Mandy Ree

@mandy-ree | contributor
Mandy is a writer, disability activist, and former paraprofessional, defying the odds as a woman with severe visual impairments. She’s originally from Philadelphia and a graduate of Johnson and Wales University. Mandy has been an active supporter of the self advocacy community and has spent much of her life working  and volunteering with special needs adults and children. She currently resides in Orlando, Florida where she currently works as a parade escort and vacation planner Follow Mandy’s journey from caregiver to cast member and beyond on Legally Blind Bagged
Mandy Ree

Being Diagnosed With Ovarian Cancer Before My 28th Birthday

I remember as if it was yesterday, heading to bed after a long day of work, having what I thought was my typical bad PMS acting up again. I checked my calendar and my “Period Tracker” app, only to discover I still had a week and a half to go. Needless to say, I found it odd, but didn’t question it. My periods were always a few weeks off, and when they came, they came with a vengeance. I popped some Tylenol, gave my boyfriend, RJ, a kiss, and called it a night. I worked the next day and needed my hours, so no way was I letting this get the best of me. It’s just cramps. At 3 am I experienced a horrible pain in my lower abdomen, it was as if someone was making balloon animals out of what I naively thought was my appendix. I made myself a hot bath to soothe my stomach, but the pain was so bad my body went into shock. I felt so cold in a hot bath. RJ woke up and saw me curled up in the bathtub in a fetal position, he wanted me to call 911 because this was not my typical PMS. We must have argued back and forth for what seemed like forever about calling an ambulance. I had to work in a few hours, plus, why would I waste time getting help for period cramps? Imagine the medical bills for something like this, even though it was the worst pain in my life. RJ dialed the phone and passed it on to me as I explained what was going on. I was then whisked away to Dr. Philip’s Medical Center, where it was discovered that the culprit of the pain was my left ovary. They said there was a golf-sized tumor growing on it, and if I had gone to work that day, it could have burst and I could have died. They needed to get the tumor out fast, and they warned that in addition to the tumor, my ovary had to be removed, too. I never felt so scared. This was less than six months living away from my family, RJ being the only person I had close to me. I remember waking up with a catheter, as well as a bunch of staples in my lower abdomen. The doctor came in and told me the tumor size was wrong at triage, it was actually the size of a grapefruit, and because of it’s size, they also had to remove my left fallopian tube. My first thought was that I had become half a woman. But despite that odd feeling, I was thankful to be alive. A few weeks later, the lab confirmed it was a malignant tumor, early onset ovarian cancer. I was thankful it had not ruptured. The average age of diagnosis is 63 — at the time, I was a few days shy of my 28th birthday. Although it is uncommon to be diagnosed so young, it is a grim reality. Usually treatment would consist of chemotherapy and laser surgery to keep the cysts and tumors at bay. But since they removed the source of the problem and the surrounding area, the cancer was gone, and about a month and a half later, I was back to work. I have been going for yearly checkups the last four years and I have been cancer free. Since then, those painful periods began to subside, my cycle became more regular, and the cramps that would confine me to bed for days became mostly a thing of the past. I was told I could still have children but it will be a tough process, which isn’t a top priority for me right now, but good to know for the future. So basically I was a ticking time-bomb years before landing in the hospital. I knew something was up, but I wasn’t the kind of person to run to the doctor. Insurance is expensive and I went without it up until I got Medicaid, and even that became hard to use since not many doctors take it, and many of those doctors aren’t accessible in public transit. Health became a bottom priority over work and paying my bills. I guess the most important lesson was learning to take care of myself. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Even ovarian cancer. It’s best to get checked often. Many free clinics and Planned Parenthood offer screenings. Your life matters over anything else. The bills and adulting can wait, your life can’t. If you show signs of irregular periods, frequent cramps and abdominal pain, loss of appetite, frequent urination, indigestion, weight loss and changes in bowel movements, please consult a doctor. Although you think it might be nothing, it could be something you never imagined. Always play it safe. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock image by AndreyPopov

Mandy Ree

Struggling to Accept Using a Cane as a Legally Blind Person

There’s a saying to never judge a book by its cover. But upon hearing the term “legally blind” associated with me, many people automatically assume I come packaged with a white cane and sunglasses. Except in most cases, I don’t. But I do have one on deck. When I was in sixth grade, my vision therapy teacher started taking me out of school every week to partake in mobility lessons and community inclusion. Amongst the many tools and tricks used for me to interact with society independently, the white cane was introduced. The goal of the cane was to be used as an identifier, to show people you are in need of assistance should something come up. From the first day I had it until now, I feel weird as hell using it. Although I am legally blind, my vision is just enough to distinguish obstacles like window panes and stairs, which a cane helps its holder navigate around. So I never really saw the point in using it — although, to be fair, I have since cracked it out a few times when I moved down here as I learned the traffic patterns and crosswalks I would need to be accustomed to in my neighborhood. And I have also used it on days where my migraines would make me see the world with one eye open. Nevertheless, I still felt odd bringing it out. Not because of the attention I would receive while using it, but something else that is hard to put into words. I want so desperately to try to use my cane more, as it will help me come to terms with myself and my own awareness of my body and disability, but at times, I feel there is a stigma involved. It’s almost like that “fat lady on a scooter” stigma when you see one in a WalMart. Why do you need a scooter when you can walk? Why do I need my cane when I can (sort of) see around me? I feel almost like an imposter, using something intended for someone far “worse off” than me. As if whatever ability to see I have isn’t enough to warrant its use. I don’t want to be that person on a bus with a cane as I am on my phone checking Facebook. It looks weird… and it becomes hard to talk to strangers who may want to accuse me of some wrongdoing. I hate dealing with altercation, especially if it’s in public. I just want to be me, no questions asked. Once in a while, I take my trusty cane out for a spin. But for the most part, she rests in my closet, waiting for the next new adventure into the great unknown. As to when that will be, the world may never know. This post originally appeared on Legally Blind Bagged. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Sen Maggie Hassan Asks Betsy DeVos About Protecting Disabled Students

Parents of children with disabilities and special needs are urging one another to call their Congressperson’s office following Tuesday evening’s senate confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Department of Education Secretary. DeVos is a well-known advocate of charter schools – which receive government funding and can be privately owned but operate outside of the public school system – and voucher programs – which give students money to attend private schools – as well as a billionaire whose family, according to DeVos, has possibly donated $200 million to the Republican party. Concern over DeVos’ appointment comes after questioning from multiple Democratic Senators regarding her knowledge of federal protections for disabled students. Throughout the evening DeVos appeared to be largely unfamiliar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law ensuring special education services to children with disabilities. When questioned by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who asked DeVos if she agreed that “…all schools that receive federal funding — public, public charter, private — should be required to meet the conditions [of IDEA],” DeVos said, “I think that is certainly worth discussion.” Later in the evening, when questioned by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), whose son has cerebral palsy, DeVos avoided answering whether or not she would enforce IDEA, the nationwide law protecting children with disabilities. Hassan said: My son, Ben, experiences very severe physical disabilities. He has cerebral palsy. He can’t speak, he can’t use his fingers for a keyboard. He doesn’t walk, but he is smart and the best kid on earth, if I do say so myself. He got a quality public education at our local school…. And I am concerned that when students who experience disabilities receive a publicly funded voucher to attend a private school, they often don’t receive adequate resources, and in some cases have to sign over their legal rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. So, do you think that families should have a recourse in the courts if their child’s education does not adequately meet his or her needs, whether it’s at a school where they get a voucher or in a more traditional public school? After thanking Hassan for her time and question, DeVos replied, “I would advocate for all parents to be able to have that opportunity to choose the right school for their child,” to which Hassan responded: I had the opportunity to send him to the same public school that my daughter went to because law required that school provide him resources that were never required before that law was passed – because they’re hard. And so the question is, will you enforce the law with regard to kids with disabilities if the voucher program did allow them to go someplace else and the school said, “It’s just too expensive, we don’t want to do it.” DeVos responded by citing Ohio’s success with its voucher program, to which Hassan interrupted, saying: Because my time is limited, excuse me for interrupting you. What I am asking you is, there is at least one voucher program in Florida, the McKay voucher program, which makes students sign away their rights before they can get that voucher. I think that is fundamentally wrong, and I think it will mean that students with disabilities cannot use the voucher system that a department under your leadership might start. So I want to know whether you will enforce, and whether you will make sure that children with disabilities do not have to sign away their legal rights in order to get a voucher should the voucher program be developed. DeVos replied with more statistics, this time regarding Florida’s voucher program, but did not say if she would enforce the existing law. After moving on from her original line of questioning, Hassan followed up later in the evening, asking, “So were you unaware, what I just asked you about the IDEA, that it is a federal law?” “I might have confused it,” DeVos replied. Hassan then explained what IDEA does, following up with her concerns about DeVos’ nomination: One reason that it is difficult to have this hearing and feel that we fully understand your perspective is because we do know that children with disabilities, in at least some of the voucher programs that you have supported, have gone with a voucher to a school. Because of their disability, [they] had to leave the school. The school keeps the money, and then they go back to public schools, which now have even less resources to deal with them. And many of us see this as the potential for turning our public schools into warehouses for the most challenging kids with disabilities, or other kinds of particular issues, or the kids whose parents can’t afford to make up the difference between the voucher and the cost of private school tuition. Hassan went on: I just would urge you to become familiar, should you be nominated, with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. And I do have to say, I’m concerned that you seem so unfamiliar with it, and that you seem to support voucher schools that have not honored, that made students sign away their rights, to make sure that the law is enforced. That is very troubling to me. DeVos vowed she would be “very sensitive to the needs of special needs students and the policies surrounding that,” prompting Hassan to reply: And with all due respect, it’s not about sensitivity, although that helps. It’s about being willing to enforce the law, to make sure that my child, and every child, has the same access to public education – high-quality public education. And the reality is, the way the voucher systems that you have supported work, don’t always come out that way, and that’s why it’s something we need to continue to explore. You can watch the full exchange between Hassan and DeVos below.

Sen Maggie Hassan Asks Betsy DeVos About Protecting Disabled Students

Parents of children with disabilities and special needs are urging one another to call their Congressperson’s office following Tuesday evening’s senate confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Department of Education Secretary. DeVos is a well-known advocate of charter schools – which receive government funding and can be privately owned but operate outside of the public school system – and voucher programs – which give students money to attend private schools – as well as a billionaire whose family, according to DeVos, has possibly donated $200 million to the Republican party. Concern over DeVos’ appointment comes after questioning from multiple Democratic Senators regarding her knowledge of federal protections for disabled students. Throughout the evening DeVos appeared to be largely unfamiliar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law ensuring special education services to children with disabilities. When questioned by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who asked DeVos if she agreed that “…all schools that receive federal funding — public, public charter, private — should be required to meet the conditions [of IDEA],” DeVos said, “I think that is certainly worth discussion.” Later in the evening, when questioned by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), whose son has cerebral palsy, DeVos avoided answering whether or not she would enforce IDEA, the nationwide law protecting children with disabilities. Hassan said: My son, Ben, experiences very severe physical disabilities. He has cerebral palsy. He can’t speak, he can’t use his fingers for a keyboard. He doesn’t walk, but he is smart and the best kid on earth, if I do say so myself. He got a quality public education at our local school…. And I am concerned that when students who experience disabilities receive a publicly funded voucher to attend a private school, they often don’t receive adequate resources, and in some cases have to sign over their legal rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. So, do you think that families should have a recourse in the courts if their child’s education does not adequately meet his or her needs, whether it’s at a school where they get a voucher or in a more traditional public school? After thanking Hassan for her time and question, DeVos replied, “I would advocate for all parents to be able to have that opportunity to choose the right school for their child,” to which Hassan responded: I had the opportunity to send him to the same public school that my daughter went to because law required that school provide him resources that were never required before that law was passed – because they’re hard. And so the question is, will you enforce the law with regard to kids with disabilities if the voucher program did allow them to go someplace else and the school said, “It’s just too expensive, we don’t want to do it.” DeVos responded by citing Ohio’s success with its voucher program, to which Hassan interrupted, saying: Because my time is limited, excuse me for interrupting you. What I am asking you is, there is at least one voucher program in Florida, the McKay voucher program, which makes students sign away their rights before they can get that voucher. I think that is fundamentally wrong, and I think it will mean that students with disabilities cannot use the voucher system that a department under your leadership might start. So I want to know whether you will enforce, and whether you will make sure that children with disabilities do not have to sign away their legal rights in order to get a voucher should the voucher program be developed. DeVos replied with more statistics, this time regarding Florida’s voucher program, but did not say if she would enforce the existing law. After moving on from her original line of questioning, Hassan followed up later in the evening, asking, “So were you unaware, what I just asked you about the IDEA, that it is a federal law?” “I might have confused it,” DeVos replied. Hassan then explained what IDEA does, following up with her concerns about DeVos’ nomination: One reason that it is difficult to have this hearing and feel that we fully understand your perspective is because we do know that children with disabilities, in at least some of the voucher programs that you have supported, have gone with a voucher to a school. Because of their disability, [they] had to leave the school. The school keeps the money, and then they go back to public schools, which now have even less resources to deal with them. And many of us see this as the potential for turning our public schools into warehouses for the most challenging kids with disabilities, or other kinds of particular issues, or the kids whose parents can’t afford to make up the difference between the voucher and the cost of private school tuition. Hassan went on: I just would urge you to become familiar, should you be nominated, with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. And I do have to say, I’m concerned that you seem so unfamiliar with it, and that you seem to support voucher schools that have not honored, that made students sign away their rights, to make sure that the law is enforced. That is very troubling to me. DeVos vowed she would be “very sensitive to the needs of special needs students and the policies surrounding that,” prompting Hassan to reply: And with all due respect, it’s not about sensitivity, although that helps. It’s about being willing to enforce the law, to make sure that my child, and every child, has the same access to public education – high-quality public education. And the reality is, the way the voucher systems that you have supported work, don’t always come out that way, and that’s why it’s something we need to continue to explore. You can watch the full exchange between Hassan and DeVos below.

People With Pre-Existing Conditions Respond to Vote to Dismantling ACA

Late Wednesday night, nine days before Donald Trump takes office, Senate Republicans voted to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a move which has left millions of Americans, many of whom live with pre-existing health conditions, worried about the future affordability of U.S. healthcare. The ACA, also know as Obamacare, creates a marketplace where people can buy individual insurance plans. It also protects people living with pre-existing conditions, requiring insurers to provide coverage to everyone regardless of past or present health conditions; allows people to stay on their parent’s plan until they turn 26; removes lifetime maximums; and prohibits insurance companies from charging women more than men for their plans. Obamacare has also set up requirements mandating calorie counts in restaurant chains, breastfeeding rooms at workplaces and habilitative care coverage for children with autism. Last night’s vote, a Senate budget vote, begins the long process needed to repeal the ACA. During the vote, Senate Democrats came forward with amendments that would keep parts of the ACA intact, even after its repeal. According to Dan Diamond of Politico, every Democrat-backed amendment was voted down, including those that would allow children to stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26, keep protections for people living with pre-existing conditions and maintain insurance coverage of contraceptives. These amendments were ignored, despite previous statements from Donald Trump that suggest he favors keeping preexisting condition coverage and keeping children on their parents’ plan until they turn 26. The vote, which needed 50 votes to pass, received all of its votes from Republican senators, with the exception of Rand Paul (R-KY), who voted against the resolution along with all of the Senate Democrats and Independents who voted that night. With the process to repeal Obamacare in motion, many have taken to social media to share their concerns and fears. Here’s what they have to say. ACA is not perfect but it saved me & millions of others with pre-existing conditions. Improve it, but don’t take it away. Please. #SaveACA— TheBloggess (@TheBloggess) January 12, 2017 Do Republicans know that when people say #SaveACA, they are literally pleading for their life?Access is everything.Signed- this RN— KaceyL (@KaceyL) January 12, 2017   Here are 7 of the 9 prescriptions I take every day (I need to fill 2). I will die without my health care. Please #SaveACA! pic.twitter.com/SwLbfUlcog— Danielle Muscato (@DanielleMuscato) January 12, 2017   @Eskiworks I get to get married to the man I love, and he can WALK down the aisle instead of wheeling down the aisle because of the ACA.— Katie Hofgard (@Eskiworks) January 12, 2017 #SaveACA I am a social worker who saw uninsured young adults become disabled due to untreated illness before #ACA.— The Lamp Post (@HulbertCathleen) January 12, 2017 My 10 year old son, a cancer survivor and transplant recipient, would have hit his lifetime cap years ago. #saveACA https://t.co/IL8W5GQ2oq— Rachel Gillen (@chattyrachel) January 12, 2017 I suffer from Congestive Heart Failure. While I don’t use Medicaid, #ACA has been essential for me to find affordable health care. #SaveACA — Matthew Wolff (@MatthewWolfff) January 12, 2017 My insurance co fought to deny me life-saving chemotherapy because they thought I had a preexisting condition. I lived because they couldn’t — Xeni Jardin (@xeni) January 12, 2017

Mandy Ree

Finding Employment at Universal Studios as a Person With a Disability

Last year, my friend took me to Universal Orlando to go check out the Christmas events they offered. As a Disney cast member who had unlimited admission to the Disney parks, I never really had the money or the desire to wander into what we jokingly referred to as “The Park That Shall Not Be Named.” As we were wandering the park, a random person in a green jumpsuit approached us and asked if we wanted to carry a Macy’s balloon in the park’s parade that day. Apparently, every year, Macy’s sends down their balloons and floats from the Thanksgiving parade direct from New York City to us in Orlando. As a kid, I was obsessed with the parade, and even more so with the balloons. Balloons to me meant hope. Something that big should not be “flying,” and to me, that defied all childhood logic. If something people don’t believe in can rise above and fly, then a kid who was always bullied due to physical and emotional disabilities can too, right? Mandy with a Macy’s balloon. That day, as I was dealing with the holiday blues that come with depression, I felt free from all the pain. Although I have ocular albinism that limits my ability to see, I was able to obey my pilot’s commands and hand signals. Like the balloon that day, I flew along with it. I promised myself I would be back again one day, little did I know I would get a job from it. Back in August, I lost my job at Disney. My depression hit hard and every interview I went on cringed when they saw I was disabled. I spent three and a half months trying to prove potential employers wrong about me. And then I came across a posting for a Balloon Handler. Although it was a seasonal gig, it holds the potential of moving forward into something else. A second chance at working again. As I went into the interview and got the fair share of cringing upon them learning of my disability, a miracle happened. I was hired by Universal to be part of the parade I was in as a guest the year prior. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I found a company that valued me as a human being and not someone with a diagnosis. They gave me the opportunity for the next month to live my 5-year-old self’s dream. Like the balloons that fly above my head everyday I step off in the parade, I am free. Free of discrimination, free of stress, free of the “You can’t” or “You’re not good enough” attitudes. Free of worrying how I will survive this tough time of year. Each day, I go out there with all the stress left outside the gate and give it my all. And like the person who found me and my friend that day last year, I can only hope I can bring the same amount of happiness and wish granting they did for me. Like a Macy’s Parade balloon, hope floats. Follow this journey on Legally Blind Bagged. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

What I Wish Gamers Knew About Other Gamers With Disabilities

I love to play video games. Ever since I was younger and had the original Nintendo, I’ve been hooked. Currently, my gaming console of choice is the PlayStation 4. I also like whatever games I can download on my phone. Pokemon Go is my favorite, although it’s tricky to play without someone pushing me in my wheelchair. My girlfriend Mandy got me hooked on that game last month and I haven’t stopped playing it since. I am a gamer who just so happens to have a disability. I have cerebral palsy and doing things like reading instructions or hitting the right button combinations is hard for me sometimes. But I am a fast learner if someone tries to help me. I have a few good friends who are willing to explain a level to me so I can prepare, but more often than not, I run into some rude people. A few days ago, I was called a lot of mean names by people on the PS4 Network because they can pick up in my voice that I have a disability. They called me a lot of things that, let’s just say, weren’t very gentleman-like. The “R” word especially. I see my games as an escape from reality. The last thing I want to have to deal with is being made fun of. I wish other gamers would realize that although I might not be the best at what I do or I might sound funny to them, I am a person just like them. I’m just a guy who likes to game. We don’t have to all be friends, but we do have to respect each other and our differences, whether we have disabilities or not. We all log in to our games because we love what we do. Don’t you think we should at least try to be nice to one another? There are times I might need help on some things, so please have patience.Treat me the way you want to be treated, and don’t take a game so seriously to the point of trash talking someone. Think of how you would feel if someone did that to you. There are many people with disabilities who like to play games, and we just want our fair shot at being treated fairly. I am always open to meeting gamers who share the same philosophy as me. You’re more than welcome to meet me at HotKnight1966 on PS4 and Twitch. If you want to know more about the games I play or even my disability, just ask. Although there are plenty of mean people out there, I will never stop gaming. Hate will never ruin my hobby. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

How Society Can Support Relationships Between People With Disabilities

I have known my girlfriend Mandy Ree since she went to college in my hometown. She was my mentor and took me places sometimes. I knew Mandy was something special. She has a big heart, and understands me when others don’t. Over the last 11 years, Mandy and I became a couple.We fell in love with each other even though we both have disabilities. Mandy is legally blind, and I have cerebral palsy and learning can be hard at times. We accept each other for who we are and not what we can’t do. It took years for us to be taken seriously. I am a grown man with legal guardianship of myself, but some people who helped take care of me saw me as a child and Mandy as a threat. But since I used my self-advocacy skills, I fought for her to be in my life. She is smart, funny, kind, and an all-around beautiful girl I want to be with. Mandy and I love each other very much, and we want to get married. But we can’t, because both of us would lose the support we need to live on our own. Mandy doesn’t need as much help as I do, but I need staff sometimes to help me do things Mandy can’t, like drive. Because of this, Mandy has to live separately from me, so I can have my staff help me. Mandy got a job in Florida, so she lives too far away from me to visit as much. But we still make time for one another by having dates on Skype and talking on the phone. But that gets tough sometimes, and I really wish I could be with her always. I believe love shouldn’t be red-flagged by the government and society. Relationships between disabled people need to be shared and discussed with others, so we can change the rules and live a happy life. We shouldn’t be treated differently. Everybody has a right to get married without fear of losing all we have. Love isn’t about money, and money shouldn’t be an excuse to keep me and my girlfriend separate. I may not have much, but I want her to be part of my life forever. I want to walk her down the aisle someday, and maybe even have children like anyone else can. Mandy and I want to change the world and the way people think about us. We are both great self-advocates who won’t stop chasing our dreams and making them realities. We won’t stop raising our voices until things change. Mandy is worth the fight for me. And I won’t give up. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Mandy Ree

A Letter for President-Elect Trump, From a Disabled Citizen

Dear Mr. Trump, As much as I am against your agenda, I want to congratulate you on your win for the presidency. But I have a concern I wish you would pay attention to. It has to do with the people you’ve made fun of, the disabled who will now look up to you to assist them with their daily needs and desires. You see, there are millions of people, myself and my boyfriend included, who rely on benefits vital to keeping us living independently and in the community where we belong. Services like Social Security and In-Home Care are keys to our success. You say you want our country to be great again, but you continue to belittle our population and refuse to see us as the citizens we are. You refuse to give us the benefit of the doubt that we are capable of doing anything. You kicked a disabled protester out of your rally in Florida, and let’s not forget the stunt you pulled on that reporter. Where is your compassion? I pray you never have to face the challenges I have in your lifetime. I pray you never have to put a family member or loved one into In-Home Care or a nursing home. I pray you don’t have to deal with battles with insurance companies for simple things that will assist in your independence. I pray you never face discrimination in the workforce or life in general simply because your body or your mind works differently than other people’s. You see, Mr. Trump, people with disabilities want to be part of this community and have the same opportunities as everybody else because we are everybody else. We want to live independently, have jobs, get married, and live amazing lives because it’s our right as Americans to have that pursuit of happiness. As you start your presidency, please don’t forget people like us who rely on your policies. You are not just our leader, you are also our protector. You can make or break this country. And I sincerely hope you dig deep into your heart and see the potential disabled people in this country have. With your help, we can prove to the world that our differences combined can move mountains. The ball’s in your court, sir. Please don’t set this country back 50 years. Prove us wrong. Find some compassion, and put it to good use. You have your fame and fortune, now it’s time to step down from your pedestal and make change. You’ll be surprised what we can do. Sincerely, An amazingly-abled citizen Follow this journey on Legally Blind Bagged. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Photo credit: Donald Trump holds a rally in Newtown, Bucks County, PA, Friday, October 21, 2016. | Michael Candelori

Mandy Ree

Depressed and Unable to Get Out of Bed

Two months have gone by as I enter yet another week waiting for job interviews and call backs for job offers to come in. This leaves me in the house all day, and most recently, bedridden. The last few weeks of job rejection notices and bills piling up have led to me refusing to leave the confines of my bed, spending the days asleep and my nights binge-watching random YouTube videos and playing The Sims on my phone. Sounds fun, right? My friend moved in with me for a few weeks while he is working a local Halloween Haunt at a theme park a few blocks down the road. He offered to help me with bills and food in place of rent until things get straightened out. Although I am thankful for him here, it makes me feel even more useless since I can’t “adult” like I used to. It’s as if I slipped into the deep, dark almost child-like state from the world of happiness and success. Each day is a struggle just to get up for a few minutes and do a chore or two. The simplest successes are things “normal-minded” people take for granted. The thought of going out scares me for reasons unknown. Even therapy has been abandoned in favor of sleep in the comfort of my own apartment. My bed has become my prison, aside from my bestie who tries to swing by once a week to give me some much needed “rec time” to clear my mind. The results are often short-lived. It’s hard to explain the feeling depression has when it swallows your mind whole, as if everything shuts down. Your rational mind, your basic daily goals, even your emotions. I actually find it hard to cry now. It’s weird to say the least. Yet, I can’t fathom how something as simple as getting out of bed can turn into a Herculean task. This is coming from an otherwise able-bodied, mostly healthy adult. I had a few people joke around at how good I have it since I don’t work right now. They have it all wrong. I miss having a purpose in life, to go out each day and interact with people without fear, to be able to hang out with my friends with my own money paying the bill, to just be happy again. I know this pain is temporary, seeing the light at the end of this tunnel is coming up soon with job leads slowly processing. Yet, there goes that brain of mine shutting my thoughts and my body down, bit by bit. So if you think being bedridden because of mental illness seems better than real life, think again. I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy. Life is worth living, but not like this. At least my bed can’t hurt me. Image via Thinkstock. Follow this journey on Legally Blind Bagged.