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29. Empowerment through Self-Advocacy

An interview episode around disability, empowerment, accessibility, self-acceptance and connection.

This week, host Alice Lyons interviews Rachael Mole, talking about a range of subjects relating to disability and mental health, such as the lack of accessibility in society, difficulties in diagnosis, the importance of down-time and asking questions and resources available to those feeling isolated.

A champion for mental health and disability narratives, Rachael Mole is the Editor in Chief of the City Girl Network, a global social network helping women in their 20s and 30s call their cities ‘home’. As Editor of the City Girl Magazine, an online platform that combines content from all cities to create a one-stop base for finding out everything you need to know about each city.

You can find out more about Rachael and the City Girl Network below:

City Girl Network:

City Girl Network magazine:

Rachael’s LinkedIn:

The Tired Girl Society:

(1:27) Introductions

(2:54) Rachael’s personal experience with diagnosis, including how her mothers past experience as a nurse affected the decision to continue pushing for a diagnosis

(7:30) The commonality of Ehlers Danlos syndrome (it’s the most common undiagnosed condition)

(8:50) The link between mental health and a chronic condition & how it’s a cycle

(10:10) Self-awareness, the coping mechanism of having a couple of days to slow down (a bodily reaction) ft. appearance from Bryn the Collie!

(11:09) Self-acceptance of living life around a disability rather than trying to live as somebody who isn’t disabled

(12:30) The struggle of identity and the issue around a ‘non-visible’ disability and the need to either prove that you are or aren’t, including using a blue badge when there isn’t a visible disability

(15:20) Connotations of the word ‘disabled’ and the difficulty of owning the word ‘disabled’ or attempting to adapt it to suit a more knowledgeable society

(16:45) How society isn’t engineered for disabilities, particularly Rachael’s personal experiences growing up with a disability and how other people viewed it

(20:00) The struggle of internalising the pain and the difficulty of putting words to it

(22:15) Having role models to aspire to, leading to a change in mentality inspired by female family members

(25:45) Viewing the past as traumatic and acknowledging it was traumatic, continually being told that your condition isn’t valid or real, the realisation of this coming with the offer of psychological therapy

(27:47) The lack of accessibility for disabled people, even though arguably making businesses more accessible is more profitable. Things such as having braille or large print menus, for example, should be a regular accommodation

(35:01) The City Girl Network, getting information out there in an accessible way

(36:20) Self-advocacy, how knowledge is empowering and having that knowledge can allow you to make informed decisions for your own health

(42:40) The benefits of Open University and the accessibility it gives those who may feel isolated

(46:13) How disabled people constantly have to justify why they need certain things, the role that a society lacking in accessibility plays in the perception of disabilities

(48:55) Another Bryn appearance, the process of getting employed as a disabled person and how having good intentions behind your questions can help everyone

(55:10) The good that can come from being online, The Tired Girl Society, The City Girl Network and how social media helps those who feel isolated not feel alone

(56:35) Closing comments

Welcome to Dark Coffee, the podcast that starts engaging and approachable conversations around mental health.

Join wellbeing advocate, Alice Lyons, as she attempts to normalise the conversation around mental health, from suicide to satisfaction and everything in between.

Dark Coffee aims to create an open environment to explore dark topics with curiosity, compassion and courage to empower people to build their mental strength, resilience and sense of connection.

Join the conversation by sharing this episode, subscribing to the podcast or following Alice on LinkedIn.

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Suicide and Emotional Support Organisations – UK

Samaritans: Confidential suicide discussion and emotional support. Free helpline available round the clock. Text – 116123.  Call – 08457 909090  Email – Website –

Mind: Support and information for anyone suffering from a mental health issue. 0300 123 3393 Website –

Saneline: Practical information, crisis care and emotional support to people affected by mental health concerns. Helpline: 0845 767 8000, open daily from 6pm – 11pm.


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