Mel looking toward the camera smiling. She is wearing a blue top with white dots. She is sitting in front of a garage painted with street art.

The journey of Mel

Almost five years ago I feel like I started a journey that has forever changed my life. Sitting Low; Reaching High is how I see my life, as I am sitting in a wheelchair low to the ground but I don’t let the wheelchair stop me from reaching high. Whether this is through adaptive fitness, work, education, social life, relationships or travel. Life can be challenging and hard at times but with resilience I have found a way to keep moving forward.

These five years have changed me, made me face my fears head on and to believe in myself. Five years ago a childhood friend of mine believed in me enough to partner with me in a Crossfit challenge. Joshua, I feel I owe a lot to, I could never thank him enough for believing in me. When thinking more about it, there are a lot of people that have helped me be who I am, and regardless the negative or positive experiences I have had with people they have shaped me in some way. The challenge was one of the hardest things I had to do, not just physically but mentally, as I would turn up four times a week to a Crossfit box and I was the only one in a wheelchair and I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and had to trust people more than I thought I was capable of.

I am often told I am an inspiration which I don’t understand as I am just living like everyone else and I don’t see just because I am in a wheelchair how that makes me an inspiration. However, a very good friend of mine though told me “you are inspiring not because you’re in a chair, but because despite the chair you don’t stop and you conquer Mount Everest every day and never say no to a challenge”.

Most people don’t know what my disability is because I never want to be defined by it, I am an incomplete T10 paraplegic since the age of fourteen with Arachnoid cysts (bags of fluid on my lower part of my spine and my neck), Kyphosis and Scoliosis. I also have a fully fused thoracic spine other than the last two vertebrae with a titanium rod in my back to hold me up. I have had approximately a dozen surgeries on my back and my neck and have scars all the way down my back and across both sides of my body. I have also had multiple surgeries on my eyelids, ears, hip, and ankle. I am often asked how I remain so happy. It’s simple for me. I had two choices; either dwell on the pain and all the obstacles life has thrown at me, or fight those obstacles and climb higher.

In my short life, I have overcome many obstacles and I still face those demons on a daily basis. Some days I wish I had a day where I didn’t have to worry about my health at all, but then I know I am really blessed as by what I have achieved but I know to achieve the best; you have to feel like you have had nothing in the first place. Yes I am happy to admit that I have felt like my life was nothing or I would never be anything or nobody would ever love me, but that shows how strong the mind is. I choose to fight those thoughts and keep reaching higher. I spend my life wanting to help other people because I know what it feels like to be stereotyped and labelled. I am a small little girl in a wheelchair, which I am often viewed as having no voice or being unable to do things. I love challenging people’s perceptions, and seeing the shock value in providing my kind of disability awareness, using humour and showing how I live life. As I was once told “You may be small, but you have a huge and lasting personality”

This journey is the reason I have decided to start blogging, as anyone who knows me, knows that I am mostly an open book and very comfortable with talking to people but some things in the past I have felt hard to share from fear that I will be defined as having a disability, being less a person due to being stereotyped or labelled or not meeting standards that our society can without meaning to place on us. I want to show the world that anything is possible, and most things if you are mentally ready for or mentally prepared for pain, failure or to fall it can be overcome. 

My blogs will be about the life I have lead, adaptive fitness, disability travel and disability fails where the world can make it hard for people with disability to access but with a little bit of common sense, initiative and thought how easy so many things could be changed. I am looking forward to sharing my journey with you….