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“I knew I was miserable but to say I’d rather be dead? It hurts me that my younger self didn’t see a future.” Actor Liz Carr’s lightbulb moment that changed her life

The Silent Witness star reflects on her life journey to activism against assisted dying in this week’s Big Issue

Liz Carr

Image: © Linda Nylind / Guardian / eyevine

Actor and activist Liz Carr has given a powerful interview to The Big Issue, out today (Monday 13 May), reflecting on how she came to terms with the life-changing disability she developed at the age of 7.

“From my appearance most people will think I was born disabled, but I wasn’t, so I understand what becoming disabled means,” she writes in the Big Issue, out now. Carr was disabled from age seven, owing to arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, and has used a wheelchair since she was 14.

In her Letter To My Younger Self, Liz Carr shares how her mother recently found a “harrowing” diary entry which detailed how her younger self “wanted to die” when she was 12.

“During lockdown, my mum would ring most nights… She’d go through old diaries and call with the most harrowing bits. It would be, “What did you have for your tea? Did you know you wanted to die when you were 12?” Now, I knew I was miserable but to say I’d rather be dead? It hurts me to hear that my younger self didn’t see a future.

“I would love to tell her you’ll fall in love, have mates, travel the world and do a job people can only dream of. She wouldn’t have believed any of it.”

A vocal opponent of assisted dying for more than a decade, Carr has now created a documentary for the BBC which explores how changing legislation could affect vulnerable or disabled people.

“I was told all the time that I wouldn’t live to be old, and I believed it,” she says. “I thought I was going to die as a teenager. I thought I was going to die as a 20-year-old. Then I thought I would die by 30 So I’d love to tell my younger self that she won’t die young – because I’ve wasted a lot of my life worrying needlessly. And there’s a lot of things we do need to worry about.”

“I went on a course in a care home in Ross-on-Wye, and within three hours my life changed forever. I met a woman called Sue. She had everything I wanted: lived on her own, had a partner, worked, was funny. Sue took me under her wing.

“Before the course I’d think, I can’t get on the bus because I can’t walk and that’s my problem. They said, what if the buses were all accessible? And it was like a celestial moment. My life’s lightbulb moment. I don’t have to do everything on my own to be dignified and have a good life… That’s where activism started for me.”

Read Liz Carr’s full ‘Letter To My Younger Self’ in this week’s Big Issue, out now. Find your local vendor to buy a copy, or subscribe online, at bigissue.com.

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