Disability · Personal

My Disability & Things I Wish Everyone Knew

I want to go in depth about my vision impairment in case anyone is curious and would like to know more about my disability. I’m well aware that asking someone about their disability is not the most comfortable thing, so hopefully this helps and might shed some light on not only my life, but on the lives of others with disabilities or impairments. 

 I am very open about my vision and patient/comfortable with questions. I understand that invisible disabilities such as mine are incredibly difficult to understand, and I’d like for people to understand as much as possible. Typically the only questions I don’t respond so kindly to are: “how many fingers am I holding up?” and “do you realize how close you hold things to your face?”. 

My impairment is called Stargardt’s Disease and it is a rare, juvenile form of macular degeneration. About 1 in 20,000 people have it, so I am one of zero people I know personally with this disease. It’s a genetic mutation that typically kicks in around age 12(11 in my case) that causes holes to appear in the central vision. The confusing part is that I do not see these holes and my vision is never blurry. I promise I do not see the world through Swiss cheese holes. My best attempt to explain it is to compare it to how things look to regular-sighted people when they’re simply too far away to see clearly. 

My mind fills in these holes, so I subconsciously look around them. This is why it will often seem like I’m looking above you or to the side of you when I’m speaking directly fo you. Yes, I’m aware of it, and I’m sorry if you’re a stickler for eye contact. If I make eye contact, your face will disappear, so it’s not likely that I’ll gaze into your eyes often. 

My vision slowly deteriorated to 20/200(20/20 is perfect), which is legally “blind”. It should not worsen. I will not go completely blind. However, there is no treatment or correction. Glasses and contacts merely have the same effect on me as windex does on a window. 
I often think the disease sounds more severe than it truly is. Don’t get me wrong, I am considered severely disabled and it makes most things in life much more difficult, but I live as “normally” as possible. I am hindered most when trying to read. Signs, menus, papers, books, and electronics give me the most difficulty. 

As “normally” as I try to live, I am undoubtedly different in many ways than most people. I’ve had to learn to adapt and live with just a fraction of a main sense for the second half of my life. I’m certain I miss social cues, facial expressions, and many other things of which I’m unaware; therefore I’m a rather intuitive and empathetic person. Thankfully, I was gifted with the ability to understand, communicate with and read people very well. Clearly my vision does not hinder my ability to be modest. 

Now, here’s my little FAQ and “Things I Wish Everyone Knew” section:

1) Can you drive? Legally, yes. I had a pair of biopic lenses(glasses with a telescope bar connected) that allowed me to pinpoint certain things quickly enough to be able to drive. However, I was involved in a very bad accident where my car caught on fire, so my glasses became ash and I’ve since decided I feel safer not driving. I never felt incredibly comfortable anyway. 

2) How can you see technology? Pixels on computers do not work for me, but iPads and iPhones are different. They’re clearer and I can hold them as close as I’d like and in front of the best parts of my eyes. I can enlarge them by hand and scan things perfectly. The text can also be enlarged greatly.

3) How come you don’t seem that blind? I am not making it up. I’ve lived this way for so long that I don’t feel like I am impaired. I am not fully blind, so most times I feel just like everyone else. I’ve learned to live with it to the point where it is very undetectable.

4) Do you dream with full sight? I highly doubt it. I feel like it would be pretty noticeable if I did. 

~Things I Wish Everyone Knew~

1) I often introduce myself as a visually impaired person, but I do this only so you know immediately. I despise being defined by my disability, as it is only part of who I am, and a very unpleasant part at that. It is not WHO I am. I am not “that blind girl”. 

2) Identifying yourself when you’re speaking to me from a distance is incredibly helpful. It’s also helpful in these situations to let me know that you’re speaking to me and not the person beside me. I’m not ignoring you, I just can’t tell that you’re looking at me unless you’re pretty close to me. 

3) You’re basically, and innocently, slapping me in the face by saying “I get it, I’m so blind without my glasses/contacts”. 

4) I want to be treated equally but also considerately. Empathy and pity are too often confused, and reluctance to offend can often be misconstrued as indifference to or even dismissal of my condition. 

5) No two visually impaired people experience the same difficulties. 

6) I understand it’s bewildering sometimes to learn that I can’t see a specific thing, but sometimes that bewilderment makes me feel like an alien. 

7) I’d much rather be asked questions than be avoided. 

8) “What exactly do you see?” is as easy to answer as “what is the meaning of life?”. 

9) Yes, I get really down sometimes. It can feel very isolating to be impaired. I come across like I handle it amazingly well, but I don’t always handle it well at all and it’s okay. 

10) Bad and good vision days are a very real thing. 

11) Jokes are good in moderation and I’m sorry, but I’m always allowed to joke about it more than you are. 

12) I am super understanding about others in regard to my vision, but it can be exhausting to always feel like the more understanding person. 

 There’s so much more I could say, but I won’t flatter myself by pretending everyone cares overly much about my situation. Hopefully this benefits someone in some way or appeases any curiosity. 

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Personal · Politics · Rants

Gun Control & Other Ramblings 

It’s appalling that people care more about their right to own weaponry just for the hell of it, just because they can, than they do about the safety of our people. Gun control means exactly what it sounds like; it does NOT mean citizens would lose all their rights to own firearms. I don’t understand the confusion.

I don’t understand the obsession Americans have with guns. It embarrasses me, honestly. It absolutely mortifies me that our citizens care so deeply about the second amendment yet completely disregard the first.

1st amendment: right to practice religion freely, the right to free speech, press, and peaceful assembly.
Yet right now, our citizens are torn apart over peaceful protests regarding discrimination, news channels being honest or “fake”, and the “loss of morality” because we’re not a fully Christian nation anymore. How are these currently enormous concerns supportive of the 1st amendment?
Often, when other countries think of Americans, they think: “stupid, greedy, gun-loving, and bible-obsessed”. I want to be known for being progressive, caring, open, and FREE. A free country is NOT a country full of mass shootings, religious judgment, discrimination, and authoritative leaders. We are not currently concerned about the biggest issues in our country. We care so much about the little things, about the things that DO NOT MATTER. 
We care if someone has a different skin color instead of caring about humans being treated equally. We care about whether or not someone is wealthy instead of caring about WHY so many of our people live in poverty. We care about a fetus being aborted or not instead of caring about the future life of the child and mother.

We currently care SO MUCH about people “disrespecting the troops and the flag” by kneeling instead of caring about homeless and disabled veterans. If you’re worked up about the protests but don’t spend a second thinking about the amount of veterans that can’t support themselves now, you don’t really care that much. You just want to be angry at protestors. If you’re angry about the protests but also think people shouldn’t get government assistance, you don’t care that much about people that have fought for us. If you think people should just “get a job”, you don’t really care. People like disabled war veterans need government assistance to live. If you want to be mad about troops and veterans not getting the respect they deserve, be mad at the people who can’t get their selfish heads out of their asses enough to think about what anyone else goes through in life.

We care if “man loves man” because the Bible says it’s wrong. The Bible was written long ago, and the Bible did not write our constitution. It was also written by men and didn’t exactly address lesbianism as if did “man with man”. I believe in practicing whatever religion you wish to practice, but I also believe in a progressive world. Religion would not be where it is today if not for progressive thinkers that spiked change. It is okay to change, to progress! If religion hadn’t progressed, women would still have less rights. Progression doesn’t cease to exist once your personal, individual needs are met. We have become a less secular nation within the last twenty years, and that is the opposite of progression. We have separation of church and state for a reason, and that reason is NOT to abandon morality or create evil generations. We cannot expect to have an inclusive nation if we expect everyone to follow the same religion and beliefs. That is not logical nor is it fair.

We care about collecting guns because we legally can instead of caring about safety! How selfish is that?! Yes, the constitution says people should be allowed firearms for their protection, but do you realize how much firearms have changed since that amendment was written?! No ordinary citizen needs a semi-automatic weapon for protection, and if they do, it’s because whoever they need protecting from probably also has a weapon that shouldn’t be legally obtainable.

But Shanon, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Right, no shit, but they often do so with guns. And what about those “horrible accidents” where a gun goes off and kills a child because someone didn’t put the safety on? The person that didn’t secure their gun properly IS at fault, yet these instances are often referred to as “horrible accidents”. Yet mental illness cases are not often to referred to as horrible accidents. Mentally ill people do not receive the care, support, and/or treatment they need, which can lead to events like the Sandy Hook shooting. You simply can’t have it both ways, people; either guns are dangerous or people are ALWAYS to blame.
However, I think it’s a bit of both. Since people are nowhere near recognizing and understanding mental illnesses though, we have to address the dangers involving guns. We have to. Guns are lethal; therefore every single gun owner should have a THOROUGH background search and should be even more thoroughly trained on how to properly hand,e and secure a gun. There should be NO CASES where a gun “goes off by accident”. To me, that’s an “accident” that makes guns completely unworthy of the trouble.

Ordinary citizens should not be allowed to walk around in public with a firearm visible. It. Is. Completely. Unnecessary. It causes unease and anxiety and can lead to tragic, irreversible damage. You cannot predict the behavior of others in situations, especially in populated areas. Drugs are illegal for this same reason. Alcohol consumption is monitored for this same reason. There is an age of consent for this same reason. You might be responsible but other people aren’t and the world consists of a plural you, not a singular one.
We make sacrifices as human beings to make this world peaceful for all. Think outside of yourself and realize, whether you’re a gun owner or not, guns and danger run hand in hand. You might be a responsible gun owner, but not all people are! It’s unfortunate, but it’s how the world is; we’ve learned this since we were children. The worst time to have such a selfish and childish mentality is when guns are involved. Guns often complicate situations and cause conflicts to become deadly; we all know this. However, some people think the answer to gun issues is “more guns!”, which is essentially fighting fire with fire. To deny that guns cause harm is to deny that car wrecks occur.

If you want to hunt, that’s fine. If you want a gun for protection, that’s fine. You do NOT need a collection of deadly weapons only necessary in the military. Arguing with that shows shallow-mindedness. And yes, I’m well aware that “people always find a way”. Again, no shit. I do not see why we should start facing issues with that mentality. People still commit murder in prison and we haven’t stopped imprisoning people. “People still find a way to sell and smoke weed and it’s illegal!”. Yeah, but you can’t grow guns, and botany is easier than weapon assembly. Along with this, most people don’t use weed to kill 50+ people at concerts. People always find their ways, but why not make it as difficult as possible to obtain deadly weapons?!

People that are pro gun control do not hope to rid the world of guns, we simply want to make it a safer, more peaceful place.

Personal · Rants

Sexual Assault

 


This isn’t something I ever thought I would share because it’s something I’ve pushed to the back of my mind; I never looked at it for what it truly was: sexual assault.

I was sexually assaulted on my school bus when I was 12 or 13 and never told anyone because I didn’t really know it WAS sexual assault. I just wanted to forget about it because I felt disgusting and violated. Society taught me and most other girls to brush it off because guys are just gross and uncontrollable, which is deplorable. Saying guys can’t control themselves is not only a repulsive excuse, but a form of encouragement. If boys are always raised to think they can’t control their urges, harassment and assault will never stop. What’s even more deplorable is victim-blaming. I promise you I did nothing on that school bus that screamed: “come sit with me and grope me”. Stop assuming victims are always lying, stop saying it’s just how guys are, and stop saying a victim is asking for it! One simply cannot ask to be molested or raped, as the definitions of both words include non-consensual actions!

A guy thought it was okay to grab me wherever he wanted and there were zero consequences for him. It shouldn’t have taken me so long to realize I had actually been assaulted and that I should’ve and could’ve done something about it. I just got off the bus, ran to my house in tears and washed my hands over and over again like that would make it all go away.

I cannot begin to imagine how many times this has happened to others and it is not okay. Guys should not think they can touch girls wherever the want, whenever they want and girls should not be told that “boys will be boys”. We definitely shouldn’t think we need to brush assault off and forget about it. The more we ignore the assault and pretend it didn’t happen, the more alone we feel. As we know from the horrifying statistics, survivors/victims of sexual assault are NOT alone.

We often think of sexual assault as rape and tend to downplay anything that is more mild. In reality, groping is considered assault. Unwanted touching is UNWANTED. What the hell gives anyone the audacity to touch anyone wherever they want?! I also can’t fathom making excuses for assault or saying it’s a victim’s fault. It is NEVER on the victim! They spend enough time reliving the events and blaming themselves because it’s impossible to understand why somebody would violate them, so why would anyone add to that?

I regret never speaking to anyone about what happened to me. I was fortunate enough to not have been severely traumatized like many are, but the boy should’ve been reprimanded. I hate to think that I’m responsible for a guy growing up thinking it’s okay to do whatever he wants to girls. I wish I’d known to stand up for myself at the time. I wish I’d known that I shouldn’t have felt so disgusting, that what he did was wrong. I want to be open about my negatives along with my positives because they both make us who we are; we learn from everything in our pasts. I want to help others see that they’re not alone and spread awareness to all. Boys should not be raised to think they can do what they want with no responsibility for their actions and girls should not be prepared for “inevitable assault” or ashamed of things that are wrongly done to them.

Speak up and spread awareness . 

Disability · Mental illness · Personal · Rants

“You don’t know how lucky you are…”


I’m beyond tired of seeing people tweet things with the intention of making others feel guilty or spoiled for having things they themselves do not have. I constantly see hateful tweets about people whose parents have money, people who are naturally attractive, people whose parents are not divorced, people that get to go on vacation often, etc. I totally understand jealousy and agitation towards people whom of which I think live easier lives than I do, however, I have no tolerance or respect for people when they stoop low enough to make others feel guilt for things that are out of their control. I find it very similar to the concept of me constantly tweeting things like: “you don’t know how lucky you are to have full sight”, which I would never do. For the most part, I’m happy for others that don’t face the same hardships I do; people have enough to deal with as it is without us wishing worse lives upon them. 

I feel a spike of anger every time I see a tweet like this even if I sometimes feel similarly to the people tweeting. It’s important to remember that nobody knows everything that goes on in the lives of others. We might see how “wonderful” other’s lives are through social media, which make sense because people don’t post as often about the negatives in their lives. When using common sense, one can conclude that no one lives a perfect life and no one documents every good and bad thing that happens to them for the public to observe. So why tweet hatefully about people whose lives about which we’re ignorant?

Frankly, it infuriates me when anyone says “you don’t know how lucky you are…” or “I wish I had your problems”. Those are jealous and condescending statements that seem to be used here recently as forms of indirectly attacking people on social media. Some of these statemeets end up with thousands of retweets, which undoubtedly leads to people feeling attacked and guilty. I do not support diminishing anyone’s problems, especially to focus on your own like they’re more significant. It’s pathetic and deplorable in my opinion. I recently saw a tweet saying people don’t know how lucky they are to have married parents. On the contrary,  I think I’m very fortunate to have married parents. I think about it often. Now, on the other hand, think of people whose parents are only staying together because they think it’s best for the child yet are constantly fighting in front of their child. In my opinion, it’s not always best for a child to have married parents if those parents are miserable together and causing tension in the household.  Someone could have married parents that are abusive, hostile, into drugs and other criminal activities, or worse. I’m not naive; I know divorces are devastating. I can’t speak from experience on this matter, but I know having divorced parents can be both good and bad. What I can speak about is that no one holds the right to be the judge over everyone and say who is lucky and who isn’t. Personally, it feels Ike I’m almost being attacked out of nowhere by someone I don’t know(and the thousands that have retweeted these tweets) because I have married parents, and I have absolutely nothing to say to defend myself. I also feel uncomfortable beecause I didn’t know I needed to defend myself because my parents aren’t divorced. As I said, I’m incredibly grateful that my parents are still together and being told I’m unappreciative by someone that doesn’t know me at all puts me on the defensive, as I’m sure it does to many others. If you’re trying to spread awareness about what divorce can do to people, you’ll gain a lot more support by not bringing others down, by not causing people to go on the defensive. 

People also seem to hold a lot of resentment towards people whose parents have money. To start, I’d like to say that kids have zero control over how much money their families have earned. Yes, it is aggravating when someone just inherits money and comes off spoiled and selfish because of it, but it’s a gross generalization to assume all wealthy people are this way. Some people come from very little and  work their asses off to get where they are only to receive hatred, only to have their children receive hatred for having money. Some people have legal settlements that came from horrible events like murder, negligence, reckless endangerment, etc. Some people simply win the lottery, others receive money when their loved ones die, others don’t get to spend time with their parents because they’re so focused on earning money. I see the most tweets about how nice it must be to get money from your parents, to get enough money to not have to work, to go on vacations all the time. I’ll admit that I’ve been jealous of the lavish vacations people take, the nice clothing people wear, the amount of shopping people do, and so on. However, I prefer to not be a horribly negative person , so I don’t blame these people or tell them they’re so lucky and unappreciative. I don’t respect people that try to make others feel bad by acting like their lives are so much worse. Everyone faces hardships!!! Don’t act superior and condescending by telling another person they don’t know how good they have it. 

Life includes ups and downs for everyone. Someone could be wealthy and beautiful but bipolar. Someone could have a lot of money from a lawsuit but also be permanently disabled. Some people might travel the world and also be rape survivors. Some people are raised by wealthy parents and very lonely because jealousy keeps friends away. Who the hell has the audacity to think they are the judge of anyone, who gets to say whose lives are better than others?!

There are privileged, ungrateful people in this world. There are also rapists, murderers, liars, theifs, and narcissists. Where would we be if we always assumed the worst from everyone? How impractical a notion is that? Instead of assuming we know things about others, judging them from afar, and making them feel attacked by thoughtless generalizations, why don’t we support others and fight to stop spreading hate? It saddens me to see people losing empathy more and more; it seems as if very few people today care to understand others. Compassion should be felt towards more than ourselves and wealth. I feel that it’s so much more important and beneficial to all if we focus less on how “amazing” others seem to have it and focus more on living happy lives ourselves. Happiness does not often include assumptions and envy. 

Beauty · Personal

Body Image

Here’s a personal and honest post about body image, how I feel about it in general, and how I feel about my own. 

I’ve pretty much diagnosed myself with body dysmorphia even though I know it requires a medical diagnosis. Body dysmorphia is a mental illness that causes you to see your flaws-or perceived flaws, as so much more than they truly are. You obsess over them and hate yourself for things that aren’t really there. I think most teenagers experience a touch of body dysmorphia many, many times. I went through puberty pretty early on, so I think I’ve dealt with issues far beyond self consciousness since I was about 13 years old. I was 112-114 pounds until I was 15 or 16 and I thought I looked hideous. I thought I was fat, ugly, waistless, and flabby. I thought my thighs and arms were too big and man, did I despise my “love handles”. It’s utterly hilarious to me now because I almost looked too thin at times.  I was doing P90x and didn’t have an ounce of fat on my body. 

Junior year of high school, I got up to 140 pounds. Keep in mind that I’m only a little over 5 feet tall, so that was a nightmare for me. I was somehow going through a phase where I didn’t have to step on a scale every day, where I didn’t have to inspect my body in a mirror. When that phase ended, it ended hard. I stopped eating red meat(which I loved), I stopped eating French fries(which I loved more than anything), I was taking appetite suppressants, and I started spending $50 on meal replacement shakes. In September of 2015, I stopped eating meat altogether. Once I started the shakes I was probably getting 1,000 calories or less a day, which is not healthy. However, I was monitoring my vitamins and nutrients to make sure I wasn’t becoming malnourished. I didn’t do it the healthiest way possible, but I lost 15 pounds. 

Weight and physical appearance control and consume my life on and off, as I believe they do to most girls. I can’t speak for guys, but I’m certain they’re not immune to self loathing and societal pressures either. My weight has been a priority over my health, my happiness, my diet, etc. I was constantly worried about my thighs, my sides, my waist, my arms, my chins, and my lack of jaw. I would cry over how I looked often, I verbally abused myself in my mind and I’d look at myself and think: “Hideous. Fatass. Ugly. Gross. Chubby. Lard ass.”  If I wasn’t focused on hating my body, it was my lips. I’d look at them, then look at other girl’s lips and despise mine. I was constantly comparing the things I hated about myself to other girls and it was ruining me. I’d try to convince myself I preferred having feminine curves over a high metabolism and never having to worry about my weight, but it was bullshit. I looked at super thin girls and wanted nothing more than to look like them. I wanted to be a double zero, have a large thigh gap, have super slender arms and legs, and never wear anything but a small or extra small. If I’m being honest, I still sometimes think I’d rather look anorexic than what I look like. I know it’s unhealthy, but I can’t force myself to love my appearance. I’m still so jealous of naturally thin girls and I wish I wasn’t, but I’d be lying if I said I never felt down about myself; I’m human just like everyone else.  

It would be hypocritical and niave of me to say everyone should just love what they look like and stop comparing themselves to others. I know it’s not that simple or easy; I honestly don’t know how to take that advice myself. I wanted to share how I’ve felt and still often feel because I know it’s horrible and wrong and I know so many others go through such similar issues. Everyone feels this way at times no matter what they look like. Society has truly given us all expectations we shouldn’t have about ourselves and others. We see other girls and how “beautiful” or “sexy” they are, how much others praise them, and how attractive certain characteristics or features are said to be. I honestly don’t think there’s a way to completely ignore or reverse the influence society and other people have on us. We know what people find attractive and we know they look at us all to see if we have it or not. It causes such self conciousness and self hatred, such pressure. I admit I’m guilty, but I also admit that it’s horribly wrong. I wish with everything in me that I could just stop caring so much and that I could get over my flaws, that I could stop comparing myself to others. 

While I refuse to pretend I can just flip a switch, I am an advocate of working to love yourself more. If you live a fairly healthy life and are happy with yourself, that is truly all you need. Personally, I’ve had to make lifestyle changes: I eat better now, I exercise, I look for positives in the mirror instead of only negatives, and I don’t expect perfection. Do things that make you happy and make you love yourself. In order to get to a place where you can love yourself, you have to be in a healthy state of mind first. For me, that meant getting out of bed and having fun instead of stalking girls on Instagram, finding ways to improve on my body without hating the exercise, and feeling positive about life in general. We need to stop expecting perfection from ourselves and others. Instead of looking at a person and immediately looking for the negatives in them, we should look for positivity and work to make others feel more positively about themselves. We judge ourselves enough as it is; we compare ourselves to all the beautiful people in the modeling industry, television, the beauty industry, magazines, movies, and so on. We don’t need to feel like everyone that looks at us is also comparing us. I think helping others feel better about themselves leads to feeling better about yourself as well. 

As I’ve said, I don’t think there is any perfect fix for our skewed body image issues, but I do think we can all work to improve. Self love is such an important concept that I don’t think many of us focus on enough. YOU are beautiful as YOU are. You don’t need to be pretty like her or muscular like him, you just need to be you and they just need to be them. 

Disability · Personal · Politics

Trump… “care”


I’m currently shaking out of anger. It’s well known that I’m a “flaming liberal” as some so respectfully call me, so you can imagine where I’m going with this. If you are triggered by us “flaming liberal” types and if you cannot read opposing thoughts without closing off your rationality and respectfulness, I ask you, politely, to move on. 

As we know, the House of Representatives has passed the American Health Care Act and we’re now awaiting the Senate’s approval or disapproval. I’m absolutely sick over this entire thing. First, I’ll admit that the Affordable Care Act was not perfect. Honestly, what can be perfect today? I saw people complaining and moaning about how their insurance was going up and it was less spectacular than it used to be, and to that I thought: good to know you’re more concerned about yourself, that you’re worked up about slightly less coverage for you in order for others to have any coverage at all. Call me crazy, but I’d rather have to pay a little more if that means everyone gets some kind of healthcare. I guess it’s too much to ask that we care more about people than money. I think people easily forgot that their insurance is most likely still better than what it is for those receiving government healthcare. 

I could go on endlessly about every infuriating aspect of this callous bill, but I’d like to move on to something that everyone can care about since that’s the only time some people will be angered: when it actually seems unfair to them. So, I present to you the pre-existing conditions part of Trump’s bill. 

Ive read multiple different articles and seen a copious amount of pictures and lists and so on, and what I’ve gathered is that the AHCA still “favors” the requirement set by the ACA regarding pre-existing conditions: insurers cannot deny benefits to those with pre-existing conditions. However, with the AHCA, insurers sure can drive up the prices and decrease the amount of coverage for those of us unfortunate enough to have contracted or been born with a disease/disorder. With that, states will be allowed waivers that will then allow insurers to sell plans that exclude benefits to those with pre-existing conditions. 

In a nutshell, the Trump”care” act does not guarantee affordable care or any health insurance at all to those of us with certain diseases, disorders, or conditions. No matter your political affiliation, you’re susceptible to ailments. Thus, everyone is impacted by this. 

List of pre-existing conditions that could cause premium spikes or may not be covered:

  • Acne
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstral irregularities
  • Transsexuality
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • AIDS
  • Hepatitis
  • Anemia
  • Muscular Distrophy
  • Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Organ transplants
  • Macular degeneration 
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sex reassignment
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Alcolholism/Drug addiction
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Tuberculosis

And the list goes on. In case you think I’m blowing smoke uo your ass, here are links to other lists and more information:

Here is a link to Trump’s actual site explaining and reiterating over and over that Republicans aren’t against supporting those with medical conditions. The link also includes that states will have the ability to seek waivers allowing insurers to deny benefits and raise premiums. The writers of the page express again that Republicans don’t wish to eliminate benefits to those with conditions, they merely explain why companies began denying and up-charging in the first place. It’s up to you to decide whether or not this explaination is excusing or justifying the unfairness. 

https://trumpcare.com/trumpcare-bill-passed-house-impacts-pre-existing-conditions/

Let’s get into this unfairness, shall we? 

  1. Since I’ve hilariously been called “sexist against men”, let’s start off with women. To be charged extra or denied coverage due to menstral irregularities and pregnancy is simply to be punished for being a female. Would you like to know some causes of irregularities in periods? Adolescence, exercise, diet, stress, family history, medications, etc. Also, PREGNANCY?! Punishment for procreating, premarital sex, or maybe just a means to solve overpopulation? Yeah, those statements might seem ridiculous, but I promise you they’re on par with the ridiculousness of insurers considering pregnancy. Also, sorry gentlemen, but this matters for you as well if you’re going to be marrying a female and/or having a child with one. And you better hope that you have a boy if you do have a child because that girl would possibly have menstral irregularities some day! 
  2. The act seems punitive to our LGBT community as well. Like they need more inequalities. Correct me if I’m wrong, but transsexuality is in no way as expensive a “condition” as something like cancer. To me, this is not a pre-existing medical condition! Sex reassignment could be considered if a person is receiving procedures and medications, but it, along with transsexuality, seem to be included simply to allow for discrimination. With this, AIDS is so often linked to homosexuality, so it’s no surprise that it’s included on the lists. 
  3. Mental illness. No surprise there either, as these people are so often viewed as “weak-minded”. Depression and anxiety are  not widely understood as the life-altering disorders that they are but as made-up conditions for people who can’t “deal with reality”, “shake off sadness”, “get over nervousness”, or “deal like everyone else”. Also, the mindset of “why should insurers have to help pay for the “psychos” with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, and more?” runs rampant in society. It’s so easy to disregard that mental illnesses often appear in people due to genetics and trauma. So yeah, let’s punish people with horrible healthcare for their conditions that were caused by abuse, rape, endangerment, neglect, and injury! 
  4. Cancer, cystic fibrosis, and organ transplants. This one will really rile people up because, unlike mental illnesses, they’re lucid. People can see the damage these diseases are doing to their sufferers, so they’re actually considered real and important like all severe diseases/disorders should be. So how could something as horrible as cancer make insurers turn their noses up? Well, these diseases are expensive, they have higher death rates, and  little to no cure. So somehow, this makes the money aspect more important than human life. Organ transplants are rare, difficult and extremely costly. Insurers know that someone who needed one in the past could really cost them a lot of money just like cancer patients can. 
  5. Obesity, addiction, and diabetes. Again, this is putative. Often, these conditions are viewed as self-caused, so of course they’re going to be considered as burdens in the healthcare world. We love to blame people for their own issues instead of trying to understand them, so it’s easy to justify that people should have to pay more if they can’t stop eating or abusing substances. 
  6. Sickle cell anemia and tuberculosis. These are just more examples of structured discrimination as Sickle Cell Anemia is present mostly in non-white people and TB kills mostly Natuve Americans. 

To paint a decent picture, I’m going to make this personal and explain how this could negatively affect me and others like me. I am visually impaired and diagnosed with both ADD and Major Depression. To clarify, I will be stating facts, not fishing for sympathy and pity. I am not pitying myself, I am simply pointing out my reality and how it differs from those that do not have the disorders I have. 

My visual impairment affects only 25-34,000 US citizens, causes legal blindness, and has no cure or treatment. Yes, that includes glasses and contacts. As you can imagine-kind of, our lives are pretty different than your full-sighted person’s. Our lives are also very different than the lives of fully-blind people because we walk a very misunderstood line between sighted and not. My disease is much more frequently used as joke material than it is understood; it’s not easy to comprehend a disability that is physically undetectable,e. For me, life includes: inability to see computer screens, menus, street signs, physical books, newspapers, important forms and documents, magazines, white boards and smart boards at school, people at a distanc, my own toenails, my weight on a scale, instructions on food, products, etc.; inability to participate in most sports, card games, ping pong, frisbee throwing, bike riding, art,  scuba diving, and so on; inability to be a server, pilot, doctor, surgeon, nurse, engineer, clerk, police officer, military solider, firefighter…you get the point. Only you don’t. Because I’m still slapped in the face all the time by yet another thing I’m unable to do. In order to do things that are simple to most, I have to jump hurdles and test different forms of assistance. 

Simply figuring out how to makes things even doable-not easy, is a constant struggle. Getting a job often seems impossible because, not only is it difficult to find a job that I could do, it is no secret to me that employers would prefer fully able employees. Truly, it’s hard to even know my rights as a disabled person, so imagine the difficulties I have when they’re violated. Yes, I’ve been bullied brutally. Yes, I feel misunderstood at times and insanely alone other times. Yes, I sometimes feel worthless and less human. I hate depending on everyone. I feel like a burden. I feel like people look down on me, view me as pathetic. Micro-aggressions are very real and I face them daily. My life would be a constant humiliation if I let it be and finally, yes, my disability was a major contributor to my depression. Do I always experience those things? Of course not, but a lifetime of of those on-and-off feelings and experiences takess it’s toll. It does for everyone with any kind of disorder that makes their life more difficult. 

My vision is my cancer, my missing limb, my seemingly fatal condition. An abundance of people, especially those with Trump’s pre-existing conditions , have their own cancer. Their condition has the ability to ruin their lives, whether it is considered significant or not by others. Some might say it’s absolutely ridiculous to compare a vision impairment or a mental illness to cancer, but if you truly attempt to understand, you’ll see that “simple” conditions can lead to major ones and can take your life from you or cause you to take your own. 

People who can’t easily get a job are never going to have an equal opportunity to get superb insurance, nor are they going to make enough money to afford a life with no insurance or higher prices! People with fatal diseases cannot work to earn money to pay for their expenses or support their families. 

HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVELAGE!!!

Mental illness · Personal

Mental Illness: Depression and Suicide

 

I honestly don’t know where to start on this. The things I hear people say, the things I read online and on social media, and the misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental illnesses are confounding to me and cause me more despondency that I can put into words. I’m absolutely done with the accepting and ignoring approach; if all I do is make one person think, “oh, it’s different than what I thought”, then it’s worth it. For my sanity, I need to feel like I’m doing something, anything at all, to spread awareness and enlighten others. We’re told to hold our tongues because “you can’t change people”, but how can we accomplish anything with that mentality? I don’t wish to change people, my wish is to enlighten people and change how mental illness is viewed by society, not by individuals.

On my way back from class today, I heard two guys discussing a suicide that a news channel was covering. The first guy said, “did you hear about that?!”, and the second guy responded, “yeah, how do you hang yourself when you’re 6″6?!”. That was it. That was all it meant to them. It was simply fascinating, and not fascinating to them that the human brain can get to such a dark, hopeless place. No, there was no thought, no discussion, about what the men actually went through before his death, just how he killed himself. And that’s how it is.

When I was 10, I lost my first relative. To depression. To suicide. My friend said she was sorry and followed by asking how he/she did it. The next day at recess, another friend came up and told me she’d heard what had happened and how my relative had done it, like that was of any importance at all. I was ten years old, in mourning, and had people asking “did your relative really kill himself/herself?”, saying “your relative is going to hell”, and my favorite, “that was so selfish”. They were just kids, but what made them view suicide this way by age 10?

I grew up understanding depression; I had to. I’m named after my uncle that lost his life to depression, I lost a relative to it when I was only 10, and I could go on, but my family’s business is my family’s business. Simply, depression runs in my family like blood.

When I was 12, my visual impairment representative at school nonchalantly told me it was likely I would “get depressed” when I was 16 and all my friends could drive and I couldn’t because of my vision. I grew up knowing that Major Depressive disorder was generic and socialy influenced, so by age 14, I was practically just waiting for it to come. Thanks VI teacher, for the fear and pre-diagnosis.

I wish I could’ve told 14 year old me that it would be a long wait and that when it came, no amount of understanding could’ve prepared me.

Around age 14, I started experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD-how ironic). SAD is a form of major depression that is brought on by the diminished amount of sunlight during the winter months. The symptoms are mostly the same as the symptoms of major depression, but SAD typically comes with less hopessness and no suicidal thoughts because those suffering know it will end when spring arrives. This disorder is often referred to as the “winter blues”, which is total bullshit. This disorder is not one to downplay or ignore, as it is depression; it effects your daily life. However, I did downplay it and thought I was just less motivated and less happy because it was cold and ugly outside.

Although I’d been dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder for 5 years, Major Depression knocked me on my ass this past October. Yes, I have a mood disorder. Yes, I have been diagnosed with Clincal Depression, and I’m not ashamed of it. Nobody should ever feel ashamed, insane, or embarrassed by mental illness. I’m openly talking about it even though it’s “uncomfortable” because I believe it should no longer be an awkward topic.

With so much talk about suicide right now because of 13 Reasons Why, I really wanted to write this and truly explain how depression works and what it does to a person. Clearly, I can speak from personal experience. No, depression is not synonymous with everyone, but it’s frightening how similarly people with depression view things and feel.

Warning signs:

I knew the warning signs. I knew what was happening to me, but I didn’t tell myself, I didn’t accept it. I knew there was a reason I had stopped doing the things I loved, why I felt insanely irritable, why I’d stopped caring about everything. It took until late October when I was in a rage/panic over the smallest thing, until I cried to my mom that I truly thought I was going insane, until my mom told me she was making me an appointment that I got it through my head that I was dealing with depression. Not some “winter blues”, not “some sadness”, not stress, but true Clinical Depression.

In my opinion, the warning signs go like this:

  • Loss of interest in activities once found pleasurable
  • Anger and irritation- major unexplained irritability
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Feeling like everything is the end of the world
  • Feelings of emptiness and hopelessness
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Reclusiveness
  • Mood swings

To go into more detail, a major sign is losing interest in the things you once loved. I loved yoga, music, playing guitar, being outside, socializing, going out to eat, and just being out and about. In September, I became a different person. I wasn’t too busy with school to still do the things I loved, I just stopped. There was no big moment of change, I just gradually stopped doing everything simply because I had no desire to anymore. I’d even try to do a little bit of yoga and I would just stop because it was a chore to do sometching I loved. I never felt like going out and doing anything, even eating. I lost weight because I had no motivation or desire to get out of bed and get food. The food itself also didn’t sound appealing at all. I no longer sang in the car or danced around to music; I no longer saw goodness in the things around me.

I was totally content to keep the blinds shut on the window, sit in dim light, and watch dark shows. I was addicted to Dexter and Skins. I would get irritated out of nowhere and every little negative thing that happened was like a giant earthquake that added a new fissure to my very fragile shell. When people were completely happy around me, I felt that they were naive, that they simply had no concept of how cruel life could be. I felt ostracized because they saw the good in life while I got to experience all the bad.  I was in a fishbowl of negativity. I was an alien with soulless eyes. While others smiled and laughed around me, I was drowning in my own mind. I’d smile and laugh back, but it was only external. My mind and body weren’t really connected.

I’d be up all hours of the night just thinking. When you’re depressed, everything is an overanalysis. I’d wonder why I was being tested, why I was the experiment to see how much one person could handle before breaking completely. I used to hate being alone, but my dorm room quickly felt like a zoo exhibit where everyone watched me deteriorate. I’d feel like I needed to escape and sit in darkness where I’d stare at the floor, a wall, the sky. I could stare wth emotionless eyes for all of eternity. At my worst, I would double over because I didn’t have the strength or energy to sit up. My body, the hole in my chest, the weight of my life was too heavy to support when I was alone, when I had no reason to pretend. I would claw at the ground, desperate to escape my own mind. I did not consider suicide, but I felt that death would be easier than a life like the one I was living. I knew I couldn’t live that way forever.  I knew it was depression, but I could never distinguish what was really me and what was the depression, which led to overthinking and stressing, panicking, circling my thoughts into insanity. I would be in the car and imagine getting in a horrible wreck, then I’d freak out and wonder why I thought that-did I want to die deep down?!

It truly felt like a downward spiral that would never end; I thought I’d get to the bottom and completely fall apart. Every day was a chore. Pretending to be myself so I wouldn’t scare my friends and my boyfriend felt like holding up the planet. I felt guilty, worthless, hopeless, empty, and too fucked up to function. I didn’t miss my friends, my parents, my animals. What was wrong with me?!

I was so tired, so so tired of being me. I hated everything about myself. I would cry and want to scream into the careless, sleeping city while I walked aimlessly at 3am. I would wish I was anyone but me. I had no control over anything in my life, so I colored my hair “as dark as my mood”, as I liked to “joke”. Anything to be less like me. I’d look in the mirror and see a living dead girl, hollowed out and detached. I was living, but not really. I remember looking out my window thinking, “life has taught me how to find bittersweet beauty in darkness and loneliness”. That’s the kind of thinking you do when depression keeps you up till 6am.

Does it sound dramatic? A little too deep and disturbing? That’s depression.

Only it’s worse in your head. There are no words to accurately describe it. You feel insane. Detached. Lost. Pathetic. Weak. You feel like Pandora’s entire box of horrible things, plus more.

What’s truly devastating is that loved ones can’t do much to help. They feel like they need to walk on eggshells, they don’t know what to do, they don’t know if/when they can mention certain things, they’re exhausted from the mood swings, and they start to feel lost too. They’ll feel hopeless because they’re not enough to fix you. My boyfriend would’ve destroyed himself in order to fix me if he could have. My depression was damaging to our relationship and to all my relationships; I can’t imagine loving me and trying to help me through that.  My loved ones are truly amazing for being there for me in those dark months without losing their sanity as well.

Never destroy yourself trying to save someone that you cannot save. Never destroy yourself by believing you can be the cure for depression. Simply be there and get someone the help they need. You have to live your life, too.

Even more, medication is not magic. You have to want to get better. You have to try, which is the hardest thing in the world. You have to hold on to the unfathomable belief that it will get better even though your mind sees no light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll have good days, and you’ll have bad days. And when it’s bad, it’s bad. 

Tell me someone that chooses suicide over that seemingly lifelong torture is selfish. Especially when that someone doesn’t understand what’s happening to them. Someone that chooses death over what they believe is humiliating to their loved ones is not selfish. Wouldn’t you prefer death over losing your mind? Because that is what it feels like.

A person that survives a major depressive episode is not weak for being depressed in the first place, they’re the strongest people I know for pulling through hell on earth, for getting help and fighting tooth and nail to find themselves again.

Depression is genetic, biological, and social. It’s not a matter of weakness or strength.

A person that commits suicide does it to escape their torment. They truly feel they are doing everyone, including their loved ones, a favor. They’re not selfish, weak, or uncaring. Understand how unbalanced a brain has to be to think that way! Understand that a person without an illness or impairment cannot successfully take their own life. Try to imagine how hopeless you would have to be to even consider ending your own life. Try to imagine seeing no peace other than death.

I felt the way I did even though I grew up understanding depression. I felt that way even though I caught it and started medication early on. Imagine, just imagine, what it’s like for those that have no idea what’s happening to them. I don’t know how anyone could live through major depression without an understanding, without treatment, support, therapy, etc.  I was fortunate enough to be educated on the illness, but it shouldn’t be that way! Everyone should be well educated on mental illnesses and how they really work. We should spread awareness, speak openly, and eliminate the stigma.

It’s so easy to mock “emo” people, “suicidal lunatics”, cutters, and those scary depressed people, but is nearly impossible to empathize with them and understand what they’re going through. Somehow it’s easier to claim a person ended their life just to get attention. Honestly, if you believe a person can take their life just for attention, you’re the crazy one.

How can people talk about it when they’ll be misunderstood and mocked? How can a potential suicidal school shooter make others aware of their instability in time to help them? How can anyone come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community without experiencing depression when they’re told they’re sinners and abominations, when they’re denied equal human rights?! How can people feel comfortable to speak up and reach out for help in today’s society?

There is no stereotypical depressed person; it can happen to anyone. I’m a white, American female that grew up with wonderful, caring, married parents and a large group of friends. I played sports, went on vacations, was well-fed, well-clothed, and I enjoyed life. Yes, I was diagnosed with a life-altering disability, but that doesn’t mean I’ll automatically live with depression. Your typical “emo” kid is not the poster boy for depression; people that you think live wonderful lives can and do deal with depression. Never ever tell someone their life is “too good” for them to be depressed. I have been told that before and I still don’t know exactly how to respond.

Maybe you’ll read this and think I’m a weak, suicidal lunatic with issues, that I’m a drama queen, that I had a “princess complex” and couldn’t handle the reality of life. If you do believe that, you’re entitled to your opinions, but you’re close-minded and sorely mistaken.

There’s so much more I could say, but this would never end and then nobody would read it. Truly, if  just one person reads this and takes something from it, it’s worth it to me.