My Beautiful Tribe,
How often have you heard people describe you as looking “normal?” I believe “normal” to be such nonsense, as it describes nothing, unless they are referring to the cycle on their washing machine. Normal is an overused word in society, whereby, society dictates the norms and rules by their own standards. If someone doesn’t look or behave like them, they are considered, “abnormal.” So, those with “invisible” disabilities, or whom seem not to fit in the norm, are individuals who have problematic issues with their bodies they have no control over and are, therefore, considered “misfits.” I, too, fit in this category, although, I refuse to allow others to actually shift me there. I am, after all, unwilling to let my “star-shaped self be placed into society’s beige square holes! I, [instead], choose to embrace my ridiculous [awesomsauceness] and shine like the freaking supernova I was meant to be…” (Word Porn)
Many of those disabilities that are invisible are the following…ADHD, Anxiety disorders, Asperger Syndrome, Autism, Bipolar disorder, Brain injuries, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Chronic pain, Circadian rhythm sleep disorders, Coeliac disease, Depression, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Lyme disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Metabolic syndrome, Major Depression, Migraines, Muscular Sclerosis, Narcolepsy, Personality disorders, Psychiatric disabilities, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Schizophrenia, Siagren’s syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, and the list goes on…(Disabled World Towards Tomorrow).
What concerns me is the fact that people are not educated about invisible disabilities and fail to understand the differences, even between a traumatic brain injury and a mental illness. Some people believe they are one in the same. They are NOT! There are many myths about each one of these invisible disabilities and Americans should be vigilant in trying to not only decipher what each disability is, but also note the differences among each of them so they do not mistakenly correlate them together. In doing so, they sabotage the person’s identity in ostracizing them in a disability group they don’t belong in, and also, stereotype them by casting them as having certain dysfunctional traits they never originally had in the first place because they were either misinformed, ignorant, and/or never bothered to follow up on educating themselves on the truthful facts of the person’s disability. A mistake one should never make when it comes to placing stigmas on others!
Sharing this message with my tribal community and Face Book are three-fold. First, I have been one of those individuals whom has been stigmatized by others to be seen as having a mental illness because I had two traumatic brain injuries. Second, when people first view me, I look healthy, positive, and happy. And, yes. I work hard to be healthy, positive, and happy, although, this does not come easy for me. I struggle and am challenged daily by the pain in my neck, legs, brain, and other bodily functions that have been injured by two severe car accidents. It’s a daily walk for me, yet I am happy to believe that blessings abound when you continue to look upward and think positively. Third, I also believe you are what you believe. In doing so, I want to manifest in my life a stream of continuous starlights surrounding me in order to accomplish my heart’s desires, which is far beyond that which I can do on my own personal realm. Only a higher power can assist in what I want to accomplish in this lifetime, and juggling the visionary concepts I have within my grasp can only be possible with Him at my side. Therefore, my strides are always for self-improvement in reaching ambitious goals. Several of them are in writing and completing more chapters of my memoir for publication, swimming for endurance and improving my form, cycling beyond 25 miles, and increasing my blogs to educate and inspire others who may be struggling in their own journeys from trauma, disabilities, and/or addiction.
Also, your appearance and the perception you send out about yourself to others whether in reality, on Face Book, or any social media for that matter, like twitter, texting, and verbally communicating with others regardless of the venue, can deflect your beauty because words can be interpreted in so many different ways. Globally, people can be very unkind because their experiences and the lens from which they see you through are far extreme than what you may ever comprehend in your lifetime. People say perception is everything, yet whose perceptions are we really trying to receive approval from? In no way can we get a “thumb’s up” from everyone all the time. That truly is impossible, because people abound with alternative wisdom, knowledge, experiences, biases, bigotries, and the list continues. I have always been a spiritual rebel in the fact that I go against the “norm.” I dislike following rules, because many of them are meant to discourage creativity, disallow for discovery, and hinder integration of an environment or culture that embodies individuals to feel ownership for their designs, decision making, and their successful outcomes. When people negate an individual’s ability to ascend her logic or think tank beyond the glass ceiling because that person looks or acts different from others, that person begins to believe her potential is una
ttainable. Therefore, she fails in her attempts at whatever she hoped to accomplish, because she now believes she is not good enough to conquer the challenges before her. Her self-esteem plummets to where she begins to doubt every decision she makes. It’s called the self-fulfilling prophecy. This begins a vicious cycle of torment in a person’s psyche, whereby this person now compares herself to others. Deep down she believes she can never be as pretty, smart, or compete with her colleagues at large, because, after all, she isn’t good enough to do it and will fail regardless of her attempts. Consequently, she never tries so she never accomplishes her dreams. She seeks the negative in all she aspires to attain and in everyone she rubs shoulders with. Her self-esteem has melted from her skin and her soul is now raw with pain, discontentment, betrayal, and shame. This is what pleasing others can do to you when you feel you don’t belong in a system that encourages the “norm” of society to be embraced. I am fighting to let you know that there is no such thing as “normal”. EVERYONE is NORMAL! INCLUDING YOU!!?
As a Rebel Spirit, I have had my share of issues and challenges with people in the medical field, attorneys, employers, insurance companies, and family in order to be “seen and heard”. Most people see me as sparkling book cover instead of what I stand for, my passions, my spirit, and my soul. I am outspoken about those things I am passionate about, I revel in deep discussions that I can identify with, and I try to communicate honestly about everything. Yet, in spite of this, I find there are people who do not share my desire to face conflict head on, are passive-aggressive, keep secrets, and are chameleons when honesty isn’t their policy.
Just like all authors, I may look beautiful, I may write eloquently, and I just might communicate some amazing facts that are pertinent to those whom have been abused, have sifted through the coals of trauma, suffered a traumatic brain injury, are deeply disturbed by PTSD, and/or is living with addiction. Yet, what I write may not appeal to everyone who reads it, and I may not project what everyone else thinks is accurate, appropriate, helpful, and/or is historically linked to an article from the past. But truth be told, I am NOT writing for everyone to agree with me. I write for myself. I write for MY audience and what I believe in my heart. I write for those who have been deeply wounded by the hands of trauma.
And, you my beautiful tribe, whoever you are, should NOT EVER compare yourself to others or try to please the world. YOU are whoever you want to be, NOW. This is where Loving Yourself gives YOU the Power, the Permission, and the Glow you need to Let Go and Let God. Choosing to live in the Glow is so much sweeter than living in the dark. I can help you get there if you wish to take that journey forward… Let me know if that is something you wish to attain. Take my hand, and we will seek it together….
In Love and Light,
Kimberly Lees, Ed.D.
Quick Facts: Invisible Disability in Society
Invisible disabilities are the most common type of disability among college students. For example, students with learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and/or psychiatric disabilities may request accommodations even though they do not appear to have a disability. There are numerous other hidden or invisible disabilities such as heart condition, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Seizure Disorder.
A growing number of organizations, governments, and institutions are implementing policies and regulations to accommodate persons with invisible disabilities. Governments and school boards have implemented screening tests to identify students with learning disabilities, as well as other invisible disabilities, such as vision or hearing difficulties, or problems in cognitive ability, motor skills, or social or emotional development. If a hidden disability is identified, resources can be used to place a child in a special education program that will help them progress in school.
Statistics: Invisible Disability
About 10% of Americans have a medical condition which could be considered an invisible disability. 96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with a condition that is invisible. These people do not use a cane or any assistive device and act as if they didn’t have a medical condition. About 25% of them have some type of activity limitation, ranging from mild to severe; the remaining 75% are not disabled by their chronic conditions. Although the disability creates a challenge for the person who has it, the reality of the disability can be difficult for others to recognize or acknowledge. Others may not understand the cause of the problem, if they cannot see evidence of it in a visible way.