Facing discrimination has made me stronger

    By Tayyibah

    I was scared to go to school. My attendance was poor and this had a profound impact on my education and the pressure to achieve decent grades was on. Teachers were gossiping amongst themselves and in front of me saying “there is no point in teaching Tayyibah, she will never get a job or even a volunteering position.’’ This made me feel worthless and the words such as “never will Tayyibah get a job kept resonating in my head.’’ I was devastated and mentally scarred by the lack of support at school.  I was also terrified it no longer seemed like a place where you learnt but rather a place where you were mocked.

    Despite school being so difficult I did go to university. There, despite the family pressure, independence issues and the stress of getting assignments done on time, I successfully completed my degree: BA (Hons) degree in International Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care.

    Despite my academic success, I failed miserably, and I encountered serious obstacles, in securing a work placement as a requirement of the degree. I learned that the disability rights are a blunt instrument employers pay lip service to. Many see the disability, but not the person.

    "Over the years, despite the amount of discrimination I have suffered it seems to have given me determination."

    Employers stigmatised my disability and impairments as an ‘insurance risk’and refused to accommodate my needs. The fact that I was labelled a ‘risk’ at school and now by employers was a blow to my confidence. I stopped trying to find employment or a voluntary position because I was so scared of being rejected. After many rejections, I started to wonder if it had been worth going to university.

    Over the years, despite the amount of discrimination I have suffered it seems to have given me determination. My own personal battle with stigma and discrimination has helped me develop an inner resilience and willpower. My journey has made me a stronger person, I have a drive that has taught me to never allow society to take advantage of the difficulties and hardships in life.

    Overall having epilepsy has indirectly made me a well-rounded individual with a strong moral compass. Although, it has been a long and difficult journey to accept that my epilepsy may be permanent and difficult to cure, I have developed determination and self-control. I use these traits as a way of feeling mature, confident, and comfortable in who I am.

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