Please share about yourself, your experience with the Disability Assistance Benefit, and anything else you would like people to know.
I’m a Greek originated, neuro-diverse, working class male, living in BC, and I do community art. I can lead with that now that in my 30+ years, I’ve become comfortable with this skin I’m in — embracing its challenges and peculiarities, while leaning into its preciousness.
I’ve had Cerebral Palsy (CP), a disorder that adversely affects movements and one’s ability to maintain balance and posture. And although my CP is very much a part of me, it’s not immediately visible to others. My personal case has caused a semi-severe speech impediment.
Though I’ve had CP my entire life, I didn’t say the words out loud until I was in my early twenties. I don’t think I even noticed I was doing it until I was talking to some people who knew me best, but they didn’t know I had it.
Being disabled has shown me how strong and resilient I can be, while also reminding me of the importance of kindness. Being a working class man has taught me fortitude, focus, and courage, and shown me the love of brotherhood and connection.
I can’t remember myself at a period when I did not have to worry about financial security. Life has been always a balancing act, and I am certain that this impacted negatively on my mental health. I gave up non-necessary items (sometimes, labelled as such by government agencies in exchange for benefits) to cover ultra-basic needs. Luckily, I could and can rely on understanding partners/ friends/ community groups for support.
It takes an awful amount of time to deal with bureaucracy here (Canada) re: disability. The front desk staff are overall friendly but clearly overwhelmed by the work load.
There must be a balance between the paperwork required from a disabled person and the checks and balances to review the veracity of the benefit claim application. The process can be painful and exhausting, and it can discourage potential applicants in need.
I am worried about the digital flip applications for benefits take, because not many people I know are tech savvy to start a claim on line.
What do you dream support for people with disabilities could look like?
I wish us all : An independent living; An unapologetic way of being; A reclaiming of a sovereign ‘I’ about who we are, how we want to be seen and identified. The things that make us different bring us closer together. They give us space to learn and be better versions of ourselves. Going through painful moments in life, I am proudly presenting myself – Chris: Human. Complex, varied, able, adaptive, beautiful in composition, rare, and capable.
Likes / Loves:
My favorite color is red (passion?) and I have plenty of shirt and blouses in red, pink, light blue and white. I like color in my life, in general; I like to follow horoscopes. Am born on the cusp Sagittarius and Capricorn and this leads to internal tensions between excitement for anything new and reluctance to change.
Art has been a consistent and therapeutic release for me since a very young age. When I felt misunderstood or alone, I turned to arts to release. Communication is not just one thing, and I think I’ve been able to effectively express that through my various choice of mediums. I knew I was drawn to literature at an early age, and every change I got, I would dig a little deeper and try something new. In some of my darkest and most isolating moments, literature provided me solace. It was an area of my life where I had complete control.
Some of Chris’ creative work: