This post is the second of a collaboration series with the amazing Lori (@budtobloomlori). Lori (they/them)is a disabled model, and creative who uses the mediums of writing and art both as an outlet, and a way to raise awareness about life with chronic illness. Some of the conditions they live with include Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, PoTS, MCAS, and mental illness - all of which have been discussed in detail over the course of their 3 years as a writer. They recently created a petition addressed to the UK Parliament regarding eating disorders, and are still taking signatures.
In this post, they will be discussing six different affirmations for those with chronic illnesses based on their own experience.
#1: I’m Stronger Than My Insecurities Are
Everyone has experienced insecurities in a form, whether this because we’re self conscious. We may not feel like we’re smart enough, strong enough, or that we are insecure in our own skin - and depending on the culture and how our disability manifests itself, it can really impact upon our self-esteem because we are conditioned to see a cultural beauty standard as something to aspire to because it’s deemed the most desirable set of characteristics. Inadvertently this plays into our self-worth because we’re taught the more desirable, attractive, and wanted you are - the better and worthier you are.
#2: I’m Not a Bad Disabled Person for Grieving the Life I Once Thought I’d Have
When I first started working to embrace my disabled identity, and understanding/unpicking the reasons why I had internalised beliefs regarding my health - I thought my goal was to dismiss my grief over my loss of ability and aspirations because this was perceiving my state of current health as less desirable. But this makes no sense at the end of the day, because whilst thinking this I also was telling myself it’s okay to not be okay, and how my feelings are valid; but simultaneously invalidating the distress I felt from my reality shifting once again.
#3: Rest is Not Laziness, Rest is Important
Although I can’t speak for any other culture, western society equates constant work and innovation with someone’s promise and with that comes the reinforcement from others in the form of praise and admiration. The mere fact that hustle culture is pushed and endorsed is very concerning to me. Not just because it’s deeply unhealthy and unsustainable, but because as someone with a disability - I see it as yet another way of determining someone’s worth based on how much they make, how much they do, or what they do, and although this may not outwardly appear ableist, it is - because it automatically excludes a lot of people, most of whom are disabled. So please remember, that resting is essential, it isn’t a waste of time - and everyone needs different degrees of rest. This isn’t shameful.
#4: I’m Not Less Worthy because of My Disability
We can perceive ourselves as being lesser than because of the poor relationships we have with our disabled identity. Ableism, trauma, and standards of beauty can all impact our self-esteem, and in-turn our self-worth. It can be really hard to actively challenge these insecurities by acknowledging our feelings, but it’s so important to help cultivate a healthier relationship with yourself as it seeps into all areas of life.
#5: I’m Not a Burden to Those Around Me - Even if They Act Like I Am
Asking for help can be difficult for a plethora of reasons, however I’ve found that I struggle with guilt when asking for help, especially if the person we’re asking is tired or also sick. However if we’re unable to do something, and someone is willing to help - why the guilt? We’ve been conditioned to feel like we have to be entirely non-dependent on other people to the degree of refraining from admitting that we require assistance in any form. This is another example of societal ableism, the way that over the generations we have hidden our difficulties as much as possible, even when it’s at the detriment of our health and happiness, and not just because we feel like we’re burdensome - but also because of the shame we carry for needing help with things we perceive as being mundane, or intimate - such as personal care.
#6: You’re Not Responsible for People’s Treatment of You
I know that I’ve excused people’s ableist attitudes and actions because of their age, because of their lack of exposure to disabled people etc, but there is a huge difference between continuing to hold people accountable, and letting it slide, especially when you blame yourself for being offended by the comments they make, or that when you don’t feel comfortable correcting them - that we’re not doing enough to help others unlearn their ableism. But we aren’t responsible for this, we are allowed to feel angered and upset by people’s prejudice, especially when it offends you or triggers you, it’s totally valid.