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It's OK If Your Feelings About Your Disability or Illness Fluctuate

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Disabilities and chronic illnesses are categorized as a lot of things, sometimes much to the detriment of the people it actually encompasses. But one thing is absolutely certain – disability is diverse. Which means the way people are going to feel about is just as diverse, too. As a philosophy undergraduate, the way that illness and disability affects a person’s identity heavily impacts my academic approach.

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There are going to be people who think that their disability/illness is their greatest blessing in disguise. These people may feel that the way their life has been changed by their condition and is the reason that they’ve had certain positive opportunities. And if that’s how you feel, that’s absolutely fantastic! But if it’s not? That’s just as OK too.

There are also people who may feel their condition holds them back – and that’s completely fine too. It’s a complicated battle between wanting to defy the limitations you’re facing, as though you’re “overcoming your disability” – and trying to hold onto the belief that because it’s a part of who you are, it doesn’t have to be a negative part of your life.

There’s a lot of pressure on disabled people to be an “inspiration,” and if there are people that you’re inspiring then that’s absolutely wonderful. But if you feel like there are times it’s weighing you down, making you feel like normal everyday things are a battle that’s becoming increasingly difficult to face, then I promise you that you’re not alone in feeling that.

Perhaps another common feeling that exhausts you is the feeling of burdening those around you. The guilt you feel when the people you love get upset when they watch you writhing in agony, or watch you struggling to do a daily task. The all too recognizable feeling of regret when you give in and accept help from someone that you’ve spent the day so far convincing that you’re completely independent.

But the feeling that is probably going to seem most familiar of all, is feeling all of those things I’ve just talked about – all at the same time. Sometimes in phases, sometimes depending on what you’re doing during the week. Sometimes you’re going to feel the entire spectrum of emotions all in one day.

Disabilities and illnesses fluctuate – therefore so will the way we feel about them.

Getty Image by Nikola Ilic

Originally published: August 30, 2018
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