I’m back with an update that explains what has been affecting my wellbeing since July 2021 and contributing to my online absence.
My mental wellbeing has suffered a lot since I last posted. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs mostly due to the stress of having to recruit Personal Assistants and contemplating moving out of my parent’s house for what will be the 3rd time. My wellbeing improved when I received my budget but the stress of moving creates its own anxieties and challenges.
I’m receiving help from my local mental health centre and attend sessions once a week. I also signed up for an online mental health platform called SpokzPeople. I wanted to write a post for mental health awareness day but was too overwhelmed to post anything. Mental health is important and not just one day a year. Wellbeing is becoming more prominently talked about since the Ukraine crisis. While that situation is terrible, poor mental health can be triggered and improved by small events too. Talk to someone if you are feeling low or struggling no matter what the reason.
At the start of the first lockdown in 2020, I had so many plans for the upkeep of my wellbeing, so many tours and shows to watch online and accessible fitness classes for disabled people were being launched. Then I caught COVID-19 and it all went to hell.
One of the main things I realised after venturing outside again was how weak I was. It wasn’t all to do with being ill. I’d spent the best part of a year in a home where everything was adapted to my needs. This meant I wasn’t struggling to transfer. This was great at the time and a boast to my mental and physical health that most of my pain disappeared but without the daily struggle my body got lazy and I’m still not back to how I was.
In August 2020, I applied for and was given some resistance bands. The scheme run by Wheelpower is now open again. If successful they will post the bands to your home and their website has lots of videos with classes and ideas of how to use them.
I have now signed up for both the yoga and exercise classes starting next week. I’m hoping to get myself in shape. Wish me luck.
Dancing with Motionhouse
As I type this it’s our first performance this evening of Wondrous Stories on Thursday 17th March. If you’re in or near Birmingham we are performing in Centenary Square till Sunday 20th March as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival. Our 8.30 pm performance is being live-streamed on Friday 18th for those who cannot make it in person. Dance and more importantly my teammates in Freewheelin’ Dance have an enormous, positive impact on my wellbeing.
Watch the Wondrous Stories from Friday 18th here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGTukQOMTkI
Wheelchairs and Wellbeing
Without my wheelchair, my wellbeing would suffer. My wheelchair is my legs and my independence, which is why I’m still searching for a suitable backup chair for when my Powerchair goes wrong. More on this when I have more time, with pictures I promise.
Recruiting PA’s for future wellbeing
Ever since I received my care package in June 2021. I’ve been trying to recruit people to assist me. I’m now having some success but writing and posting ads, conducting video interviews with the help of an advocate and then meeting people face to face has taken over my life. I’m hopeful I now have a good team and will write about my recruitment process in a future post.
Contingencies for my wellbeing
Contingencies, plans for what happens if my PAs are off work, are doing my head in at the moment. I’ve been looking at agency cover but the average cost of an agency in my area is £23 per hour and my council pays just under £16 agency rate. Next month my team will be on minimum wage pay as the council rate for Direct Payments hasn’t gone up for a least ten years. I know there are many people asking for a pay rate increase on the Direct Payment scheme across many different councils.
I’m still studying for my certificate in journalism under the ADJ but due to the above, I haven’t managed to progress much. I’m really enjoying the course so far and thankful that the tutors and organisers are understanding when life gets in the way. I hope to complete this qualification before Christmas. Excuse me for mentioning that holiday before November!
I’ve always loved dogs. They make me smile from ear to ear! It’s always been a goal of mine to have a four-legged PA and thanks to Canine Partners it’ll happen. Canine Partners train assistance dogs for disabled people. The main tasks for me will be opening/closing doors, picking up anything I drop and assisting me with my coat. I’m hopeful this will mean I can leave the house independently. This will help my wellbeing massively both mentally and physically if I can do things on my own without asking for human help. If only dogs had opposable thumbs… 😂
Volunteering with Disability Horizons
I’m still part of the amazingly supportive Disability Horizons, I’ve just been doing less, mainly due to the time and energy recruitment was taking. I have several stories to edit and a few reviews planned so I hope you’ll keep your eyes peeled. Working with like-minded people gives me a boost and lessens the feeling that I’m struggling alone.
Collective voices create change and better wellbeing for all.
Lastly, I’m a member of several survey and disability groups that ask my opinion on different things. Disability Horizons has just started asking people to sign up to assist with market research. Another well-known company is Open Inclusion. There is also The Diversity Standards Collective which pays £10 per survey they send you. I’m not being paid to mention these and they may be others. These are just the companies I am part of and I find it interesting to share my views and hear of others’ experiences as well. The more disabled people provide feedback about products and services the more inclusive the world will be.