Monday 19 September 2016


There is a cycle of acceptance for many things. Addiction. Depression. Grief. And disability.

The cycle, or circle is the same for all of them. Tediously so, at times, or so it feels. Everyone goes through it, everyone experiences it. Some faster than others. Some of us were born this way. Some of us acquired this way. This way is different by necessity, not by choice.

At times it can seem like choice has been removed. As though you will never have control again. You have to ask for help because nothing will happen if you don't. You have to be honest because nothing will happen if you don't. You can say goodbye to your pride, some of your friends, some of your aspirations and some of your ambitions.

Time passes.

You get help. The forces for good rally, slowly but surely. Some friends stay and some reappear. Some hobbies stay and some disappear. Sometimes it's unbearably hard and you don't know how you'll get through the day, never mind your life.

And then something changes. And there isn't a timeline on that. There isn't a judgement that anyone gets to make on that. Not unless you've been through it yourself. You'll be told that your pain is only worse because you're depressed. You'll be told to pull your socks up. You'll be told you're a downer and people don't want that negativity in their life. You'll believe those things. For a while.

And then one day you won't. One day, without noticing, you'll start to put the pieces back together again. Your life will be different. What you used to be able to achieve will be a distant memory. You I will find new aspirations, new ambitions, some new friends, a lot of new ways of doing things. You will take nothing for granted and no kindness will pass unmarked. The world will look different to you and it will be for the better.

You will find coping mechanisms. They will be many. You will find inspiration in the strangest of places, find yourself crying at the oddest of things. You will make decisions that before were incomprehensible, with a calmness and equanimity that you didn't know you possessed. You will find yourself, your true self, stripped as it is of ego, of expectations, of pride and irrelevance.

Some will find it in sport. Some will find it in new hobbies which become new jobs. Some will find new jobs that fit better. Some will find campaigning. Some will find writing. Some will find mentoring and supporting others through the long hard journey they've just clawed their way through.

Whatever it is, however it is, whoever it is, I believe that the Paralympics have their place in this. I believe that challenging peoples of views of ability and disability, of darkness and light, of assumptions and judgements can only be a good thing. The Paralympics are a brief interlude of acceptance and celebration that increasingly lead us to ask why?

Why do we have to have 'special' ad breaks?
Why are there no cameras at parasport events between those 4 year interludes?
Why is my television so bereft of role models in between those 4 years interludes?
Why do I have to be superhuman to be accepted, to be visible, to be worth something?
Why does everyone have to have a story?

In order for the increasing upward swerve of the Paralympics to have legacy, we must ask these questions. And we must answer them. Otherwise, a 4 yearly lip service becomes meaningless.

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