Lucia’s story: "I spent about a year questioning my whole entire life and criticising my body for failing me”
As part of Disability History Month, we chatted to the Trust’s new wellbeing lead, Ella-Lucia Ricci (known as Lucia) who is part of the Organisational Development and Culture team. We are very grateful to Lucia for sharing her story about her disabilities, initial feelings towards this and how she has embraced her difference to drive inclusivity in the workplace.
"When I was in school, university, part-time waitressing and working as an actor at the Royal Shakespeare Company, I was always aware that my body and mind weren't working as well as everyone else's. I was always thinking or acting in an unusual manner.
It wasn’t until I was living on my own, isolating my actions and movements in full-time professional employment, that I gained the confidence to talk to my doctor - and then it all spiralled.
My medical records from birth were reviewed, with GPs noting every sign and symptom and questioning why this was only being discussed now. Following several sessions, trials, therapies and treatments, I was diagnosed with learning and physical disabilities.
I spent about a year questioning my whole entire life, criticising my body for failing me, threatening my mind for abandoning a life with friends my own age - I was exhausted.
I kept it locked away, behind closed doors. I didn’t share my thoughts with my family, friends, nor my colleagues - I simply continued.
But despite all this, I seemed to grow in my work, and in my professional reputation within the NHS. I am passionate about helping others, born out of thanks from the help I was finally receiving - promoting inclusion and activation for all. I started to curate the conditions in which open discussion was healthy, productive and fun and I learnt the most wonderful thing; we are all so strong. I was confident to share my story, and I found people who listened.
People believe that “real” disability can be seen and that anyone who is not visibly impaired is not really disabled. Naturally, my predecessors at my previous job repeated the clichéd remarks "You don't act or look disabled?" and "You'd never know" thrusting me into a new narrative of disabled identification.
Despite a large number of support networks, services and education on disability, it can become easier to digest and eventually dismissed. I learned about myself and gained self-confidence in sharing about my disability while being surrounded by so many wonderful people, which has led me deeper into wellbeing awareness. My work is fuelled by my experiences and my passion, and I enjoy every minute of it.
At CLCH I am thrilled to be a part of the Disability and Wellness Network (DAWN), a group so trusting and full of pride, which I feel truly connected to."