Lately, I’ve really been struggling with the harsher realities of disability in my life. Feeling left out, isolated, and overwhelmed. I am thankful to have some amazing friends in my life who really help with this, but talking to one friend in particular, who also has a disability really stuck with me. She reminded me that it’s ok to be down, to be sad, to be overwhelmed. That my feelings are totally valid, and way more common than I felt like they were. I think social media tends to play a huge role in this, minimizing the negative. So many chronic illness and disability influencers on social media post overwhelmingly positive things and minimize the negative. While this can be a wonderful thing, showing how much we can achieve, I think that it has the rebound effect of causing some isolation when you see these people that you look up to seemingly never or rarely being down, and, at least for me personally, feeling like I’m not doing something right by having these feelings. There are some notable social media influencers, such as Alex Dacy (WheelchairRapunzel on Facebook and Instagram), who show both the good days and bad days, which is truly amazing, but it’s a rarity. She truly posts the raw emotions about living with a serious life-limiting disability, the good, the bad, and the ugly, which, for me at least, has been hugely impactful because it shows that others, no matter how positive they can be, also show the bad days and truly validate their emotions as they process them, and allow others to see into their journey. Social media truly has huge upsides, as well as downsides, especially for those of us who are more physically isolated due to disability and may have a smaller level of significant in-person interaction. It allows us to interact with others who share our journey, or a similar journey, but it also can be a highly curated, idealized version of someone’s experience as well, which is something to remind yourself of if you feel like hyper positivity is impacting your personal experience of disability day to day.
Thanks to my discussion with my friend I’m allowing myself to feel down today. I’m giving myself time to have, as well as fully experience, the feelings I’m having because they are valid, they are real, and pushing them aside or being hard on myself about them is only going to have a greater negative effect on myself. But tomorrow is a new day. A day to keep moving forward, and a new day with new feelings. Giving yourself permission to be sad or to grieve allows you to process your emotions instead of letting your emotions control you, or build up and spillover. Taking time to validate your feelings and emotions is healthy, and it's natural. It’s truly OK to not be OK. Many of us have many things to handle, and when it’s overwhelming... it's OK. Experience your feelings, and then begin to move forward and use them to know yourself better, and keep on moving forward. May you find joy in your day, peace in your emotions, and a support/friend network to tie it all together!
Image credit: Author