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World Mental Health Day, National Coming Out Day and Invisible Disability Week

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My heart is full of gratitude tonight.

I’m sitting on my bed, eating a peach and listening to the Pandora Pride radio station (It’s excellent by the way, check it out!). As many of you may know, this week contains many important events, including World Mental Health Day, National Coming Out Day, and the beginning of Invisible Disabilities week. So why am I grateful?

I’m grateful because I am a chronically ill lesbian who has both physical and mental invisible disabilities. This week, the world is publicly recognizing each of these aspects that deeply affect my daily existence. How absolutely amazing is that? 

In the spirit of honesty, I struggled for many years with self-hatred and a deep sense of shame about my health status and sexuality. Only recently have I come to terms that it is OK to be gay and that my physical and mental struggles don’t make me less of a person; they are simply conditions that must be managed.

A lot of healing has taken place for me since I joined several community groups, including The Mighty, just this summer. We are all in this together. No one has to struggle alone. Don’t get me wrong; I know there is still stigma attached to mental and physical disabilities and/or being a member of the LGBTQ community. Trust me, I am no stranger to ignorant comments and other people’s judgments.

The reason I’m grateful though, is that there has been significant progress made in recent years. The very fact that there are days and weeks to recognize mental health, invisible disabilities, and the LGBTQ community on a global level is absolutely phenomenal!

Please, let us all take time in this week to share our stories without shame and listen to other people’s experiences without judgment. I spent many years feeling alone and ashamed; living with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, and food allergies is hard enough, even with wonderful support. So please, whatever your experience is, don’t try to go it alone; we all need each other!

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Image via Thinkstock.

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