Losing my Religion.

I was brought up in a Christian household, attending church most Sunday’s and participating in various Bible study groups as I grew up. My faith was an integral part of my identity, but beyond this I don’t think I ever gave much serious thought to my beliefs until I was given cause to doubt them, that cause being viral meningitis.

Contracting meningitis was sudden and unexpected, leaving my future shrouded in uncertainty as I struggled to deal with the new set of circumstances I found myself in. When my friends from church found out about my plight I was flooded with well-intentioned pieces of advice and encouragement, by far the most common being that God had done this for a purpose. What I couldn’t figure out was what exactly this purpose was.

I considered myself to be a good person; I went to church and prayed and read the Bible, I didn’t commit crimes, and on the whole I obeyed my parents and teachers. If I wasn’t being punished, what was I supposed to learn from this experience? The only thing I seemed to be learning was that people are unreliable and reluctant to shoulder anyone else’s burdens, and that didn’t seem to me to be a very Godly lesson. My faith was undeniably shaken but not completely destroyed.

As time passed and I felt better I tried to reconnect with God in the hope of having my questions answered. It soon became clear that all was not well; so began the process of being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and during that time I would pray every evening before bed, unloading my burdens onto someone else, giving me the relief and peace of mind I needed to sleep.

After about a year of chronic fatigue syndrome people at church started praying for my healing. At first this seemed like a nice gesture but I soon became disenchanted with the idea as my faith and even my willingness to get well were repeatedly called into question. The prayers no longer seemed to be offered out of concern for me; I felt as though my healing were the prize in a competition, the winner being whoever prayed for me last before my sudden and glorious recovery. Eventually I simply stopped going to church, just keeping in touch with those who were my genuine friends.

It was around this time that I realised my evening prayers were little more than a comfort blanket, a ruse if you will, that would keep me calm and allow me to sleep. With this gone I turned to scripture, but where once I had seen encouragement and enlightenment I now saw intolerance and exclusion. The harder I fought to keep my faith, the further it slipped from my grasp.

The final nail in the coffin for my beliefs was coming to terms with my sexuality, something I had vehemently denied myself all my life up to that point. Once I realised that my identity was being jeopardised by something that had already caused me so much pain, I let go altogether.

In all honesty I expected to be relieved; I was free of something that had held me back and diminished my self-worth ever since I had been given reason to turn against it. What actually happened was I felt that a huge part of my identity had been pulled away.

Even worse was the immense guilt I felt; a short while before when my faith was still relatively strong I had become someone’s godmother, and the thought of breaking my promise to the parents and the child was utterly soul destroying. Now I realise that I made a promise to help raise the child and teach him what I knew of Christianity, and whatever my beliefs that is something I still can and will do. If one day he asks me about my personal faith I will have to be honest and I only hope that he will not think of me as a liar. Perhaps I will even show him this little piece of writing to help explain my choices.

Up to this point I have never breathed a word of this to my godson’s family, nor even to my own family. However I can’t help but feel that being honest about my faith is the right thing to do, and I know that I can explain myself far more eloquently in written form than in a spoken conversation.

Hen do!

Yesterday I had my hen do with my bridesmaid and her partner, & we visited the Kitty Cafe in Leeds.

Once again Sooty climbed onto my wheelchair, but this time I didn’t manage to get a photograph. However, I did get photo’s of:

Left: a selfie taken beforehand.

Right: a selfie taken with my bridesmaid while in the Kitty Cafe.

Left: a tortoiseshell called Cutie who almost fell of the cat tree while receiving a fuss.

Right: a 12 week old kitten called Panda, who was very playful after his nap, despite it being only his second day integrating with the customers.

Left: Johnnie the Maine Coon stole all our hearts with his excellent selfie-taking abilities, even if he did obscure my bridesmaid’s partner behind his big, fluffy ears while giving the camera some serious side-eye.

Top right: Johnnie takes a nap.

Bottom right: my bridesmaid’s partner, my bridesmaid, and me fussing Johnnie.

After spending many hours in the company of the cats, we went shopping for dresses and shoes:

Left: my bridesmaid finds the perfect dress!

Right: you can never have too much glitter. These bad boys will make me look extra special on the big day.

A New Beginning!

In case you don’t follow me on social media, I wanted to catch you up with the very latest in Diary of a Disabled Person news.

As many of you know I was recently made redundant and have since been looking for work. Yesterday, while sat in a local cafe, I received a phone call telling me I had a job. However, this wasn’t just any job. This was a job I really wanted, that I could be proud of, and that I knew was very much a long shot when I applied for it.

I will soon be joining the Clinical Trials Research Unit at the University of Leeds as a Data Management Assistant, contributing to medical research by overseeing data submission, checking for errors, finding anomalies, and questioning anything I feel to be out of place. Some people would consider this job to be their worst nightmare but for me it is the opposite. To be able to help move medical research forward has been an ambition of mine since taking my A-levels, and I honestly thought that I would have to choose between that and a writing career. As it transpires, I can now do both while remaining financially secure.

Disability doesn’t mean I can’t work in medical research.

The Blogger Recognition Award.

The Blogger Recognition Award is used to celebrate high-quality, well-written blogs and was deservingly won by Being Aunt Debbie a few weeks ago. She has since nominated me for the reward for which I am very grateful. Her blog can be found here: https://beingauntdebbie.com/.

In order to accept the reward the nominee must produce a post thanking the person who nominated them, describe how their blog started, give two pieces of advice to new bloggers, and make a few nominations of their own. This slightly different approach to accepting an award provides a refreshing and insightful glance into the world of blogging itself, and what it is actually like to be a blogger.

blogger_award

How This All Began:

I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog for some time, aware that I could do so for free and in a relatively short time. Jarred spent a great deal of time encouraging me to do this, boosting my self-esteem and offering support, particularly of the caffeinated kind. Thus, one afternoon after the January exam season, I decided to set up Diary of a Disabled Person, a name that had sprung into my mind in the shower the night before.

I wanted my blog to be distinguishable from other blogs that discussed similar topics, in particular taking a humourous approach to interest readers who hadn’t had experience of disability themselves, or hadn’t encountered it frequently in those around them. After all, wheelchair users don’t need to tell other wheelchair users what it’s like to be in a wheelchair. I wanted to educate, discuss the areas where ableism still exists in the world, and to make people laugh at the many mishaps and scrapes I found myself in on a daily basis.

As I began to publish content I noticed that I was receiving a lot of positive attention from other wheelchair users, which meant that these people felt I was representing them well. This gave me a massive boost to self-esteem, giving me the confidence to pitch articles to Cracked.com.

Perhaps the biggest positive of writing this blog, though, is not the support and self-esteem boosts I have encountered, but is the fact that writing about the negative events in my life that lead to disability and depression helped me to emotionally process these situations. While still very much depressed, I have found that writing enables me to think logically about my emotional response to various circumstances, and I have been able to focus on the things that truly matter.

Diary of a Disabled Person has grown and developed significantly over the past 18 months and shows no sign of stopping. I am here for the ride as much as my readers are.

My Advice to New Bloggers:

Don’t be afraid of negative feedback: I try not to be offended if someone offers me genuine, constructive criticism on my blog. These sentiments can be used as guidance to improve your blog, make it more readable and inclusive, and increase your readership. At the end of the day it isn’t you who reads your blog but your readers.  I also try not to take offence to anyone who trolls my writing, making negative comments for the sake of it. Often enough they will make a mistake proving that they haven’t so much as glanced at your actual work, and therefore there is nothing constructive to be drawn from their comments. There are people out there who live to troll; let them – it’s usually all they have in life.

Blogging is a commitment: an essential aspect of blogging is the ability to maintain the blog over a long period of time. This might take some money to cover the costs of a web domain and some basic advertising, but most of all it takes time. Producing content, advertising, and updating a website all take time, and even though you might have time when you set up the blog, be aware that changing demands may limit the time you have for blogging in the future. Ultimately blogging whilst keeping up other aspects of personal and professional livelihoods is viable, but is more difficult than most people assume.

My Nominees:

Seeing M.E In Reality: https://seeingmeinreality.com/

The Disability Diaries: https://disabilitydiaries.com/

Thinking out Loud: https://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/

KimiBlack: https://kimiblack.wordpress.com/

Wheelescapades: https://wheelescapades.com/

My Fitness Journey with Fibro: https://myfitnessjourneywithfibro.wordpress.com/

As you may well be aware this now takes me up to a total of 5 awards received by Diary of a Disabled Person in the last year! Let’s hope I can continue to expand my readership and fan-base, taking my writing to ever new heights.

The Sunshine Blogger Award.

The Sunshine Blogger Award recognises positivity and creativity in a blogger’s work, and much like the Leibster Award and Lovely Blog Award, is awarded to one writer by another. In this instance I was nominated by the blog My Fitness Journey with Fibro, which can be found here:

https://myfitnessjourneywithfibro.wordpress.com/

In order to accept the nomination you must first quickly explain what the Sunshine Blogger Award is and display the logo, answer 11 questions as asked by the person doing the nominating, nominate some more blogs deserving of the award, and ask these nominees a further 11 questions.

sunshine-blogger

Questions from My Fitness Journey with Fibro:

What is your ultimate dream in life? From a very young age the idea of being an author has appealed to me; I would love to become the author of a published book, and in particular I would love to have physical books published as well as eBook copies being made. Something about the idea of seeing my name of the spine of a book fills me with excitement, not least because I believe it to be an achievable dream.

How do you stay as positive as possible? Staying positive can be a nightmare, particularly during flare-ups of either the M.E or the depression. However, I have a few things that I rely upon to help maintain a positive attitude. First and foremost I find that writing helps me to think clearly about a situation and to process my emotions, but I frequently also use music as a coping mechanism for dealing with low moods. I also have personal favourite video games that I return to time and time again, as these provide an immersive and reliable distraction. Sometimes, even with all these in place, I still feel depressed. It’s important to recognise that being negative is a healthy response in many situations and shouldn’t ignored or overlooked for the sake of pure optimism.

If you could have one superpower what would it be? I would like to be invisible, mainly because I’m a nosy person who would want to know what people are saying about me behind my back!

What brings you the most joy daily? My fiancé, Jarred. I wake up in a morning and he brings me breakfast in bed before heading out to work, he comes from work and helps me sort out the evening meal. We talk about how our days have been, things we’ve seen on social media, and watch some TV together. We make each other laugh, even when we’re absolutely shattered. I don’t know how I would cope without his support.

What would you like to achieve with your blog? I am currently working on converting my blog into a book, and if possible I would love to have the book printed as well as published online. It’s a great way of reaching out to people and educating them about disability, teaching people not to pre-judge.

What have been your greatest moments of this year? Jarred’s graduation from university was the event of the summer, but I think getting married on 27th December this year will probably take the top spot!

What would your top 3 travel destinations be if you could go anywhere and why? I would like to visit Holland; everyone who has spent significant amounts of time in Holland always sing it’s praises, particularly around how polite everyone is. Plus, because bicycles are so commonplace in Amsterdam, I imagine the accessibility is decent. I would also like to visit Japan, particularly Tokyo, as their culture is so vastly different from our own that a visit would make for an interesting learning experience. I would also like to explore rural Italy for the sole purpose of consuming good food.

What is one song that you really connect deeply with? There are so many out there that I resonate with, but I think Green Day’s Still Breathing from their 2016 studio album Revolution Radio has to be the one I relate to most.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would it be called? Diary of a Disabled Person: The Lengthy Edition.

What would the picture on the front of your autobiography be? My personal favourite of all the photos ever taken of me; drinking hot mead at the German Christmas market that takes place in Leeds every year.

Christmas Market

Do you know how truly wonderful you are? This question has me stuck. If I say no I sound ungrateful, but if I say yes I sound arrogant. Being a blogger has massively helped increase my self-esteem, as I couldn’t ignore all the likes, comments, messages, and positive feedback I get from regular and new fans alike. I think I can confidently say that I know I have skills and qualities that make me unique, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to fully comprehend being described as “truly wonderful”.

My Nominees:

Seeing M.E In Reality: https://seeingmeinreality.com/

The Disability Diaries: https://disabilitydiaries.com/

Thinking out Loud: https://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/

KimiBlack: https://kimiblack.wordpress.com/

Wheelescapades: https://wheelescapades.com/

Being Aunt Debbie: https://beingauntdebbie.com/

Questions for My Nominees:

  • What drove you to start your blog?
  • What drives you to keep writing and maintain your blog?
  • What insignificant thing annoys you the most?
  • What is your favourite sport (to watch or play)?
  • What is your favourite meal?
  • Where did you live as a child?
  • What was/is your favourite school subject?
  • What is your favourite Disney film?
  • Who is your favourite Disney character?
  • What has been the highlight of the past month for you?
  • What are you most looking forward to in the next month?

Astounding as this may seem, this marks the fourth award I have picked up since the start of the year, and I am delighted to say that I will be accepting a fifth award in a couple of weeks!

Redundant.

So I just got made redundant. Technically I’m still employed by the local NHS trust, but all the shifts are either nursing or in inaccessible offices, so I’m going to have to look for another job.

I feel like a total moo-moo saying this, but if you can donate anything at all it would be very much appreciated. I will be spending my newly gained free time writing content and job-hunting.

Thank you for your continued support.

Leeds Pride 2018.

After the disappearance of Tribble on Saturday I didn’t particularly feel like celebrating, but I managed to persuade myself that watching the Pride parade go past would be worth it. Indeed it was, and I was glad I went. Below are the many photo’s and videos taken over the hour-long procession!

First of all, here is a video of the West Yorkshire police marching band:

 

Here are some of the best costumes from the parade; a Harley Quinn bear, a furry, a a blue Mohawk wig, a gay storm-trooper, a pink T-rex, and a carnival dancer on stilts with rainbow butterfly wings.

The spectrum of colours was visible throughout the parade in many forms; on balloons, flags, umbrellas, confetti, hats, and garlands.

It was really great to see so many children involved with the celebration, helping to normalise LGBTQ+ people, which should reduce discrimination in the future.

The fire brigade and police were also involved in the parade, including one fireman leaning out of the window of a real firetruck, with a bubble-gun.

As a bisexual it was great to see bisexuals have their own segment of the parade.

Here are some of the best signs from the parade, including “Asexuals pirates aren’t interested in your booty”, and “Ey up, we’re not in Kansas anymore”.

As a spectator I made sure to wear appropriate clothing; black sequin-covered leggings, a t-shirt with “This is what awesome looks like” written on it, and red, glittery cat ears.

My favourite part of the parade, though, had to be all the very good doggo’s supporting LGBTQ+ rights!

To close, enjoy another video of some dancers that came towards the end of the parade:

I’m already excited for next year!