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all disabled and sexual features opinion

Disabled and Sexual: How Internalised Ableism Gave me Sexual Imposter Syndrome

Disabled and Sexual is a new monthly(-ish) column by Hannah Shewan Stevens which will explore all the challenges, comedy, and fun that disabled people experience as sexual beings, even while we are desexualised by a predominantly non-disabled society.


In daily life, the words ‘I am an imposter’ play on an interminable loop in my head. Most of the time, I shrug them off and dive back into whatever I’m doing, but when those words pop up during sex they are much harder to ward off.

Those words are also the reason you’re reading my second column a lot later than I intended. The original theme of this month’s column was very different and although you will still read it in June, these words just had to come first.

Every time I sat down to write, I felt like the word ‘imposter’ was emblazoned across my forehead.

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all Essays opinion

We Need Accessibility This Mental Health Awareness Week, not Pretty Speeches

Trigger warning: this article mentions suicidal thoughts and suicide, in particular the deaths by suicide of Robin Williams and Caroline Flack.


The moment I opened my Twitter feed on Monday morning, I was greeted by the hashtag I’d secretly been dreading: #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

This isn’t because I’m against raising awareness, quite the opposite, but I emphatically dislike the way in which lip service is paid to mental health rather than genuine support. Most of the people I see on my socials share the same disillusionment. We’re tired of being told to reach out when in need, that everyone understands, only to be met with indifference when we act on this.

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all Essays opinion

I’m Struggling Through my Latest Lupus Relapse – and That’s Okay to Admit

Today is World Lupus Day, on this day I usually spread awareness and my own story but this year it feels different. After mostly being in remission and only getting the occasional flare for the past six years, my Lupus is relapsing and I’m feeling the affects much worse than I had.

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all Essays opinion

How my Chinese heritage made me feel ashamed about being disabled

Disability and mental health; these two concepts stimulate a huge amount of taboo within the Chinese culture. Growing up, these were rarely discussed and on the rare occasion that my parents or other adults did mention them, it was always with a negative undertone and conveyed the message that these individuals were somehow weaker and less deserving.

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all Essays opinion Pain chronicles

Pain Chronicles: Rosie Jones and Straddling the Intersection

Pain Chronicles is a new monthly(-ish) column from Caroline McDonagh-Delves about coming to terms with living with a chronic illness. It will include funny stories and brutal honesty, with some thrown in chats with her mum Shaz, and other friends too, along the way.

Rosie Jones and I have a few things in common. We’re both Northern. We’re both pricks. We both have gigantic tits. And we’re both disabled lesbians.

And when I saw her walk on to the set of The Russell Howard Show and said she couldn’t process those ideas, she could only fit one “different” thing in her life, and therefore she believed she wasn’t gay, I understood where she was coming from. Sort of.

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all opinion

Do You Think Attitudes to Epilepsy Have Changed? Well, Maybe.

Trigger Warnings: Discriminatory attitudes to disability, discussion of asylum treatment methods, discussion of mental health, historic offensive language describing seizures

Author’s note: Some of the language used is now considered to be offensive, similarly they mention historical treatments which are also considered offensive and awful now. The language used is quoting what is used in the video – and it is important to use these quotes fully. 

It was ‘Epilepsy Awareness Day’ or ‘Purple Day’ on 26th March, where people wear purple to raise awareness about the realities of epilepsy. During the promotional build-up, UK-based charity ‘Epilepsy Action’ tweeted a video from 1957 highlighting historic attitudes to epilepsy. They asked, “Do you think attitudes have changed?” As I watched the video with horror and sadness at the stigma people lived with, my initial reaction was a resounding, YES.

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Mask Exempt Disabled People Have the Right to Shop in Peace

Almost 25% of the British population are disabled, not every disabled person is required to shield, or may be mask exempt, but myself and millions of others are. So we should be entitled to exercise that right without fear of repercussions.

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NICE’s Worrying New Chronic Pain Guidelines

It’s the summer of 2012. I am still at university, using the very last of the term-length pool membership I’d bought. I swim 2 miles. That’s 128 lengths of a 25m pool. The walk back up to the main campus is hard, steep and my bag is heavy with my wet costume. I collapse onto my bed. My hands hurt, but four or five doctors can’t tell me why that is. My knees hurt, but after three doctors, I saw one specialist who said it should clear up by the time I’m 20, which I turned last month. I swallow a dihydrocodeine and sleep for 8 hours.

The NICE guidelines released on 7th April recommend analgesics not be used for primary chronic pain. What they do recommend is exercise, antidepressants, acupuncture, and psychological therapies. Paracetamol and ibuprofen, possibly some of the most widely taken drugs outside of penicillin, that usually cost about 20p for a box of 16, they also can’t recommend. 

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I’m not Responsible for the Misconception That all Disabled People are Asexual

There wasn’t much time between when I realised I was asexual and when I was diagnosed as autistic – only around a year. Ironically, the first person I ever came out to was a therapist I only saw once, when I originally began to fall into the mental health crisis causing the realisation that I was autistic. It’s been six years since then, and I’m still asked – or alternatively told – whether the two are one and the same.

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all features opinion

As an Autistic Person, I’m Tired of Autism Awareness Day

Every year, as April approaches, I always find myself feeling a bit off-colour. My mood dips, my anxiety spikes and I have a much shorter fuse than I usually do. For a long time, I never really understood why the month bothered me so much. Then, as March drew to a close, it hit me. Autism Awareness Day was coming. And I couldn’t be less enthusiastic for it if I tried.

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