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Disability Narratives

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Video clip: Liz describes how she sometimes struggles to manage expectations of what she might be able to achieve upon her return to work.

I think its part of the culture. So I don't think you can really have a conversation - an extended conversation that's work related, without that being part of it. So I think it's absolutely part of our culture, and the university. And it should be. I mean, we're - This is our job, is to do research and publish, and produce, and move our subjects forward. And so we have a responsibility to that. And it has come up in meetings, around the REF, and getting our subject group prepared for the REF. And of course, you know, in those meetings people will say things like "Well obviously, you know, Liz doesn't need to worry so much about this, because she'll have dispensation around the REF, and all of these things." And that's - and I have that, I know that. That I have dispensation around things around the REF, where I don't have to produce the same amount. But part of me is just like 'damn it, I want to do it anyway, and I want to - you know - get my two books that I'm supposed to have had done out, and do some articles, and I want to like show everyone that I can do it anyway'.

But I'm beginning to, to realise that I'm – I probably need to kind of dial back some of those expectations just a little bit. So I think they're self-imposed. So that any real pressure I feel around that is, is me. But it is, it is in the air we breathe here, so. Of course it's going to be an issue. And I think as I maybe start to become full time, which hopefully will happen soon-ish, and as - I mean, people say to me now that it's like I was never away. And once they start talking to me for five minutes, they forget about all of this, and they don't see it any more. And I'm slightly concerned that in six months, no one's going to see this any more, and they're going to expect me to have finished my book. Plural, books [laughing]. Because they're going to be like "Oh, Liz - yeah, she's fine." [Laughing]. "Oh, disabled? Oh, that's right. Yeah, we don't see that any more. Yeah, yeah." [Laughing]. So I'm slightly concerned that that will have a knock-on effect [laughing]. But, yeah.

My immediate colleague has said that to me a couple of times, in a joking way. It's just like "Ah, it's - you know - you're obviously absolutely fine, we don't have to worry about this any more because - you know – the classes are going great, and - you know - blah, blah, blah." [Laugh]. And so he's been teasing me about it. But that's made me aware. It's like 'oh, yeah'. And it's easy for me to forget. The moment I start teaching, I'm transported out of this body and I forget that this body is the way it is, for the hour that I'm teaching. And then - And that's really interesting. And so I can see - And I think - I'm not sure, I haven't talked to my students about this, but I suspect that they also forget, as well. Because they're just in a class, and they're there, and we're discussing texts, and it's a normal class. And so I think it, it is possible for people to forget. Which is extraordinary, considering how visibly disabled I am, so.