Fighting Internal Ableism With Chronic Illness
In one way or another, we’ve all succumbed to that nasty little voice in the back of our head. I call that voice “internal ableism” and let me tell you, we are quite acquainted. I have been sick for most of my life, however, it is only within the last year and a half that my symptoms have rapidly worsened. During grade school, I played basketball and volleyball every year, I competed in our local track meet and skated every weekend. I was quite an active kid and I never imagined a time in my life where I wouldn’t be able to partake in these activities.
Shortly after my 17th birthday, I was laying in a hospital bed covered in a rash that we assumed was from an allergic reaction to something earlier that day, and an IV of fluids in my arm. I vividly remember saying to myself: “I could never live like this”, and little did I know that a year later, I’d be living that exact life.
Personally, I struggle with internal ableism.
Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled.
I catch myself pushing my body to its limits when it comes to physical exertion because in the past I was always able to walk long distances or carry heavier items. Not only does this end up in injury but also a flare that bars me from work and most day-to-day tasks. This kind of mindset has led me to where I am now. My rheumatologist has already suggested that I look into mobility aids and hearing those words crushed me. What do you mean I need help walking? Why can’t I just keep on doing what I’m doing now? I had to be honest with myself: what I’m doing isn’t working for me. I end up in bed, in pain, and very sick. “I realized there is no shame in being honest. There is no shame in being vulnerable. It’s the beauty of being human.” – unknown. In no way am I saying that every day has to be a great, overwhelmingly positive day full of rainbows and butterflies.
I still have days where I cry because I don’t want to use that wheelchair or have to lay practically sedated on morphine in the hospital. I don’t want to get that MRI done or have any more blood drawn, and I definitely do not want to visit the doctor again. But it is all part of the journey, as tough as it may be. In my planner, there is a small blank section where I take the time to write out affirmations. Things like: “I’m worthy of good health”, “Being sick doesn’t make me unlovable”, etc… and truthfully they do help.
Some days I will find myself excitedly looking for which aid I want to buy and how I will adapt to that change, or when I do have to go into the emergency room, I won’t be completely dreading it as I know that it will help my body feel better.
The little voice won’t go away in a matter of days and maybe it won’t ever completely leave, but working on it consistently and really believing yourself and the affirmations will help soothe it, at least. Don’t forget to practice self-care, too. I find that filling my life with things I enjoy like sitting in my favourite coffee shop and reading helps me be a bit more mindful and calms my thoughts.
“Life with chronic illness is like walking through quicksand: the harder you try to fight it, the more it affects you… embrace it and look after it like someone you love. – @inflammatribe on Instagram.
It is definitely hard to keep yourself in a positive mindset when your life seems like it has been consumed by chronic illness. However, chronic illness doesn’t have to be a monster. Believe me, it is awful that anyone has to deal with it at all, but fighting your illness will only force it to fight back harder. Work with it— look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself that despite anything being sick has thrown at you, you are still worthy, loved, and you deserve happiness. Don’t let your brain try to destroy you because you are dealing with enough right now. Remind yourself: you use a wheelchair? Wonderful! I’m so glad that you aren’t pushing your body too far! You had to lay in bed all day?
That’s okay. Sometimes we need a bit of rest. Your illness has altered your physical appearance? Maybe it has, but that in no way makes you ANY LESS BEAUTIFUL. You are not your Lupus, ME/CFS, Crohn’s, etc… you’re a human who is chronically ill. It’s a piece of you and maybe it is a big piece, but it isn’t all of you.
Thank you for giving this post a read. It’ll be available on my upcoming blog hellospoons.blogspot.com.
Love, light, and spoons. ❤