore but it has taken a full on emotional breakdown, several therapy sessions, regular medication and whole lot of work in my own time to get here. I remember how much i blamed myself for my pain and mental state at the beginning of my journey, but i understand now that i didn’t understand what had happened to me and that this had manifested itself into me not eating or drinking anything as a way to gain back some control in a time when I felt incredibly lost and undeserving of love. I can’t lie to you, since everything has happened to me, my relationship with food has changed. I find that there are days that i do not enjoy it as much as i used to and on those days I am simply eating because it’s necessary, but I am eating a lot more regularly than i was a year ago so i am proud of that. Lockdown has helped me to rediscover some joy (as difficult as it is) because I have grown very close to a few very good people who I can open up to without judgement and who will nag and chase me around to make sure i am taking care of myself, they are a huge part of my recovery and I am grateful to have them in my life.
As i mentioned i have been having some therapy sessions I guess you would call them, i am pleasantly surprised how much talking has helped me to process and come to terms with all that i have experienced. It has helped me validate and accept the trauma I have experienced in a safe environment as well as confronting the doubt and demons this caused so that i could start healing, growing and moving on. Take it from someone that now knows, talking to someone is NOT something to be ashamed of; in fact it has given me ways to cope on the days I find difficult, whilst also giving me a chance to reflect and freely express myself. I am proud of how much I have been able to open up and grow in the past year because it has changed the relationship I have with myself and others.
I am also on regular medication at the moment, i was initially quite sceptical about taking it because of the stigma and judgement that inexplicably seems to come with it. I am now about 4 months in and can only say positive things about it – it has helped me to find some mental balance within myself again, which means generally i am in a much better space than I was and can function more successfully as a result. Don’t be ashamed of using different strategies to aid recovery, I can guarantee that you won’t be the only one doing so. Like i mentioned earlier, recovery takes a lot of work in your own time so as difficult it has been in a way i am grateful for the periods of lockdown because it has forced me to spend time alone with my thoughts, meaning i have started to journal and blog again. It has also meant that i have had the chance to rediscover things I enjoy such as music, baking, painting by numbers and Disney as well as all the joy and support I give students within my job. I have had the opportunity to educate myself through reading books and articles about other people’s trauma experiences. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in my dark times and that with work and support healing can be possible.
To finish bit i want to say that i am still healing and growing, my journey is not over yet but I am feeling more positive as I continue. If you are working on yourself to – be proud of that, god knows we have learnt that life can be a fight sometimes, but i promise you can make it.
Now for the next part of the adventure…..(I realise that this blog post is quite a long one but hang in there we’re almost done!) Most of you reading this will probably know me well enough to know that it is no secret that I have minor cerebral palsy. (if not, welcome, I hope you enjoy the rest of the story). I would also like to mention for those of you that are interested that I am part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Anyway getting sidetracked, right at the beginning of this post i mentioned that we were going to have a little chat about when people give me opinions thoughts and suggestions about the way i live my life as a disabled person….even if i don’t actually ask. I understand that most of the time thoughts, questions and opinions come from a place of care and love. But trust me when I tell you that if anybody knows the best way to live my life with my condition it’s me…i have done it for almost my entire life.
One particular subject i think it’s important bring up in this piece is a sudden fascination some people have developed about my ability as a person with a disability to have romantic relationship with another person. Now i don’t know whether people are bored in lockdown but i have heard the phrase “But you’re disabled, so how is that possible?” and i’m not sure i am okay with it anymore. I am a competent , well liked and ABLE person despite all of my differences and challenges, I wouldn’t have achieved all i have if that weren’t true.
It seems that a few people believe it is their right or in anyway appropriate to question whether I as a disabled person would be able to have an intimate relationship with another person. I can confirm that it is none of anyone else’s business aside from the individual i choose to take with and myself, As for those who suggest ways in which i might feel most comfortable to be intimate i suggest you don’t, you have no idea how my body functions and I would not dream of doing it to you!
As a final note, to those of you who regularly question whether disabled people are attractive to others, I suggest you stop doing this. I can tell you from experience that it can be a struggle to find oneself attractive a lot of the time when you have a condition. I spend a lot of time being aware of it because it plays a huge role in how my days go much of the time and i do not believe sometimes that someone could find me attractive…so i am asking you, please don’t remind me of that feeling.
I am proud of my condition and it is a huge part of why i am the person i am now, all i am asking is that you be kind to one another….especially at the moment, thanks for sticking with me.
All the love,