Tell us about yourself - who are you and what do you love doing?
I’m Ani, I’m 25 years old and based in the Midlands. I’m disabled and have chronic illnesses such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder. I’m passionate about outdoor disability access and run a blog called Outside: Our Way where I interview other chronically ill or disabled outdoor enthusiasts. I’m really, really new to climbing and only start 6 months ago. But it’s immediately become an obsession and although I’m barely past a V0 or 4b, I still consider myself as an avid paraclimber.
Give us three words that you identify with most?
Strong, free, passionate.
What brings you the most joy outdoors?
In the outdoors I feel confident and like I can do anything, or at least I can try. I can do it with friends, or go somewhere quiet. I can push myself a little, or I can take my time and be gentle on my body. I can be out all day, or just for 30 minutes. Whatever I do in the outdoors can be made to accommodate what I need.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Getting to a point in my life where I can manage my chronic illnesses and do things I love. It took me years to comfortable being past my front door. Because of the pain, fatigue and the rest I moved very little and my muscles wasted away, which only made any kind of recovery harder. Not to mention the mental health barriers that came with being terrified of aggravating the existing pain. But remembering that part of my life fuels me to try and never get back to that ever again.
If you could share a core value or abiding principle with others, what would it be?
Do things the way you need to, not the way other people think you should.
Tell us one small change we can make as individuals to help our community?
Don’t assume anything about disabled people’s needs. Just ask if there’s anything they need, and listen to their answer. I prefer to be as casual and straight forward about it like I’m giving directions to the car park.