What Does Living with a Disability Mean to Me?

Sara London

By: Sara London, DO-IT Intern

The true meaning of living with a mental illness is that I can be who I want to be, because I have learned that what other people think means very little anymore. However, I do have limitations. I can’t drink, I take medication throughout the day, I must have a well balanced sleeping schedule, and I live with persistent anxiety.

I work two part-time jobs while attending graduate school. Living with a severe mental illness and still managing a hectic lifestyle seemed impossible at first. My mind can bounce back and forth. I have confidence inside me that rose from this difficult journey. I am determined and live with this passion. All the while, I have this voice inside that says “you can’t do any of it, you will fail, you will get sick again.” I have learned that this is part of me. I recognize who I am as a whole, the positive and the negative.

The most interesting part of living with a mental illness is that it’s not visible. Looking at my appearance, you would never know I live with this inside of me. Sometimes I feel like my disability is less credible, less serious, and less important because others cannot see what I live with. I sometimes work to hide that part of me, so others will not deem me as crazy. I find myself monitoring my emotions and adhering to what is socially acceptable because of the stigma placed upon people who live with a mental illness. I feel conflicted about what it means to be open about this part of me. It’s a constant process, which comes with gains as well as losses.

Living a life with a mental illness is not easy. However, it seems that without this disability of mine, I wouldn’t have been given as many incredible opportunities. I wouldn’t have my identity. Without it I think I would be more lost, more unsure, and less driven. I see this disability as a gift. It has contributed to my incredible life full of love, support, undeniable personal drive, and fire. Without this illness, I wouldn’t be who I am today. For that, I am always grateful.