It is vital for the well-being of people with disabilities that those without health issues take the time to understand and accept those who do, 29-year-old Majella McCarthy believes.
Majella, from Dunmanway in west Cork, lives with Hydrocephalus and says that she finds it very frustrating when people display a lack of courtesy and understanding towards a person with a disability.
“I find learning very hard as it is difficult for me to retain information – I am not as fast as others – and a good few people do not include me in things,” she says.
“Maybe it is not always because of my Hydrocephalus, it could be to do with my personality, however, more people need to understand the situation with people with health issues and disabilities and be more inclusive.”
Loneliness, isolation and negative thoughts about health issues can lead to people with disabilities withdrawing into themselves and shutting themselves off from social interaction.
Majella feels that it is very important for a person’s mental health to try and reach out and talk to someone when they start feeling like withdrawing.
“But they have to have someone they feel they can reach out too, so that it why is it so important that people with no health issues accept those who do,” continues Majella.
“You can only overcome the negative and get back to a positive head space by going out more and doing things. I am lucky that I have a friend who is close to me and will ring me and make me come out and talk and do something like go for a walk.”
However, Majella was not always as positive and had to work hard to accept her health issues. She was frustrated and angry and found it hard to accept how life had turned out for her.
“I am getting slowly to a place where I think maybe things are actually not so bad for me,” she says.
“I am slowly realising that there are a lot of people out there who I used to think have it all, but behind closed doors they have not.
“I have thought that for years illness ruined my life but my mother Nora has tried to tell me that I am a miracle to have lived.
“I have learnt to deal with my health problems as best I can. Sometimes I think I could be much worse off, other times I think I could have been spared some of these problems.”
In doing the best that she can, Majella has recorded great achievements in her life by passing both her Junior and Leaving Certificates despite her difficulty in retaining information. And she is currently writing a book on her life journey which she plans to get published.
She has learned how to drive and is enjoying the great independence that having her own car is bringing to her life. She drives to and from her part-time job as musical therapist in a nursing home in Clonakilty.
“I am there over three years. The people I work with are lovely and friendly. The patients look forward to me coming. I play the accordion and violin and sing for them and so many times they tell me how much I brighten their day.
“Working has given me confidence. I have learned how to stick up for myself, I have become more independent.
“I have learned how to converse more with people. I realise that I am wanted and have a purpose in my life. I am so grateful I have a job that I enjoy.
I have a habit of comparing myself to others like my twin brother Daniel who is in Australia but since I joined SBHI I am seeing things differently.
“I have learned that my negatives in life must be turned into more positives by me.
“We have to try to think positively and plod on. It is so easy to feel hard done by in life. Life can be difficult for everybody in so many different ways.”