[Image: the tiny reflection of a woman can be seen in a mirror leaning against a white wall. Fairy lights hang down and a red covered chair with colourful cushions can be seen.]
Some days I’m not sure who I am. My confidence bottoms out and a state of ennui weaves its way into my heart.
The directionless nature of Summer is always tough but this year we have reached Autumn with no end in sight. It stretches out longer and longer and my nerves are strung along with it. And I find myself with too much downtime.
Life retreats to a small space the size of my bedroom, the whir of the air conditioner, and I lie still on top of the covers concentrating on existing.
My mind runs and I find myself dissecting life and illness and how disability weaves through it all. It took me a long to work out I was disabled. Even longer to say it out loud. “Who was I to say I was disabled?” snarled the voice of my youth. Who was I to believe I was entitled to inhabit that space?
Who was I?
These days the word disabled falls with ease from my tongue. Well mostly. Every now and then I get one of ‘those’ reactions. It hits me on a down day. Rips the scab off old internal narratives, pokes around in my past and screams denial and disbelief.
I am forced to re-examine myself and my experience.
Thankfully reserves built over the years from the support of friends, the warm arms of those closest to me, small, though palpable, changes in the way society views disability and the rising tide of disabled voices, allow me to see that false nature of the dangerous narratives carried by others.
Each challenge knocks me down, then builds me up. I am stronger each time I raise my voice to challenge them. I re-examine my life, my experiences and myself and say no more.
I will not listen to the naysayers.
I will not allow them to go unchallenged.
I will know myself and say, I am here.
I am disabled.
And I am proud.