A Voice in the Silence — Letter From the Editor

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Mandy Harvey Cover

It was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” In this issue, we celebrate those voices piercing the silence to challenge the status quo on accessibility and inclusion.

According to recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.1 percent of people in America living with disabilities were employed in 2021, as opposed to 63.7 percent of those not living with disabilities. Things needs to shift, now. It’s our goal and mission to continue being a part of and celebrating voices of change in our communities.

And this month’s cover story, Mandy Harvey, is a deaf singer who has used her voice to make a difference. Rising to star status after she wowed the country singing barefoot on the stage of America’s Got Talent, Harvey has dedicated her career to creating more inclusive spaces for artists and art lovers alike.

“There are so many ways to be more inclusive, but it has to be a thoughtful choice and not just wishing things were better,” said Harvey whose newest album, Paper Cuts, features ASL music videos and multilanguage captions for every song.

She travels to businesses and venues, bringing awareness to opportunities to create better accessibility while also visiting schools to talk to students about never giving up on their dreams and finding strength in their differences.

“More people are feeling like they have the ability to share their barriers with less fear of discrimination…we live in a world where we benefit immensely from diverse communities.” For more, read her story on page 72.

For the inclusivity-conscious employer, we encourage you to learn more about how you can implement safety and inclusion in your workspaces on page 66. If you’re wondering about the how’s, when’s, where’s and why to disclose your disability at work, take the opportunity to read our advice guide on page 26. Of course, we also took the time on page 44 to celebrate the diversity of the film CODA, which featured a primarily deaf cast and made history by shattering records this award season.

Remember, your voice can be the one that makes a difference and breaks the silence.

Tawanah Reeves-Ligon
Editor, DIVERSEability Magazine

Mental Health Apps; do they actually work?

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Woman's Hands Working From Home on Computer while looking at her iPhone

By Samantha Kerrigan, CBS 12 News

Returning to the office is a reality a lot of us are getting used to, but after working from home for more than two years, that can be a little stressful.

These days there are tools to help you manage those feelings and they’re available right at your fingertips.

Mental health apps like Calm, Headspace, Moodfit and Simple Habit are becoming increasingly popular.

Sleep stories and guided meditations are just a couple of the resources most of these apps have in common. But do they actually help? According to licensed psychotherapist Kristen Bomas, the answer is yes.

“There’s more harm in not trying because the fear stays alive.”

Kristen says the anxiety many people are feeling about transitioning back to the office environment is normal and the first thing to do is accept those feelings.

“Life is vague. Work is structured and so that’s the difficulty, but if you can get used to that, you really do separate work and life,” Kristen says.

The starting point could be as easy as taking a deep breath because according to Kristen, we’re all forgetting to breathe.

“We are breathing so unconsciously and we’re just letting our body breathe as it has to, but conscious breathing when we become aware of our breath, it is by far the most healing modality,” Kristen explains.

Focusing on your breath is the first step to all the guided meditations offered on the apps.

“Some lead up to full mediation and some keep it short and sweet which a lot of people need,” Kristen says.

It might not be for everyone, but Kristen says meditation is proven to calm your mind.

Even just a one-minute meditation sitting at your desk can help clear out anxious thoughts.

“You start to think on your own which is important when we talk about fear, which is at the basis of stress and anxiety.”

Another way to clear your mind is to dump your thoughts into a journal.

Some of these apps have space for journaling, or you can just use old fashioned pen and paper.

You can even find a gratitude journal on Moodfit which is one of Kristen’s recommendations for starting your day right.

“I always tell people once you get rid of all the space taken up with all of this, you have space for more to come in and I tell them to fill it with gratitude,’ Kristen says.

And how you end your day is just as important to your mental health, so before you pick up the remote control at bedtime, think about this Kristen says the worst thing we can do if we’re having trouble sleeping is turn on the TV.

“Those apps with sound sometimes bridge that gap, so for them its giving them a sound that’s proven to match the neurological waves in your mind,” Kristen says. “That gets your mind in alignment with your body so that the mind is also falling asleep and getting restful as the body is,” she goes on.

While these apps are realistic for managing your stress anxiety long term, Kristen says they won’t be your sole healer.

Its key to remember that what works for one person, doesn’t work for everyone.

So, it’s important to find what feels right for you and then just take it one day at a time.

Click here to read the full article on CBS 12 News.

Jo Whiley: What my disabled sister taught me about love and loyalty

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jo whiley sitting with disabled sister frances

By JO WHILEY, Express

Finally, in February 2021, the Government agreed the vulnerable should be fast-tracked, but it was too late for Frances. Following an outbreak in her Northamptonshire care home, she contracted the disease and almost died. In a touching, honest tribute to mark National Siblings Day, which raises awareness of the valuable role they play in the lives of their disabled brothers and sisters, Jo celebrates everything that Frances has given back to her.

The biggest thing I have learned from being Frances’s sister is that sharing how you feel is important
THE PHONE’S ringing again. How many times today? I’m not sure, maybe ten, maybe twenty, it’s easy to lose count. My sister, Frances, is being a pain again, and I couldn’t be happier. Every day she FaceTimes me at 30-minute intervals asking the same questions about my kids, my husband and the dogs: “Where’s Coco? Where’s Steve? Where’s Django?” Frances is 53 and has a rare chromosomal disorder called Cri du Chat syndrome, which means she has physical vulnerabilities and learning disabilities. She is loving, loud and a real live wire. No one forgets meeting Frances.

In January 2021 Frances caught Covid in her care home and was rushed to A&E. She didn’t understand why she was there and wouldn’t tolerate an oxygen mask. Her breathing deteriorated dangerously. We spent a terrifying 72 hours uncertain if she would survive.

So, now, when my sister FaceTimes to find out where everyone is, it’s a joy.

Frances is back in relatively good health. She eats more than you’d think is humanly possible and if she’s staying at Mum and Dad’s house, she’ll wait for me to arrive before getting out of bed so that I can shower her, just like I would when we were kids.

There are over half a million young people and at least 1.7 million adults in the UK with a disabled brother or sister. National Siblings Day, on Sunday, recognises the impact of that on their lives. This year’s theme is What I’ve Learned From Being A Sibling.

So, what have I learnt? I wouldn’t be who I am now without Frances. She has taught me -e g understanding, resilience, a strong sense of justice, compassion and a necessary dark sense of humour.

Being a sister is special. Being a sister to Frances has been life-changing. In a funny way, she’s even guided my career path. My earliest memory is of the two of us getting up early on Saturdays when she was small and listening to Junior Choice on the radio; her favourite song was Puff the Magic Dragon, which she still plays from an old jukebox in her bedroom.

Back then, I had a little cassette recorder, so I used to make radio shows for her. I’d record her voice and play it back to her. It was lovely, she would be so attentive. These were my first radio shows.

For a long while, I wasn’t aware there was anything different about Frances, she was just my little sister. I spent a fair amount of time with my grandparents because Mum and Dad were in hospital with Frances, but I loved that.

Click here to read the full article on Express.

Music Is Just as Powerful at Improving Mental Health as Exercise, Review Suggests

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Woman wearing a green top and orange blazer listening to music

By DAVID NIELD, Science Alert

The next time you’re not able to get out to the gym, maybe spin some records instead: new research suggests the positive impact on mental health from singing, playing, or listening to music is around the same impact experienced with exercise or weight loss.

That’s based on a meta-analysis covering 26 previous studies and a total of 779 people. The earlier research covered everything from using gospel music as a preventative measure against heart disease to how joining a choir can help people recovering from cancer.

A growing number of studies are finding links between music and wellbeing. However, the level of the potential boost and exactly why it works are areas that scientists are still looking into – and that’s where this particular piece of research can be helpful.

“Increasing evidence supports the ability of music to broadly promote wellbeing and health-related quality of life (HRQOL),” write the researchers in their published paper.

“However, the magnitude of music’s positive association with HRQOL is still unclear, particularly relative to established interventions, limiting inclusion of music interventions in health policy and care.”

All of the 26 studies included in the new research used the widely adopted and well regarded 36-Item Short Form Survey (SF-36) on physical and mental health, or the shorter alternative with 12 questions (SF-12), making it easier to collate and synthesize the data.

The results of the studies were then compared against other research looking at the benefits of “non-pharmaceutical and medical interventions (e.g., exercise, weight loss)” on wellbeing and against research where medical treatments for health issues didn’t include a music therapy component.

According to the study authors, the mental health boost from music is “within the range, albeit on the low end” of the same sort of impact seen in people who commit to physical exercise or weight loss programs.

“This meta-analysis of 26 studies of music interventions provided clear and quantitative moderate-quality evidence that music interventions are associated with clinically significant changes in mental HRQOL,” write the researchers.

“Additionally, a subset of 8 studies demonstrated that adding music interventions to usual treatment was associated with clinically significant changes to mental HRQOL in a range of conditions.”

At the same time, the researchers point out that there was substantial variation between individuals in the studies regarding how well the various musical interventions worked – even if the overall picture was a positive one. This isn’t necessarily something that’s going to work for everyone.

Click here to read the full article on Science Alert.

Bruce Willis ‘stepping away’ from acting because of health condition

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Bruce willis pictured in a blue suit while looking away from the camera

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

Bruce Willis is suffering from a medical condition that is affecting his cognitive abilities and will be taking a break from acting, his family shared Wednesday.

In a post on his daughter Rumer’s verified Instagram account, the caption on a photo of the “Die Hard” actor read: “To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities.”
“As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him,” the caption continued. “This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support. ”
According to the Mayo Clinic, aphasia is “a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate” and can be caused by a stroke, head injury, a brain tumor or a disease.
The caption went on to read that the family is “moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

‘CODA’ brings home the Oscar for best picture, a historic win for the Deaf community

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CODA cast at the oscars

By ,  NPR

CODA has been named best picture, beating out the likes of Belfast, Drive My Car and Power of the Dog at the 2022 Academy Awards. It’s a historic win for a film that brings Deaf culture, and Deaf actors, to the forefront.

Written and directed by Sian Heder, CODA is based on the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier. The English-language remake centers on Ruby Rossi, the only hearing member of a Deaf family, who struggles to balance family obligations and her love of music.

“CODA does have a double meaning in the title because it’s Children of Deaf Adults, but it’s also the end of a piece of music,” director Sian Heder told NPR’s Here and Now. “It’s a story about the end of childhood.”

Distributed by Apple TV+, it is also the first best picture win for a streaming service. The film earned three of Apple TV+’s six Oscar nominations, and won each one: best picture, best adapted screenplay for Sian Heder, and best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, who joins his co-star Marlee Matlin as the only Deaf actors ever win Oscars for acting.

Streaming studios have been building momentum in the years since Amazon Studio’s Manchester by the Sea made waves in 2017 with the first nomination for best picture for a streaming studio. Their increased presence has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic leaving many moviegoers unable to attend local cinemas, and movie distributors began increasingly streaming films shortly after their theatrical openings. Eight of the ten Best Picture nominees were available on streaming services in the weeks leading up to the award ceremony.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Mental health can be impacted by daylight exposure, researchers say

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Electric Time technician Dan LaMoore lights up a two-dial Howard Post Clock, March 9, 2021, in Medfield, Mass. Clocks are set ahead an hour during daylight saving time. (Elise Amendola, Associated Press)

By Jacob Rueda, KSL NewsRadio

Daylight saving time in the summer means a maximum of 15 hours of daily sunlight in Utah, with the sun setting around 9 p.m. If the federally backed Sunshine Protection Act becomes law, people can expect those late sunsets even in the winter.

Late sunsets in the winter also mean even later sunrises if daylight saving time becomes permanent.

“A sunrise on Christmas day will be 8:50 in the morning and the sunset will be 6:05 at night,” KSL Meteorologist Kevin Eubank told Dave and Dujanovic on KSL NewsRadio on Tuesday “Where you’re really going to see this impact is going to be in the morning hours during the months of November, December, January (and) February.”

Daylight saving time in the summer means a maximum of 15 hours of daily sunlight in Utah, with the sun setting around 9 p.m. If the federally backed Sunshine Protection Act becomes law, people can expect those late sunsets even in the winter.

Late sunsets in the winter also mean even later sunrises if daylight saving time becomes permanent.

“A sunrise on Christmas day will be 8:50 in the morning and the sunset will be 6:05 at night,” KSL Meteorologist Kevin Eubank told Dave and Dujanovic on KSL NewsRadio on Tuesday “Where you’re really going to see this impact is going to be in the morning hours during the months of November, December, January (and) February.”

Click here to read the full article on KLS NewsRadio.

The mental health crisis among children and teens: How parents can help

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illustration of four people sitting in their depression to show the mental health crisis

By Claire McCarthy, MD, Harvard Health

We are in the midst of a pediatric mental health crisis — and parents need to take action.

Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has not only killed hundreds of thousands; it has also shut us inside, cut off social contacts, taken parents out of work and children out of school. The consequences have been tremendous. And one of those consequences is that we are seeing alarming amounts of anxiety and depression in our children and teens.

A national emergency among children and teens
In the fall of 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics along with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. They called for increased funding for mental health resources, as well as other actions, including more integration of mental health care into schools and primary care, more community-based systems to connect people to mental health programs, strategies to increase the number of mental health providers, and ensuring that there is insurance coverage of mental health care.

View Protect yourself from the damage of chronic inflammation.
These are all necessary, and efforts to ensure them are ongoing. But while we work to build mental health care systems, there are things that parents can do to help their children through this crisis.

Mental health is just as important as physical health
First and foremost, we must understand that. If a child has a fever or a persistent cough, parents react — they pay attention and reach out for help. But if a child seems sad or irritable, or less interested in activities they used to enjoy, they tend to think of it as a phase, or teen angst, or something else that can be ignored. The mental health of our children is crucial. Not only does mental health affect physical health, but untreated mental health problems interfere with learning, socialization, self-esteem, and other important aspects of child development that can have lifelong repercussions. And for some children, untreated mental health problems lead to suicide.

So pay attention, and take what you see seriously. If your child is showing signs of anxiety or depression, call your doctor. Don’t put it off. If your child talks about harming themself or others, get help immediately, such as by going to your local emergency room. In this situation, it’s better to overreact than underreact.

Create rituals of communication and safe spaces to talk
It’s easy to lose connection with our children, especially our teens. Whether it’s family dinner, family game night, talking on the ride to school, or a nightly check-in before bed, having regular times to ask open-ended questions and to listen to your children is important.

Make sure your child has downtime
We all need this, and children particularly need it. Be sure they aren’t overscheduled; make sure that there is time for them to do things they enjoy.

Encourage healthy media habits
One of the things kids enjoy these days is being on their devices, which can be fun and connect them to friends, but can also contribute to problems with mental health. Talk to your child about how they use media. Common Sense Media has a wealth of useful information.

Make sure your child is getting enough sleep — and some exercise
Both are very important for mental health as well as physical health. Here are tips to help your child get the sleep they need. And even short bursts of exercise can lessen anxiety.

Keep in touch with teachers, coaches, and other adults in your child’s life
Not only may they have information about your child that you need, but they can also play an important supportive role. Open lines of communication with them can make a difference — and help to create community, which we all need, especially now.

Click here to read the full article on Harvard Health.

Amy Schumer Opened Up About Her Son “Most Likely” Having Autism: “I Don’t Think It’s Scary At All”

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Amy schumer standing in a red v neck halter top while smiling at the camera. Amy Schumer discussed the possibility of her two-year-old son, Gene, being diagnosed with autism.

By Natasha Jokic, Buzzfeed

Amy Schumer discussed the possibility of her two-year-old son, Gene, being diagnosed with autism.

For context, Amy’s husband Chris Fischer was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder while the couple were dating. Amy has since been open about the benefits the diagnosis gave to their relationship, saying last year on Instagram, “Being tested and diagnosed has helped us communicate and support each other better.”

Speaking on the Dear Chelsea podcast, Amy said, “I think the statistics are pretty strong toward [our son] will most likely have autism.”

“Parents have different journeys with this. Having a child with severe autism is beyond my imagination difficult.”

“But if Gene does wind up having ASD, I’m not looking for the signs in a way that are upsetting. I’m not hoping either way. Most of my favorite people are on the spectrum.”

“You just want your kids to be healthy and happy,” she added. “I don’t think it’s scary at all!”

“Not everybody’s like some incredible genius with autism, but most people have a real talent for something. They’re beautiful, loving, kind people, and good partners. I’m so sorry that they’re not going to be able to do a good job active listening to you at a party, but I think that’s okay!”

This mirrors what Amy said back in 2019 when an Instagram commenter asked how she would “cope” if her son had autism like her husband, and she replied, “I don’t see being on the spectrum as a negative thing. My husband is my favorite person I’ve ever met. He’s kind, hilarious, interesting, and talented, and I admire him. Am I supposed to hope my son isn’t like that?”

Click here to read the full article on Buzzfeed.

‘CODA’ takes top prize at SAG Awards in a major win for Deaf representation

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Marlee Matlin

BY Christi Carras, The Los Angeles Times

In a major triumph for Deaf representation in Hollywood, the ensemble of “CODA” clinched the top prize Sunday at the 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

After receiving two SAG nominations, the heartwarming Apple TV+ dramedy about a child of Deaf adults (CODA) won them both, including the coveted award for performance by a cast in a motion picture. Unlike any previous SAG Award film ensemble winner, “CODA” centers on multiple Deaf characters portrayed by Deaf actors.

Directed by Sian Heder, the acclaimed family film stars Emilia Jones as a hearing teen raised by a Deaf mother (Marlee Matlin), father (Troy Kotsur) and older brother (Daniel Durant). Also nominated this year for film ensemble were “Belfast,” “Don’t Look Up,” “House of Gucci” and “King Richard.” Additionally, Kotsur made history Sunday as the first Deaf actor ever to receive an individual SAG Award for his supporting performance as tender-hearted fisherman Frank Rossi. He prevailed over hearing actors Ben Affleck (“The Tender Bar”), Bradley Cooper (“Licorice Pizza”), Jared Leto (“House of Gucci”) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (“Power of the Dog”).

Because SAG winners are crowned by their acting peers — who make up a sizable chunk of Oscars voters — the award for film ensemble has historically given best picture nominees a slight advantage leading up to the Academy Awards. “CODA” is Oscar-nominated for best picture this year alongside “Belfast,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.”

Cast of Coda accept award onstage at Sag awards show
Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin and Eugenio Derbez, winners of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for CODA, pose in the press room during the 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at Barker Hangar on February 27, 2022 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Kotsur also earned an Oscar nomination for supporting actor opposite Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”), Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog”), J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”). He became the first Deaf male actor to score an Oscar nomination more than 30 years after Matlin — his onscreen wife in “CODA” — became the first Deaf performer of any gender to receive an Oscar nomination, as well as the first Deaf actor to win an Academy Award, for her leading performance in “Children of a Lesser God.”

“I’m tired of Deaf people being portrayed as a victim,” Kotsur said recently in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

“‘Oh, hearing people are here to help the poor Deaf person.’ This time, in this project, I just want to show some b—, some real Deaf b—, that hey, this character’s a tough guy, a Deaf male who struggles just like anyone else out there who owns a small business. The only thing that’s different is the method of communication.”

“CODA” previously made history when it premiered at the 2021 virtual Sundance Film Festival and took home four awards, including the audience award and top prize from the U.S. dramatic competition jury.

Matlin led the film’s ensemble in the acceptance speech and notes: “This validates the fact that we, Deaf actors, can work just like anybody else. We look forward to more opportunities for Deaf actors, Deaf culture.”

Click here to read the full on the Los Angeles Times.

I Hid My Disability At Work For 6 Years. When I Stopped, My Entire Life Changed.

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woman at a desk with a possible invisible disability at work

Jill D. Griffin, HuffPost

In 2002, I planned a monthlong solo trip to Australia.

On my second day on the trail, while crossing an ankle-deep stream, I slipped and my body flipped 180 degrees. I hit my head and then rolled off the side of a waterfall. The waterfall was about 3 feet high and I landed in a reservoir pool. A German tourist, who happened to be there, dragged me out of the pool.

After the fall, I sat on the riverbank — stunned, confused and very concussed — while my tour leader climbed down the bank to meet me. “Do you want medical attention?” the 20-something tour leader asked. My mind flashed back to the medical insurance I had booked for the trip. “Emergency helicopter evacuation costs an additional $250,000,” it read.

“I’m OK,” I replied quickly.

On the short hike to our base camp, I repeatedly tripped and bumped into things. My clothes were covered in blood and my body had cuts and bruises everywhere. I stayed at camp and skipped the hikes for the remaining two days. When I finally got back into Sydney, I walked into the hotel lobby and a guest looked at me before loudly announcing, “Can someone get this woman medical attention?”

With my cuts, bruises, disoriented demeanor, and the same muddy and torn trail pants, I can only imagine how alarming I looked.

At this point, I was too concussed to evaluate what my medical insurance would or wouldn’t cover. And so I refused medical attention and assured the staff I just needed to rest.

A few days later, I flew back to the States.

As my bruises and cuts healed, I thought the worst of it was over. I saw a doctor in New York who ran some tests.

“Everything looks clear to me. You’ve just had a bad concussion,” he said.

Before the accident, a regular day of my life included a 5 a.m. workout, working my corporate marketing job until 10 p.m., and then attending weekday drinks out with co-workers, friends or clients. Somehow, among all that, I maintained a social life and part-time freelance gigs.

A few months after returning from Australia, my co-workers and I were invited on a yacht trip hosted by Forbes magazine. As the boat left the dock, I knew something wasn’t right. I felt disoriented, unwell, and struggled to hold a conversation. I sat in one spot for the whole trip.

When we got back to the harbor, I held onto the rail as I took careful, unbalanced steps. “Wow Jill, it seems like you didn’t hold back on those cocktails,” a co-worker teased.

I hadn’t drunk at all. One of my colleagues helped me into a cab, and I assumed I was seasick.

A few more months went by and I attended a business lunch where something similar happened. I was looking out the windows of the restaurant watching the curtains float in the breeze and cyclists zoom past. I felt woozy and as if I were underwater. I couldn’t concentrate on what my colleagues were saying. When I tried to go to the bathroom, I struggled to stand up. My body flopped back into the chair like a rag doll.

“I think I need to leave,” I said. Strangely, I returned to the office for the rest of the workday. Somehow, I made it back in one piece.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’m seriously not right,” I remember thinking. I was scared.

I booked countless doctor appointments. Whenever a specialist realized they didn’t know how to help me, they stopped answering my phone calls. I had no answers. I was determined to figure it out so I started tracking my triggers: constant movement in my line of sight, flickering lights, loud ambulance sirens, the brakes of the New York City subway screeching to a stop, loud baritone voices — and the list went on. In other words, New York City had transformed itself from a bustling wonderland to a total vestibular nightmare.

Even though I was noticing triggers, I still had no explanation for regularly appearing drunk, slurring words, being unable to concentrate and exhausting easily.

Without a diagnosis or even the vocabulary to describe what was happening to me, I felt a tremendous amount of shame and guilt. I must have done something wrong. How could I be so dumb? I also feared what my injury would mean for my job security. It felt like everyone around me associated value only with high levels of productivity. I had reason to believe that my worth was based on my output. Who wants someone with an undiagnosed head injury on their team?

It is estimated that 10% of people in the United States have an invisible or non-apparent disability. I’d like to think that corporate culture has more awareness and training on disabilities than it did in the early 2000s. However, research shows that there’s still a long way to go. According to Harvard Business Review, most people with non-apparent or invisible disabilities choose not to disclose these to their managers for fear of being seen as less capable and having their career progress stalled.

In the years following my injury, my brain’s default was: If they know, I will lose out on opportunities. Eventually they will fire me. And if I lost my job, then the unthinkable would happen: I’d lose my employer-sponsored health insurance.

Outside of rent and food, all my income was going to medical practitioners that weren’t covered by insurance. Some years, I was paying $50,000 in medical bills (half my salary). I resented that I worked just as hard but I didn’t have the same financial freedom my co-workers had. (I was often asked why I didn’t own an apartment yet and the implication was that I must have spent all my money on shoes.) But without a steady income and health insurance, the diagnosis and treatment plan I desperately wanted would never happen.

For six years, I didn’t tell anyone at work, including HR. As the years went on, I occasionally opened up to a boss whom I saw as an “ally.” Most of the time, they didn’t really listen to me (or my admission was viewed as an inconvenience or it was a “private matter” like getting my period).

And so, I stopped speaking up. I tried to manage triggers as best I could to hide my disability. But “sucking it up” was slowly killing me. My symptoms were getting worse and my vestibular attacks were becoming longer and more frequent.

My catalyst to change my circumstances was a horrible appointment with a neurologist.

This doctor informed me that — to prevent continued deterioration — I needed to avoid all forms of transport or I’d eventually be completely bedridden because, after all, he had “seen this before.”

“Enough! You don’t get to tell me how my life is going to play out” was my primary thought. I resolved to figure out a solution for myself, since health care had failed me.

I read every book, web forum and magazine on brain health. Learning about vestibular disorders and accessing the vocabulary to describe my condition was my ultimate breakthrough. I realized it wasn’t all in my head. I learned why certain triggers caused vestibular attacks.

Discovering clinical language empowered me to be able to describe what I was experiencing. It also gave me evidence of triggers to avoid.

At this point, I had advanced to a higher level of leadership in corporate. My role in the company coupled with my deep knowledge of brain injuries meant I was able to advocate for myself.

I was no longer asking for permission to have my accommodations met. Instead, I would simply ask people if they could stop swaying their bodies so we could finish our conversation. Or I’d ask them to please quit shaking their leg, which vibrated the floor and therefore me. Or to please cease pounding the conference room table when they wanted to make their point. I clearly explained that these actions created vibrations that triggered my vestibular disorder. It was not easy for people to understand or remember.

My entire life changed.

Click here to read the full article on HuffPost.

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    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. 2022 Academic Careers Workshop Apply Today!
    June 9, 2022 - June 12, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. From Day One
    June 22, 2022