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This Disability Pride Month, I'm Celebrating Being Myself

Happy Disability Pride Month! I didn’t identify as “disabled” before I received my various diagnoses (due to lack of awareness that my struggles could be considered as such), but I’ve always had challenges with my mental health and the way I perceive the world. I started to see myself as disabled in college, when my neurodivergence and mental illness started to majorly impact and interfere with my functioning and the need for accommodations grew.

That said, there is no right or wrong way to be “disabled.” It is an identity for some, and for me, I initially had shame. I hate to admit that, but I initially felt some shame around needing so much help.

Today, I feel pride. Pride, not necessarily because I need accommodations, but pride because I realized I wouldn’t be who I am in all the good ways without my disabilities.

I am an out-of-the-box thinker. I am creative. Resilient. Brave. Empathic and compassionate. Intuitive. A gifted creative writer and speaker.

Are all of these traits because of my disabilities? Some would argue no, that they’re unrelated. However, I disagree. I think there is a strong tie between my struggles and my strengths.

I have mental illness (bipolar disorder, OCD, CPTSD, anxiety, anorexia), learning disabilities (dyscalculia, NVLD, auditory processing disorder, and ADHD), and am autistic. I have heightened sensitivity to the world around me; I have meltdowns and breakdowns and struggle to work at times. I have had to take multiple medical leaves to get through college. I have accommodations in graduate school. I take six medications daily and go to therapy at least twice a week. I am privileged that I have access to such help. Not everybody does.

I am disabled and I can still complete a lot of tasks, while others are near impossible. Some things I need help with and others none at all. Again, there is no right or wrong way to be disabled.

I am disabled and I am proud.

What can you do this July? Read and listen to more disabled voices — of all kinds! My disabilities are mental, emotional, cognitive, and sensory, but many have physical and intellectual disabilities. We must band together as not just a community of disabled people but a community of people — disabled and non-disabled coming together.

Getty image by Anchiy.

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