Please Don’t Touch Me – A Response To #JustAskDontGrab

If you follow my personal twitter, you’ll be familiar with my pinned tweet.

You’d think this was just common sense. But you’d be surprised how many tweets like this are screamed into the ether that is twitter.

My own lived experience of this is personal to me. I am aware that I have the inherant privilege that comes from being a middle xlass white woman raised in the south of England. When people touch my chair, they’re often quite taken aback when they are lectured by a stern BBC British accent that occasionally verges on the clipped tones of Mary Poppins.

I have grown accustomed to being leaned over in supermarkets and often pushed out of the way like an abandoned shopping trolley.

My standard response is to put on my brakes & request their name as grabbing a mobility aid without consent is assult (by UK law the act of pushing is assault, if they continue to push without consent this begins to border on kidnap).

Now, the act of putting the brakes on suddenly causes a few issues. Firstly momentum dictates that I’ll likely be tipped out if they shove too hard (I have an active user chair that’s designed to be “tippy” to make it more maneuverable). This is a calculated risk – if I do fall, that’s probably a few dislocations & potential for fractures because I’m what happens after elastagirl retires.

So I had my own way of dealing with what I thought was just an irritation. Then I saw a tweet thread that made me realise quite why I insisted on paying an extra £150 for tiny folding habdles on my chair (it’s a deterrent, but people still grab / shove the back of my chair).

This tweet by @BergBronwyn made me realise that the reason I get so cross with being moved is that I feel vunerable in my chair.

But it wasn’t just the tweet that caused concern, it was the streams of responses from people who saw no issue with taking away someone’s autonomy. I’ve made no effort to hide identities because it’s already in the public domain and this type of behaviour should be called out.

I’m still unable to work out if @chadwhite45 was a troll or just completely ignorant.

And he persisted:

And he certainly wasn’t alone in mocking her – some of these are ableism at its finest:

And since this reached so many people, I was really shocked that many were blissfully unaware of the increased risks when you are disabled.

  • As a disabled woman you’re twice as likely to be a victim of violent assault.
  • As a disabled woman, you’re twice as likely to have been sexually assaulted in the past 12 months
  • 1 in 5 of disabled women reported financial, physical, or sexual abuse from a partner – for both men & women, this statistic was twice as high as non-disabled people.

It’s no wonder that we feel more vunerable. And of course this is fuelled further by the fact that if I’m pushing my chair & you push it suddenly, I run the risk of wrist, elbow, or even shoulder dislocations. Even without EDS, an unexpected push could cause damage to the limbs that we need to be mobile!

It’s also really scary. I can only compare it to walking happily along when a complete stranger picks you up & carries you off. You have no idea why, or whether you’ll be hurt. But we can avoid these with two simple rules:

  1. Ask if we need help
  2. If we say no, then don’t assume you know better

So seeing as I’ve quoted many tweets throughout this post, I’ll end with what I thought was the best response of all.

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Six Confused Women

…Sat at their desks and discussed how they “talk to their audience”. One in particular struck a chord with me – I know I need to sell, but I’m also putting myself out there for my audience & sharing a bit of me.

One of the ideas was to use snapchat to share “behind the scenes” peeks at what she does.

So at the risk of showing you how little I currently move from my 9sq ft, here’s my snapchat link – I’m going to give it a shot showing you behind the scenes of an online tutor & writer with the added twist of working for yourself when you’re sick.

See you there!

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

I have a confession to make. I didn’t make it to Easter.

Baking soda, I have cheated on you. It isn’t you. No, actually it IS you. You’re messy, and smell weird and I can’t take you out anywhere. I shampooed my hair, and it was good. It lathered, and I did it again. I feel a bit bad for not lasting the whole 40 days.

I just needed to feel presentable. And to top it off I put tips on my nails too. So I now have gel tips with sparkly blue varnish and a bath full of bubbles.

Is it helping me think clearer? Well, no. Not really. But the simple act of painting my nails did give me something to focus on other than the incessant to do list that keeps being shouted from all directions from in and outside my head. I didn’t help myself yesterday by digging my heels in and refusing to answer the emails about small things. They could wait for Monday morning – no one is going to die if I don’t answer the email now. Ah, but it did mean that the first four hours of Monday morning I needed to grow an extra pair of arms so that I could teach and respond to everyone that was asking for ‘just five minutes’.

But I did it, and I finished the day with most of my to do list complete. Now, what I need is the mental chatter to quit thinking of extra things for me to do. Stop singing weird 90s songs at me. Stop giving me a running monologue of what I’m doing. I don’t need a theme tune. And if I did, I don’t want it to be something recognizable from Adventure Time! I also don’t need to be reminded of tomorrow’s to do list at 3am. Let it go brain, there’s nothing I can, or will do at 3am about the papers that need marking. 3am marking will do no good for me or the students. That road leads to bad things, and lots of coffee.

Being mindful is harder than it looks. Especially when your brain is on overdrive and a seemingly silent room is full of voices yelling about stuff you should be doing instead of resting.

Monumental Monday!

Just like hundreds of others I got stuck in the freak March snow in the south of England this evening. It may not look that impressive, but five hours to do 20 miles wasn’t my kind of fun. Especially when I left work at 5pm for a change. And don’t mention needing to pee!

No gritting (that anyone had seen), no winter tyres and lots of people with no concept of how to drive on ice. 4 people span in front of me, and so many bent cars at the side of the road.

Proof that we’re not cut out for this weather. Although the guys pushing cars up the hill were brilliant.

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(Before anyone panics, the camera was set up with voice control. Lurve my iPhone!)

#MeaningfulMonday – resilience

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This week’s word is ‘Resilience’.

What does it mean to you? Are you resilient? Does it make life better? Does it cause harm?

Remember to link your blog here via the comments below & link back to this post on your blog (otherwise people won’t join in!)

So, I’ll go first:

This weekend TinyPants (my 6 year old) told me that she had been given a worry ball at school and that she had to squeeze it whenever she was worried about something.

Hang on a minute. This sounds like resilience class. I had expressly told the school that I did not consent to her attending. Cue angry mummy. But not with TinyPants.

Why can’t she attend these sessions? What’s so awful? Why don’t you want her to be resilient? All fair questions, and I’ll admit it does make me seem like a bit of a weird parent to suggest I don’t want my child being given help for mental health in the classroom.

My issue with these sessions is the way in which mental health, and specifically anxiety is dealt with. The saying “worries worries go away” made me choke on my coffee. Ok, firstly why does a six year old need to worry at school? What is making this child anxious? (And she’s not particularly anxious) The best way to find this out is to TALK to the child. Let them draw with you and just talk. Don’t tell them that worries are bad and that they should be shut away!

Yes, many anxieties are things we can’t change, but a primary school child won’t understand the idea of creating inner peace. What they need is a responsible adult to show them that when they are worried, someone will listen to them.

My girls attend a Catholic run school, and I’m genuinely concerned that the awful revelations over the past years have not provided a lesson that has been learnt. Don’t tell children to ignore the bad stuff. This leads to years of silence when something awful does happen.

Don’t show them that bottling things up is healthy. Show them that the adults that care for them will listen, will take them seriously and won’t brush things under the carpet. That way, we will have a generation of children with far less anxiety than their parents.

In the words of Crosby, Steele, Nash & Young : Teach your children well.

Your turn my lovelies.