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Different Barriers, Same Goal

My name is Kimberly Myhill and I'm the Founder of Social Model Women+. I've worked in Disability Rights for the last 6 years, and before that worked a varied 'career' (read - jumped from job to job with no direction because I was severely depressed...). I've learned so much in the last few years. I am someone who lived with depression for a very long time. I've lost friends to suicide, I've attempted suicide myself. I've been met with a lot of barriers in my life, and I am relatively privileged in other areas.

Through my recovery I learned about the Social Model of Disability. The SM taught me that barriers are created - put in place - by society. They didn't just appear and they're not something disabled just have to live with. For example, if you are a wheelchair user, you probably encounter a lot of physical barriers; stairs into buildings etc.

If you're someone with mental health issues, you've probably experienced a lot of barriers too - but I bet you probably don't consider yourself disabled, right? Our preconceptions of disability are vast and they're taught to us at a young age. I've unlearned. I started identifying as disabled when I realised just how stigmatised mental health was, and how people's attitudes had prevented me getting the help I had desperately needed for so many years. I didn't seek help for depression because I didn't know I was depressed. People told me I was a lot of things - lazy, unreliable, out of control, erratic. No one ever said 'do you need some help?'. Not until 2016 when I had a very supportive and understanding manager, Sarah.

Sarah will always have a place in my heart because she helped in ways she will never understand - just by asking me what was going on.

I had counselling. A lot of counselling. Through identifying as a disabled person, and through lots of hard work - I considered myself 'recovered'! I started to be able to help others. I spoke openly about mental health - and for some reason this landed me on the radio, in the newspaper, on TV, I even won an award. I am still baffled about that to this day because - what? Is our culture so incredibly naïve about mental health that a woman talking about it is newsworthy? Well, yes.

Once I started using my experiences to reach out to others - I noticed how so many people's experiences led me back to what I had learned about the Social Model of Disability.

Gay, brown, abused women - all sharing one common factor - social barriers. Despite living such different lives, and having such different issues - they'd all experienced barriers and this had obviously affected their mental health. Their confidence shot. Their ability to live authentically and unapologetically - didn't exist.

I approached Hetal - the Co Founder of SMW to come together and bring my vision to life. To help women see themselves for the first time. To unlearn all the crap that told them they had to be a certain way - and be the way they want to be.

Social Model Women+ is for you. Whether you're a woman who has experienced barriers, a woman who has always lived one way and now wants to live another, a man who wants to be a better ally to women, a woman who wants to transition to non binary - whoever you are - there is a space for you here. A judgement free zone. A zone where we won't always get it right but we forgive each other. We acknowledge the journey. We learn and unlearn. We grow and become ourselves - for the first time.

If you're here - there a ton a ways you can get involved. Check out the website and take part in research. Tell us what's missing for you - what do you want to see? What is the biggest barrier in your life right now?

Stay tuned for our podcast coming in the winter!

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