Disabled or depressed: a blurry line

Over the past two years I have come to terms with being disabled.
Not only do I have mental health conditions and ADHD, I have also been diagnosed with a chronic kidney condition and chronic migraines. Sometimes I can go weeks without feeling impacted, sometimes I barely leave the house for days.

The past week has been the latter. My health concerns have been aggravated by a series of stressful events, and while I am coping with it well mentally, it is triggering.
When in a depressive episode I barely eat, shower, sleep lots, generally become passive in life.
When migraines are kicking in and fatigue takes a toll, the symptoms look the same.
So how do we manage this crossover?

“It is an awful thing to be betrayed by your body.
And it’s lonely, because you feel you can’t talk about it. You feel it’s something between you and the body. You feel it’s a battle you will never win . . . and yet you fight it day after day, and it wears you down.
Even if you try to ignore it, the energy it takes to ignore it will exhaust you.”

– David Levithan

Luckily I have other disabled friends who I can vent to who share my experiences.
I no longer feel like I am fighting against my body, but trust that when I am tired, I need rest.
But it is true that I fear my mental health more than my physical.
If my kidneys fail, I am still somewhat in control of my mind.
But in my past depressive episodes I feel like I am drowning for months on end, and I want to avoid getting back there by any means necessary.
And there are signs of impending depression such as isolating yourself and becoming disenfranchised from life – which physical disabilities often require.
It scares me that I can’t pick up my usual toolkit of getting outside, seeing my friends or participating in my studies.

“If I could snap my fingers and be nonautistic, I would not.
Autism is part of what I am.”
– Temple Grandin

It is not that I have made disabled a part of my identity, but it is part of who I am.
My various conditions have been summed up into a deep, unconscious layer that decides when I need rest, and I have learned to abide.
I could be fighting it or dreading it, but that’s exhausting.
And so is worrying about how others perceive me.
Being mindful of still connecting to others and the outside world helps lessen the fear of becoming depressed, as well as the knowledge that my health usually does get better after a short while.
Fear is debilitating, and worse than any condition I have.
So the only way to not freeze up when I wake up to a no spoons day is to embrace it.
Fine, lets get my meds, my pets and my switch and ride this thing out.

“To give the short version, I’ve learnt that every human being, with or without disabilities, needs to strive to do their best, and by striving for happiness you will arrive at happiness. For us, you see, having autism is normal — so we can’t know for sure what your ‘normal’ is even like. But so long as we can learn to love ourselves, I’m not sure how much it matters whether we’re normal or austitic.”
– Naoki Higashida

There is a lot of controversial debates to be had around dis-ability and normality.
In my case, what slows me down is as much inherent to me as what pushes me forwards.
I use all of me to seek out joy and growth, whenever I can.
And if I’m ever too tired to do so, I trust that it will find me.

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