I recently came across an Instagram account of a woman close to my age who has a form of muscular dystrophy. While our disabilities are different (I have spinal muscular atrophy), many of the struggles she expresses are similar to my own.
She’s dealt with severe illnesses, body changes due to muscle atrophy, unwanted weight loss, and discrimination. I can certainly empathize with her as I’ve experienced those things throughout my life.
Where we differ is our outlook and how we choose to handle our challenges. While she is a strong advocate for the right to assisted suicide, I fight daily to continue living a “normal” life.
We All Struggle
I won’t tell you that living with a neuromuscular condition like the one I have is easy. Quite frankly, it’s far from it. It’s not always fun and sometimes, it’s painful–both physically and emotionally. But if I were to ask someone who was physically able if they have challenges in life, I can guarantee they’d say yes.
My trials may be more noticeable to the naked eye, but that doesn’t mean I was dealt a worse hand in this game of life than anyone else was. Whether you struggle physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, or with relationships, etc.—life can be hard. There’s no denying that.
But for Me, Life is Worth Living
What’s difficult for me with that woman strongly advocating to end her own life just because she has a disability, is that it perpetuates the thought that disabled lives aren’t worth living.
As I mentioned before, we all endure difficult things in our lives. The difference is how we choose to get through. I have worked so hard to get where I am and giving up has never been an option. If I’m being honest, all the pain I’ve endured just makes the good times that much more satisfying.
I have such an appreciation for human life. Even the smallest of things can light up my days. I’ve been through surgeries, life-threatening illnesses, loss of friends, endless struggles with insurance and healthcare companies, painful procedures, and been treated less-than by many.
I’ve also seen my daughters grow and learn and love. They bring such an immense joy to me and anyone who knows them. I’ve traveled and been in absolute awe of our beautiful country; from the mountains to the ocean. I’ve been blessed with the strongest support system within my friends and family and they push me to be the best version of myself.
What Would I Change?
I can’t change the fact that I have a disability. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone, but regardless, it is just as much a part of me as my eye color or my love of food.
What I would like to change, however, is how society views my life.
I want people to know that, while yes living with a disability can be hard, it’s also a life worth living. Instead of assuming that I’m struggling and miserable, KNOW that I’m stronger because of what I go through. No one gets to judge MY quality of life other than ME.