Redefining Success As A Disabled Person – TEDx 2019

pippa sat on edge of stage at TEDx, iconic red carpet and lettering in background. Pippa is wearing a burgandy long sleeved top, black jeans and black pumps.

In December 2019, I took on one of the most nerve-wracking challenges of my life and gave a TEDx talk in York. You can watch the talk on YouTube, and below you’ll find a blog post equivalent of what I wanted to say… all about redefining success as a disabled person. I really hope it gives you some food for thought!

So, I’m the kind of disabled person you don’t see in the media. I haven’t climbed a mountain, I haven’t defied the odds and become a medical miracle, and I have no plans whatsoever to compete in the Paralympics.

Instead, I was lucky enough to acquire a debilitating chronic illness as a teenager. It took five years to find my diagnosis, and even then I was left with no prognosis, no targeted treatment, and no cure. In fact, all I had back then was just a handful of leaflets, some prescription painkillers, and a questionably wobbly wheelchair who I proudly named George Ezra.

I had to recalibrate my entire young adult life to accommodate my illness and really, this is where the trouble first began.

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Finding Accessible Work With A Chronic Illness

image taken from above of silver laptop open on white bedsheets with hands typing on keyboard, iphone laid on the left hand side

So, let’s talk about working with a chronic illness.

Since I started blogging, there’s one question I’ve consistently been asked more than any other: how I find my flexible, work from home opportunities. As a self-employed chronically ill writer, I currently split my time between consultancy and content creation in the charity sector, freelance writing and editing, blogging and social media shenanigans, running my social enterprise (Spoonie Survival Kits), and incessantly guzzling tea whilst making extensive to-do lists.

You can find out a bit more about my background here, and read more about my personal career journey so far (including employment and self-employment!) in this post.

This post first came about rather spontaneously, following preparations for a livestream where I was to discuss accessible employment and managing work with a chronic illness. It was whilst doing my prep that it hit me: although there are a fair few of us talking about our personal experiences, there isn’t really a great deal of practical support and signposting to actual resources and opportunities.

So, that’s led me here: to a blog post hastily put together before the livestream, which I’ve since returned to and have been expanding ever since. It’s no secret that there simply aren’t enough flexible opportunities out there for chronically ill people, with many employers yet to realise they’re missing out on a huge wealth of talent, but I’m working on it. And in the meantime, I hope these resources go some way in helping others to kick-start their own careers.

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