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Beatrix’s Recs: Four Brilliant Creators Merging Expression and Disability Awareness!

In honour of Disability Awareness Week, PEACH has teamed up with our brilliant QMSU Disabled and SLD rep, Beatrix, to spotlight some of Beatrix’s personal favourite creators and expressers currently focused on disability awareness. We hope you enjoy their work as much as we do!

Hemali Depala (she/her)

We’re kicking it off in our backyard! Hemali Depala is a QM student and the founder of The Hema Life.

Hemali on The Hema Life: The Hema Life started off as a lockdown project. I was shielding at the time, not having stepped foot outside my house for about 2 months! I wanted to give voice to my experiences as a person living with a medical condition and a largely invisible disability. I post lifestyle pieces on mental health, disability and my life experiences with the occasional think-piece/review!

Why we think Hemali’s great: Hemali writes on the intersectional relationship between different disabilities. She writes with great care, merging the learning she has gained from both her studies and her own experiences into an accessible format through a voice that is a joy to read.

Where you can find Hemali:

Website: thehemalife.co.uk

Instagram: @thehemalife

Ellie Mcgrath (she/her)

Staying in our own backyard, our next spotlight is on recent QM alum Ellie Mcgrath!

Ellie in her own words: Podcaster, public speaker, writer, and proud mental health advocate. It all began when I started my podcast, Practice Makes Progress, which encourages open, honest and stigma-free conversation about our mental health. I spent so many years hiding my mental illness because I didn’t think it was normal to struggle. It was only until I went through counselling and started talking about my feelings that I realised other people (even strangers) could relate. So, I started this podcast to empower others to tell their story, help those listening feel less alone and start making the uncomfortable, comfortable.

Why we think Ellie’s great: Why we think Ellie is great can also be summed up in her own words. Ellie ‘[encourages]’ open, honest & stigma-free conversation about mental health’, bringing a lack of judgement and strong relatability to conversations around mental health that are often difficult to broach without a feeling of unsafety.

Where you can find Ellie:

Website: elliemcgrath.co.uk

Facebook: Practice Makes Progress

Instagram: @practicemakesprogress_pod

Spotify Podcasts: Practice Makes Progress

Shona Sawhney (she/her)

Our next spotlight is on the digital artist and dentistry student, Shona Sawhney!

Shona on the drive behind the piece above and having to tackle unsolicited advice on chronic illness: For the first few months of my symptoms, unsolicited advice made me feel extremely stressed and almost angry. It almost came to the extent that if someone offered advice to me that I felt made me feel criticised or stressed, I often stopped talking to that person regarding how I was feeling. 

As time has passed, I have noticed that with unsolicited advice, although some may have negative intentions, the majority for me has come from motives that are pure. Nonetheless, although being harmless, it is not helpful either, and usually, it is not relevant to my situation. 

Usually nowadays when speaking about how I feel to friends or family, I explain that at the moment I just need someone to listen to me and how I feel, and not try to solve my problem and offer advice. I feel with chronic illness learning to manage unsolicited advice is so important because realistically it will be given to you frequently. But when it is from people I am close to, I remember to tell myself that they have good intentions. However, I also remind them that, at this current time, I don’t need a solution to my pain because if there was a clear solution, believe me, I would have tried it! 

Don’t feel guilty if you find it hard to accept unsolicited advice, it is not something you ought to be grateful for and do not feel bad rejecting it ❣

Why we think Shona’s great: Shona’s work reflects the nuance of living with a chronic illness in a way that pushes beyond the sometimes-reductive experience of writing. Her work merges visual art with writing on her own experiences to depict the emotional and physical navigation of chronic illness in a visceral and beautiful way.

Where you can find Shona:

Instagram: @shocreates

Ryan Raghoo (he/him)

Ryan on Enabled Not Disabled: Enabled Not Disabled’s mission is to change the way people talk about disability. Rather than thinking what can’t [people with disabilities] do, let’s ask, what can you do? How can we empower you? We deliver educational workshops in schools/colleges/universities and businesses to break down barriers and stigma attached to disability. By having open conversations, we are helping to create a more accessible world. My ultimate aim is for people with disabilities to live in a world that values them, where they can thrive, not have to fight for access all the time.

Why we think Ryan’s great: Ryan uses his experiences with disabilities and his career as a para-athlete to shift the narrative on disability awareness. Through Enabled not Disabled, Ryan offers easy-to-access, virtual and in-person training courses, re-centring the voices of people with disabilities within conversations on equality and accessibility.

Where you can find Enabled not Disabled:

Website: https://www.enablednotdisabled.org/

Instagram: @enablednotdisabled

Twitter: @ENABLED_change