Your health: Po­etic jus­tice

A cre­ative out­look gave Donna Scraggs, 46, from Liver­pool, a re­lease from her painful con­di­tion

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS - Donna is shar­ing her story for Wea’s Grow To­gether – Learn To­gether cam­paign. Visit wea.org.uk for more info.

Hob­bling down the street with my walk­ing aid, I let out a pained groan, as I felt the mus­cles in my leg tighten un­com­fort­ably. As if the pain and stiff­ness wasn’t bad enough, I felt em­bar­rassed as other pedes­tri­ans sighed im­pa­tiently, brush­ing past me.

Born with spas­tic para­ple­gia, a rare and in­cur­able ge­netic

Writ­ing took me away from my body, to a dif­fer­ent world

con­di­tion, I suf­fered weak­ness and stiff­ness in my leg mus­cles.

When I was younger, I missed lots of school to have op­er­a­tions on my legs, and strug­gled to keep up with the work.

Re­ly­ing on my wheel­chair and walk­ing aids, I was often frus­trated with the lim­i­ta­tions my body en­forced on me.

Feel­ing so re­stricted all the time took a heavy toll on my men­tal health.

I had no self-con­fi­dence, and strug­gled with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.

My only out­let was cre­ativ­ity – I loved writ­ing, paint­ing, any such ac­tiv­i­ties.

In the sum­mer of 2000, I was on a jew­ellery-mak­ing course when I got chat­ting to one of my fel­low class mem­bers. ‘Hi,’ he said, eyes twin­kling. ‘I’m Christo­pher.’ ‘Hello,’ I smiled.

Kind, pa­tient and funny, he was un­like any­one I’d ever met be­fore.

He wasn’t scared off by my dis­abil­ity, ei­ther, and soon we fell for each other.

As our re­la­tion­ship pro­gressed, we started talk­ing about start­ing a fam­ily.

But I was ter­ri­fied of pass­ing on my con­di­tion. ‘I’d hate for our child to strug­gle with ev­ery­thing I’ve al­ready been through,’ I said. ‘They might not get it, and you’d be an amaz­ing mum,’ Christo­pher replied. He con­vinced me not to let my dis­abil­ity hold me back, and when our daugh­ter Ge­or­gia was born in 2008, we were over the moon. Ge­or­gia hadn’t in­her­ited my con­di­tion, and she grew into a beau­ti­ful, en­er­getic lit­tle girl.

But although I loved my fam­ily, the con­stant pain and frus­tra­tion got to me.

In 2016, I had coun­selling for de­pres­sion and, in the wait­ing room, I saw a poster.

It was from the Work­ers’ Ed­u­ca­tional As­so­ci­a­tion (WEA), a char­ity ded­i­cated to adult ed­u­ca­tion, and it was of­fer­ing cre­ative writ­ing classes.

So, in Jan­uary 2017, I ner­vously went along to my first class.

Writ­ing took me away from my body, as if I were in a dif­fer­ent world. But the thought of read­ing out my work left me shak­ing with fear.

The ladies in the class were so en­cour­ag­ing, though, and I soon man­aged to muster the courage to share my

writ­ing with the group.

Then, in June last year, I went on stage at our lo­cal theatre, as part of my po­etry group’s show­case.

I was anx­ious but, as soon as I saw my Ge­or­gia, 10, and Christo­pher in the au­di­ence, I took a deep breath and went for it.

Since then, I’ve been per­form­ing at open mic nights.

I use words as a ve­hi­cle to ex­press my­self, and help my men­tal health.

Cre­ativ­ity has given me a voice, and I’m not go­ing to let my con­di­tion keep me quiet any longer.

With daugh­ter Ge­or­gia

Me, Christo­pher and Ge­or­gia

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