What do you think the word identity means?

Identity is who you are, the way you think about yourself, the way you are viewed by the world and the characteristics that define you ie- name, age, colour, race, religion/beliefs, looks personality, skills, abilities, hobbies, occupation etc… How about disability??

I was asked to watch 3 videos on disability and write a blog on what I thought- do I identify as being disabled, and what does the label mean to me.

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After watching these three videos I really related to Umber’s story. Umber has a hidden disability so I know how she is feeling first hand. Umber talks about how the word disability is represented, and how people with hidden disabilities may not identify as having one, because they don’t match up to a stereotypical disabled person. “people picture disability in a very visual way, actually most of even people who look disabled, most of what is going on with their disability is internal” I absolutely loved Laurence’s story – he can really open peoples eyes through comedy. “I think I can do more in twenty minutes of stand up than a day of equality and diversity training.” Laurence does not let his cerebral palsy define who he is. Finally, John’s story. John is a musician, singer, writer, and activist. He talks about how labels, and abilities.  “I never really saw that disability was not being able to do stuff, I never had any of that rubbish, it was always what do you wanna do and how you gonna do it.” John also talks on how disability is a human rights and equality issue, and we have come far but we still have some way to go, he says ” I wanna be mates, smile at you in the street, just be nice to each other, not tolerate, not just accept that I’ve got to share this planet with you”.

Disability can be a taboo area. Many people don’t know how to talk about disabilities when referring to someone with a disability. Do they say the “The man with Downs syndrome” or “Downs syndrome man/Downs man” There is a general rule of thumb that you MUST recognise the person first, then the condition. When you meet a person with a disability try to see it that way, rather than defining that person by that condition.

Disabilities aren’t always black and white. Because some disabilities are hidden. I myself have a hidden disability. If you don’t know me you wouldn’t know that I have a lifelong chronic condition called Ulcerative colitis.

There are days with my colitis where I am in so much pain, its crippling. No one sees pain. I am tired beyond belief. No one sees tiredness. I have extreme diarrhea often mixed with blood/pus. No one sees this – not sure I would want them too. I get painful joints. No one sees this. I have eye problems. No one sees my vision problems. I often experience loss of appetite. People assume I’m just not hungry. I find it hard to gain weight but can lose weight very quickly. People assume I keep fit.

I do identify as having a disability, but it’s not every day. I have my good days and bad days, I have bad weeks and good weeks, its very hit and miss when I might relapse. Having a hidden disability doesn’t mean I want sympathy, I’m not giving up, I’m not insulting my self or being weak. I am a strong, caring, determined and hard-working young lady who has a hidden disability. Does it define me? NO!!