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Yes, I'm Still Disabled in This Photo

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I fought for my disability payments for years, I had to retain a lawyer, pour my heart out in front of a judge and wait. When I was finally “rewarded,” their word not mine, my disability, I protected it like a Faberge egg. I watched over it, but at what cost?

I was warned that the SSI fraud department were patrolling Facebook and Instagram accounts. I had friends remove videos of me going down a slide on a boat, because fun means you aren’t disabled. I missed out on activities, refused to be in photos or check in, all because “they” were watching. What does any of this have to do with dumbbells?

Since receiving my disability I joined a gym, a Crossfit and boot camp gym. This gym is family-focused, so after every group class we take a family photo, one that until now I have refused to be in. My gym family has taught me so much about myself, especially about facing my fears, that I want to share a photo. Boot camp has taught me how much mental and physical strength, follow through and self-confidence I actually have. That if I need to fight for my benefits again, I will.

It was a slow process, but it has been so worth it. My disabilities make my workouts a bit different than the rest of the groups, but no one pays attention or even notices. I’m able to take breaks as needed, rest and even skip exercises when my back or leg is killing me.

If lifting 10 to 20 pounds on a 15-pound bar offends the “watchers” that much, oh well. Pushing myself for 30 minutes two or three times a week doesn’t mean I am not disabled.

I sat in an office chair for 45 minutes and it was very painful. Doing dishes or folding laundry is enough to send me to bed.

The disabled community needs to feel safe to take care of themselves. Going to the gym and working out has so many benefits, including pain management, socializing and building self-esteem. All of which are critical in our lives. I have nothing to hide!

Originally published: January 5, 2021
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