I have a disability.
There, I said it. For the first time in my life.
Crohn’s disease is legally classified as a disability in the U.S according to the SSA. Yet all my life people have told me I should never label myself. “Words have power”, they said. “If you claim to be healthy and healed you will be. If you claim to be sick you always will be.”
But what I’m realizing now is that calling Crohn’s a disability is not a self-prophesying curse for myself, but rather it is simply being honest with myself and others around me.
I’ve spent 13 years pretending this disease doesn’t exist. Pretending to feel “fine”. Pretending that I’m strong enough.
But sometimes, I’m not.
Some days, I truly am too weak or in too much pain to walk.
Some days, (like today) going to the grocery store is like running a marathon.
Some days, I rely on my service dog or my boyfriend to help me with what I cannot physically do.
I must start being honest with myself and others about my limitations; it is what is right and fair. I must develop the courage to tell someone “no” when they ask me to do something that I know will be too taxing.
Does this mean some people will accuse me of being lazy, or faking, or exaggerating my symptoms? Absolutely. It already happens. But I really don’t care anymore. What other people think of me is non of my business. ?
Does this mean I will never push through and fake it ‘till I make it? Of course not. I’ve become an Olympic athlete with this disease and I’m not afraid of hard things. ? But pushing myself doesn’t equal not having boundaries. I get to choose when and how hard I push through.
I have a disability. There’s no shame in saying so. It’s not a weakness, it’s a strength. For indeed, it makes me a warrior and I’m proud of that. ?
Who else has a disability and/or chronic illness and is afraid to admit because of the judgement of others?