Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Disabilities Do Not Make Us Less Than Other People

Today, as I was doing my usual "Googlerama" festivities for the day (searching around through topics that interest me), I discovered something that saddened me, and yet it was already keenly familiar to me on a personal level. It seems that people with disabilities, particularly those that are predominantly homebound, often struggle with tremendous feelings of inadequacy and may feel lonely, depressed, and bored, among other things.

I don't pretend to know what it's like to be physically disabled. My father is physically impaired, and I have seen some of his challenges, and those of my mother, due to this. However, I can only speak from my own internal experience, and that is with mental health disabilities.

I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder, in addition to struggling somewhat with agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety. Then there are some other annoyances that are aggravated by my mental state such as colitis and IBS. Leaving the house is not as simple for me as throwing on some clothes, putting on a bit of makeup, hopping in the car and zooming off. It is a torturous, stressful, and painful process, that starts hours before I leave my house (on the rare occasions that I do so). I worry. I worry about everything. I worry about things normal people never even remotely consider. I shake, my heart pounds, my palms sweat, I feel weak, irritable, and even nauseous sometimes. Medication, while making these things more manageable, is definitely not a "cure all." And to be painfully honest, I'm not a very good example of staying on my medication consistently, even when I know I should. I still fight with myself about my illness, as though my wishing it wasn't so, would make it go away. It doesn't.

Thinking about the stark reality of this, stirred my soul. It's a topic that feels close to home.  Maybe too close to home. To blog about "feelings" and shortcomings, disabilities and desires....not really on the top of my list of "fun things to do." As a matter of fact, it's downright scary as hell. How much of the "real me" am I willing to put out there for public inspection, and ultimately judgment? People, by nature, especially those on the internet, seem to lean toward the judgmental side of human nature, possibly because many are intellectual or fancy themselves so. Anonymity...doesn't help matters. Many of the more cowardly internet "frequent flyers," so to speak, take great immature delight in tearing others down, often with no reason other than...they can. (I don't think generally intelligent people do this, just the more immature.)

So here I sit, typing out what feels like a sort of death sentence to normalcy. And by "normalcy" I mean the convienience of staying very shallow, always a bit humorous, and at arm's length, emotionally, from anyone in cyberspace. I, of all people, love safety. Emotional safety, mental safety, physical safety....safety. (Yes, I'm a bit of a germaphobe too.) But what do I have to contribute to anyone if I don't make myself transparent? Sure...I could continue to hide behind funny stories (not that I don't have some genuinely funny stories to share), or...I can be 100% real, raw, vulnerable, and essentially naked. I don't know if "naked me" is all that appealing (I mean gravity at the age of 45 is frighteningly real...you don't wanna know). But isn't ME all that I have to share? And in all honesty....isn't it also what I want from you? Yes, yes it is.

I have decided, after probably not near enough thought, that one of my ferocious dust bunnies (fear) needs to come out from under the bed and face the light of day. Sure, I could leave it under there, forget about it, let it grow. That's probably not the best idea. For the past 11 years I have managed to be on the internet, "socially" relating to others without ever really showing "those" parts of myself. I've worn the Mommy Hat, the Gamer Hat, the Blogger Hat, the College Student Hat, the Facebook-MySpace Hat, the High School and College Alumni Hats, the Poet Hat, the Vlogger Hat, the Shopper Hat (online shopping, of course), the Geek Hat (hence my internet persona name of "kcgirlgeek"), I've even worn the Catch A Predator and Let's Help the Cops Hat. *sigh* After all of that, I think it's time to conquer the fear of being hatless....the fear of exposure.

So from here on, I'm going to be blogging (and soon vlogging) about the challenges of life with a disability, from my perspective and my family's, and...I'm going to address the issues of feeling inadequate, lonely, and bored, and how we can begin to conquer those things together. These feelings are not unique to the disabled, by the way, as though I'd have to tell anyone that. I'm  going to address ways in which we can stretch ourselves by stepping outside of our comfort zone in ways that are beneficial to our well-being. And I'm going to invite you to share in those experiences with me, via HD video and blog, which will be uncomfortable for me, and hopefully uplifting for at least one other person. Because if I can take one other person on this journey with me, it will be all the more worth it.

*The image used above is by disastrous.

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