A message to my fellow young zebras

Posted April 17, 2020

breaking down barriers lori's story

Hello, my lovelies! My name is Lori, I’m 19, and I’m the founder of and writer at the blog ‘From Bud to Bloom’. It is all about my journey towards self-love and self-fulfillment as someone with chronic illness and mental health problems – I also happen to battle with hEDS, PoTS, ME, scoliosis and hip dysplasia – all of which I ‘lovingly’ refer to as EDS & co.

I have covered an array of different topics on my blog regarding my health, and doing so has certainly acted as an online mental and physical health journal over the two years it has been active, so whenever I wish to seek a further intrinsic view into the complex relationship between my mental health and my disabilities, I know where to start!

A little while ago I noticed how the relationship between my state of physical wellbeing and self-image had improved by quite a margin, but I wish to talk about how I felt prior to this improvement.

I can say with true confidence I feel I speak not only for myself but many other younger individuals out there when I say how pressurizing modern society can be. The pressure to do well in school, to have a healthy social life, to be involved with extracurriculars, possibly to date or even to refrain from doing so, to have a job, learn to drive, to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives, apply to universities, move out etc. But then throw the pressures of being a young person with chronic illness into the mix and it’s like this murky storm we have to try to navigate without a compass, a map, or handbook to tell us how to go about life in the education system with a rare disease. 

It’s awfully stressful because we feel like we’re being pulled from all directions, on one side we are tugged towards trying to prioritize our health while still attempting to have some kind of life, and from another to succeed at the same rate as our peers, because we’ve been raised amongst the societal beliefs that we need to do well to succeed and be comfortable in life (the irony), and we feel like we have something to prove. It’s as if we’ve all been in a position where we’ve viewed stepping back and focusing entirely on our own wellbeing as either selfish, giving ourselves another disadvantage to contend with in the future, or giving in.

It can be difficult to unpick our unconscious association between requiring mobility aids and carer assistance as someone less able to meaningfully contribute to society than someone who’s able-bodied. However, when we come to the realization that we have been mistreating ourselves by denying the use of said equipment or for someone to give you a helping hand, we almost cannot see how we could be so blind for so many years. It’s difficult to fully comprehend that we fail to see ourselves in our entirety because we just so happen to need a neoprene ankle brace and a walking frame(!) 

One of the best things I have grown to believe is that we are not lesser than because we are unable to do certain things, and we are certainly not giving in by accepting help to let us out, to express ourselves, and gain a deepened sense of independence, a unique interpretation of the word which doesn’t see the acceptance of support as being dependent; but taking executive action to help ourselves.

This process was certainly not completed overnight and will be something I will never fully conquer, so I still ensure I actively engage in affirming myself, recognizing beneficial behaviors and endeavors as productive; which extends from brushing your teeth twice a day, to applying for a volunteering role, or from washing the dishes to submitting an essay on time.

Although the big challenge involved preventing myself from placing a mental value upon each accomplishment, as by doing so I was inadvertently reckoning how much self-respect I would grant myself at the end of the day – and as someone with fluctuant abilities I cannot let this happen, because no matter what, my worth is not determined by supposed productivity, but rather by myself and who I am – which is the one constant I have. This, I have learned to take great comfort in.

Much love and gentle hugs,

Lori x

Instagram: @budtobloom_

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