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The Worst Thing About My Disability

Youngcare team at their Strategic Planning Day January, 2019

“What’s the worst thing about my disability? Not being able to go to the toilet when I need to go away from home…

From a young age, I have experienced acute anxiety as a result of this. Unfortunately, for me this tends to manifest itself with stomach pain, often making it difficult for me to ascertain whether I actually need to go to the toilet, or whether it’s ‘just the anxiety’.

Usually, the worst of the anxiety occurs on a work day. Today marks 4 years for me as a Youngcare Australia employee, so it also marks the 4-year anniversary of my personal care routine. This was crucial to ensuring that I could perform at my best at the office, and elsewhere.

I get up really early. I have a shower. I have my phone with me, and I turn on a podcast. And I sit. And I sit. And I sit. For anywhere between 90 minutes and two hours.

I have a number of markers that I use to determine whether I have completed my task to my satisfaction. 99% of the time I am perfectly fine, but I live in fear of that 1%.

The fear, causes panic attacks. Often there are several per morning, in between the time where I leave my apartment, and when I arrive at my office door. In between, that hour long trip is by far the worst part of my week. I used to read my Kindle, to drown the negative voices in my head, which keep telling me that my worst fear will come true. But that only worked infrequently.

‘You are nowhere near a toilet and you will make a fool of yourself. Everyone will know. You’re not 36 anymore. You are that four-year-old boy who couldn’t articulate that you needed help and made a giant mess, which someone else had to clean up.’

Understandably, when I restarted my counselling last year this is the largest issue I wanted to tackle. Two months ago, I came to the conclusion that taking my Kindle to work was not working for me. Instead I bought myself a very expensive pair of headphones with the intent of drowning out the negative voices, into more productive voices that discuss things like the NBA, the Oscars, or the 2020 election. On particularly bad days sometimes I need to ditch the podcast altogether, and just turn up music to full volume.

Anxiety takes many forms, sometimes you can see it, more often than not you cannot. My particular brand will be with me every time I exit my house. I am sure I am not alone in this. If you see me on the train know that I may seem OK on the outside, but on the inside I’m telling myself that today my stomach pain is just anxiety… I hope.

If you have a similar brand of anxiety, this is to show you that you are not alone.” – Todd

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