“Attacking people with disabilities is the lowest display of power I can think of.”
Morgan Freeman: An Actor and Survivor of Chronic Pain (who knew?)
I have written about Morgan Freeman in previous posts as he is one of many celebrities, authors, artists, and musicians who have an invisible illness. And yes, chronic pain is in fact a disability, I just made a choice to not allow it to define me but have to modify and/or moderate my lifestyle. Attacking people with disabilities is the lowest display of humanity I can think of as well. I have dealt with this professionally and personally. Months after my bike accident/brain surgery I started my first year in a public school where I knew no one and had no idea what Middle School would be like. Beginning a new school at the age of thirteen is intimidating as is, much less being the new girl amongst hundreds of other teenagers with half a shaved head, scars, and swelling due to my surgery. Pimples were there, trust me but were the least of my worries. I was treated terribly. I had never been exposed to “mean girls” or the teenage world. I was not used to cliques and bullying and that first year of Middle School was a living hell. After a few weeks of trying to eat lunch in the cafeteria, I gave up and ate my lunch alone in the girls bathroom: hidden by anyone who could make a remark or tell me I could not sit with them. This is even before chronic pain truly surfaced and my illness became invisible. Once it became invisible, I wanted to look as I did that year with half a shaved head because then everyone would see my pain. I wish I could tell every child or teenager out there that anyone who is mean to you is really just as lost and confused as you are. Even in adulthood, when people are mean to you are make fun of you it is because they are unhappy with themselves. I hope I am able to instill this knowledge into my daughter as hard as possible. I still believe what we children learn in school needs some tweaking. I wish there were classes about self love, self esteem, and just life in general.
“Hey, I got straight A’s in Algebra but I look in the mirror and hate myself.” Just sayin….
As a social worker I worked mainly with people who had disabilities such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Autism, and every other disability or illness you could come up with. I had one patient who was about twenty six but was at the cognitive level of a six year old. She was about one hundred pounds heavier than myself and acted out more than most of our patients. I will never understand how some of the staff I worked with were able to be mean to her. Yes, she looks her age if not older but my God the woman has difficulty eating with a fork and knife and can only read books that are written for first graders. Aside from a diagnosis of MR she had Schizophrenia, which is probably why some staff members got so frustrated with her but does not excuse cruelty. One of my main duties (and my favorite) was therapy, group therapy, and if a patient was “acting out” to sit them down and talk it out. One day, this young woman was in a rage and I honestly cannot remember why as this was a daily thing for most of my patients. She was “sent to my office” to talk it out. I had been hit by patients, spit at, pushed, yelled at etc and honestly it really never bothered me. I felt sad for them: it was not their fault. The day this lady came to my office is a day I will never forget as it is one of the maybe five times I was actually afraid. The second she was in my office she locked the door started stripping off her clothes and screaming. The stripping of clothes is not uncommon for many people with her diagnoses, remember she is cognitively at the age of six or lower. I, as always was trying to help her re-dress (bad idea, horrible, big mistake.) She was livid and began throwing everything tied down and not tied down at me. Every piece of paper, picture frame, and finally my computer. I was locked in my office with a naked woman throwing computers and printers at me: yes, I was afraid. Obviously, my staff heard the commotion and called the police and everything worked out (for me, at least.) I was so angry that my staff was mad at this woman. If I was not mad, how could anyone else be? She did not know what she was doing. Truly. That was the last day I saw this patient. Her dad picked her up and she was crying hysterically which broke my heart. Being a prisoner in your own body can be worse than death.
I do not believe any of us have the right to attack anyone, whether they have a disability or not. Why make anyone feel bad on purpose? You do not know what they are going through behind closed doors. Look at me, I do not appear to have chronic pain. No one would guess that I fight every day to live with pain naturally. What is more important than spreading love and kindness, especially to those who need it most?
WE ARE ALL FIGHTING BATTLES PEOPLE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT