‘May Require Heavy Lifting’: jobs and Disability

bad-job-interview.jpg

*RANT ALERT*

I’ve had some bad interviews recently. I mean, blog worthily bad.

I’ve always performed really well in interviews. Generally, if I’ve got my foot in the door I can get the job. This has changed recently, but I don’t think it’s entirely my fault.

I am dyspraxic, I have vertigo and I also have Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder. The way this affects me in regards to jobs are that I can’t lift heavy things, I can’t climb up high things and I can’t crawl around on the floor or anything like that. These shouldn’t really be a problem for me because I come from a writing background, so have worked in social media and copywriting for big well known brands. My disabilities never caused any issue in my past jobs.

I’ve had a couple of really weird interviews recently, in which the job descriptions did not reflect what they were looking for:

The Tea Company

This job looked fairly interesting. They were looking for a social media manager to lift the profile of their tea brand online. They had advertised for someone with copywriting, photography, SEO and general social media skills. This is pretty much what I’ve been up to for the past 4 years, so when I was contacted by a recruiter about it, I thought it seemed quite hopefully.

When I turned up to the interview it was very odd. They also owned a luxury home company, which they wanted help on social media with. I thought, that’s alright, I can do that. It suddenly turned to ‘well, you’d be on a building site most weeks’. Hang on a minute. How have we gone from social media manager for a tea company to walking around in a hard hat and up scaffolding?

He then asked ‘well, could you cope working with all the men on the building site?’ Firstly, if he’s trying to stereotype these men, e.g. they’re wolf whistling or whatever, that is their wrong, not mine for ‘not coping‘. Secondly, why would I be working with people on a building site as a social media manager. Maybe, I can imagine occasionally going to take some photos or something, but this seemed as if it was the main part of the job.

He’d done what SO many employers do and presumed that ‘most’ people can walk around on a building site, so why does it need mentioning? Of course it needs mentioning, you can’t make assumptions that everyone applying to a writing role would be physically able to do that. You haven’t advertised anything physical, so why should I know that will be expected of me?

I wonder, if I’d turned up using some form of mobility aid, whether he would have just rejected me immediately.

Also, when he left he said ‘oh don’t worry about paying for the teas we drank’. In the teashop he owns…thanks m8.

The School

This was one has upset me recently. I got rejected from this job, and I can’t claim it’s because I’m disabled, but there was something in the second stage interview that was odd.

This job was an office based job. The job description detailed social media management, website management, relationship outreach, copywriting and event planning. The first interview went really well and seemed very positive. I was there for 2 hours discussing all the ideas I had for events and we went on a tour of the school so I could see the facilities I could use if I worked there. I told the first person about how I may struggle with lifting heavy things at events as I have dyspraxia, but I’m very happy to help with all other setting up. They were absolutely fine with this and told me that the site manager usually does stuff like that.

I was invited to second stage interview and the day before my second interview, they wanted me to get my references to hand in personal and detailed references by the end of the day of my second interview-I thought this seemed quite positive too.

On the day of the second interview, I was interview by the deputy headmistress which went well. Then I was interview by another lady, who I hadn’t been told I’d be interviewed by. I was told she just wanted a ‘quick chat’. I thought it was that she wanted to meet the person she may be working with and to introduce herself/explain what she does.

Straight away she got a clipboard out and started grilling me. She briefly touched on my experience and made remarks such as ‘I see you have a lot of experience in social media, have you used Facebook before?’ COME ONN. If she’d actually read my C.V, she wouldn’t need to ask such a basic question.

She then really honed in on the event side of things. Her question was ‘how do you feel about getting really stuck in with setting up the events?’ My response was honest; ‘I’m very happy to get involved in as much as I can, but I can’t lift really heavy things because I have dyspraxia.’ She looked really taken aback and didn’t really respond. So I said ‘I was told the site manager usually helps with those things.’ She replied ‘well, yes, but I like to do it myself and get properly stuck in’.

For the rest of the interview, she spent the time craning her neck to look out of the window behind my head and didn’t really look at me again. I found it so rude and upsetting because it happened almost immediately after I’d said about heavy lifting. She made me feel like I should be embarrassed by my disabilities.

When I asked why I’d been rejected from the job they used the reason that I had less event management experience than the other candidate. Now of course, this other person probably was just more experienced than me, but It did make me wonder whether it was related to that strange reaction from that lady.

Some people have said to me that I should just nod along and say I’m happy to do these things. I don’t think I should have to. I have applied to jobs in good faith, thinking they have been advertised correctly. Yes, all jobs sometimes have extra duties not advertised, but these jobs main focuses were completely different to the advert.

I shouldn’t have to lie and risk hurting myself or someone else. Any job which may require heavy lifting or climbing up ladders etc should include that somewhere in the advert or they should be able to cope with someone who can’t do those things, but excels at the core parts of the job.

These are only a couple of experiences, but I’ve had so many where people have made me feel as if I’ve been a nuisance to them because I can’t lift heavy things. Trust me, it’s more annoying for me than you. Dyspraxia and hypermobility affect me every day of my life in lots of little and big ways. I’m incredibly adaptable because of this, but there are a few things I just can’t do, and that’s ok. I’ve been honest and applied to jobs which haven’t detailed those things I can’t do.

I just wish employers acknowledged that disabled people do exist, they do work, they all differ. I cannot begin to image what it is like for people who do use mobility aids or have  more physical disabilities than me, who have turned up to interviews like this-I’m sure it must happen often.

Also please advertise if you have an office dog! I love dogs so much, but I am incredibly allergic. Epipen level allergic. I know it must be annoying for people with dogs, but it’s worse for me. I need to know if there will regularly be a dog somewhere I’m regularly going to be. I won’t be able to take the job and everyone’s time will have been wasted if I go to interview…and I’ll just get sad that I can’t stoke the dog.

 

Invisible Disabilities and Gigs

an-argument-for-live-music1

So, I went to a gig last week. I’ve been going to gigs regularly for years, but over the past year my hypermobility and dyspraxia are manifesting themselves in a way that is making it really hard and painful for me to stand for long periods now. I always buy a seated ticket when available, but I’m finding it hard to accept not being able to go to gigs which aren’t in seated venues. Why should I miss out?

There are some gigs that I understand, aren’t suitable for me anymore, but the one I was at last week was far from it. The standing section had little cut out sections at the sides for disabled people, with seats and a little area of flat ground standing area (the venue had a sloped floor, which was really hard to stand on). I had spoken about not being able to stand very well (I also have a broken toe at the moment!) with the venue beforehand, but they said seating was not available. When I’d booked the gig, I hadn’t broken my toe, so I thought I’d just about manage standing. (I would probably have been wrong anyway!)

When I noticed the little area, I waited until the main band came on stage, to see if anyone else needed to use that area, and only two other people had gone in. So, I stood on the flat bit of floor at the very back of the area, in case others needed to use the chairs, or wheelchair users needed floor space. I felt happy, because I could cope better with standing on the flat floor.

About 3 songs into the main band, a lady in a wheelchair came into the area, so of course I moved further back to make sure she had enough room, then the security guard came in and told me to get out and that I wasn’t allowed to be there, it wasn’t for me. Then a large group of people dancing pushed past me to get in the space. I can’t comment about whether they were disabled, because this is the point of this blog. I don’t blame the security man, but this is an issue which is very prevalent in society. I felt really embarrassed and like I had to qualify my disabilities to him. Sometimes I feel ashamed, as if they think I’m lying, because I look fine.

We are so quick to judge people’s health or ability without knowing anything about them. I look like a ‘fit healthy young woman’, but I’m not. Some days, I can’t walk very well at all, and have to tape up my joints which are in shooting pain. Other days, I’m at the gym on the cross trainer (not being the most graceful though, I must add!). It’s confusing for me, so I know it must be confusing for others.

A lot of health and disabilities fluctuate massively, so why can’t we get this is our heads? And it’s not just able bodied people who do this, people with health conditions do it to.

My friend has hEDS, Fibromyalgia and POTS and uses a wheelchair or a walking stick. She was sitting behind a counter at work and a man who was a wheelchair user buying a ticket from her said ‘you don’t know what it’s like to be disabled!’ I’m sure, he must’ve been having a particularly bad day and was feeling frustrated…but he shouldn’t have made that assumption.

I think the main thing to take a away from both mine and my friend’s experience is, to never make assumptions about anyone’s situation. I’m still training myself to do this, in other areas of life.

As for gigs, I really hope there are more areas like this in gig venues, because I thought it was a great idea, but there needs to be more communication between the venue and people who need to use those areas. It would’ve been better, if I could’ve privately explained my situation to someone and they gave me a wrist band for the area, avoiding embracing questioning.  I’m sure people with visible disabilities also get these sort of issues arise at gigs also. I sometimes look at venues and think ‘this is definitely not accessible’ and there’s really no need. I’m not expecting to be right up the front and stage diving, but I think everyone has a right to watch a show they want to see.

What happens when you assume…

 

 

 

 

 

Synaesthesia and Me

Image_2025_55.png

I’ve had synaethesia my whole life, but didn’t realise until I was about 15. I just thought everyone had the same kind of concepts in regards to senses as I did. I can’t imagine life without it, and I feel like I experience something really special. I don’t pick the colour or sensations I get, they just happen.

If you don’t know:

Synaesthesia is a condition where a sensation in one of the senses, such as hearing, triggers a sensation in another, such as taste. There are at least 80 different types of synaesthesia

For example, some people with synaesthesia can taste numbers or hear colours. Some people give personalities to days of the week or their emotions have colours. Read more about different types here.

A wide range of different synaesthetic experiences have been reported and recorded – a typical example is someone who described experiencing the colour red every time he heard the word “Monday”. You may have read about musicians who can hear colours. synesthetes are often very creative. Some artists to have reported having synaethesia are, David Hockney, Pharell Williams and Billy Joel.

What it’s like for me

I’ve read a lot about people hearing colours, which I do get but my strongest sense is smells triggering colours. I have always smelt colours and describe a smell to my friends as  specific colours. Generally, unpleasant smells evoke this horrible yellow colour which repulses me, whilst clean and pleasant smells evoke different blues (which is my favourite colour, because of this). I have an incredibly strong sense of smell and can often smells things most people can’t, so sometimes there can be a bit of a sensory overload for me.

Apparently, this form of synesthesia is very rare. I’d love to meet someone who also experiences this, because I find it fascinating and there isn’t a lot of literature on it.

Colours are also slightly tied up in emotions for me. When I first met my boyfriend I had a strong sense of blue towards him. Whereas people that I’m not so keen on are very orange. A loud annoying orange. This is also a rare one, typically of me. Some people’s personalities have colours, but not all.

When I look at letters, they have a sense of being ‘odd or even’. This also makes days of the week and months odd and even. I think this is related to the shape of the letters. The ones with more circular forms are even, whereas long thin letters are odd. I used to see colours for the different months, but I know longer has that sense. I also visualise time in a loop with dates going around it.

Different notes don’t have specific colours, but the sound an instrument produces does. For example the drums create a spectrum of greys. Not all instruments have colours though.

What’s the cause?

It’s likely that the brain of someone with synaesthesia is “wired” differently, or has extra connections.

brain imaging study has shown that when some people with synaesthesia hear spoken words, a part of their brain normally used to process colour from vision lights up.

Synaesthesia runs in families, although it may skip a generation and may not affect immediate relatives. It’s possible for only one twin to have the condition, or for family members to show different types of synaesthesia. In summary, there is a genetic contribution to synaesthesia, but the environment is also important.

I only know one other person with synaethesia and we aren’t related. No one, as far as I am aware has this in my family. Saying that, I’m the first known hypermobile and dyspraxic person and one of the only who is left handed….so I like to be special.

It’s possible for people to “grow out of” synaesthesia: there have been cases of people claiming that they used to experience synaesthesia, but no longer do. For a while I thought I had. It had dampened down a lot for me for a couple of years, but recently is has grown stronger again. Which I’m pleased about, because I would hate to lose it.

Is it common?

Synaesthesia has been estimated to affect at least 4% of the UK population.

Researchers at the University of Sussex have estimated that 1-2% of the UK population experience colour when they see, hear or think about letters and numbers, and that synaesthesia is just as common in women as in men (read the study).

Do you think you may have it? Let me know :)!

My Hypermobility Toolkit

I’ve known I have Hypermobility Syndrome*(edit about reclassification below) since I was 16, so I’m fairly lucky. Many people suffering with this condition don’t get diagnosed until much later in life and damage (both physical and mental) is already done. It can cause chronic pain and fatigue, amongst a lot of other things.

For me, I’m on the milder end of the spectrum and so I have learnt how to manage my condition quite well. You have to be very disciplined with your exercise routine and pacing your day is key (I’m still trying to get the hang of this!)

I have a few go to tools which really help me with exercises and pain relief.

img_0819

Foam Roller

I don’t know what I did before I discovered foam rolling. I think everyone should be using a foam roller (*if it is physically possible for them to). A roller can be a valuable part of exercise warmup and cool down routines.

Rolling improves circulation, which gets the body ready for a workout and helps it recover afterward. Also, because rolling breaks down knots that limit range of motion, it preps muscles for stretching.

I find it an invaluable tool to get rid of tightness in the muscles in my legs especially.

Massage Balls

These are popular in yoga and I can see why. I find the spiky yoga balls really helpful to target niggling knots around my shoulder blades. If you don’t have one, tennis balls are also great. All you have to do is lean back on them against a wall and move around until you find the point which is bothering you. Since discovering self trigger point massage, I’ve suffered a lot less with back pain.

I recently bought the stick with the balls on it, which is amazing if you’ve got knots in both should blades! I bought the one above from Tiger.

Resistance Bands

I get pain around my shoulder blades because I’ve let myself become deconditioned recently. As my ligaments are lax in my shoulders and back, I have to make sure my muscles are as strong as the can be. To get my strength back I do a lot of exercise using resistance bands. The key to using these is to do lots of reps regularly, rather than doing something that uses a lot of heavy weight.

Light Hand Weights

As well as using the resistance bands, I also like to use light hand weights to tone my arms.  Using light weights and doing lots of reps can elongate the arm and get rid of bingo wings (I’m still waiting for mine to go!).

Kinesio Tape

If you suffer with any sort of instability or pain I highly recommend kinesio tape. Kinesio Tape alleviates discomfort and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation, reducing pressure while enabling a more effective flow of blood and lymphatic fluid in and out of the target area. It also adds a bit of stability to your joint, which is great if you subluxate them or just feel a bit wobbly!

Swiss Ball

One thing about hypermobility is that it can affect your proprioception. Proprioception is the concept of knowing where your body is in space (body awareness) and the ability to safely maneuver around your environment. It also includes the use of heavy work activities and the ability to stimulate the joint receptors. Therefore, practicing your balance can help with this. Just sitting on a swiss ball and lifting your legs one at a time can really help with this. I also like to do planks on the swiss ball and use it to aid squats against the wall. Doing this means you’re engaging your core, and you won’t be pushing the weight too far forward on your knees.

Heated Bean Bags

As much as you strengthen your muscles and massage out knots, sadly most people with hypermobility are chronic pain sufferers. I am very keen to not go down the medication route (although for some people, it is unavoidable). I find putting heat on my back helps ease it a bit.

Meditation

Meditation can help with distracting yourself from mild pain. I enjoy meditating to help with sleeping if I’m in pain at night and struggling to drift off or if I’m at the osteopath. One thing I would say is, I’ve heard from friends with chronic pain issues and their doctors have told them they’re ‘not trying hard enough to meditate’, if they are still feeling pain. This is nonsense. Realistically, sometimes pain is just too bad to meditate away.

These things really help me, but it must be noted that for some people with Hypermobility Syndrome or Ehlers Danlos Type 3* it is not possible for them to use some of these techniques, as they are in severe pain and suffer very frequent dislocations. I am extremely grateful that I am able to manage my condition as well as I do, and hope one day that there will be more therapies and medicines to help those who suffer so badly with this syndrome.

 

Edit*As of March 2017, Hypermobilty Syndrome has now been replaced by ‘Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders’. Ehlers Danlos Type 3 is a different condition separate from HSD and is know as hEDS. There are also now more types of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Read here for more information.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑