Since being diagnosed with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia over a decade ago, and becoming a wheelchair user, I have gone on a roller-coaster ride which has taken me to some areas which are very dark indeed.
Learning to live with a disability has taught me what it feels like not to belong. It has also taught me about loss; loss of identity, work, friendship, love, self-esteem.
But there is a side to this journey which is (surprisingly) captivating, enlightening, and sometimes very funny. Now that I have some experience living as a person with a disability, the logistical difficulties have become less figural for me. My real interest is sparked by the resilience, tenacity and grace generated by my people. They are extraordinary!
Sometimes disability is completely invisible. And sometimes disability is attributed to people who are flawed but actually able-bodied.
Flaws are common to us all, and can be astonishingly beautiful. I believe that we need to savour them so that the myth of perfection which is relentlessly pushed at us can be debunked. We need to connect with the truth of ourselves; with our native humanness. I want to work on creating a society where disability is as plain as the nose on your face; after all, it is simply part of human variation, not something to be reviled and turned away from.
People panic when they are confronted with disability; and in their panic, focus on the differences instead of the things we have in common.
I am excited every day, working as Artistic Director of Raspberry Ripple and working with disabled and non-disabled performers to tell tales of difference; it is both a metamorphosis and a coming home for me.
It is time for people with disability to take up some space.