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