Hello, and welcome to my brand new column for Liability! I’m so excited to be part of this awesome publication.
If you’ll indulge me a little bit, I thought I’d take some time to introduce myself, and tell you a bit about what you can expect from this column over the next few months.
I’m Natasha Lipman (hi!), and I’m a 28 year old chronic illness blogger from London. I’m also a freelance writer, content manager, social media influencer (lame, I know), and collector of vaguely obnoxious do-gooder titles. I’m a Global Changemaker, Virgin Media Pioneer, and Rhize Emerging Catalyst. I’ve worked at international charities, set up a post-revolution writing project in Libya, and founded an amazing youth journalism organisation, as well as all kinds of other random things.
Pretty much everything I’ve done has been from my bed. I’ve got Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS), ME/CFS and Histamine Intolerance. I’ve had health issues for as long as I can remember, but everything kind of hit the fan in my early 20’s.
As I got sicker, I started to become a passionate disability activist. From perusing the chronic illness Facebook pages, I found that the messages that were being shared there terrified me. I totally understand that people who are older may have struggled to get care (or even a diagnosis), but what I was reading was so much anger and bitterness. If what I read was true, my health issues pretty much meant that my life was over, and I might as well give up.
I had to leave the groups, and I promised myself that I would never become one of those people.
Of course, I struggle. I’m pretty prone to a full-on breakdown, especially when my body isn’t cooperating at its normal (shitty) level. But I try so hard to do the things I want to, in spite of this. It’s not easy, and I’ve had to make more concessions than I’d like along the way, but it’s better than nothing, right?
I’ve had a lot of amazing opportunities in my life. I’ve been flown to South Africa to represent the UK at the Africa Youth Conference, I went to the Royal Wedding in Bhutan, I was sent to India to meet Richard Branson as an ‘entrepreneur to watch’. But I’ve never been able to full participate or enjoy anything that I’ve done because, without exception, I spent a vast amount of time crying in the loos because I knew my body couldn’t keep up.
In this column, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experiences on a number of topics: from feelings of unfulfilled potential, relationships (of all kinds), struggles with employability, accessibility and trying to get out like a ‘normal’ person in London, as well as my experiences of the wellness industry, and both the beauty and dangers of the Instagram generation.
I strongly believe that due to the inability of businesses and other organisations to truly understand the nature of non-traditionally understood disabilities, society is creating a whole generation whose talents are being wasted, stuck at home in bed, desperate for opportunities that give us a level playing field.
By writing about these issues, I hope to raise awareness of what many of us go through every day. After all, it’s only by sharing our stories that we can make a change.