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5 Things we can learn about living with acquired disability from Daniel Biddle
On the 13th of July, Cameron Dicker, went to the ‘This is Me’ open event in Stoke Gifford Retirement Village to hear professional speaker, Dan Biddle, discuss how his life changed following the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London. Invited by Peter Chapman to share his story of tragedy and triumph, and coming to terms with his new normal, the talk proved to be exceptionally inspirational and captivating.
Here is what Cameron learned from Dan’s talk:
To me, the first one that comes to mind when I think of Dan’s talk is ‘real’. It might sound a little silly to say, but I've always imagined motivational speakers as upper class, speaking from a place of monetisation rather than their heart.
That is not Dan. Dan felt very much like the kind of person you could run into randomly on the street or in a Co-Op, someone with an accent, someone who swore and made jokes, someone like you or I, and that made what Dan went through hit a lot closer to home.
'Wow' is another word I'd use. Simple, I know, but it conveys so much of what I was feeling. At times I genuinely felt speechless, because I was in awe, or shocked, or just outright stunned. I learned so much and there's a lot I could take away from the event, which brings us to…
Resilience - ‘the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties’. That’s the textbook definition for resilience, but what does it mean specifically in this context?
‘Difficulties’ doesn’t match up at all to the horrors Dan went through and absolutely downplays it all, but resilience is still something that came out of the talk. Many times Dan spoke about how he kept wanting to give up and did a few times, and yet here he is now making a difference because he resisted against everything the world kept throwing at him.
It sounds a little foolhardy to say, but I believe that Dan's story can show that if, after every hardship you face, you keep on keeping on, then in the end you too can be okay.
If you’ve acquired a disability or been through a dark place, it can seem as if the whole world is against you, and that’s how Dan felt, especially when old school friends ‘couldn’t deal’ with the changes.
But there are those out there who will be there to help you. When Dan spoke about visiting the station where the terrorist attack took place, he mentioned that his wife and the staff were all there for him, going as far as to convince him to get on the train and even stop it exactly where they had found him lying after the attack.
There are people like that who will go out of their way to support and accommodate you regardless of what you’ve gone through, and that thought really resonated with me.
One thing Dan kept mentioning is how he felt his life was over. “Who would want me?” Working in the field of construction, he had of course felt like everything he was working for had been completely thrown out of the window.
However, with the growing realisation that the world was not set up for someone like him, Dan changed career paths, training and becoming a qualified Access Consultant. Inspiring admiration and respect, he shows that despite suffering from a horrific tragedy, his life was not over.
“It does not mean that you have to say goodbye to your hopes, dreams and aspirations!” His words and life story lead me to believe that there will always be a chance to follow your life goals, even if they end up changing halfway through.
Whilst Dan is a professional speaker and is used to talking about his story, that doesn’t diminish the fact that talking about the hardships you’ve faced or are facing can help you come to terms with them.
Sometimes just getting your thoughts off your chest can help in more ways than one. So if you ever feel like bottling things up, don’t let them explode out, and speak about everything on your own terms.
Dan spoke very highly of his wife, Gem, and discussed that without her he would not be where he was right now. Despite that, he said many times during their relationship he tried to push her away, believing that she deserved someone better - someone who hadn’t gone through what he had.
However, Gem refused. Every time Dan broke down, every time he woke up in a cold sweat, every time he felt as though he was worthless, Gem was there to prove him wrong and show that she loved him for who he was.
To me, that shows that no matter what you think of yourself, there will always be someone out there, be it family, friend, or partner, that will see you as someone who deserves love and so much more.
Because it’s true.
You are enough!
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