Gray

The darkest of clouds

In the vast sky

Fill up my mind

And fill up my eyes

I was the storm

That broke up your sun

I’m sorry

I’m sorry

That I took your light

The grass wasn’t greener

The candy was sour

You deserve everything

You deserve all my hours

But I have the time

That sits on my chest

Crushing my lungs

And cutting my skin

I guess this is justice

That I deserve pain

Nothing left to debate

No more harsh words to trade

Your last word in a paintbrush

Now everything’s gray

Nothing was worth this

You deserved so much more

I wish you had stayed

For what comes after the storm

 

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The Cost of Kindness

depressionEver since my last post, I’ve been struggling about how to be open about my depression in a genuine way. I spent a lot of time contemplating what to write about, and consistently struggled with what to write, feeling like none of my ideas were “enough” to encompass what it really feels like to have chronic depression. The truth is, no description can really touch what it truly feels like to live with depression every day. The best I can do is describe honestly what it feels like for me.

Everyone gets sad every now and then, but not everyone has depression. Depression means that for reasons that can vary, the person with depression can often feel hopeless, sad, and doomed with no obvious external cause. Depression can feel like you are 100 pounds heavier and drain your motivation and drive. For me, one of the hardest parts is when my depression gets tangled with my passion. I have so much that I want to do and share with the world, but often get bogged down by an anchor of doubt, anxiety, and self-loathing.

Now, I am a professional procrastinator which many times is the reason I don’t get as much done as I would like. I’m not writing this to use depression as a blanket excuse, but rather to give a glimpse of what a barrier it can be every day.

Since I’ve become more aware of my depression, I started working hard to be responsible for my mental health and take charge in my life. It doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days, but it means that I check in with myself often and have the power to make choices that are good for both my health and productivity. I do little things every day that make me feel good, like wearing cute outfits and having a yummy bagel to start my day.

Most people are understanding of physical pain and the limits it can place upon someone. Mental and emotional pain, however, is more difficult to grasp. If you have depression, remember not to be ashamed. Though you carry a burden, you are still continuing on your journey despite it and that is something to be proud of. If you don’t have depression, you probably know someone who does. They may not want to speak up about it for fear of being viewed as lazy or whiny, I know that was a fear I faced. Just remember to be as kind as possible. It costs you nothing, and it can be incredibly valuable to those around you.

Since I’ve Been Gone

 

FLOWER

During my latest blogging silence, I’ve been doing a lot of things. I completed (*cough*, crushed) another quarter of college. I’m getting incredibly excited to dig into my major. I’ve continued working at Rooted in Rights, and learned so much about media and how truly important it is as a platform for change. I’ve had the opportunity to explore advocacy related to all different topics and discovering what it means to me as I strive to develop as a professional and a human being.  I’ve been able to experience friendship like I never have in my life. I’ve been falling more in love with my wonderful partner every day.  I’ve had emotions of all varieties, shapes, and sizes.

In my writing, I’ve opened up about a lot of my experiences and opinions. But, as I sit at home in Virginia, desperately wishing to be back at Seattle University, I can’t get something off my mind.

I had to drop out of Spring Quarter to have eye surgery, and after that one, my doctor and I came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to have another in my other eye. So, it’s scheduled for next week. Though my chronic illness is far from fatal, it is still stressful as hell. And while I do deal with physical pain related to my condition, the pain manifests itself psychologically more than anything else. So, I’ve been dealing with that a lot this past month since I’ve been home.

What I couldn’t shake when thinking about my writing is that while I’ve been very detailed and open about my glaucoma, my depression is something I rarely write about. Amazingly, one of my conditions that affects me just as much if not more than the other, has come in second place. The truth, I realized, is that I was holding myself back, wondering; what will the response be if I share, what will the consequences be?

Despite this, I want to write more over all, and I want to be more open and honest about the very real struggle I have with myself every day. Because truly, what worries me more than the consequences of sharing, is letting fear hold me back.

 

A Quarter for my thoughts

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For many people, college is a time of exploration. It’s a time of finding oneself, learning to understand yourself, and discovering the real world. Now having one quarter of college under my belt, I fully understand the world, how it works, my place within it, and what I need to do with my life.

Just kidding.

In truth, I learned a lot from my first quarter of college, and not just about Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. (If you’re reading this Ben, shout out to you for helping me survive that class) Here’s a little list of a few things I found especially enlightening.

1. Your past does not define your present.

This was a big relief for me. In the past, I was never the student I wanted to be. I did alright, but I never reached my potential because I was stuck in a rut of self-doubt and apathy. This quarter, I worked harder in my academic and professional life than I ever have before. It was completely exhausting, and also completely worth it. It turns out that with determination and confidence, you can develop your work ethic and accomplish things you never thought you could.

2. Let little things go.

Ever since I started using my cane, I’ve dealt with things from people approaching me asking what happened to me to people asking if I’m actually blind. I’ve learned that most of the time, people are just curious or uninformed and the most productive thing you can do is either try to educate or simply let it go.

3. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

In this case, I felt like our lovable silly old bear friend got it right. Life will throw things at you that you never expected, things that you may not think you can survive. The truth is, we can handle a lot. Often, you’ll surprise yourself by not only surviving, but thriving, in dark or challenging circumstances. When going through the most difficult times, you’ll also discover who will be there for you when it matters.

4. Pay attention to those with more experience, because you don’t know everything. 

This one seems a little ironic given this list, but it’s perhaps the most important item. There will always be someone more experienced, especially when you’re in college and you most likely lived in a much smaller environment 1-4 years ago. There’s a lot to learn about the world, and although you shouldn’t take everyone’s opinion for gospel, it’s important to recognize those who are worth listening to.

5. You can always be working on yourself, so you don’t have time to work on others. 

This one is pretty simple. Everyone has things they can work on within themselves, so we really don’t have time to be “fixing” other people.

6. I don’t have time to blog.

I apologize to those of you who read my writing for my long, long hiatus, but alas, due dates wait for no one. I’m working on time-management and making blink updates part of my schedule.

Going into college, I was a mixture of excitement and terror. I was worried about how I would perform having a challenge that most other students didn’t, and how well I would deal with being so far away from everything familiar to me. The darkness I experienced in the past made me anxious for the future. When it came down to it, I found that my biggest obstacle was my own doubt.  Perhaps the most important thing I have come to learn is that I am more capable than the world or I myself ever expected me to be.

 

 

 

Seeing Blindness

One of my biggest personal philosophies is that people have the ability change, no matter where they happen to be in life. However, the fact that change is 2 parts effort and 1 part opportunity has a large impact on how likely people are to change.

I have found that college has been the most transformative experience of my life so far. I’ve learned so many things including the fact that the list of life essentials (food, shelter, and water) includes a secret fourth item called espresso. I’ve learned that I’m more capable than I ever thought and that there is a community of equally-driven blind people who I can rely on for support.

I think that one of the hardest things about having a disability is that what society has set as the truth is so far removed from reality. My mom asked me recently to make a video for her elementary class about myself with an explanation of my disability. I was reminded again about how when I was growing up, I don’t remember an instance where I saw someone who was blind in a movie, show, advertisement, or any kind of media. I didn’t meet someone like myself until the summer of 7th grade. And this train of thought brought about by my Mom’s request made me realize for the first time how important it is for little kids to know individuals who happen to be blind. We need to create a culture that sees us not as blind people but as people who happen to be blind, because there is such a drastic difference. My parents and I spent my life in terror of the fact that my condition was progressive and that I would lose my vision, and it shouldn’t have to be that way. I went to the NFB(National Federation of the Blind) convention this weekend and saw firsthand that blindness does not mean the end of your life. It’s up to us as ambitious blind people to show this to society.

These are my thoughts for today. I have been very busy with school but now that I’m settled in I hope that I can post more often. Thank you to all of those who read my writing. ❤

Content: Disability awareness video that I made for my Mom’s elementary school class

 

Roots

 

One of the most dangerous side effects of having a disability or a chronic illness is self-centeredness. It’s not necessarily a nature, but nurture that drags people like me into a hole wherein all we think about is ourselves.

Parents don’t prepare themselves for a child with special needs. Despite the grim outlook that our society often has, we become incredibly optimistic when a baby is about to come into the picture. Soon-to-be parents probably hear the phrase “happy and healthy” at least 7 million times before the aforementioned child makes an appearance. So with countless hopes and prayers cast into the universe, nervous new parents head to the hospital to bring new life into the world. But then, something happens. Call it fate, bad luck, the universe. Genetics. No matter what it is, it’s something. Something is wrong.   The baby isn’t healthy and in the eyes of our current ableist society, will never obtain happiness.

This might sound familiar to parents of children with any kind of special need. From that moment on, the lives of both the parents and the child become consumed with fighting whatever “it” is. In addition, families often have to work incredibly hard to create the most normal and fulfilled life possible for the child. As a focus of attention for family and medical professionals from a young age, how difficult would it be to start believing that it’s all about you?

Look at me, I’m doing it right now! Talking all about my experience as a person with a disability. Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s important. But there’s something else, too.

The most beautiful trees would be nothing without their roots, and I believe that people are the same. For me, the support of my family has been a big part of grounding me and encouraging me to grow. This is true for many other individuals with disabilities, but not all. Unfortunately, having a disability does not mean you are automatically blessed with an incredible family. However, I was. I had parents who always had high expectations and believed in me. They instilled in me that I could do anything I set my mind to. My younger sister was born without any major disability. She was a best friend to me throughout the hardest times in my life. When I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue, her love and support helped me to be strong.

These are the unsung heroes. The ones who don’t experience the physical struggle of the disability or illness, but often go through the emotional struggles, sometimes the worst part. They don’t go out in public with a cane or a wheelchair but they love someone who does. So here’s to all those who support someone who is differently-abled. You give us wings.

To my Mom, Dad, and Sister: I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. Thanks for helping me grow. ❤

 

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Stand Up

Everything feels surreal right now. I’ve spent the past two days at Seattle University, my new school, for orientation. My new school. It’s still sinking in, as you can probably tell. It’s so incredible because I sincerely, in all honestly, did not think I would live to see life after high school at many points. I’m sure many of you can relate. In fact, I think everyone feels that way at some point during secondary school.

Now, that time is over. I’ve finally stepped into the chapter of my life where people really start to define themselves and I’m so excited. I know I have stars in my eyes for something brand new and that eventually it will become a place where I have a routine. In other words, the honeymoon phase will end. Of all the information I learned at orientation I can’t help but feel excited about how I walked with my cane confidently, how I introduced myself to others and how I finally feel comfortable in my own skin.

There was a portion of the orientation where we all assembled to discuss diversity. The speaker would say statements, and if it applied to you, you would stand. For me it pointed out that we are all very different but we all have unique challenges and components to our lives that make us who we are.

“If you have or live with someone who has a disability, please stand.”

To many of the students there the activity may have felt like a waste of time or just too invasive. Most of them probably thought it was stupid, and yeah maybe it was a little melodramatic. There was a time when I would have felt the same, but yesterday I couldn’t. I was too busy standing as tall as my 4’11 stature would allow. In that moment, I realized that I am nothing but proud and confident about who I am. Everyone has their own challenges, and mine have made me who I am. I’m no longer ashamed or apologetic because I have different abilities than everyone else. This is all to say, DO NOT BE LIKE ME.

Don’t wait until you are 18 years old to feel comfortable in your skin and to be proud of who you are. And if you’re older than 18, do not wait another second. Time putting yourself down and not loving yourself is wasted time and in addition you are preventing yourself from so much. You’re going to make mistakes and you have flaws. We all do. But you will never learn from them if you’re consumed with punishing yourself.

Don’t be your own worst enemy. Be proud of who ou are and don’t let anyone dictate how you feel about yourself. Stand up, and start moving.

 

Summer Vibe

I just wanted to write a quick update in case you are wondering how some things are going. My Guide Dog application is complete and I have a home interview scheduled which makes everything seem really real. I’ve seen some friends on Facebook who are in the process of training with their dogs and it’s so so exciting. I’m going to be on the cancellation list, and if all the stars align, I will go to training this summer before I start school. I’ll just have to wait to see how it all shakes out but I’m adopting realistic optimism as my attitude for the time being. Worst case scenario, I will have to wait until sometime next year to get my dog. Either way, a guide dog feels like a step in the right direction for me to continue to grow as an independent blind woman.

Also upcoming is my Summer Orientation for Seattle University. It still feels like a dream that I am able to go to this school in the city I love. It’s not the easiest route I could have chosen, by far. The school is expensive and I’m going to have to work hard But it’s going to be worth it. I feel like I’m really going to blossom in college and I can’t wait to start working towards my career.

My other summer plan is that I’m going to be interning at DO-IT, a camp that I went to a few years ago. It’s for young adults with disabilities who are interested in STEM and college bound. I’m looking forward to mentoring students as I was mentored before. That camp helped me gain much of my confidence and realize what kind of things I wanted to achieve.

All of these things are floating through my mind and giving me all kind of mixed feelings. Right now though, I’m just soaking in simmer and time with my family. I’m reminded now that rough patches can’t last forever and that sometimes a loss is really your circumstances changing to get ready for your future. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know that I have come this far and nothing is going to stop me from achieving my dreams

 

Love Yourself

I think of people and their personalities as something that is very abstract. There isn’t a scientific formula for the contents of a personality, and therefore one can never be sure how a person is going to react to a given situation. Some people are highly logical, while others are propelled largely by emotion. No two people are exactly the same, just like our fingerprints. The problem is that what is inside someone, what “makes them tick” is not as easily examined as a fingerprint or DNA, but is often much more compelling.

These facts and more are the reasons that human relationships are often complicated. There will always be work in the therapy field because people will always have problems. One of the ironic things about human behavior is that we often know more information about ourselves the anyone else and yet we often don’t understand the way we feel or why we feel that way. One of the things I have learned about my personality is that I am very empathetic.

I don’t think that I have a psychic superpower, or any kind of power. I’m just attentive to how the people around me feel, even if I don’t know them very well. Sometimes I find this part of myself helpful–it forces to pay attention to how my actions affect other. By the same token it can also be a hinderance. Always gauging how other people feel and taking on what I perceive to be their mood can make it difficult to tell how I am feeling about a situation or to act normally. For example, I often feel extremely agitated if I watch someone who i very nervous giving a presentation even though I am sitting in the audience

So, why am I telling you about my weird quirk? I’m telling you because you have them too! Everyone has different attributes that nobody else has. We spend so much time getting to know other people. Memorizing names and relationships and how others act. Sometimes, though, we don’t take an adequate amount of time being introspective. Maybe we don’t want to see our flaws. The fact is, you’re going to have flaws whether you think about them or not and it is much better to know yourself in terms of identity rather than letting others define your traits. Accepting yourself for all that you are is absolutely essential to staying happy. And think about it; who knows you better than you?

 

 

Bouquet of Words

]FLOWERS

When people get to know me sometimes they are impressed at all that I’ve been through. In reality, they should be impressed with the incredible support that I am lucky enough to have behind me. Today I am thinking about my Mom, and how much she has held me together in times that I was trying so hard to fall apart.

There’s a reason why people are amazed by the unconditional love of mothers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said or done things that would make most people drop me forever, but despite that Mom always sticks around. I’m not particularly incredible or special, but the person behind me is. Having an impairment in public school makes things infinitely more complicated. Trying to get an equal education with a disability is a constant battle and I was so so fortunate to always have my Mom in my corner. My graduation was as much an accomplishment for here as it was for me.

Able-bodied people and their mothers will never understand how much having a disability creates a plethora of challenges. My Mom never gave up on me no matter how hard things got or how much work I was. I will never ever be able to repay her for that. All I can do is honor her in the best way I know how; with a bouquet of words. Happy Mother’s Day mom. ❤