This is an essay that I wrote roughly a year ago around the time I applied for disability. For me, there was a lot of embarrassment involved in that process – people look at you differently, especially when your disability is a mental one. I was in a pretty dark place when I wrote this, and I wanted to share what I was feeling so that maybe the next time you hear someone you know is on disability, your reaction won’t be one of disdain but rather one of compassion.
No one wants to be the girl on disability.
So how did I end up here?
How long will I have to stay?
No one wants to be the disease. You’re not the girl with the disease – you’re just the disease. Some people pity you. Some people are worse off than you are. But most people smile and nod with a sad look in their eyes and avoid the charity case at all costs. Most people don’t know how much it hurts to be unwanted because you are the disease. Most people don’t care. Some people tell you you’re brave. Those people are wrong. If you were brave, you could beat this. You wouldn’t need the pills. You wouldn’t need the doctors. You wouldn’t need the check. If you were brave, you wouldn’t cower in your bed at all hours of the day, afraid to face a world that doesn’t want you there. Some people tell you that your story can help others. Help them heal. And while you’re lying in bed, hiding from the real world and living in a better one, you think you can. You think you can do amazing things, prove people wrong, and make a difference. You say you want to make a difference for that one person, that even helping that one person would mean the world, but you want to help so many more people than that. That way you won’t feel so worthless. That way the bottles won’t look so tempting. And then you wake up and go downstairs, and realize that telling your story helps no one. It just looks like you’re complaining, or exaggerating, or looking for attention. And isn’t that what you’re doing? If everyone says that’s what you’re doing, they must be right. Because the disease is evil. And since you’re not the girl with the disease, you are the disease, that makes you evil too.
You say things all the time. That every human being is worth something. That everyone is special. That everyone deserves to be loved. But really, you only say those things because you know you’re not worth anything. You know you’re not special. You know you don’t deserve to be loved. You’re just over-compensating so that ache inside that longs for death is quelled. And no matter what you do, you’re an embarrassment. You’re the skeleton in the closet. When people ask you how you’re doing, what you’re doing, what your goals are, what your life is like, the subject is quickly changed so as not to offend delicate ears. People stand in front of you so the questions don’t get asked again. There are a precious few people who say they care, that they love you for who you are. But the fear that they will leave you someday is gripping and painful. Because that’s what everyone does. Everyone fears the disease, and they eventually move on. That’s the way it always is. The disease lives alone and dies alone, collecting checks because the disease is broken. And nobody likes playing with broken toys anymore.
The disease prays, but nothing comes. The disease writes, but the words are tainted. The disease sings, but the music echoes in the dark. The disease paints, but the paint is striped with blood. The disease tries to prove that it can do something, anything. That it is deserving. The disease tries to prove that it can bring you things you never thought existed. The disease tries to show that is had something to offer. Some kind of wisdom, or intelligence, or empathy, or loyalty, or deep unconditional love, or the ability to feel. But nobody wants the gifts that the disease has to offer. They’re thrown aside without a second thought, because with gifts comes pain. A stinging pain that drives the healthy people away; that drives all the people away.
But in the disease’s mind, things are better. Things are always better. They have to be better, because the mind is the disease’s only escape. Wonderful things happen in the mind. Happy things happen in the mind. Love happens in the mind. Normalcy happens in the mind. In the mind, the disease is a girl again, and the girl is loved and respected. Someone sees that the girl is beautiful and loves her for all that she is, and holds her through the pain. The girl is no longer the disease, and the disease is inconsequential. The girl finally makes a difference.