Empowerment

I had been struggling with a feeling of not being good enough and unworthy nearly every day of my life.  I began to think that I was a failure as a person after so many people said to me: “ you can’t do this because you have a disability” and putting a label “broken” on me. They had put me into a box at school “too hard and learning too slow”  and I had believed in this for 37 years of my life.

I would take on other people’s beliefs and projections about myself and I started to believe in them, that’s when the negative self-talk started. I really struggled to accept positive comments about myself and my life from others because I just didn’t believe that they were true.

One day my psychologist suggested writing a letter to Failure as if it was a real person. This idea scared me, I didn’t want others to think of me as a failure and I didn’t feel confident to open this rabbit hole up to myself and see what is actually in there.
I felt that it was ok to feel this way about myself sometimes but it was more difficult to face it directly and to hear this about me from others.  I felt that this would be giving them the opportunity to confirm that I was broken and for them to see the failure in me. This hurts, I’m a human being and I have feelings also. Learning how to accept this, one day I decided that I was not going to keep thinking of myself as a failure anymore. This really scared me to death. However, it was time to move on with my life. I had decided to close this chapter of my life and start a new chapter, a chapter of empowerment and self-acceptance.

I really want to learn more about empowerment. People with disabilities are lacking empowerment in their lives with lots of people discriminating against people with disabilities throughout their life. Such as getting a job, social life, or getting married. These things are very important to us as well as we are also humans and we want this in our everyday life too. It upsets us that society doesn’t think that people with disabilities don’t want to have a normal life and the same things as everyone else. We want to have the power to make decisions about our own lives. However, society must be open to accepting people with disabilities in their everyday life. As a person with a disability, I feel that society doesn’t let me fit into society.

People with disabilities must have the power to make decisions in their own lives,  this is very important to have. People with disabilities must have the power to choose and use their own voices. People with disabilities must not be discriminated against on the basis of our disability. People must not think negatively about people with disabilities.

I have got a ten days challenge for you. Every day you need to do something that empowers you or another person. Challenge is on!!WomensHistoryMonth_Quotes-06

 

I have feelings and I matter.

26678508_1610005179087027_5718907030238584336_oSociety needs to stop wrapping up people with disabilities in cotton wool and also using kid gloves. I like to call it the omg face when I come into a room with my equipment such as power wheelchair and communication aid. Most of the time this scares people and makes them uncomfortable. However, this equipment has a massive impact on my life. It helps me to function like any other person. I just feel that people should learn more about people with different types of disabilities as inside they have feelings & intelligence like anyone else and are very aware of their surroundings and how people perceive them. I also would like to share from my personal experience that most people interact with us with feelings of sorry and pity. 

But really if you think about it for a second, how is this going to help me?

We do have also different struggles in our lives and some of us are trying to make peace with our disability most of our life, seeing psychotherapists and attending different therapies to overcome our depression and anxiety – so again, if you think about this for a second, how this pity and feeling of sorry is going to help me in my day? 

I personally like people asking me questions about my disability because this points out to me that people are interested in learning about me and would like to understand better how to interact with me. 

People with a disability are definitely not special cases. We are actually quite normal people. However, society thinks that people with disabilities are really dumb and can’t do anything with their life such as getting married, getting a boyfriend or girlfriends, getting a social life, employment. Society just sees the disability first rather than seeing the individual person.

Eg. I drive into a room and people first stop and look at the wheelchair and are checking out what’s wrong with me. Or I applied for lots of jobs (I’ve got three university degrees) and I am more than capable of doing a job however I have been discriminated against due to my disability.

I want to get married to someone who loves me and who sees me without my disability. I want to have a job to be independent without living off government benefits and I want to pay tax like everyone else. Society is missing out on what I can offer back to give to society. This makes me feel like I’m not worth anything.

Why people can’t interact with us like with anyone else?  We love to be included in everyday life. Why disabled people should hang out only with other disabled people? 

I would like to be known for other things than just having a big label on my forehead saying “disabled”, is it too much to ask?

Keeping positive at this time

We all know about this virus that has killed lots of people across the world however we must stay positive at this time and stay inside lots. The things that I have been doing are these things. Things that I haven’t had time to do. Such as writing this blog. 

I have been doing is watching lots of TV such as suits, grey anatomy series. Also, I have been watching movies are very good at wasting time. My favorite movie is PS I love you. I know that this is a girly movie. 

I have been doing some reading of personal development books to help me through to stay positive at this time because I’m really mindful of my mental health because I’m always so busy running away from my negative voice in my head. The things that are helping me throughout these times: I put on music to keep my mind busy and listen to motivational speeches on youtube. The best  Tony Christiansen – Walk with Me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_IjAArnfnMI need people to walk with me also. I don’t need people giving me negative talk.  

I would like if people call up or message people to see if they are ok because we are all living in fear of one each other.  We need to keep together to get through this and check on your neighbors to see if they are ok. 

                                                                                                                                                           

Foods that are accessible to me

What type of food is accessible to me? This is a question that most people living with a disability have to address on a daily basis. While it may sound surprising, it is important to note that the kind of food that you can eat when living with a physical disability will often depend on things like convenience, assistance and even the method of preparation.

Last night I came home and my mum had just finished preparing a serving of yummy pasta, a true delicacy of mine. However, it wasn’t accessible to me to eat by myself but I tried my best to eat what I could. With pasta, only penne pasta, star’s shape pasta and a few others are accessible to me but noodles and long pasta aren’t because of the difficulty they tend to bring.

Generally speaking, I have come to realise that foods that I have to eat by hand like sandwiches and foods that I need help to pick up and eat are the most inconvenient to consume all by myself. I do like foods that I can eat with a fork and I find a tasty BBQ steak to be a great meal even though I need someone to help cut it up for me.

 

0211gt-zucchini-pasta-628.jpgI would really love to have control over my eating and be more independent with my feeding in general. This would involve being able to cut things up by myself without needing to have people there all the time and not needing to have people in the restaurant cut things up for me before they have it delivered. Accessible foods make it a lot easier for people living with disabilities to enjoy their favourite meals and I hope that someday soon, more and more people start thinking about making everything more accessible including food.

Body Image self-talk

Can I tell you something about myself? I like my disability and have learnt to live a life of peace and bliss with it. It doesn’t control my happiness. However, this is not the case for many people living with disabilities. A major reason for this is society’s perception of people with disabilities. This negative perception greatly affects people living with disabilities and can be a huge cause of negative self-talk and low self-confidence.

While society may try to put people in boxes and create restrictions on how you ought to live your life (especially for people with disabilities), it is up to us to stay conscious and aware of our true strengths and capabilities. There seems to be a prevalent idea that people with disabilities are different and do not fit into society, this can be a major cause of low self-esteem thereby affecting one’s confidence and the ability to live a normal life. This needs to stop because people with disabilities can do everything that able people can do. All they need is an opportunity to show their competence and abilities.

An effective way to change this perception would be to start including more people with disabilities in the media. From TV shows to movies and even in other aspects of mainstream media, creating a culture of inclusiveness by bringing in more figures like Dylan Alcott will go a long way to create awareness and help people with disabilities integrate better into society. I strongly believe that by casting people with disabilities in regular roles and having them portray a normal lifestyle, society will then begin to change the negative perception and this will help people with disabilities break out of the negative self-talk and improve their body image.

Having to deal with people on the street and their perception of your disability

Dealing with people’s perception of disability can be tough. In the past, I always had this unwavering feeling that the people I encountered daily were judging me because of my disability. This became such a crippling thought that it prevented me from going out and accomplishing my daily chores in the manner that I wanted. I started to withdraw and spend more time indoors and needless to say, my social life slowly became non-existent. One of the reasons why I thought that people were talking about me was because I didn’t see anyone else like me going out in society and interacting with others.

“I hate prejudice, discrimination, and snobbishness of any kind – it always reflects on the person judging and not the person being judged. Everyone should be treated equally”.-Gordon Brown

A discussion I had with a friend of mine gave me a new perspective on this issue. She explained to me that my mindset was putting judgment on other people as not only did they have more important things to worry about, they probably had no prejudice on people with disabilities like I believed. Maybe she was right. Maybe society doesn’t judge people with disabilities. Maybe people with disabilities judge others.

 

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It takes PATIENCE and RESILIENCE

I am not really a patient person. However, I feel that mostly I am a very resilient person. I have to be resilient because having a physical disability means you have to be strong because some people will knock you back. This problem can happen when I try to get boyfriends, get a job and even have a social life. Most people without a disability take these things for granted.

Lots of people tell me that I am very resilient, however, there are times I do not think I am that resilient because I know what I want out of life and feel frustrated. There are people who will stand in my way and I have to work around this problem. Problems can be overcome with solutions. Solutions can be hard or easy to create. For example, getting a boyfriend is very hard work because you have to go on dates, and lots of dates to find ‘Mr Right’. Dating for a person with a physical disability is really difficult because I need a support worker with me on the date. Do you know how embarrassing it is having a third person on the date with us? The poor guy!

I have to be resilient in getting a job because some employers do not seem to be able to find a position that best meets my qualifications, disability and skill level. Obviously, the nature of Cerebral Palsy has created limitations for me. However, I do not define myself as having a disability, and with hard work and patience, I am hoping to secure a job that I can manage and that will be helpful to an employer. My disability is not a big problem. Really, it is not. I do not define myself as having a disability, but I feel that society does define me this way.IMG_0569

People With Disability Can Be Creators Of Positive Change For All

Living my life with the aid of a wheelchair takes lots of patience and resilience because sometimes it can break down and sometimes the buildings have no access. This issue gets really annoying because there is supposed to be access to all of the buildings in Sydney. This requirement is in the law. I have a graduate diploma in political public policy from Macquarie University.

I like using my wheelchair to get around to give me independence. I have two wheelchairs, a power one and a manual one. I had a funny experience with my chair a couple of days ago. I was sailing and I was going up the ramp to get some breakfast and suddenly my wheel came off. It’s hard to move without a wheel. Luckily I had my support worker with me to get me in the car. It was very funny.

People say to me, I have lots of resilience, however I can’t see this because some people knock me back with everything especially with getting a job. I’ll never give up trying because I need to be independent, but I can’t do this without getting a job. Who will pay the bills, food, etc? I just need someone to give me a fair go without seeing my disability first, but seeing me as a member of society with skills I can contribute. In this TEDx talk it shows how someone with a disability can be a thinker for positive change for all.

People with a disability only want to be treated like everyone else.