Living with an invisible disability
By: Brittany McQueen, Contributor
Some days are good and some days are bad, just like everyone else. Having a mental illness is not evident to the eye. You can know someone for years and never know that they are living with an invisible disability.
A mental disability should be treated the same way any other disability is treated – with respect. The worst accusation that I have ever personally heard is “I do not SEE anything wrong with you, so you do not have a disability.” People find it much easier to believe that something is there only when they can see it, without having too much regard for what the individual is actually experiencing. Just because you cannot see a disability, does not mean that it is not there. Another large stigma regarding mental illnesses is that if you have one, there is something wrong with you. Let me break it down easily…THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU! Having a disability is not your fault – it is no one’s fault. All you can do is take what you have and turn it into something wonderful.
The best advice I can give to someone with an invisible disability is to accept it. Once you have come to terms with your disability, you can start to strategize ways to deal with it in day to day life. I know that accepting it can be hard—it can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. You are not just going to wake up one day and have everything go away. It really sucks. But, I promise that after you can learn to accept it, it will all get so much better. If you are having trouble accepting it, there are so many places that can help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help. Having a mental health illness is not a destination, it is a journey. With any journey, there will be obstacles along the way. It is very important to know that you should never feel ashamed to ask for help.
Remember to always keep in mind that your disability does not define you. It is only one part of you and it does not have to be a negative part. Just like anything else in your life, you can choose how it affects you—whether it be positive or negative. Something that will always stick with me is when my dad told me, “if you always try your best, nothing else matters.” This piece of advice has helped me through many hard times. Just because you think your disability is holding you back from something, doesn’t mean that it is. If you have given it your all and there is really nothing else you can do (which is totally okay), you should always be proud of yourself for trying, even if you fail. However, in my eyes, failing can also be a win. Failing gives you an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and it can teach you how continue to improve yourself. Going through these challenges will make you even stronger than you were before. No matter what you go through, you will always be supported and loved by the ones around you.
Everyone hurts and everyone has pain. Just because they have not gone through your exact experiences does not mean that they haven’t gone through their own hell. So always remember that just because you cannot see someone else’s struggles does not mean they don’t exist. Living with an invisible disability is tough even on good days, but do not let this stop you from being your best you. Help end the stigma surrounding mental health by making it a point of conversation to educate and offer encouragement to as many people as possible.