Are you Dis-abled? Are you Handicapped? How do you see yourself? How do you think others see you? How do you wish they would see you?
I often think about how I see my situation, how to label myself…am I handicapped? Am I disabled? and what the reality is. To be honest I often worry about how others see me too. It takes a lot to process my limitations and how much my life is affected by my plethora of health challenges…
…on any given day: I may have my feet & legs burning in pain due to the Neuropathy I got from my first HIV drugs; I may need to be in the dark with no sound due to an unrelenting migraine; I may stumble putting on my clothes or fall getting up out of a sofa due to my balance problems; I may drop food on the floor from a shaking fork due to my essential tremors; I may not be able to hear someone unless they are close and facing me … even with my hearing aids on; I may only see blurry images and words without may glasses on; I may find it very uncomfortable to sit in a normal chair due to pain from my back problems; I may get lost searching for words numerous times in a discussion due to brainfog; I may have to refer back to get spelling of a word, going back and forth writing every syllable due to my memory problems; I may be deeply depressed or have exaggerated feelings in what I call my Bipolar Brain; I may get incredibly nervous before being around other people due to my anxiety; I may find myself feeling the pull of my addiction.
Whether it’s one of my multiple physical health problems and/or one of mental health struggles, they are all just part of my daily challenges. So have I “earned” the ability to park in a handicap parking spot? What do I think? Does it bother me when people stare? I have learned I have to do whatever it takes to take care of myself. I have learned to not worry what other people think. It might be a day dealing with one of my “invisible illnesses” or things I am struggling with inside. I look just fine on the outside with what you can see. (except when I’m walking with my trekking poles so I don’t fall), I may be dealing with challenges that they can’t see, can't be seen, and things they can’t even be aware of.
So it's hard for others to know what it's like for me to live with such challenges! Because I am embarrassed and hide them so nobody can know about them, nobody can judge me because of them … but then nobody can understand, nobody can love and support me. I hide them all alone and it’s a very heavy load to carry!
I just spent a whole weekend with my friends on vacation. They were kind and concerned and often offered a hand or reached out to help me …but I declined…
,.. because I have got to practice. I have got to be able to get myself off the floor if I fall when I am home alone. But I think it is also because having them support or assist me means I am unable to take care of my challenges myself, unable to do so because I’m dis-abled! A tough label to own and accept!
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