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Quentin Letts and his mockery of disability

Quentin Letts wrote in his Daily Mail column this week about a ‘talkshow war’ between Andrew Marr and Robert Peston.  Andrew Marr had a stroke a year ago and Letts decided to name him “Captain Hop-Along” because apparently journalism now consists of reverting to a 10 year old school yard bully.  Mocking disability is NOT OK… how ridiculous that in 2016 we even have to say that.

The whole piece is filled with jibes over the presenters looks, age and ability, I felt as though I was reading something by Katie Hopkins.  Or the mean bully I knew as a child.

“Sunday mornings just became a little madder and more metropolitan… we have Andrew ‘Captain Hop-Along’ Marr growling away on BBC1, throwing his arm about like a tipsy conductor.”

Speaking of his stroke to the BBC, Marr said “had affected “the whole left hand side of my body, which is why I’m still not able to walk fluently.  I do a kind of elegant hobble is the best I can manage – my left arm isn’t much good yet and I’ve got a lot of physio still to do”

Why do we still allow the discrimination of disability in mainstream media?  I know a few people who have had strokes whose lives have been turned upside down, they have a tough recovery and have to fight to regain their lives, which many do.

Marr (whether you like him or not) is an inspiration to the 110,000 people who have a stroke per year in the UK.  Returning to work and carrying on his on-screen performances was an important step for those with a disability who want to lead normal lives.  Whether we like it or not, disability is a stigma and Marr is doing a great service to many.

sam cleasby sheffield blogger disability

The Stroke Association says “All strokes are different. For some people the effects may be relatively minor and may not last long. Others may be left with more serious problems that make them dependent on other people.

Unfortunately not everyone survives – around one in eight people die within 30 days of having a stroke. That’s why it’s so important to be able to recognise the symptoms and get medical help as quickly as possible.  The quicker you receive treatment, the better your chances for a good recovery.”

It’s not funny and it’s not ok.  Mocking his speech and movement is a sign of ignorance, stupidity and generally of being an arsehole.  Quentin Letts should be ashamed of himself, even children understand that laughing at a person’s disability is morally wrong.  We can throw words around like free speech, and I stand for that notion wholeheartedly, but just because you CAN say something mean doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

I think Letts should apologise, not only to Andrew Marr, but to the community of people who have had a stroke, who do not need to be called names and mocked but celebrated and supported.

 

Sam xx

This Morning with Philip and Holly… And So Bad Ass

Yesterday was a whirlwind of awesome! I appeared on ITV’s morning show This Morning and got to meet the very wonderful Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby and talk about my all time favourite subject, poo!

I was invited on by TV and radio personality Judi Spiers, who along with her husband, invented a product to help people to change ostomy bags.  I reviewed the Riksack for them last month and they had been invited onto the couch for National Bowel Month and asked me to go with them.  Hooray!!

The researchers got in touch and had seen my blog and thought I would be great on TV, which was a huge compliment, almost as exciting as when they told me that Philip had been reading my blog and loved it! Arghhh!!!! So, if you are reading this now Mr Schofield, hiiiiiiii you are a living legend and a total fox!

I got the train down to London the night before after a traumatic decision over what to wear on the telly box.  I asked my awesome followers on Facebook for advice and advise they did… Over 300 of them, though unfortunately all saying different things!! In the end I went for a flowery dress by Lindy Bop which I felt comfortable in and also felt fab in.  Of course, I also wore my sparkly, gold boots.

I got picked up in a car from my hotel and taken to the studios, hilariously there were some paparazzi hanging out and they got excited as I pulled up.  Unfortunately they were super disappointed when I got out of the car, I still waved and smiled just in case! (HA!)

The staff at This Morning were all lovely, very welcoming and trying to put you at ease, there were drinks and pastries and snacks but I didn’t eat as I didn’t want my stoma farting and bag filling up on live TV.  I went into hair and makeup where I was attended to by #MrFaceMaker and then back to the Green Room I went.

I filmed a pre recorded piece where I changed my ostomy bag using the Riksack, I was hoping to be the first stoma on live TV but alas, they cut that part out of the live show.  It was a bit odd to change my bag in front of strangers, the team were very sensitive though and made sure it was just a producer and a cameraman.  After changing my bag, I asked the producer what she thought, she admitted that she had been concerned as she was squeamish and was worried that it was going to be difficult to watch, but she was amazed that my stoma was so small and not nearly as terrifying as she had imagined.

This is why I do all the things I do, to change perceptions and break those taboos.

So we then went onto set (which is much smaller than you imagine and all in one room) and I met the King and Queen of daytime TV, Philip and Holly.  Philip came over and kissed me and welcomed me to the show and I went over to Holly… and curtsied.

WTF? Whyyyyyy would I do a curtsy?? I was just a bit star struck and then I laughed and said “Oh.  I just curtsied” THEN CURTSIED AGAIN!!!

This is why I shouldn’t be allowed out in public.

Anyway, they had a laugh at my weirdness and then we sat on the sofa, I was with Judi and surgeon Mr Ian Daniels and off we went…

The interview went quicker than you think it will, it seemed to be over in a flash and then we were done! I wish I had said more but the slot was about the Riksack product and about signs and symptoms of bowel disease and bowel cancer and so it was important to get that info out.

I loved every minute of it and would love to do more TV as though it is terrifying before, it is so enjoyable once you are there doing it.  It is hard to get a lot of info into a 7 minute slot, especially when there are three people being interviewed it is nigh on impossible to say everything you want.  So apologies for not getting a bit more So Bad Assness out there!

Holly is as beautiful in real life as she is on TV.  Seriously, I was a bit in awe of her and she was really sweet and lovely.  She was very friendly and complimented my dress and they both congratulated me on this blog and my work in disability.  Philip is a total fox.  I loved him in the early 90s with Gordon the Gopher and can’t believe I got to meet such a famous celeb.  He was really friendly and put you right at ease.  People have asked me to dish some dirt on the two of them, but I cant! They were just lovely!

I am really proud of myself.  The past few years have been hellish and there were times when I was in HDU or crying in pain in bed or leaking and feeling like a monster when I felt so low that I couldn’t imagine going on.  So to be on live TV four months after my last surgery was a HUGE milestone.

I do what I do to make others understand what life with an illness or disability is like, I do it to break taboos, to educate, inform, support and inspire.  I do it to make a difference.  I do it because I need a reason that I have had to go through all this.

I didn’t plan for my life to be a series of battles, of medication, surgery, illness, pain and suffering.  But this is the hand I was dealt and so I will use every single one of these things to help others and make a difference in the world.

You can view the interview below, thanks for all the lovely messages on Facebook and Twitter, they mean everything.

Sam xx

Why I show off my ostomy bag 

I’d like this post to just say ‘BECAUSE FUCK YOU!”
but I’m going to try and be a little more level headed. Which is difficult when I’ve just read a post on mumsnet by a charming person called Frikkadilla…

I should probably pop a warning in here to say this post is ever so sweary! If you’re offended by f-bombs, you should probably step away now.

Still here? Then let the rant commence.
Ohhhh FrikkaDilla… How I’d like to really show you my bag. Close up. Rammed in your face.
Let’s go through the points.
“Those Facebook photos with Stoma pictures. Am I wrong to really not want to see this?” 
Well, no. We have a choice in what we view on social media. If you don’t want to see these images, turn off your fucking computer.
In life, unless you wish to walk around with a bag over your head, then you will see people with disabilities, people who have medical devices that are part of their lives, people who are different to you. If you don’t wish to see people with medical problems, I’d suggest you fuck off and live in a cave.

sam cleasby body positive plus size ostomy
I have family and a friend who needs this piece of medical help however I keep being surprised (no…shocked) when I see people posting photos of themselves showing their bag off.
‘I’m not racist because I have this one black pal…’ Oh sorry! I thought we were all giving ourselves shitty excuses to say terrible things!
I’m sure your family member and friend must feel so supported by you and your desire to get people with an ostomy to hide away!
Your “surprise” and “shock” make me howl, you have the whole of the Internet at your fingertips and a photo of a woman in a bikini with an ostomy bag have affected you this much? Blimey! Let me send you a few links to some really shocking stuff. There’s this one video, at band camp…

stoma ileostomy bag woman junk food ulcerative colitis crowns ibd
I’ve even seen a woman on the beach in a bikini showing one off (Facebook photo)
How very fucking dare she? A woman went on holiday and wore a bikini??? No way!
You get that we can’t take the ostomy bag off right? That it’s something worn all day every day, it’s not a fashion statement, it’s a health device that allows us to still be alive!
People with an ostomy are like anyone else, they go on holiday, they wear human clothes, they own cameras and they are allowed on Facebook…

ileostomy bag bikini swimwear beachwear holiday

I just don’t understand this need to show it off. Why are they doing it?
Firstly, it’s none of your god damned business what other people choose to do.
Secondly, people are ‘showing it off’ because it is a part of their body, a device that can’t be removed and so most people are just trying to live their lives without embarrassment or fear of nasty, small minded bigots like you. They are sharing a photo of them, in their full glory.
Would you like all people with a disability to hide away? What about those attention grabbing amputees showing off with their missing limbs? They need to wipe their Facebook photo albums, right? Or even worse, those drama queens in wheelchairs!! All their photos are just chair, chair, chair!!!!
That was all sarcasm, in case you didn’t get it. As you don’t seem to get much do you Frikkadilla.

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

Those of us who do show off our bags, and I’m talking about myself here do it for many reasons. I can’t speak for others but I’ll share just a few of mine.
• I want to raise awareness of something that affects over 100,000 people in the UK alone.
• Any illness to do with poo tends to be seen as embarrassing and taboo. This makes sufferers feel ashamed, isolated and depressed. I want to help end this taboo.
• I find it helps my recovery to share my story including photos of myself. I feel like I’m regaining control of my life after 13 years of illness, medication and surgeries.
• I am proud of my body and myself. I’ve been through hell and I refuse to let people like you body shame me.
• I want to show my kids that whatever humans look like, they are awesome. That I’m not ashamed of my imperfect body, because it’s perfect to me and they should love themselves no matter what society tells them.
• I make a difference to people’s lives by doing what I do. I get 50,000 views a month on this website! And I get hundreds of messages every month of people telling me that I am helping them through their journey. Who have you helped today Frikkadilla?
• Because I look fucking amazing! My size 16, scarred body with an ostomy may not to be your liking, but I think I look shit hot! (No pun intended!)
• I own my body, I don’t have to live by anyone else’s rules. I have full ownership and if I wish to share photos of it, I will without shame, bullying or fear.
• Because fuck you.

stoma ileostomy femininity black and white photography creative shoot

Thanks to everyone else on that mumsnet thread (that admin decided to pull because it was so shitty) who told Frikkadilla alllllllll the reasons why she was wrong/stupid/ablist/a cotton headed ninny muggins.

I read the post and was fuming but the responses reminded me that most people are awesome and just a few in this world who are dicks.
Sam xx

Screw your New Year diet

In 2015, I decided to stop dieting. I’d been on a diet for 10 years. 10 YEARS!!!! And it was the shittest diet ever because year on year, I started January heavier than the year before.

I went through cycles of starving and binging, salad obsessions and chocolate gorging.  I’d lose weight, lose interest and gain the weight back along with a few more pounds.

Well last year, I decided my poor old body had had just about enough. I’d had 3 surgeries in 18 months, a Stoma, a Jpouch, 2 hernias and a lot of meds and treatment. I decided that it was pretty wonderful that I was even still standing and so I should give it a break from messing with food.

Diets don’t work. You follow the rules and lose weight, but any short term food deprivation only leads to temporary weight loss.  If you loosen the reins and return back to your former ways, you will gain it all back.

I started thinking about why I was dieting. Did I want to be thinner, or was it just what is expected of me as a woman?  The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I’m actually very happy in my skin.  I like my big body, I think I’m soft and beautiful and hella sexy.


But we aren’t meant to say that are we? Especially not if we are ‘plus size’. We’re meant to be ashamed and apologetic. We’re meant to strive to be ‘better’. But what if ‘better’ has fuck all to do with the number in the back of your dress?  What if ‘better’ isn’t about being a size 6?

Humans are all different sizes and shapes, yet we strive to be like a very narrow, Western ideal of beauty that comes from fashion and media. It comes from air brushing, the use of very young models, the use of extremely thin models.  The pressure on women to conform is HUGE.  To look more like a tiny percentage of women. Isn’t that silly?

The funny thing is that my lack of dieting last year, means I start this year lighter than I was at the start of 2015.  It’s the first year that my weight hasn’t gone up and I truly believe this is because I took the pressure off myself, I refused to diet but that doesn’t mean that I decided to eat everything in sight!

When I diet, I am constantly thinking about food. I think about calories and my next meal, I dream of food and look longingly at cheese boards.  This year my focus was on other things, I don’t want to waste time thinking about food when there is a whole world of awesome to be thinking about!  My lack of dieting made me more in touch with my body, eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. Never denying myself of food but enjoying it and savouring it.

sam cleasby the poo lady

I’m learning all the time to love my body. It’s not easy, I do cave in sometimes and see photos of myself where I’m surprised by my size. But that’s usually because I’m viewing myself through someone else’s eyes. My confidence is dented when I think that someone else is looking at me and thinking about my shape.  In my head, I am Beyoncé. And Zooey Dechanelle. And Thandie Newton. And Superwoman. And Marilyn Monroe.

I’m a bad ass version of all those women blended into one shit hot mega babe.

And so it surprises me sometimes when I see a fat, 34 year old mum in gardening gear.

But you know, I do love my body. Are there things I would change? Yes. Do I want to be healthier? Yes. Will I diet ever again? No fucking way!

Healthy eating and exercise are wonderful, I think we should all eat delicious, unprocessed, bright, colourful, mouth watering food.  I think we should all move our bodies and take part in exercise that is fun and makes us happy.

We only have this one body and so it is really important that we take care of it by giving it the fuel it needs and working our muscles to keep us mobile.  Our physical health is vital.

But so is our emotional health, so take a moment and think about making your mind and spirit healthy too.  Acceptance and self love.  Celebrating not demonising. Give yourself the affirmation that you are beautiful.  Because beauty isn’t about looking the same as a 14 year old size 0 fashion model, it’s about your unique and bloody brilliant self. It’s about kindness and humour and confidence and love whether you’re a size 0 or a size 32+!!

This new year, you will be bombarded by adverts telling you that you aren’t enough. That you need to buy their products to change yourself to fit in.

Fuck fitting in.

sam cleasby the poo lady plus size eff your beauty standards

If you want to make a healthy change to your lifestyle, then go for it! But think about the long term lifestyle changes you might want to make, be aware that short term diets DONT WORK LONGTERM.  Find a physical activity that you want to do, do it with friends, make it fun, enjoy it!

If you don’t want to diet, don’t be led to believe that you must.  Enjoy your body, celebrate your brilliance and love yourself.

Sam X

Sheffield Live TV!

I was invited onto Sheffield Live TV again to talk about this blog, Crohns and Colitis UK, Scope and the work I do.

I LOVE doing TV and radio, I used to get SO nervous but nowadays, I just really enjoy the experience.

Take a look!

Talking Sheffield 01.12.2015 part 2 from Sheffield Live on Vimeo.

 

Sam x

So Bad Ass on The Wright Stuff! 

This morning I got a message from a Facebook follower letting me know that she’d just seen me on The Wright Stuff!

I popped on channel 5 +1 and hit record and saw that in a discussion about whether able bodied people should use accessible toilets, that my open letter was mentioned along with a photo of my big face! How exciting!! 

  

He does stumble of the name, saying IBS then Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  I think it’s a genuine slip of the tongue but always good to clarify that there is a difference between IBS and IBD. 

Others have commented that he says I sometimes use a colostomy bag, and feel annoyed that this is incorrect.  

I used to have an ostomy, I currently have a Jpouch but I’m going back to an ostomy, so it’s fair to say that I have times of using an ostomy bag.  I know it could be read as though it’s something you pop on and off but if you think about it, though some ostomies are permanent, others are temporary. 

It’s easy to get angry when you feel incorrect terms are used, but this is why it’s so great that we are having these discussions in the media! 

A few years ago, this was all SO TABOO! I think things are getting tons better and we are having more conversations.  Yes, the correct terms are really important, but let’s educate society on an illness that for so long was secretive! 

I tweeted Matthew and he responded telling me his friend has an ostomy and wishing me well with my surgery. 

Things are tough when you’re a poo blogger! There are some media outlets who simply don’t have any desire to talk about poo! When people are happy to have the discussion, let’s celebrate and use it as an opportunity to talk shit! 

Thank Matthew Wright for sharing my story and getting people talking.  If he’d ever like me on the show, I would be more than happy to be #thepoolady and talk shit on TV! 
Sam X

Wheelchairs are not a fashion accessory Kylie Jenner…

Kylie Jenner, you dick, a wheelchair is not a fashion accessory or a way to show how quirky you are.  Shot by Steven Klein for Interview Magazine, the star of Keeping Up With The Kardashians is on the cover sitting in a wheelchair.

As if this is OK? Disability isn’t something to play at, it isn’t a prop or a way to show ‘another side of you’.  It is a reality that affects millions of people, not a joke or a fashion shoot.

Beth Grossman, Head of Policy at disability charity Scope, told The Independent: “If Interview Magazine wanted a glamorous, sexy wheelchair user on its front cover it’s a shame they couldn’t use someone disabled.”

“Having a non-disabled person in a wheelchair, as a provocative fashion prop, will offend many disabled people. It’s rare that we see aspirational and authentic reflections of disabled people in advertising and the media.

“If we’re going to challenge assumptions about disability, particularly about sex and disability, we need to share real-life depictions and experiences.”

There is a HUGE lack of people with disability in the media when you think that around 15 per cent of the world’s population, or estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities. They are the world’s largest minority. (According to the UN).

15% of the population… So where are the 15% of TV presenters, models, politicians, movie stars with a disability? Yes, things are improving but it is still a problem that we don’t see a proper representation in our media and this needs to change.

What doesnt help is people with such celebrity status playing at having a disability.  It is offensive, it is wrong, it is not OK.  What bothers me is that this image will have gone through so many people’s hands before making it onto the cover and they either didn’t think it could offend, weren’t bothered, or hoped it would be controversial and increase sales. Interview has since told E! that their intention was to “create a powerful set of pictures” and “certainly not to offend anyone.”

I know this won’t offend everyone, there will be those who say it doesn’t upset them in the slightest and that it is “PC gorrrnnnn mad” but I know I am not alone in being pretty appalled that this happened.

kylie jenner wheelchair

kylie jenner wheelchair

Ablism is rife and I think it important to stand up against the use of disability as a prop for able bodied people to promote themselves as something different.

 

Sam x

 

 

 

The best films I have never seen

I’m not feeling very well this week, I’m on day two of sofa dwelling with a hot water bottle and painkillers. I’m waiting to see what the hospital think but I’m dropping weight quite quickly without trying, I have stomach pains and feeling exhausted and sorry for myself. 

ANYWAY, I have very little headspace and I’m watching a lot of Netflix and it got me thinking about all the ‘classic’ films I have have never seen. You know the ones, those that when mentioned in the pub, everyone goes ‘Ohhhhhhhhhh that’s a CLASSIC mate!’

So here’s my list. Let me know if I really should watch them or if they are over-rated cack!

1. Rocky. Any of the Rockys…

“Aaaaaadddrrrrriiiaaaaaannnnnn!”, the steps, Sly Stalone… I am aware of all this yet have never seen any of them.    

2. The Princess Bride

Literally no idea what this is even about but people talk about it alllll the time. 

  

3. Labrynth 

A friend recently told me he was abandoning our friendship because I haven’t seen this movie!  I am tempted, I do love Bowie but now it’s almost fun to see the shocked faces of people when I tell them I haven’t seen this weird 80’s classic.

  

4. To Kill a Mockingbird

I’ve read the book and I have tried to watch the film several times and just can’t get past the first half am hour of dullness.  Sorry (not sorry!)

  

5. The Matrix

Started it probably 10 times. Fall asleep as he chooses which pill every time. Every time. 

Turns out I don’t care whether he takes the red or blue pill. 

  

6. Casablanca 

Here’s looking at you kid… Nope. Never. 

  

7. Gone With The Wind

I’ve seen Wind in the Willows, does that count?

  

8. Dirty Harry

Is it a bit shooty? I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve seen any Clint Eastwood films. 

  
9. Planet of the Apes

Not the old ones, not the new ones. 

Not Dawn of the Rise of the Fall of the Zoo of the Forest of the Planet of the Apes. 

  
10. Blade Runner

Is it about roller blading? See that sounds fun, but I don’t think it is, is it?

  
11. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

This is such a classic that I feel that I have seen it but I just haven’t. Though I do like breakfast and the name Tiffany so maybe I should try.

  
12. Die Hard

I love Bruce Willis so I’m not entirely sure how I have missed this series of films, it almost feels too late now to get into them. 

Yippy ki yay motherfuckers…

  
13. Citizen Kane

Nope. No idea. 

  
14. Alien. Or Aliens

I do have actual regret at not seeing these films. I will put them on my to do list. 

  
15. It’s a Wonderful Life

Is it? Is it??!! I don’t know. This film is on every Christmas but I’m too busy watching Elf on repeat. 

  
So there’s my list of the best movies I’ve never seen. What’s yours? 
Sam x

When you can’t hold it…

I have seen two stories today about different situations where institutions have put rules in place regarding toilet breaks and it really got me thinking about how distressing this can be for those who can’t just hold it.

The first was regarding comedian Frankie Boyle and how his shows have put restrictions on people leaving the auditorium during his 70 minute show.  Security staff at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow were ordered to escort fans to another part of the building until the performance was over if they left to use the bathroom.  According to the Mirror, the general manager James Howarth said “The show is only 70 minutes long so it’s not an unreasonable request.”

The second story was about St Teilo’s Church in Wales High School in Cardiff that sent out text messages telling parents their children must have a doctor’s note if they want to go to the toilet regularly during lessons.  It said: ‘If your child needs to be allowed out of lessons to go to the toilet then please provide a medical note in the next week so they can be issued with a pass.’

public toilet sign

 

Now I understand that disruption of shows or classes can be annoying to others, but as a person who regularly has to use the toilet and can’t always hold it, believe me, it is more annoying to me than anyone else! I have two different view points on the two stories though.

Regarding the show, it is just so disheartening to know that these rules are in place, though it isn’t great to disturb a show, it is sometimes a necessity.  There is nothing that sets more fear into my heart than the idea of being unable to get to a loo in time.  Take off and landing during flights make me sweat because as soon as I hear the words that the toilets are out of bounds, my stomach churns, my guts cramp and my body panics!

Rules like this exclude people with bowel or bladder conditions from these social occasions.  They increase anxiety and add to isolation.  If you struggle with toilet issues and need to go regularly, then it can be very difficult to mentally deal with being out in public and if you cannot access toilets with ease then it can rule out certain events altogether.  The quote from the manager REALLY pissed me off. It IS an unreasonable request to expect some people to not be able to use the loos for over an hour.  Every theatre/comedy/music show I have been to also tend to have huge queues so leaving it as long as possible just isn’t an option when you know you could end up in a 20 minute queue afterwards.

Invisible disability is everywhere and there are many people with needs and issues that can’t be seen easily and these people shouldn’t have to explain to a theatre attendant their complex medical needs.  Places need to be more inclusive not be excluding people based on disability.

The school story initially upset me a lot more.  The idea of kids having toilet access restricted was quite disturbing as children with bowel or bladder issues have a hard enough time as it is let alone having to produce a doctor’s note.  But in reading the story I think it was just a badly worded text with a genuinely caring message at heart.

The school appears to be putting into place a system where those who have genuine medical issues can have the ability to go to the toilet unchallenged as the school will know which kids have a need to go.  It must be very difficult for teachers to know who is really needing to go and who is doing it to waste time/mess about.  I remember when I was at school that a toilet break was often used to go for a wander/grab a drink/raid the chocolate machine/chat to my boyfriend… (Don’t tell on me!!!)

I suppose the problem with this is that some kids may develop symptoms of illness and need to suddenly go often and without a doctors note they may not be believed.  Children, especially teens tend to hide symptoms of what they deem as embarrassing illnesses.  They may have not even told their parents, let alone been to the doctors yet!

ibd blogger office loo toilet ulcerative colitis

 

The other problem is that sometimes it takes a long time for doctors to correctly diagnose these illnesses, I speak to so many people with IBD who were initially fobbed off with a diagnoses’ of everything from piles to anxiety.  Perhaps we just need to trust that some students will sometimes need to go to the toilet more often than others in order to not isolate, embarrass and upset those who have a genuine need.

If you have ever soiled yourself in public you will know that this isn’t a joke.  It is mortifying and can make you feel that you should stay home forever, it can make you feel embarrassed, humiliated and inhuman.  It can make you feel life isn’t worth living.

Are these things worth it to stop some minor disruption to classes and social events?

I think not.

 

Sam

Rosie Batty: Silencing those who speak out

In February 2014, 11-year-old son Luke Batty was murdered by his father, Greg Anderson at cricket practice in Melbourne, Australia.  It made worldwide news and society was shocked and appalled at the violent attack from a father towards a son.

His mum Rosie Batty became an advocate for female domestic violence victims and campaigner for making changes to government processes relating to the protection of women and children and she established the Luke Batty Foundation and Never Alone to assist women and children impacted by domestic violence.  Her courage, strength and bad ass spirit helped her to become the 2015 Australian of the Year.

She speaks out at events and to the media about the horrific experience of losing her son and is a domestic violence campaigner.  She uses her life to bring the conversation of domestic violence into the limelight and I think her selfless efforts are inspirational.  She is using her pain from an experience that many couldn’t even imagine to make a positive difference to others.  What a hero!

So why is Mark Latham, a former Prime Ministerial candidate trying to shame her into silence?

In his column for the Australian Financial Review, Mark Latham said of Rosie’s public speaking events;

“How did Batty immerse herself in such company, wheeled out at business functions to retell the story of her son’s murder in February 2014? There was a time, in the dignity of working class life, when grieving was conducted in private”.

How dare he!

What Rosie has done isn’t about a lack of dignity or respect to her son, the fact that this man feels he can silence a woman says more about him than her.  Her decision to speak out and make a difference is saving lives.

With her words other woman may find the strength to ask for help, mothers may leave abusive partners for her children as well as herself, she is teaching society about the warning signs and is publicly telling the government that more support is needed.

But when Mark Latham comments saying that this is a ‘private issue’ and ‘undignified’ he is creating a conspiracy of shame and silence and putting lives at risk.

This story struck a chord with me as I write about illnesses and treatment that can be embarrassing and ‘impolite’ to discuss in public, I spend most of my life either writing or speaking about poo and have faced others who believe it is undignified and should be kept private.  I never thought as a child that I would have a career in talking about poo, but this is where I am.

The experiences of Rosie Batty are incomparable, I am not putting losing a child in the same league as having an illness or surgeries, but the act of speaking out about something that others believe should stay private is similar.  I write, I speak out, I do all this to make a difference and help others.  I use my pain and suffering to reach out to those who are suffering and to break the taboo of embarrassing illnesses in the same way that Rosie uses her pain to help victims of domestic violence.

And so to see a fellow ‘sharer’ be shamed and silenced by a politician is just abhorrent.

When you go through a terrible experience, whether it be loss, illness or a life event that just knocks you for six, the shock and pain can make you feel so isolated.  It can feel like your life is crumbling and everything has changed forever.  How each person deals with that pain is personal and unique.  Some will keep it private and deal with it quietly and on their own, others may access the support of a wider circle and some may choose to use the experience to make a difference.

sam cleasby ibd blogger

There is no right way and people like Mark Latham don’t have the right to judge, shame and silence.

That judgement isn’t just affecting one person, the ripples spread so much further and you can hurt so many more.  Encouraging a culture of silence affects vulnerable people who need support and cements the shame and embarrassment into a person’s mind. I strongly and passionately believe that we should not fear speaking out about issues that are uncomfortable.

It takes courage to write or speak about things that are not socially acceptable or polite to discuss in public.  No matter how confident I may seem, every time I hit ‘post’, I fear the response I may get.  I worry that it will change the way people see me, I worry people will laugh at me or judge me.  But I keep doing it because I know I am helping, I know I am making a difference.

Rosie Batty is a true hero.  She is doing something amazing and helping so many when I am sure there are times when it is the last thing she wants.  I am sure she would give it all up in a second to have her boy back.  I am sure she is privately grieving and dealing with this in a personal way.  Her public persona and work doesn’t hinder her private grief.  She is amazing.

Please share this post and support Rosie using the hashtag #IStandWithRosie on Twitter.

Sam x