She Had No Role Models for Dating While Disabled, So She Decided to Become One
Danielle Sheypuk wants to set the record straight. When it comes to sexuality, dating, and relationships, disabled people and able-bodied people have more in common than not. This licensed clinical psychologist, who uses a wheelchair due to her spinal muscular atrophy, focuses her practice on encouraging disabled people interested in dating to put themselves out there—and she also wants able-bodied folks to know that there's nothing particularly "foreign" about living with a disability.
"My daily life is very normal," she says. Danielle herself, however, is anything but typical. As she shares in our video, Danielle is quite adept at turning difficulties into opportunities. She takes everything in stride, from her initial diagnosis to trying her first wheelchair ("I just put my hand on the joystick and was off.") to finding inspiration in her tricky experiences with dating in New York City. Danielle shares that she struggled in her search for a fun and compatible partner during her early dating days in the Big Apple. But instead of caving in on herself, Danielle turned outwards, deciding to work on behalf of others who might find themselves in her situation.
"How can I be that role model that I don't have?" she asked herself. Ultimately, she found her path; she decided to become a psychologist.
What Danielle learned while pursuing this dream and when she started seeing clients validated two of her beliefs. First, that there aren't vast differences in the way abled-bodied and disabled people experience social lives and dating. "Anyone who is disabled and is looking to date has very similar struggles to anyone who is looking to date: fear of rejection, not feeling sexy, not feeling like you are your best date-able self," she says. And second, that there's a real need for someone who has lived with a disability to help impart that wisdom. As more people with disabilities are embracing their full, glamorous, fashionable, powerful, prestigious selves, there will be new and enlightening opportunities for interactions between folks with very different life experiences.
Danielle's dream for how disabled people present themselves in such situations? "No pity, only glamour."
This HooplaHa Original was produced by Ian Moubayed. Talent Coordinators were Netta Gaye and Esther Jazmin. Production Coordinator was Nina Giordano. To see more inspiring news, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our Only Good News Newsletter.