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Disability Narratives

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Interview excerpt: Mary explains it is not always clear who needs to know what in her college and faculty.

Image representing Mary© Disability NarrativesIt's complicated, especially at Oxford. Because a lot of us obviously have two employers, I have the college who employ me and the faculty who employ me. And I suppose at the college level I know they have said, they have tried to encourage me to share more information. Because they said they would find it easier, if I was more open with them [laugh]. So I have made an effort, but I don't find it particularly easy. And I suppose I've got - it's something I've had to learn to do, and I've probably got better at it in the last couple of years.

But the first couple of years I did find it very difficult to share that information. And I [sigh]. You know, I'd have doctors' letters, or consultants' explanations that I couldn't perform jobs in a certain way. And for me, that was kind of enough. I don't always know why I have to say any more [laughing]. But I suppose the nature of college life is - it is quite an intimate setting. And you're having lunch with these people. And I suppose they want to be helpful. And I suppose they find it difficult not knowing exactly what's going on. So I suppose in terms of sharing information - well, I certainly - as I say, I told people right at the beginning, and then they - they put me on to occupational health. I then - I suppose I had - I kind of touch base beginning of most terms, probably.

But sometimes in that first year - maybe even the first eighteen months - I don't think, I think I was so puzzled by what was happening to me, that I was just in a tunnel, and trying to keep going. And I think it was only later that I would say to them, "I really wasn’t coping last year." [Laugh]. And in fact once they did give me retrospective sick leave, [laughing] which was really nice of them. In terms of the faculty, I didn't really share very much information with them until I suppose the end of that first year. But there was never any centralised or obvious route that I thought I should be following. I never quite knew who I should be telling what to, or when, to be honest. And because the nature of the administration is very complicated, and there'll be different colleagues who run different lecture series that you're supposed to contribute, and then different colleagues who convene courses you're supposed to contribute. So again, it's - it's almost overwhelming to always have a strategy, to think 'who am I supposed to be telling all this to?'