May 18, 2021

Disability Makes Me Feel Colorful

The content is produced by CCYAN and their fellow Nathalie Garcia.

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I remember hating myself. For so long, I was so angry at the world. I was angry because I couldn’t run anymore. I was angry because I was in pain. I was angry because I felt like I wasn’t capable of anything. 

The stigma of disability is often composed of beliefs that people with disabilities are too sick to do anything, are not capable, and weak. 

Years later I realized the only reason I hated myself and hated my disability was because society made me believe that having a disability was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. 

People would frequently tell me things like I should reconsider what I wanted to do with my life because of how my illness would impact me. I have been told that it was surprising I could even do what I have done in my life. I have been told that I would be in pain forever.

I have had doctors not believe in me. I have been blamed for my illness. I have been shamed for my weight, for not eating enough, for not trying hard enough, for being too tired, for eating too much “fast food” and an endless stream of hateful and hurtful words.

Sometimes even members of my own family would shame me and suggest I caused my own illness. I think that hurt the most. 

But they could not have been any more wrong. 

Living with a disability allowed me to see my black and white world in color for the very first time. 

My disability gave me inspiration for my future career. It allowed me to realize what my true passions and dreams were. It allowed me to appreciate the smallest, tiniest things that no non-disabled person would ever be able to notice. It opened up the door for new hobbies. It empowered me to focus on my mental health. More than anything, it gave me a second chance at life. 

I live for myself now.

I started painting which is weird because I used to only be able to draw little doodles on the bottom of my notebooks. 

I do yoga when before I would over-exercise and tire out my body. 

I found out about Trader Joe’s vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with coconut (only after the very serious hunt to find snacks that were IBD friendly for me).

The air tastes better. Songs are not even songs anymore; they are seven different melodies and sounds happening at the same time and I can appreciate every bit of it. Every time I take a step without pain, it makes me feel like I am walking on clouds. The sun feels warmer.

I feel colorful. 

Personally, my disability was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It is difficult. It is painful. It is exhausting. 

But it does not make me weaker than anybody else, less capable than anybody else, and I do the same things anybody else does, and I do it while I’m sick too.