Inspired “AND”…

I love anything/anyone inspirational. Books, GoalCast, TED talks, you name it. Recently I’ve found a few great people to follow on Instagram. One person is famous and her brand foundation is based on mental health awareness. She suffers from anxiety and of course I don’t know her personally but her Instagram shows her to be beautiful and successful and in love, which she may be all of those things but it’s the “AND” that I’m learning people so often miss. She may be beautiful, successful, in love AND suffer from anxiety.

Another is a young lady who was out on a run when she was hit by a car. She was told she’d never walk again and now she uses crutches to conquer marathons, Spartan races, etc. She is strong and amazing! She is also honest about her bad days and her struggles. She is strong, amazing AND real.

Most recently (today) I started following someone she spoke about who lost a leg when his Humvee hit an IED. I read his latest post that talked about carrying the weight of anxiety, depression, etc. It made me feel a little less alone in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m not alone. But one thing people like to tell me is that “it could be worse”. As if I don’t know that. As if I should be grateful. 

Yesterday my mom, sister and I went to watch Welcome to Marwen. Him and I are nothing alike, yet we are. My family knows what I tell them about my PTSD, depression and anxiety, nothing more. They have no idea the extent of the things I see, my flashbacks, my anxiety attacks, etc. I’ve tried letting them in here and there but I end up feeling like I should just stop talking, so I do. They don’t understand the comforts of living in a world those of us with disabilities and/or mental illness create for ourselves. Maybe they don’t all include dolls but we have our toolboxes, our coping strategies and our self care kits. And the truth is, a lot of us are misunderstood. People don’t understand why we can’t just snap out of it or overcome things… Why we can’t toughen up because “it could be worse”. But one of the biggest lessons I have learned recently is the “AND”. I can feel like crap AND be thankful for today, I can be in pain AND still smile, I can hate today AND love it at the same time. I used to think it was black and white, you’re happy or you’re sad, you’re depressed or you’re thriving, etc. The idea that there’s room for both was not something I’d ever considered, nor had anyone ever presented the idea. Now, I feel like I confuse people around me ha-ha. My Grandpa today said (He has not seen me since my accident) “You always sound great when I talk to you!” I told him that’s because he lifts my spirits. He laughed and said I was lying but the truth is, him and my Grandma do. They know very little about what I go through because they don’t see it and I don’t tell them. They’re 90, they don’t need to worry about me. Besides, even though I’m in pain, I’m happy to be talking to them, I’m smiling, I’m laughing, I’m feeling pain AND joy. What I don’t understand is how to communicate this to my family…

Remember how I said I know I’m not alone? Well, that’s because I have family. Friends? I have a few. And those few (I’m talking less than a handful) aren’t here. My best friend moved across the country, I have two pen pals and one other best friend who is nearby but whom I don’t see or talk to very often. So I rely on my family a lot for support, friendship, company, etc. The problem is, they don’t like tough stuff. My mental illnesses will only be discussed if I bring it up and even then, it’s usually a short lived conversation. I get it, they don’t usually know what to say or how to help but it would be nice if they spoke up when they notice I’m struggling or asked how I’m holding up once in a while instead of pretending like nothing is wrong with me. That just makes me feel like they’re embarrassed. And they can’t come up with any job ideas that I could do in my condition but they sure like to talk about how I need to find a way to make money because they can’t help me forever… Well gee, that’s helpful. Not. It’s an exhausting conversation with questions I don’t have answers to and a problem that I can’t solve. They know that I do 1,000 more research than the average person when it comes to…Anything really. My medical condition, treatments, doctors, trials, rent help, financial help, ways to save, etc. etc. etc. In the grand scheme, they know without a doubt that I am doing my best. So when can we focus on accepting what is or finding solutions rather than making me feel like I’m not doing enough? I get it, they want me to get better and they don’t want to accept that their kid is disabled. I understand. I don’t want to face it either! I want to go back in time to when I was pain free, had my mobility, my career, my cars, my social life, etc. etc. But life is here and now, we can’t go back. This is it for now. And maybe the right treatment or surgery is coming, there’s no harm in being optimistic and looking forward to that, but it doesn’t change the condition I’m in now and we can’t just wish me better. Trust me, I’ve tried. *Sigh* I just wish I knew how to help them understand so they can support me as I am and maybe I could become as inspirational and strong and brave as all these other people! Maybe it’s wishful thinking…

One thought on “Inspired “AND”…”

  1. Well, I think you coming here to write your thoughts and feelings is a good step because reading this post makes me feel less alone and more understood. I hope you continue to write because I have put you on my favorite list and look forward to reading more.

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