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How I'm Embracing Independence While Depending on Others

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I won’t lie to you. Being disabled is hard for me. It is hard to have to rely on others for things you may need. It is hard to tell others you need to grocery shop when you know they don’t particularly feel like going to the store. It is hard on your pride to admit you need help pulling up your pants after you use the bathroom in public. I often fear I am bothering those who help me, and feel embarrassed when I need help with “gross” things.

The idea of being a burden to others is something I have struggled with for years. I know it is all in my head. Deep down I know that, but I still would hate to know that I was bothering someone else by asking for help. With that being said, I am a very independent person. Despite my disability and all of my residual issues, I adapt extremely well. If there is a way for me to do something on my own, I will find a way to do it. For example, if you saw the way I had to adapt my skills to take a daily shower, I am pretty sure you would think I deserve a gold medal of adaptation. I do it because I am able, and I know that people are not always going to be around to help me when I need it. It is the worst thing in the world to be stuck and not able to move.

I want to try my best to avoid becoming stuck in life. Being stuck for me results in thinking too much, and when that happens, depression invites itself in and makes a home in my spirit.  I want to do everything humanly possible to avoid the depression monster. I want to keep going. I don’t want any stalling. My happy spirit is a definite plus for me. I am very rarely in a bad mood, and I am always grateful for the smallest of things. I honestly think this trait could have a little something to do with living such a limited lifestyle.  When you don’t get the opportunity to get out of your house every day like someone who has a normal 9 to 5 job or a consistent chore schedule, you tend to appreciate the small things many overlook. For people like myself, getting out of the house and going shopping is a treat. For many others, that is an everyday thing and a part of their routine.

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time wishing my disability was not such a challenge; I spent hours at a time wishing I could get out of my house and go whenever I wanted. I spent hours wishing I could get rid of my severe startle reflex so I could have at least a shot at driving. I used to yearn for the ability to work outside of my home and in an office setting around others. I basically spent time wishing for things I knew were not attainable. I knew this was not a healthy sort of attitude, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Now that I am older and dealing with chronic pain issues on top of my moderate quadriplegic cerebral palsy, I find that I have less of a desire to get out of my house as often. This is not because I am depressed. It is not because I am isolated. It is because dealing with so many issues at once is so exhausting. Even the smallest of actions can feel like hiking the Grand Canyon. Tasks just feel giant and take away so much of my already limited energy.

Most people who are not affected by cerebral palsy would immediately assume I was depressed, but it is not that at all. I am just worn out. I am tired. I want to be left alone. I don’t feel like being around people who have no idea what I am going through and automatically assume things. I no longer wish for the things I cannot have or do because I know it is not possible and it is empty wishing. I now focus on things I know I can do. I have learned to enjoy my own company, and that is very important because I have become a bit of a loner. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy getting together with my small group of friends when I am able, and I love to have fun with them. However, I am also totally OK with being alone and having a movie night by myself.

This is also important considering I am an independent writer. This can be a very solitary job, and I am depending only on myself to get things done. However, I love it! It tests my confidence as well as my motivation. I do not have to rely on a boss breathing down my neck to get tasks completed. I set writing goals for myself weekly, and nearly always end up accomplishing them! It makes me feel good to know I am doing it all on my own. My success depends on me and only me. If I don’t do it, it simply never gets done.

I know that being independently spirited while being dependent on others may seem ironic. However, to me it is a beautiful thing. It is up to me to consider my attitude for the day. It is up to me to get my writing work for the day completed. It is up to me to live a full life as opposed to simply existing. Considering the struggles, I fight with every day, I think I am doing a remarkable job at trying to live as independently as humanly possible. It is a beautiful sense of freedom, and I hope to teach others in similar situations to embrace their lives. I know it can be difficult, but it can also be incredibly freeing if you allow it to be!

Getty image by Donattella.

Originally published: September 25, 2018
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