To celebrate #disabilitypride month, we wanted to tell you our dancer's stories. This is Hannah's story:
My name is Hannah and I am totally awesome! I am sporty, creative, musical and driven. I am also disabled. I had the dream career and ultimate lifestyle living and working as a ski instructor in Canada, I had worked hard to get there and loved it. It all came crashing down when I contracted the flu and had multiple seizures back to back which essentially wiped my brain leaving me to have to learn to walk, talk and function all over again. This was 6 years ago, but I have been left with multiple chronic health issues which have had a life changing impact on my life, but it hasn't stopped me chasing dreams. My mobility is affected, my cognitive function isn't what it was, fatigue plays a big part in my life and several organs don't function the way they used to. My health can fluctuate quite a bit, some days I don't look or feel disabled but other days it's very noticeable I have a disability.
Learning triggers and how my conditions interact with other has been a long and challenging learning curve but as I understand my body more, I can manage my conditions so much better. I find having a fluctuating conditions quite hard to deal with emotionally. Some days I feel great and like things are going well and getting better but then I can relapse and it is so frustrating, as sometimes it is just out of my control and I find that hard. It also makes it harder to plan things as I never know what my body will do!
As an ambulatory wheelchair user, I can definitely feel judged by people who don't understand that some wheelchair users can walk, and that they may be using a wheelchair for so many different reasons.
I am pretty good at advocating for myself now and asking for help when needed but that wasn't always easy! People can sometimes assume I can do more than I actually can, or they don't understand why I say no to things or why I can struggle with what is seemingly simple task because my brain and body just can't do what it used to. As I have developed many 'tricks and tools' or routines to help in day to day life. As soon as I deviate from my routine, I struggle which can come as a shock to people and I just have to remind them of my limits.
Some days it truly sucks, other days I am grateful. I wouldn't choose this life, but I can't change it so just accept it and roll with it!
There are really tough days when you wished you could do everything and anything you wanted without being limited by pain, energy, accessibility or payback the next day.
On the other hand I have been given some truly amazing opportunities, got to meet incredible people and have such an appreciation for the small things and celebrate the small wins as well as the big ones.
I definitely feel as though having a strong support system with friends, family and sports/creative opportunities keep me going and able to do so much.
Having a disability is not a negative thing in my eyes, its just a part of who I am alongside all my other characteristics.
We are still humans with emotions, needs and dreams! That everyone with a disability has their own story, experience and views and none of them will be the same but they are all equal, valid and important. That it is expensive being disabled-google basic stuff and we don't get it all free! People shouldn't judge someone with a disability whether they are using various aids, need extra time, may have odd quirks or finding life hard. They will just be doing what is right for them, in their own way and in their own time. We want to be as independent as possible and get as much joy out of life as want.
"Becoming disabled can happen to anyone at any time. You just have to think of it as a new chapter in life and you can write the rest of the story how you like!"