How do you see yourself?

I know that sometimes I overthink things. A little nagging thought gets into my brain and whirls around there for a while, demanding attention. When I think it’s time for a break, a cup of tea, to cook dinner or anything else that doesn’t take my full attention, that’s when that nagging thought will pop up to make me give it even more thought.

What is going round and round in my head at the moment?

As a person with disabilities, I am not shy in telling people about those disabilities. I write about them here, often. I feel that the more people know how we are affected by our disabilities, in the long run it will lead to a wider understanding.

My disabilities are part of who I am. I am 64, have blue hair and I’m sight impaired. My joints are rickety because of my age, my hair is blue because I love it this colour, and it helps if you don’t approach me from the left.

The question is – do people perceive me differently when they know of my disabilities? Do I perceive myself differently?

I use a walking stick when venturing out of my home. Most of the time I don’t have a problem with this at all. It’s a bit of extra support I need when the knee is giving me grief (or my back or my hips – take your pick.) I don’t think other people take this as a negative. Sometimes kind people will hold a door open to make it easier for me to get through, or offer me a seat on the bus.

At other times, when it’s getting dark or if there aren’t many people around where I’m passing through, or if I’m in an area with a reputation for being less safe than others, then I start to worry. My walking stick is an obvious indication that I am not physically as capable as others.

Does this make me vulnerable? Around my head goes a thought – if I were a predator looking for a victim, I would choose the weaker one that is less able to run or fight back.

So, I definitely have a different idea of who I am depending on the circumstances. Do other people find their view of themselves change according to what they are doing? I know that I have given quite an extreme example, and that in the greater scheme of things, there are far more reasonable people than those who would wish me harm, but the principle is the same in any area.

What sparked my round of thoughts this time? Bizarrely, an advert on TV. A cancer charity has an advert showing people affected by cancer. It is a moving advert and made for a good cause. It shows a woman who has had a mastectomy. The scarring has been covered by a brilliant tattoo. I thought how wonderful to go through all the pain and worry and come out of it proud and not ashamed to show the world.

How does she see herself? Probably the same as many of us – positive on some days, and not so much on others. How does the rest of the world view her? From that short snippet in the ad, I think she’s fantastic.

Portland Jones, Disabilities Liaison for Pagan Federation Midlands