Danni Di Toro is six-time Paralympian who is aiming to represent Australia once again in table tennis at the Tokyo Games in 2020. She is also the Athlete Welfare and Engagement Officer for Paralympics Australia, a Community Partner of Beyond Blue. You can read her full story here.

 

An inspiring piece of advice I’ve never forgotten… came from my friend and mentor, the late great Sandy Blythe. When I had my accident at 13 years of age, he inspired me to keep moving forward. On a daily basis, he dared me to do greatly, to know myself and back myself especially in those tough times. Even though those words were spoken 30 years ago they still ring true each and every day.

To other people with a disability finding things tough, my advice is… community is key. As a young person with a disability, I often felt isolated and disconnected from lots of things going on around me. I just thought my lived experiences were so different from so many others. I learned early on that my mental health was better when I got amongst my community rather than remove myself from it. I have made a real effort throughout my life to find and nurture meaningful connections and relationships with the people and the places I inhabit. Having people that I can confide in or turn to has really helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. Being brave and honest to myself and others about my mental health is a daily task but so important for me. It helps me create meaningful connections with others, allows me to accept love and support from those around me and reminds me that we are all in this together and that we can all make a difference to the lives of those around us even if we can’t instantly see the difference we have made.

Setbacks in my life have taught me… that I can’t stop adversity but I can manage my mind to work through it, learn from it and ultimately have gratitude for all that comes. I work hard to create a world around me that I can turn to in those times for support, a kind ear or a good laugh.

When I notice myself getting stressed and anxious, I… take a moment to do some breathing meditation, or if I’m at home I head into the garden and do some weeding.

I start every day off… being grateful that I have woken up and get to have a crack at another day. I then do some stretching and breathing exercises and try to wait as long as possible to turn my phone on.

In ten years, conversations around mental health will… hopefully be as easy and honest as those we have around our physical health and that we will hold both of those with the same importance.

Related reading: What I’ve learnt about resilience

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