BBC Ouch! (UK).
Friday, February 17, 2006.
It was 22 years ago today. Or at least I think it was. Everything was a bit weird and hazy back then. Twenty-two years since I lost my sight and shed all those non-disabled 'easy life privileges'. Nothing heavy, just an observation. I got through it OK on the whole though, I think and I'd like to be able to help by passing on some useful words of wisdom. The trouble is, all the best advice I've penned looks awfully like clichés. It's not going to stop me writing it today though.
Wasn't it a crap film that once said of disabled people: "Inside I'm dancing"?
When something like losing your sight - or a limb or other important function - happens to you, what can ya do? Answer: nothing. Realistically? Not a thing. Well, certainly not quickly.
So how do you muster up the strength to carry on? It's the disability conundrum that most onlookers don't understand. Answer: you've got to just put all norms to one side and carve your own new perfect life, best life, only life. Life isn't a rehearsal and you can't sit back and wait for the next. . There isn't one.
Wasn't it Andy Warhol who once said: "I can't work out whether the spastic at the bar is beautiful or I'm a sicko"
I was very young, just 13 when it happened to me. I don't know how I did it but I managed to shrug it off. There was no point worrying, nothing I could do about it. To you I say just hit that new learning curve with all your might. Meet others in your situation - they're not likely to be the peculiar losers whose houses smell that you are imagining. Choose your disabled master well though and allow him or her to show you shortcuts ... and undoubtedly a dark humour that you're probably rather unsure of right now.
Your mental health, and your new access issues, need working on. And quickly. Don't allow walls to build or grass to grow under your feet ... if you've still got any.
Wasn't it Oscar Wilde who once said: "It might seem like the rest of the world think you're only a good disabled person if you spend every other weekend at an outward bound centre but remember that's where some of the 7/7 London bombers first met up to discuss tactics. They're evil places and ability isn't about pumping iron."
I realise these words of wisdom on my 22nd disability anniversary aren't necessarily 100% applicable to everyone reading this. "We've not all come to disability later in life" And the answer is yeah you're right. We all have our ways of dealing with stuff but there are many crossovers and similarities. The big shared experience is about how others view us and together we can work out what to do about that.
Wasn't it a top TV exec who said: "I'm not having anything worthy like disability on my channel"?
22 years, eh? Almost a generation ago. So things move slowly forward. Disability still remains an unsexy subject talked about in hushed voices. One thing I've learnt big time is that embarrassment of your new self and what you can and can't do is something to leave at the door. No apologies.
Clichés and wisdom now over. How do you deal with the crap? I hope it's working for ya.
Who was it that said: "You're beautiful, you're beautiful, it's true" Oh yeah, that walking talking cliché James Blunt. Ignore him.
End of article.
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