I was born with a pretty rare genetic mutation (it sounds cooler than it is). The mutation caused me to have a physical disability called Arthrogryposis. Now not only is Arthrogryposis really hard to say, it also causes my joints and muscles not to move right.
Growing up I actually didn’t realize I had a disability. Not because I had no physical side effects (there were plenty) but because I lived in a small town where everyone just accepted it. Mentally I never had to come to terms with my limitations, simply because no one pointed them out.
I first noticed how different I was when my family moved to Ottawa. I entered a brand new elementary school where the children had never seen someone like me before. At this point in my life, I suffered from severe scoliosis which meant I had a huge hump on my back.
The feeling of alienation caused me to go through a time of anger. Not just the children who ridiculed me, but more at the world who wouldn’t accept me.
Every time I went out in public, all I could focus on were the direct stares from the people around me. I didn’t understand why they thought it was okay to look at my disfigured back.
Eventually, though I overcame most of this anger and just realized that I was made the way I was for a reason. The people who didn’t accept me became less and less important. The stares became simply explained as a harmless curiosity.
In 2008, I underwent surgery to improve my back. Though I would like to think my epiphany was more due to the fact that I was just simply tired of being angry.
More importantly, I was tired of hating the world and to an extent myself for things I couldn’t change.
I fully embraced my reality and was able to move on and be happy.
Presently I am a busy college student that deals with the stress of deadlines and getting good grades just like the next person.
I go through the daily motions I expect everyone else does. I wake up, get ready for school, make the commute, go to class, do work, commute home, study, watch Netflix and go to bed.
Some days are definitely better than others. Though I try to make the best of life through humour and a positive mindset.
Most days are pretty good. I do everything I need to with only a few moments of difficulty caused by my disability, I feel on top of it all.
Rarely though, I do have days where I feel completely bogged down by it.
On these days it’s mostly due to pain in my joints or back. The pain serves to be a constant reminder of my disability. I begin to resent the stares again and find myself being affected by them. Every struggle of the day is way more prominent than it normally would have been.
On these days I just want to roll over and not face the world, sometimes I do. Most of the time though I kick myself out of it. Telling myself, “Today is gonna be hard, but at the end of the day you can at least say you conquered something.”
Even though my abilities and challenges remained the same. I overcame the pain and old negative mindset. That victory helps me get through it all and just live my life.