Today’s post is in response to watching the excellent launch video for the #WeThe15 campaign, a campaign being launched by the International Paralymic Committee ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics which start next week. The campaign is the largest multi-organisation collaboration of it’s kind, working across the globe to improve the lives of 15% of the population who live with a disability. This post isn’t some self-deprecation thing, either, it’s an evaluation of why the disabled community is being viewed as brave and inspiring just for living with a disability.
At the start of the video, various people who are featured with a range of different disabilities, both physical, mental and learning, talk about how they are neither brave, or inspiring, or a reminder to others to be happy they don’t have a disability. And I tell you what, it was REFRESHING to see. I’m not going to shy away modestly from the fact I have been called both brave and inspiring when talking openly about my heart condition, especially in the run up to my 2013 surgery, and my more recent ADHD diagnosis, it has happened quite a bit actually, and whilst I’m grateful for the well-intentioned compliments, we need to have a think about why we find the disabled, including neurodiverse, population inspiring when they are living their day to day lives.
Today I had another therapy session for my ADHD and tonight it really got me think about acceptance. I thought I had accepted my diagnosis, but the reality is, I haven’t finished that process yet. I thought I was ok with the new diagnosis, the having to explain to those around me and the new found understanding of my habits and characteristics, and the reality it that isn’t untrue, but it’s a far longer process than I thought it was. It’s going to take me a long time to really accept this and be comfortable, and that’s ok.
But there are changes that can be made to eradicate these conversation derailers and work to prevent this continuing to happen to women.
Books like this are just one we can start tackling the root cause of problems that build a society where women fear to walk home alone.
As human remains are found in the search for Sarah Everard, who went missing on the 3rd of March and a male Met Police Officer has been arrested, the same topics of ‘not all men’, male on male crime and victim blaming come careering to the forefront to try and derail conversations. But there are things we can start to do to change the narritive and improve society.
I’m struggling, and the truth is I have been for as long as I can remember. I’m not writing this to try and sound purposefully attention seeking or negative, just to be honest. It’s a lot easier to be honest with how you are feeling when you know why you are feeling like it, and therefore I have a lot of things to start admitting and acknowledging now I know what is the cause of a lot of it.
I chose this photo because I really like it and also, vainly, because it got lots of likes when I posted it on social media. Over 100 people liked a simple photo of me finally having bothered to put make up on in the middle of last Summer. But much as we shouldn’t be living life for the likes, I’ll admit the interest it garnered and the nice comments people wrote underneath it buoyed my confidence in my appearance, something I have struggled with all my life.
Dramatic title, yes, but I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration. 8 days ago, somewhere between 1 and 3 in the morning of the 19th of January, I couldn’t sleep. The day before I had written this post and cried, a lot. I had cried about my lack of drive, the fact I felt I had no dreams to follow, having no idea what step to take next and the crippling fear that was making me so sad. By writing the post I gave myself an opportunity to process those feelings and by finally articulating and processing them, I immediately felt a bit brighter. And in those quiet hours I sat at my desk started planning a new idea, one that has turned me from a crying mess with no clue which way to turn, to a woman more driven than I have ever been, with a fire in my belly I have not had before.
Currently, I feel like I’m standing at a crossroads, with a sign as helpful as the one above, without a map. And in all honesty it’s a struggle. I don’t intend to sound as dramatic as this does, but in March everything changed for me, not a single part of my life, bar my home (for that I am grateful) stayed the same and I have been floating in limbo ever since. I lost my job, my hobbies stopped, my community responsibilities changed drastically and any semblance of a sense of purpose went with south with them and now I have no idea a) what I want, b) how to get there or c) how to cope with the complete lack of stability that it’s causing.
This morning, after my final diagnosis appointment with a Psychiatrist, I have been diagnosed with Combined-ADHD. In short, this means I have both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive traits and in terms of the ADHD spectrum, my Dr said I was moderate. I’m thankful that this process hasn’t taken very long and that options available to me for private treatment via the NHS have meant that I have not had to face long waiting times and I have the answers to my suspicions. In terms of what else I am feeling about this diagnosis, well, many things, and it’s going to take me some time to process those feelings. So I’m starting the only way I know how: writing.