14 Reasons Blogging Makes Sense For Disabled People

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Hello lovelies and thankyou for joining me today,

Having just closed down my other blog, I have a sense of sadness about me today that comes with failure. I tried and tried for a while but alas, the statistics showed that the support for my other blog just wasn’t there. With that said, the support for Hear It From Helen has grown quite rapidly and this blog gives me a sense of energy that I cannot describe, and so it goes to demonstrate that this blog is ultimately where I need to be.

Today I wanted to write a little bit about why blogging makes sense for disabled people. I have to be honest, in my younger years (and even my teenage years), I had aspirations in life that would have been unobtainable for me for a variety of reasons. Among careers, I envisioned myself as a spy, a forensic expert, an audiologist and a journalist and so, I suppose, it makes sense that I’ve now landed up on becoming a blogger.

One of the things that has long held me back in life is my disabilities. They don’t hold me back in a big way, but they hold be back enough that I am far too much of a liability for many companies to want to take on. That a slip could aggravate one of my pain sites and leave me incapacitated for weeks isn’t a responsibility that many managers (perhaps understandably) want to risk. When I went through disability employment agencies, finding a career for someone who was both disabled and smart was extremely hard. Unfortunately, it seems that the UK job market sort of assumes that if you have a physical disability, then you likely have a mental disability, too.

Now that I’ve been blogging for two years, here are fourteen of the reasons that blogging makes sense for me, as a disabled person.

It allows us to share our journey

Every disabled person has a story. Whether they were born with their disabilities or disabled as the result of a tragic accident or illness, every person has a story and many of us have tales of overcoming the obstacles we’ve faced. I for one was considered as “difficult” until I was seven years old, when I was diagnosed with a hearing impairment and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I can also remember in vivid detail the day that my life changed from a badminton injury. For someone who was disabled in an accident or through illness, sharing their journey can help them raise awareness of their condition or the dangers of certain sports. Sharing our story can be part of our own healing process, too.

It allows us to use our skills

Every person on this planet as a skill, and nobody is without them. I’ve seen dyslexic people with fantastic singing voices and paraplegic people create art using only a paintbrush in their mouths. For many disabled people, writing becomes a skill that we hone through sharing our journey, a skill that can extremely useful when it comes to starting a blog.

We feel like part of a community

Dear readers, let me be completely honest with you. Never have I felt more welcomed, more accepted and more part of any community than I have felt when I joined WordPress, and that is a feeling that so many disabled people struggle with. When I was younger, I was frequently forced to attend social clubs with people who I had nothing in common with, and so I was always the weird, disabled kid who couldn’t kick a football. Now, because of WordPress, I am a disabled housewife with a dog and a blog, but also a member of this community. I belong with the other housewives, who also run housewife blogs.

Blogging can become a career

Although my blog isn’t currently earning me any money, blogging can become a career. Job Centres are loathed to suggest blogging to emplyment seekers because it’s not filling any of the roles that they are paid to advertise, but it can be an avenue to explore. If you have something to give and have some basic computer skills that you can use, there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider running a blog – you never know where it may get you!

It gives us a sense of identity

Once you become a disabled person, being disabled sort of becomes your identity. You aren’t known for anything else about you at that point, your disability becomes who you are. I often hear myself referred to as “anxious” or “the lady with knee pain”. Nothing else is identified about me, I’m not the crazy woman with red hair or my blue eyes or rock ‘n’ roll t-shirts, it’s my anxiety and chronic pain that people remember about me. When you run a blog, you step away from you disability and you find something as well as your disability. Instead of only being your disability, you can share the things that you are into and demonstrate your personality. As a blogger, what marks your success is your commitment and personality, rather than your physical abilities.

It allows us to work from home

Way back in 2009, I found supported employment for two hours per day, Monday-Friday. To get to work, I’d need to pay £7 per day for return tickets on two different bus services and was earning on average around £230 per month, tax-free (one advantage of being disabled and employed). When I started working, my housekeeping for living at home with my parents also went up, meaning that I was travelling 3 hours everyday and ending up financially worse off than if I simply wasn’t working at all. Sure, it gave me some skills and a reference (which probably wouldn’t be good, but that’s another story) but in the end, I actually made myself ill through stress. There were also occasions when I risked slipping on the ice (and aggravating my condition) because I didn’t want to lose the job that wasn’t really earning me any extra money in the first place. By working from home as a blogger, I can avoid personal injury and not spend what little money I have on travel. It’s great if you qualify for a free pass, but I was never afforded that privilege and so working across town was never viable for me. I also can’t ride a bike or a trike because of my cerebral ataxia, making that mode of free transport an impossibility.

It allows us to write about the things that interest us

I used to have a friend with Neurofibromyalgia who went to gigs, I have a friend with kidney failure who writes about kites and gardening and I love to share recipes and the antics of my little dog, Hugo. Disabled people are far more than just disabled people and we all have hobbies and interests just like anyone else. Blogging not only allows us to share information and insights that might not currently be out there, but it also allows you to read such knowledge and information from someone you might not otherwise expect.

It gives us a portfolio for other work

Even as only a short-term solution, blogging gives a disabled person a great piece of work from which they can demonstrate their capabilities. As a disabled person, it can be extremely hard to have qualifications, experience and references for many jobs, and so having a blog that demonstrates your potential can help boost your employment prospects – as long as it’s well constructed!

It encourages us to get out

Before I started writing reviews for restaurants, I lived a very reclusive lifestyle. Getting my groceries online was cheaper than getting on the bus and going shopping, and so I did. Sending a text or making a phonecall was far more affordable than going out for dinner to see friends or family, and sometimes they were also busy. Now that I write honest, exposure-free reviews for establishments in my locale, I don’t need to wait for others to be free. I can decide a good time with my husband and our reviews give me content for my blog then I can catch up with my loved ones another time. It’s a win-win situation, all-round!

It encourages us to look after ourselves

Before I started blogging, I didn’t really care what I looked like. I was me, I was a housewife with no potential. Now that i run my blog, I know that I represent my brand and how I look is a reflection of me and my brand. If I want my blog to look good, I need to make sure that I look good, too. It might not be all of the time (I don’t wake up with make-up on!), but I at least think about how I look when I’m out in shops and restaurants. If you’re serious about your blog, you start to think about how people perceive you.

It forces us to try new things

How will I write about new things if I’m not willing to try them? How can I share reviews if I refuse to go out and review them? By writing a blog, you need to find things to write about, and sometimes that means being willing to try new things. Too many disabled people allow their disability to define them and their capabilities, which means fewer opportunities for trying new things. Whether it’s pushing past social anxiety or managing dangerous sports in a wheelchair, you are limited only by possibility, and anything that you achieve is worth documenting in my humble opinion.

It gives us a sense of pride and something to talk about

When you talk about your blog, there is a sense of pride that goes with it. It is not just a blog, it is your blog, your pride and joy, your creation. Your blog should reflect you, and should want to share it, too. Your blog is there for all of the world to read, so you might as well be proud of what you do.

Similar to above, all too often, disabled people are defined by what they can’t do. If your blog is a success then it goes to show something that you can do, and that is something that you should be proud of.

It shows us that we CAN do something

I’ve written before about my detest for the word “disabled”. For disabled people, it’s all too easy to focus on what we can’t do, which can bring about a sense of depression. Every like, every follower and every comment is an indication that our blog is being read and our work is being appreciated, which brings me to my last point..

Which boosts our self-esteem

Never have I smiled more and been more radiant than in the time that I’ve been a blogger. I feel like a person, a human, with real potential and real capability. I’ve heard from several people (not to brag or anything 😉 ) that I write well, and that is such a great boost for my self-esteem. As someone who struggles with confidence in her capabilities, hearing that I can write well and that I am appreciated by people all across the globe does great things for me, mentally.

I hope that these twelve points have helped you consider keeping a blog, if you’re a disabled person. Do you already run a blog? Why not say hello in the comments?

Keep smiling, everyone!

Your friendly, disabled blogger, Helen xx

Unstoppable



Unstoppable.

That was what started this post.

Sia’s Unstoppable.

Maybe it’s the Lacome perfume advert, with the white horse. I mean, just how much power is there in that advert? It absolutely stinks of it. But that song is really, really catchy, and if you love Sia as much as I do, then it sticks more than it stinks.

But, you see, reading the lyrics, I had a realisation, a revelation.

Oh my god, that song could have been written about me.

Pull up a chair, sweetie. Things are about to get real.

Sia’s Unstoppable contains talks about acting strong, it talks about acting tough and seeming invincible and powerful, which I do, but really? I’m a weak, insecure, vulnerable little girl on the inside.

True story.

When I was young, about 10 years old or so, my brother was an actor. It started off with him acting on tables at our weekend youth club, and then he sort of went BIG. Before too long, he was on the radio, he’d been on TV, he had an Equity card, he had a fan base and a following. My friends ditched me for him because he was cooler and more fun to be around, and me? I became nothing. I was inferior. Insignificant.

My brother was acting and earning pocket money, he was attending French cooking classes and my parents would lament over the delicious dishes he learned to prepare. My brother could sing and impress the family and I, meanwhile, was the shy, quiet child. I had nothing to offer, nothing to stand out and say “hey! Look what I can do, too!”

I blended into the background. I even became “Malcolm’s sister” at school and in the street. That’s right, dehumanized to someone else’s name.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my baby brother dearly, but he is he and I had my own thoughts, desires, and feelings, I just felt like they weren’t as important as his. Instead of shining, I just learned to shut up and fade out.

My GCSE’s were the icing on this cake of envy and self-loathing. Because of my RSD, I got moved to a hopsital education unit where I only got 4 grade C’s and a B, despite being set for top marks at secondary school. Because he stayed at mainstream education, my brother walked out with A* grades, and that only added to my sense of insignificance and inferiority. Not only was he cooler and better than me, now he was smarter, too.

In many ways, this competition was exceptionally unhealthy. We had an “anything you can do, I can do better” relationship, and I knew he was better than me.

He got invited to sing at Christmas dinner, and I’d get asked to get off of the cat’s tail if I tried to sing. He’d get to play his didgeridoo, but I wasn’t allowed to get my hands on my very own drum set. Feeling like my brother was always going to do better than me or be better than me, I learned to be quiet and let him stand out.

For a long time, I was a very meek, depressed and quiet person. I didn’t have anything to offer the world, I didn’t have anything that I believed that I could do well. I was just.. well.. me. Small, weak, and inferior.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel noticed until my now betrothed came along. I suppose he saw something in me, and because of him and because of therapy, I came to be.

Yes, I’ve had therapy, I’m not ashamed to admit it. In fact, I highly recommend it even if you don’t think you really need it.

Looking back, I know that my family believed in me, too, I just felt outshone. My brother’s light shined so brightly that mine was dim in comparison. In the end, I got so tired of trying to compete for attention that I simply gave in and I stopped trying to be noticed. Instead, I coursed my own journey and did my own thing.

I developed my own writing style, and found that many, many of my readers actually liked it.

I developed my own takes on dishes, and found that my family actually like them.

I developed my own dress style, and now people are convinced that I’m cool and confident.

I developed wit, which people came to find charismatic and likeable about me.

I learned to help people through writing. I learned that my thoughts, experiences and insights could make a difference to the world and actually help people discover happiness through the senses rather than medication. I stopped focusing inwards, and focused outwards instead. I stopped writing about me and my thoughts, and put my time and energy into writing things that would help people on a journey to self-discovery. I’m now a sex-positive blogger and I’m also planning to study to become a life coach, if I can find a way.

You see? I didn’t need to be good at the same things as my brother, I needed to be me.

Which is why a moment last month shocked me. Sat in the chalet on Cornwall on a cold, blustery October day, my brother looked me directly in the eye and said,

“You know, I’m kind of jealous of you. I always thought I’d be the one who’d be married first but you know, you’re making it.”

Jealous of me?!

The very person that I was jealous of, is jealous of me, because I have the one thing he doesn’t have – I have love.

It still cuts me to the core to this day, honestly. I feel kind of sad for him. Not because he is a sad person, but because he is so loveable, so likeable, so.. warm, and affectionate, and somebody who would do anything for anyone, but he was jealous of me. It’s quite eye-opening, really.

I’m known for being a bit of a show-off, a bit of a braggart. I’m known for having confidence in the things I do and the things that I achieve, and yet, all of this has come from lacking confidence in the one place that I should have had it to start with- in myself.

I think, sometimes, the world thinks that I think I am unstoppable. I’m not, and I don’t. I’m actually extremely sensitive and I’m wracked with anxiety on a near daily basis. I’m a serial ghoster because cutting people out is easier than it is to call them on their shit. I cut people out readily for being a bad friend because now that I’ve built myself up, I won’t have anyone pull me back down. Where I am now matters to me so much that I am also extremely sensitive to criticism. I’d rather have no friends than have friends who criticize me, because criticism means that I’m not enough.

Not good enough.

Not smart enough.

Not pretty enough.

It puts me at risk of going back there again, and I won’t let anyone do that to me. I can’t.

My confidence is fuelled by fear. and I need to maintain control to avoid being inferior again.

I’ve built myself up now, together with a handful of people who saw me and believed in me, but my sense of self is still so fragile. It’s so fragile that deep inside, I still seek your validation.

But then, I think we all do, if we’re being honest.

When we stop measuring ourselves by likes, follows, and online friends, only then will we see that numbers don’t matter. When we realise that the only person we really need to love us is ourselves, only then can we ever be truly happy with what we have, and who we really are.



I Am Enough. You Are Enough, Too



Not so long ago I found myself in a complete funk over something a friend said.

I’m sure, absolutely convinced in fact, that the friend meant no harm in what he said, but nonetheless, I was in a funk about it.

He told me that I needed to blog more often if I wanted to earn from my blog.

Ouch. 

As it was, I had written only two days before. Secondly,:-

  • 7th March, my Dad died
  • 3rd April was his funeral
  • In between those two dates I was tasked with a lot of preparation work for the funeral
  • On 24th April I contracted a spring cold from my husband and was bedbound for a week with dizziness, headaches and sinus pain

So forgive me if my output had been limited to maybe.. two posts.

At first, this comment made me feel like perhaps I shouldn’t be blogging. I felt like all of the people who told me that I have a captivating writing style were wrong. I felt like the very thing that I so enjoyed, I should just… stop. Give up, pack up and go back to working the vacuum. I felt like I had nothing interesting to say, nothing to add, nothing
worthwhile writing about. A bit of an overreaction? Maybe, but that was how I felt.

I got really down on myself that evening and my husband found me, sat on the bed and balling a tissue in my hand, pressing away the tears.

“You don’t believe you’re enough and you really should.”

That was my husband’s advice, to me, someone who writes about mental health!

I don’t think I’m enough, you don’t think you’re enough, we all don’t think we’re enough, and you know why? Because society tells us that we aren’t enough.

How many of these can you relate with?

  • Not smart enough
  • Not attractive enough
  • Not thin enough
  • Not funny enough
  • Don’t work hard enough
  • Not cool enough

And more..

Sometimes these comments are recent, or sometimes, like for me, they happen in childhood and take years of dedication and hard work to get rid of.

So let me tell you something, let me tell you something that the devil on your shoulder doesn’t want you to hear.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

YOU DO ENOUGH.

Please don’t change a thing about you!

If you want to lose weight or go back to school, do it for your own goals, do it for something or somewhere that you want to be, to further your career or be able to run in a marathon. Do not EVER do it because you don’t believe that you are enough.

Because somewhere out there, someone is doing exactly the same thing to themselves, wishing that they were more like you.