#ThingsILearnedtoAccept

The above hashtag has been trending on Twitter today. I soon as I saw it I knew that I just had to contribute. The differences between how I think and feel about my disability, and perhaps more importantly, how I thought others think and felt abut my cerebral palsy, have changed drastically over the past two years since I started filming Employable Me.

It’s been a year since the series aired now (yes, really) and people still stop me in the street to tell me how watching my journey impacted them. Yes, the series ultimately led to me getting a job, but it changed my life in so many other vital ways that there is no way I could do them justice in a single tweet, so I thought I’d blog about them instead.

The only person who expected me to be at my physical best all the time was myself

Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that no one expected me to have my ‘best days’ every day. People know that there are some days that I might need to move around less than others, or stretch more. They are okay with that. I was the person who wasn’t. And by trying to keep my pain to myself; to struggle doing things on my own just because I can usually, was just making my life more difficult unnecessarily.

No one actually minds if I take stretch breaks in the office

I used to worry that people would think I was being lazy or weak if I took a stretch break in the office. No one does. They prefer it because then I can concentrate better and actually perform better because of it.

Asking for help with the little things whenever I can actually makes life easier

Guess who actually asks bus drivers to get the ramps down on the bus if they don’t offer themselves? This girl! Guess who doesn’t feel guilty about it? Me again! And, best of all, guess who can actually admit that it annoys her if they don’t automatically ask me?

I know this sounds utterly bonkers now, but I never used to feel like it was acceptable to feel annoyed when things like this happen, or when a building doesn’t have and lift or ramp, or when there isn’t a dropped-kerb on the road so I can cross without having to lift my walking frame.

I used to feel like there was pressure to just accept these things without complaint. It turns out that vocalising these feelings in a polite way actually helps people understand the challenges I face in day-to-day life and the help I, and a lot of other people in similar situations, need.

My anxiety is something I’ll have to manage for the rest of my life, and that’s okay

I’ve struggled with anxiety, that often manifests itself as being afraid of germs, since I was about eight years-old. I’ve been in and out of therapy for it since I was about 10. I used to get incredibly frustrated that it was something that I couldn’t get away from, or ‘cure’ myself of completely.

Just when I thought things were simmering down, something would happen to trigger it again, which in turn would make me even more anxious to the point where even sitting still became impossible and I’d just pace the house muttering to myself and crying because I was worrying about so many things it was the only way I could focus on one thought at a time.

Accepting that flare ups are just going to be something that happens to me every now and then takes away that extra layer of anxiety, and ultimately, makes me it easier for me to manage my mental health the rest of the time.

There are so many more that I could mention, but I think this post is long enough for now, don’t you?

Back on the job hunt

Well everyone, after almost a year of full-time employment in digital communications I’m back on the job hunt again. My contract with my current employer has always been fixed-term.

My initial contract was only supposed to be for six months at first, but, by the time it ends on the last day of December, I’ll have been there (as a paid member of staff) for just two weeks shy of a whole year. I’ve actually been there a little long than that though, because I started as a volunteer before that.

I’m trying my best to to freak out too much. This time last year I was in my fifth year of unemployment after graduation, the BBC documentary that I took part in (Employable Me) hadn’t aired yet, and I was in a very strange kind of limbo between knowing that it wouldn’t be far away. My depression was so bad that I found it difficult to bring myself to get dressed every day.

Things have changed so much and I’ve mentally come a long, long way. I like to think I’m good at what I do (mostly social media-based things), and it turns out that I’ve become pretty confident at writing analytics reports, which is something I never thought I’d say. The sight of numbers usually makes my brain cry, so I’m actually, if I can be very un-British for a minute, pretty proud of myself.

There. I said it.

So yes, I’m back on the job hunt. I’m hoping it will be a bit easier this time around, now that I’ll have a year’s worth of experience under my belt.

Wish me luck,

Nic xx

Employable Me is airing in the Netherlands

This morning I woke up to a comment on one of my YouTube videos informing me that Employable Me is currently showing on TV in the Netherlands! Then, when I got home from work, I saw that people had e-mail this blog’s e-mail address to send their good wishes too.

If you’re here from the Netherland, Hallo and  dank je for taking the time to reach out to me. (I don’t speak dutch, so I’m going to trust that Google Translate is accurate. Sorry if I actually just offended you!)

It’s all a bit surreal. I always knew there was a possibility that something like this could happen, I just really didn’t think it would. Or I didn’t think anyone would be interested enough to track me down online to tell me, although I’m very glad you did.

This is what Employable Me is all about; spreading  the message as far as possible that disabled people can, and do, have jobs. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, with the right support, it will be possible.

Thank you for taking the time to watch the show and allowing me to share my journey with you.

Love, Nic (and my blue walking frame, called Ivy)

xx

My first month of full-time work

Can you guys believe it’s been a month since I started my new job? I can’t.

That means I have successfully managed to get up (and start work on time) four Monday mornings in a row. This might not sound like a big achievement, but let’s not forget I’d been unemployed for five and a half years until I got this job. Getting up early on a Monday morning hasn’t been a feature in my life for a loooong time, but I’m adjusting. I think…

Continue reading “My first month of full-time work”

I have a job!

There’s no denying that lots of exciting things have happened to me lately, but perhaps the most exciting thing of all is that I can finally say I have a job!

A full-time, paid job involving writing and social media and research and newswriting and all the things I love. It’s mine until July.

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Photo shows a mug with a finger pointing and the text ‘you’re hired’.

Nancy Doyle, the career psychologist from Employable Me, accidentally made me a cup of tea in this mug while we were filming the series. I took a picture because it made me laugh at the time, but I guess I have a legitimate reason to use it now!

I start tomorrow (Monday).

I am so relieved.

I have lots of amazing and exciting freelance projects on the go too. I’m still going to keep working on those during my evenings and weekends.

I’ve gone from being the least busy person ever to finally being able to justify buying a diary again, hence my almost crying in Waterstones incident the other day.

I’ve actually been volunteering a my workplace (ohmygosh I have a workplace) for a couple of months, so I already know the people and that the building is accessible, so I’m not as nervous as about my first day as I could be, but the nerves are still there.

I’ll keep you posted!

Nic xx