Employable Me: one week on (a mini round-up)

It’s now been a week since ‘my episode’ of Employable Me series 2 aired in the UK and I’m still not sure I’ve managed to get my thoughts in order.

This week has been one of the busiest, longest, and most rewarding weeks of my life. My phone has hardly stopped buzzing with notifications from so many people, most of whom I’ve never met and probably never will, wanting to show support.

Honestly, there are so many things  I want to say about what Employable Me has brought into my life, and probably will bring over the next few months. If I wrote about them all in detail then this would be the longest blog post ever. So, for now, I’m just going to post this little round up. Enjoy!

The Support I’ve received

I don’t think the enormity of the support I’ve been shown has sunk in for me yet and I don’t think it will for a while. But please know that I appreciate every single one of your messages. I’ve even screen-shotted a lot of them to look back on on my worst day, when I’m hurting and sore from my cerebral palsy, or when I feel like I’m worthless.

I’m sorry that I haven’t replied to all of them. I wish I could, but there are just so, so many it would be impossible. I’m still trying to get through as many as I can.

The Support I’ve given others

The most rewarding part of this  whole process (and there have been a lot of them) is knowing that my choice to share my story has helped others. I’m going to include some of their stories here – with their permission.

The following is a DM I received from a lovely person on Twitter –

“Hiya. please may I just say something and I apologise if I come across the wrong way or sound patronising. I’ve had a rough few months and while watching your employable me episode I actually felt motivated to change myself for the better. I too have CP and after watching you and seeing that you went to university and got a degree and how you’ve approached people work experience made me realise that actually despite CP I can do things if I really apply myself and want to do them. Since the episode aired I’ve actually started composing letters to send to employers and companies for work and began making plans to have a meeting so I can attend university after having to defer last year, even looking at alternatives even if that course isn’t the best for me. So thank you.”

 

I had a blog post published on the Huffington Post!

I’ve also been lucky enough to have a blog about my experiences taking part in Employable Me published on The Huffington Post, which you can read here, if you haven’t already.

I also wrote a blog for Genius Within, (career psychologist Nancy Doyle’s website) on the power of the positive assessments which I undertook as part of the filming process.  You can read that here.

 

Thank you so much to everyone who’s taken the time to watch the show, and to all the amazing people who worked so hard to make it happen.

There are so many stories that I want to tell you all in time. Some of them are still unfolding as I write this. I hope you all don’t mind waiting until I can find the head-space (and words) to write them.

Love,

Nic xx

Employable Me continues on Monday at 9pm on BBC2.

 

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Employable Me Series Two

If you’ve been following any of my posts on social media for the last couple of weeks you’ll know that I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken part in the second series of Employable Me for BBC2!

It starts tonight by the way (Monday, November 27th at 9pm on BBC2) and I’m so excited for you all to finally be able to see it.

If you’ve never heard of the show before, the best way to describe it in a nutshell is that it’s a documentary series that looks at the barriers disabled people, like myself, face when they’re trying to find employment – and you only have to look back though the archives of this blog to see that I’ve come up against my fair share of those.

I’ve been working on this for so long and I haven’t been allowed to talk about it. It’s one of the reasons why my blog posts have been so few and far between lately – so much of the disability-related stuff that’s been going on in my life has been thanks to Employable Me.

I’ve met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life, and lots of us are still in touch. I think we’ll be friends for a very long time. I’m not going to talk about what happens over the series (although I might talk about certain elements of it in the future) but I do urge you all to watch it, whether you’re disabled, or an employer or just interested.

I hope it raises awareness and I hope people learn something. I’ve learned a lot about myself and a lot about disability. I hope you all do, too.

Physiotherapy & CP update 30/10/2017

I’ll admit that I’d totally forgotten my consultant said she was going to refer me back to my usual physio department so they to give me a refresher course on all of the stretches I’m supposed to be doing.

We’d arranged it a while back when my pelvis pain was really bad. I’d been seen by a different department in the meantime (that my GP had referred me to) so I’d kind of assumed that would be that. I didn’t think they’d allow me to have this second lot of appointments once I mentioned this, so I was really grateful when they said I still still go in.

I was even happier when I found out that my new physio is also the same lady who gives me acupuncture. My previous physio retired earlier this year and I was a bit nervous about seeing somebody new when the previous lady knew me and my regular problems so well.

thankfully, my acupuncturist does too, so, even though she’s never actually given me physio I feel like we could hit the ground running.

It didn’t take her long to work out that my pelvis isn’t very well- aligned at the moment (one side is lower than the other) ,, and she told me that we were going to have to work on making the muscles around it stronger before we could work on the alignment issue.

One thing that I really liked what that she taught me the names of exercises I’ve been doing for years but never knew the names of. Well, it’s more likely that I’ve forgotten them, but I’m still pleased she took them time to tell me again.

It was one of those appointments where I came out feeling more sore than when I went into it, but I often find that these ones make me feel much better much faster.

I’m feeling really positive that we’ll do a lot of good work in these sessions.

I’m looking forward to my next appointment now.

 

Guest Post: Autism is the Reason by Cold Tea Connoisseur

Autism is the reason acquaintances don’t invite me to events. And it’s the reason I don’t care. I have my own world.

Autism is the reason I notice every judgmental look on a person’s face when my son has ‘Happy Flappy’ hands. And it’s the reason I’m too practised at masking to show my rage. For now.

Autism is the reason I use the disabled toilet if the women’s has queues. My disability is invisible. But not if I’m forced to endure strip lights, chatter and dryers.

Autism is the reason I had so many non-starter relationships. But I braved online dating. I married my best friend.

Autism is the reason I find reading people difficult. But it means if I take the time to get to know you, I’ll know you better than you know yourself.

Autism is the reason I stand alone at the school gates at home time. But also how my son’s learned it’s ok to value your own boundaries.

Autism is the reason I live in comfortable clothes. It’s the reason I’ll never be a slave to trends.

Autism is the reason I find writing easier. But it’s how I’ve reached you today and I’m grateful for that.

As Hayley’s Twitter bio will tell you, she is an autistic woman, mother, writer, wife, carer, and so many other things.

You can read her blog at: coldteaconnoisseur.co.uk and find her on Twitter and Instagram

 

Autumn Blues

I know, I know; blue isn’t a colour traditionally associated with Autumn. I know that for most people it’s all about orange, red and brown crunchy leaves, fully PJs and adding pumpkin spice to absolutely everything, but not to me.

I dislike Autumn and I absolutely hate winter. I dread this time of year in pretty much the same way that I dread dentist appointments. I fret about it for weeks in advance, and always go into it expecting the worst. Unlike most of my trips to the dentist though, Autumn/Winter aren’t over in five minutes.

Thanks to my cerebral palsy, this time of year sucks. My aches and pains increase 10-fold (sometimes literally), my poor circulation makes my feet so cold they hurt, and it gets harder and harder for me to leave the house on my own thanks to the slippery fallen leaves/wind/ice/snow that a lot of the people I know IRL seem to love so much.

I’m always the coldest person in a room, which isn’t helped by having to use my wheelchair more and more. Believe me, you get colder than you might think when you’re just sitting there being whipped by the falling leaves/wind/ice/snow that everyone else seems to love so much.

I’m already starting to feel it and the fn’s only just begun for this year, and I’m already not sure I have the mental and physical energy to deal with it.

I wish I could join in with the excitement, but I can’t.

 

Self-service check-outs & physical disability

All I wanted was cat biscuits and some chocolate.

All that stood between me and said cat biscuits and chocolate was a self-service check out.
Sounds simple, right?
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
There are no words for how much these things annoy me. They annoy most of the able-bodied people too; but when you have mobility problems like I do, they are a total nightmare.
I have cerebral palsy so I can’t do anything quickly and I’m not very good at balancing, so I tend to only use one hand as much as possible when I’m trying to pay for my shopping so that I can keep holding on to my walker.
If there is another person operating the till they can obviously see this and understand it, unlike a machine who expects me to move at speed. A chashier often help me do my packing and give me my change in small bits, all without constantly asking me to please take my items.
I know I could always ask a staff member in the shop to help me, but the staff supervising the area is often busy helping people who’ve found themselves dealing with an unexpected item in the bagging area, so I’ve developed a few strategies to try make things easier:
  • As I often wear jackets of hoodies, I try and get my money out before I even start  and put it in my pocket so make it easier to get to. Obviously, I only do this if I feel safe to do so. Otherwise I put up with the machine asking me if I want to continue while I fumble to get cash out of purse.
  • I take a bag that is as wide as possible so that I can hang it on the side of my walking frame and just drop things into it, rather than having to cram they all into a smaller bag that won’t open out for me properly
  • If I have a friend with me, I ask them to help

 

What do you think about self-service check-outs?

Role-reversal

There’s been a bit of a role reversal going on in my house this past week.

My little sister Sophie injured her knee (she’s fine btw) and had to walk around on crutches with a leg brace for a while.

It’s been a strange time for both us. I’ve had to watch her getting used to finding ways to walk and down the stairs, and I’ve had to get down on the floor on my hands and knees to pass her things because she hasn’t been able to bend her knee.

I also had trouble getting up and down the stairs in our house after having my hip surgery at 16, so this situation has brought back lots of memories for me. I mentioned to Sophie the methods that I used to use to get up and down them in my bottom, but  she found her own way regardless. She did it pretty quickly too. I am a proud big sister.

In some ways, it’s actually been really nice for me to be do all of this for Sophie, like she has been doing for me all her life. Obviously, I’d rather that she hadn’t been in so much pain, but she coped with it really well. I think constantly  asking how it felt for me to do doing to for her probably helped her a bit too. It was like looking on the bright side almost.

I guess it was probably good for the two of us to go through this role-reversal for a while, but hopefully Soph will be back to her normal self soon