I Am Disabled......and that is ok!
I was born with a congenital cataract in my right eye, which meant I have never had clear vision out of that eye. I have grown up not knowing any different. Often people would ask me, ‘what’s it like to only see out of one eye?’ which I would reply ‘I don’t know! What’s it like to see out of both eyes?’ As far as I was concerned for a long time, I saw things how everyone else did!
Over the years as I grew up I was told that I wouldn’t be able to do certain things, like drive a car. At the age of twenty-one I got my license. Seeing out of one eye never stopped me from doing anything, because it was my normal. It was so much my normal that I would actually forget that I couldn’t see out of that eye.
I remember a time that I dropped something and it rolled under the fridge, I got down to look for it though couldn’t understand why it was so dark under the fridge. Then it dawned on me! Well I was looking under the fridge with my right eye! Still to this day I find that story funny!
I didn’t see it as a hindrance, yes maybe a little annoying when people didn’t know I was looking at them, because I also had an eye turn, though over all it was just who I was. I still achieved the things I wanted to achieve and just adapted where I needed too.
It wasn’t until I started to immerse myself into the Multiple Sclerosis community and listened to others talk about their Optic Neuritis and how debilitating they found it, especially those who only had one eye affected. It was then that I realised I had been living with a form of disability all my life, yet I just didn’t see it that way. Having that moment of realisation hasn’t changed that either, I still don’t see it as a disability.
What I have noticed since my MS has progressed is how different it has been to know what life was like before, when my arm and hand would behave normally or I had more energy. It has been harder for me to accept my disease because I have been aware of what it was like before. A complete contrast to being born with my cataract, where with my MS it has been a noticeable change, as something else came before it.
It took me some time to accept the terms disabled and chronic illness with my MS. As Carly Findlay over at Tune into Radio Carly says in her latest blog post, there are such negative connotations in society relating to disability and Chronic Illness. I was afraid that if I accepted the label I would be seen as weak and as I had already been ridiculed by some for not being Polly Positive in regards to my diagnosis, I shied away from the label. Attempting to continue on to be the super human I thought I had to be. I mean surely I could pull that off, I had been walking through life with a disability and it hadn’t affected me, so why would this one!
The further I immersed myself into the MS community, the more I became aware that accepting the terminology, was a step towards accepting that this was permanent in my life. Also by accepting the word disabled, didn’t actually mean accepting I couldn’t, instead it allowed me to start focusing on what I was able to still achieve. No longer concerned about not being able to do things because I was afraid of how it would be perceived I could actually look at what I could do now.
There is something else that comes with accepting the labels, I could now let go of the idea I had to be super human, and open the door to accepting help. Something I had struggled with for a very long time, because I felt undeserving and that someone else needed it more. Now I see it is ok to need help, it doesn’t make me weak, it means my precious energy and time can go towards other things. Letting go of that stress made a world of difference to the management of my MS.
I relate more to the label of Chronic Illness than I do Disabled, mainly because there is only occasional days that my MS becomes visible and physically disallows me to do something. My MS is most certainly chronic though, here with me everyday, and as I mentioned in my first post. Loyal to the end!
Hi! My name is Amber, I have a Chronic Illness which at times makes me disabled and that’s Ok!