When you explain acceptance to someone it can often sounds so simple. To “accept the things we can not change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom the know the difference…” in practice it isn’t that easy. It can take time, and constantly being your own cheerleader or therapist reaffirming the theory over and over again until it sticks. It can be exhausting. The main thing I think most people get stuck on is the fact acceptance is different to approval. I found that when I was working on my mental health I relied a lot on my physical health to get myself through the therapy. I still say that DBT saved my life, but I know it was a bunch of things including my hard work.
I have been battling with accepting my disability since I was diagnosed. Before this time I was in denial, believing that I was becoming lazy, that I just needed to work on my fitness more, lose weight, gain weight, put muscle on, get out for more walks, and other things. Of course I kept going to the drs but they were telling me that it was all in my head, that I needed to up my exercise, lose weight, go through more therapy and then eventually I stopped going after the first thing the dr started asking was if I wanted a sick note. Being self-employed since 2008 meant that sick notes meant nothing.
You see growing up being ill was not an option, if someone said they were ill, then they were just making excuses not to do something, or were just attention seeking.Other adults would talk down about people for being lazy and it was very rare that any child would be believed. Going to the drs was seen as wasting their time, as people who were “really sick” needed those appointments, heck even taking care of yourself was seen as selfish and a waste of time. My generation (GenX) was brought up by the boomers, who in the 80’s and 90’s had so may lies told to them by the media it really damaged so many people in so many ways. I have what is still called by some as “yuppie flu”, if I tell anyone about what it is like to be chronically ill I get told that “it happens to us all when we get old” I hadn’t realised just how ingrained all this is, even now, and even though I know it isn’t true. It can be challenging enough accepting it personally but getting others, who still very much share the aforementioned philosophy, to accept that you are ill and never going to get better is turning out to be even harder. This does of course still impact my mind set at times and it takes some strength to stick up for yourself when all you can hear is your past echoing their voices.
The past five years I have been trying to get my head around it all. It has been helped by the past two to three years consuming content from other disabled people, and in the past year more so than ever. I do not think I would be this far ahead in my own disabled journey if it wasn’t for them all and I am now at a point where I am no longer embarrassed, yes embarrassed about being classed as not only mentally ill but also chronically ill and disabled. I still get told “oh don’t say that about yourself, don’t put yourself down, you’re beautiful” which I always awkwardly use to reply with “err thank you?” Now with the thanks of tiktok I have the best reply of “ I said I was disabled, not ugly” why I’d never thought to of had that comeback before now Ill never know. it may have a lot to do with the fact that I know they are not equipped to understand and are just trying to be nice. Now I am able to add my voice to the disability advocates out there trying to let others that they are not a lone. If I can educate those who are willing to learn then even better.