“There are Two Wolves Fighting in Life. One for Light and Hope, the other for Darkness and Despair. Which Wolf Wins? The One You Feed The Most. - This is a quote I live by.
My name is Dan Airey. I’m a Presenter, Podcaster, Producer and Filmmaker. In October 2021, I graduated from a Masters in Broadcast Production for Television and Radio in IADT, which I loved. I co-produce and co-host the Dan and Darragh Do Ability Podcast with Darragh McNicholas. We talk to people with disabilities, whether they be physical, intellectual or otherwise in the hopes of getting people to see life through their eyes. We have covered topics such as mental health, disability and sexuality, the language of disability and so much more.
While 2021 was one of the most enjoyable years I’ve had in a long time thanks to the masters group, it was simultaneously one of the most difficult. I lost my Grandad in February and my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in May. As you can imagine, this was, and is a lot to process. I am also someone who lives with a disability; a condition called Cerebral Palsy. I was born three months early and I use an electric wheelchair to get around.
For me and my condition, mental health has always been something of paramount importance, because it can make an already difficult situation even more difficult.
For example, throughout my academic life, I had access to a Personal Assistant (PA) who helped me with personal care and to complete assignments under my direction. However, once I graduated from the masters, I lost access to these supports because I’m no longer in education. I’m currently on the job hunt but I can’t in good conscience accept a prospective job offer without knowing I have the necessary support in place. I have had multiple conversations with the HSE about this without feeling like I get anywhere, which results in multiple breakdowns. Here I am with a Masters Degree, three years of podcasting behind me, numerous public speaking engagements on a national and international scale, and I am unable to act on it due to a complete lack of support.
In recent years, I think there has been a shift towards talking more openly about mental health, specifically for men, but I still think there is a stigma there for sure. As somebody with a physical disability, you’re in your head more than most because, from my perspective anyway, I can’t just decide to go for a run or have at it with a punching bag. For me there’s lots of shouting and punching my chair instead. Personally, I’m very grateful because I have such an incredible support network around me in terms of my parents, and particularly over the past year-and-a-half with the friends I’ve made from my masters. They have been incredible - it hasn't always been the case where people have been so understanding and curious about my situation and my needs.
I think the same could be said with mental health and disability. Yes, there are conversations happening around mental health but people with disabilities aren’t always included in that conversation. Likewise in terms of disability and sexuality. Just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to a sex life like everyone else. This is one of the reasons Darragh and I decided to cover mental health, disability and sexuality on our podcast. Having open and honest conversations about topics that are traditionally in the shadows, whether that be from a societal standpoint, the media or otherwise, can only lead to progress for everyone going forward.
“There are Two Wolves Fighting in Life. One for Light and Hope, the other for Darkness and Despair. Which Wolf Wins? The One You Feed The Most.” Feed The Right Wolf.
About the Author
Website: Airey Communications
Dan and Darragh Do Ability Podcast
(Available on all podcasting platforms)
@dan_airey @aireycommunications and @dananddarraghdoability
Dan and Darragh Do Ability
**This article was written in January 2022