In all the years I have been blogging, I have not known another blogger who lived so close to me. Ami lives quite near to Beetley, but so far, we haven’t had the chance to meet.
I am very happy to present her truly excellent guest post here, which is unedited. If you know anyone who is disabled, or who blogs about disability, then please pass this on, so they can connect, and be inspired. And if you feel so inclined, please reblog, or share on any other social media platform.
THE OPPOSITE PERSPECTIVE: I’M MEANT TO BE DISABLED
By Ami Ireland.
You’ve just read the title and probably raised an eyebrow, right? Let me tell you how I obtained that perspective.
A Brief Summary
I’m almost 25 years old, however, for the majority of my life, to say it’s been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. From a very young age, I endured bullying, both at school and at home. I’ve been abused, physically, mentally and sexually. It was no surprise that I was diagnosed at the age of 13 with Depression.
I always felt like I could never be myself, I had to be the person that everyone else presumed me to be. I hated myself and the body I was in. I always sought validation.
But my life changed, most would say for the worse, but in my opinion, it changed for the better.
In March 2018, I was admitted to hospital as I was unconscious. I was admitted to Critical Care/Intensive Care and put in an induced coma to give my body a chance to recover. Everybody was convinced I wasn’t going to wake up. Nobody knew what caused me to be unconscious, but within the first couple of days of being in Critical Care, I contracted Bilateral Pneumonia.
As my body was already very weak, this was killing me. The odds were against me. Thankfully, the NHS saved my life, more than once.
This was just the beginning of a 9-month hospital and rehabilitation stay. In short, I’d lost the ability to sit up, stand up and walk.
I will be honest, at first it was very difficult for me to accept that this was my life now. I felt like I no longer had a purpose in life. I had nothing to work towards.
That changed, two months into my hospital stay, when my fiancé (at the time) suggested that we set a date for our wedding. This was the push I needed, I was absolutely determined to walk down that aisle, albeit with a mobility aid or the assistance from others, I was going to work hard and do it.
In September, this year, I did it. I walked down the aisle, with the support of my Mum and my best friend’s boyfriend. I walked down that aisle and married the love of my life.
But I couldn’t have got this far without a different perspective.
All or Nothing
Before 2017, I was an introvert, I never said boo to a goose. But when I started to lose my hearing, my central vision, and then my mobility; I lost myself even more, I sunk lower and lower into the shell I had already been hiding in.
Back then, I could have had a different perspective. But I gave up. I didn’t want to fight anymore.
However, when I became more aware of my surroundings in hospital, I felt I’d been given a second chance at life – I saw this as a new beginning, a new chapter and a new me, just with a few illnesses and a wheelchair in tow.
I’ve met some incredible people along the way, my physiotherapists and occupational therapist, nurses and doctors, the disabled community and Scope (a UK charity for disabled people) too.
For 9 months, I witnessed the amount of work these true superheroes do. As I’d never met them before, this was a chance for me to be myself.
I quickly learned that by being myself, I’m very sarcastic and can have a quick-wit, at times. I no longer held back what was going through my mind, albeit being random ramblings. The more I was open and honest, the more I felt happy with who I was (and still am).
Quite a few friendships were formed throughout my hospital and rehabilitation stay; it was hard not to get along with them as I spent more time with them then I did my family. Hospital settings are usually quite negative, but I wanted to switch that around.
I did have my bad days, but making the staff smile and laugh was a good distraction. Seeing them happy, made me happy.
That’s why I loved being around these amazing people, and why it broke my heart when I was transferred or discharged. They liked me for who I am.
Social Media & The Disabled Community
Social media is often represented very negatively; however, it has improved my quality of life. During the early days of coming to terms with what had happened, I felt very alone, I didn’t know anybody else who was in the same position as myself. Soon, I discovered the disabled community on social media and I simply cannot put into words how much of a positive impact they have made in my life. I’ve never felt so included and accepted in my life!
I’ve made quite a few good friends within the community and it’s comforting knowing there is others who would never judge me, I can share my experiences without receiving pity. It’s incredibly refreshing. So far, I’ve met one person face-to-face, and being with her was lovely. Not only is she good company but I never felt like I had to hide who I am.
I’m planning to meet others, from the community, next year!
With all that being said, I would not have met these people if I were not disabled. I may have come across them or seen them in campaigns, but I would not have the courage to speak to them otherwise. Like I said, I’ve never felt accepted beforehand.
Scope (UK Charity for Disabled People)
If you had asked me years ago if I knew I would get involved with Scope, I would have been hesitant as I’d not heard a lot at all about the charity, only that I walked past one of their charity shops in town (years ago). Good old faithful Google led me to Scope, during the early days I was desperate to find others who had experienced the same as myself. Scope’s Online Community has been my guiding light, the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Almost 2 years on and I’m still very much a permanent fixture within Scope. I’ve written guest blogs, got involved with a campaign, and I was the face of their latest fundraising appeal. Being part of Scope has led me to amazing opportunities.
None of this would have happened if I were not disabled.
I’m certain I would still be the introvert I was before I became disabled. Everything happens for a reason. Being disabled has given me the confidence to voice my opinion, aim to change perceptions in today’s society, but most of all, I’m a realist and I’m happy.
If you want to read more from Ami, here is a link to her blog.
And you can follow her on Twitter too.