A country Victorian town, Australia, 2020

 First off, there are so many songs that I could have chosen by Simple Plan. They were my ‘teenage angst’ band, my first concert and a source of poorly written fanfiction inspiration. So why I Refuse?

At the time of writing this I am currently on day 132 of self-isolation, with no end in sight. It is the first day of the mandatory mask wearing in Melbourne, Victoria. People are wondering when they will get back to ordinary life, for me, it is going to be even longer than normal.

I suffered a stroke when I was three weeks old. This left me with paralysis down the right side of my body and only functioning on half a brain. With the recent research about how COVID affects the brain, I have come to the simple conclusion. IF I get COVID, I am f—ed.

Welcome to my life. One of an unknown road; that I had no clue I was going to be on when the new decade hit. I am someone who likes to plan, without one I get anxious. However, surprisingly, my anxiety about the world’s current state is lessened because the rest of us are in the same boat. We are all on high alert and in a constant state of opinion overload.

Because of the pandemic I am currently not working. It wasn’t much but my work provided me with a sense of purpose. Because of the pandemic I have been able to objectively look at how my work was treating me.

So I refuse
To let the words you say get to me
And I refuse
To keep on suffering quietly
I refuse
So I refuse

I have been at my place of employment for nearly four years. I am not saying that there haven’t been parts of my job that I have enjoyed. However, it is because of this time away that I realized how much of a toll it was taking on my mental health. Making apologies and excuses for the reasons why they hadn’t pulled up the people at fault, or allow me the autonomy to speak to my fellow colleagues as an equal or even assist with helping improve the situation and be kicked down the road. It always had to be done through someone else, or I had to get someone else to speak on my behalf.

Well no longer.

I have skills that are underutilized. I have goals that I want to achieve. I am more than just someone who puts books away on shelves. I am not getting the recognition I deserve, and no, it is not acceptable to say it is just because ‘I am not there much.’

It took me till I was 30 to get a job. I am not that naïve to realise that there may be this culture in other places I work. I can choose what and how I deal with it though.

In my blood
In my veins
In my heart
I know what’s right for me

I know my worth. I know my value. Yes, I am disabled. Yes, I am a qualified library technician. Yes, I am more than just someone you pay to put away the books. So, unless things change, I refuse.


Stereo Story #527

*All italics are lyrics from I Refuse or Simple Plan song titles.

Tansy Bradshaw is a writer currently working on her first novel, based on the life of Valentine Keating, the leader of a disabled gang called the Crutchy Push in Melbourne.