Cat’s story

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One of my pet peeves is that people see me and think I am unhappy – But in so many ways my life is way more fulfilling than people assume. For some reason people think I am a sad case, or won’t succeed in life. One really common thing I get is people saying ‘we’ve never seen someone like you do that.’ I hate those words – ‘someone like you.’

Disabled people have to do some things in a different way. It’s called adaptation. Just because there’s a different way – doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way.

Even when I am getting on with things in public, like for example doing my job as a physio, I’ll get lots of questions about what I am capable of. I don’t need help with tasks unless I ask. It undermines my independence.

People love to stare. I get it, I have scars. But I do have to give myself different reasons about why I get stared at all the time. I have to tell myself they like my outfit. Otherwise it would get to me more I think. I’ve learned to block it out. To them I am a brand new story or a novelty but for me it gets old. I’d rather they didn’t talk to me at all to be honest.

Recently I’ve started telling people I used to be a spy. I don’t want to relive my trauma every day for total strangers. It’s not that I mind sharing my story. I just want to be able to choose the context. I do work as a motivational speaker. If you want to hear my story, you’ll have to pay!

Often disabled people are inspiration porn for everyone to feel better about their lives. I am not a museum. I don’t exist to make you feel better about yourself.

Something particular to my disability is that my scars are so visible. It frustrates me that people equate scars with weakness. It’s a strength. It’s the total opposite. When you’re fighting every day – you get pretty strong.

I want to ask people to stand beside me, not work against me. Seeing me as an equal not someone different. I don’t mind people being curious but the order is important. Get to know me first. Then get to know my disability. You can’t tell someone in the street everything about you.

Getting to know someone takes time. I’d appreciate it if people took time to get to know me. I am a person with a disability – not a disability with a person attached.

I totally get that the story of my accident is inspirational – I know to some degree that going out with my scars on show – that can be inspirational for people. Knowing how I overcame adversity etc, but living my life is just inspiring – it’s not inspiring that I have a job. Thoughtless comments about that can be intrusive and dehumanising.

One of the most annoying things is stuff like when people say ‘Good for you.’ It’s really patronising. They also say – you’re still so beautiful. It’s the ‘still’ that people with impairments really hate. What is that supposed to mean?