Flash back to eight year old me. I had just moved to a new school for the fifth time due to my parents having issues with schools and their PE program and how they treated me. This time was different I didn’t just move schools but I moved to a new town too. The town was so small I felt like everyone knew my business. Quickly within a week I was the new girl who had some freaky heart condition that meant she couldn’t run or do PE. It was exacerbated by the fact that I ended up having surgery that year. It was a lot for third graders to understand so I was bullied and because I looked normal I was accused of “faking it” by other kids.
When I had my second open heart surgery when I was fifteen I remember having such a hard time in the hospital and yelling at my family and staff that I just wanted to die. Afterwards, I suffered severe PTSD. Crazy thing was that I never got help.
I’m not the only one with a disability who has stories like this, yet again our stories are under represented. Instead we are to be pitied or represented in film as being honored for ending our lives. Don’t believe me check out “Million Dollar Baby,” “One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest,” and “Me Before You”
When we leave the hospital they gloss over depression and there are no systems put into place. When I left the hospital recently they asked questions in my check out about in past three month if I felt anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts, but they asked them in front of guests. I tried to answer honestly, telling them that I had been depressed and anxious thinking maybe they might refer me afterwards but nothing came of it.
As we end this week, check in on your friends who have chronic illnesses, who have disabilities, who have intellectual disabilities. Don’t just do this because you pity them but because you want to be more involved in their lives. We are more than our disability. I can’t express more that we need to support people with disabilities and raise awareness.