When I Was Judged By Someone I Admire for Being on Disability
For the past few years, I have been focusing on my health due to various mental and physical illnesses, as well as a nervous breakdown. I see a therapist three times a week, a psychiatrist every two weeks to one month, and I am in the process of applying for a scholarship to help me afford a nutritionist for my eating disorders. I am also currently seeing various doctors to try and determine what treatment I need for some eating disorder-related bodily harm that I am experiencing. I am on disability and spend a large majority of my time trying to cope with my mental and physical illness symptoms, but writing articles about my experiences and education on mental and physical health have become my purpose. I have been doing well with showing up in therapy, attending doctor’s appointments, partaking in medical tests, and managing my medications. I have grown a lot over the course of the past few years, and I am proud of everything I have done.
Unfortunately, something happened recently that caused me a lot of pain. Someone close to me told me that they felt they couldn’t tell their friends about me and what I do because I’m on disability and I am not making traditional progress (such as having a career, house, independence, etc.) They told me that they don’t see why I need to be on disability, and when I told them how I have been working so hard in therapy and on my health to try and find some stability, they told me that they don’t see my progress. They don’t think I am working hard for my health because they can’t see it, and they don’t understand what I go through on a day-to-day basis.
Being told this was absolutely heartbreaking. I admire this person’s opinion and hearing their disappointment in me felt like they derailed all of the work I have done and trivialized what I am going through. I then went on to explain why what they said hurt me so much and they backtracked on their words, but the original hurt I felt didn’t disappear. A week has gone by and it is still just as painful.
However, after talking this over with my therapist and working through the pain, they told me that maybe it is time I validate myself and create my own markers for success. They told me that it is time I stop looking outside of myself for acceptance and acknowledgment of growth. Only I know my experience and what I am going through, and if I only look to myself for guidance, the more I will be able to be at peace with my situation. Or at least feel neutral about where I am right now in my journey.
Hearing this from my therapist was a breakthrough for me because it made me realize how I am always looking to others for approval, and in doing so, I am causing myself unnecessary pain. I can’t control how others view me, but I can control how I feel about myself. And even though I am still a long way from fully accepting myself, my health, and the new direction my journey is taken, I have faith that I will be able to give myself the love and acceptance I need.
Those who don’t have firsthand experience with mental or physical health issues simply can’t understand fully what we go through. Many people try to be empathetic, but our experiences are our own. Even though this was an incredibly painful situation for me, it woke me up to the fact that I can give myself validation and understanding so I don’t rely on others for both of these things. Building up my self-confidence is going to be a long journey, but I already feel as though I am stronger than I was.
Getty image by unomat.