With Disability Awareness Day recently taking place, I’m exploring some of the positive lessons I’ve learnt from my disability and learning to celebrate being disabled.
Different is the New ‘Normal’
A poem which changed my perspective was ‘Welcome to Holland’ by social activist, Emily Kingsley. The poem is a metaphor about the excitement of planning a dream holiday to Italy but then finding the plane lands in Holland, similar to expecting a baby and then unexpectedly raising one with special needs. The poem goes into appreciating what is in ‘Holland’ and making the most of the situation. Nobody plans to have a disability but I now appreciate that there are plenty of things to be both happy and proud about in my new life path.
Relationships, whether with friends, family or partners are tested when you’re chronically ill. You’ll find out who sticks by you and how to let go of those who walk away. The friendship circle you keep may be small in numbers but it will be mighty in strength. I myself have a small group of family and friends but they’re my rocks.
Because life has lead me down an unexpected path, I’ve discovered talents I never knew I had. I found out I have both a talent and passion for crafting. I started volunteering which lead me to set up my own national project, Project Parent. I also developed my confidence to become a public speaker and blogger. These talents may not have arisen if I didn’t become disabled, so, because of my disability many doors have opened.
An Expert in My Own Body
Other than being able to reel off my complex medical history and medication list, I now know my body like the back of my hand. Yes, I have unexpected relapses still and I don’t always follow what’s best for my health (got to push the boat out some time!) but I feel like I learn more about myself, and my body, each day.
‘Life is a journey, not a destination’. I feel like with any disability this is the case. The journey is often an unexpected one with many peaks and troughs but there’s many beautiful things to experience along the way.
Written by resident blogger, Kate Stanforth.