How Alan Rickman Taught Me My Illness Does Not Define Me

When I first picked up “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” my favorite character was instantly Professor Severus Snape.

I’m not sure why, really.

His description is not the most attractive, and, to be honest, he was a complete dick to Harry, terrorized Neville and made life hell for the rest of his students (sans the Slytherins).

But, for some reason, 9-year-old me determined he was going to be my utmost favorite character. Twenty years and the rest of the series later, he still is.

Go figure.

In 2001, Warner Brothers Studio released the movie adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” It was then  I learned that Snape was going to be portrayed by Alan Rickman. I knew of Alan Rickman from “Galaxy Quest” and my parents knew of him through his work in “Die Hard” and “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.” A close family friend adored him and told me how Snape was going to be in good hands. It was at that point I determined I was going to see all of Alan Rickman’s movies.

I remember the first time I saw the trailer, that brief glimpse of Snape staring at Harry with hatred on his face. I remember sitting in the movie theaters on opening night on the edge of my seat as the magical story and characters I grew to love came to life. Was there a difference between Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Snape and how I imagined Snape from the books? Of course! But just ever so slightly.

I was thrilled.

When I was 12 years old, I had my first grand mal seizure during a routine podiatrist visit.  That night, after we got home, I had another. From that moment on, I went from a healthy child to that of a child with a “sick” label.

Almost every day, I would pass out and with it came further seizure-like activity. I vividly remember having to go to all of my classes and explaining to my classmates that this was what I was going through and how they could help me. Teachers were uncomfortable with the situation and were constantly asking me if I was OK. I missed more than 100 days of school that year, and I only managed to pass with high honors because I lived very close to the school and my teachers would stop by on their way home to drop off worksheets and homework for me to do. Some friends were incredibly supportive, but, in the end, I was dealing with fellow middle schoolers. I was already the tallest and the fattest, so to add this humiliation of now having the reputation of just randomly dropping and seizing?

It wasn’t great.

The worst part was when I was banned from recess, due to the fact I had passed out on the soccer field and the assistant principal had to drive onto the field to pick me up to bring me to the nurse’s office.

My middle school years are some of my least favorite. I felt incredibly alone, but had my Harry Potter books. I imagined I was at Hogwarts, that I wasn’t sick. I pictured myself in almost a Mary-Sue character, one of Snape’s top students. Clearly, that meant Snape would give me extra lessons so I could learn more advanced potions. Somewhere among my things, I know I have a notebook filled with make-believe potions and their ingredients.

During all of this, I went to see doctors — a lot of doctors who ran a lot of tests. I lost count of how many we visited and all the tests run. Half the doctors thought it had to do with my brain. The other half thought it had to do with my heart. No one was agreeing on anything, and it was hard to come up with a treatment plan. Even more tests were ordered, and I would continue to just “drop.”

Now keep in mind, dealing with all of these tests was horrible for a kid who didn’t like doctors and who was already sky-high on their stress levels due to the constant loss of consciousness and the seizures. The tilt-table test was a thing of nightmares. That was a horrific experience. I had to wear a heart monitor for a month, including to the funeral of a great aunt.

At one point, I was placed on an IV treatment course where, for three hours and four times a week, I’d have my “cocktail.” I was petrified of needles. I still am, even after countless medical procedures, two tattoos and an eyebrow piercing I got in college. I absolutely hate needles. Even today when people suggest acupuncture for my fibromyalgia? More like acu-no-thank-you.

My mum knew about my Harry Potter obsession and would always make sure I brought a copy of one of the books with my Snape bookmarks in them whenever we went to a doctor appointment. She calmed me down from my panic attacks by reminding me we could rent one of Alan’s movies from Blockbuster. I had made a promise to myself that I was going to see his entire filmography and was slowly making my way towards that goal (since I was 11-13 and a lot of his movies were R-rated.

In 2002, Alan Rickman starred in a play called “Private Lives” on Broadway. Being that we lived 45 minutes away from New York City, we decided to make the trip down there to see the play. I read stories of people meeting him at the stage door, and I wanted to do the same.

On the day we left, I armed myself with my “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” book, and we made our way to the Richard Rogers Theater (now home to Hamilton!). The entire time, I was scared. What if I passed out during the show? What if I did get the chance to meet him and passed out upon doing so? What then?!

We approached the will-call window, and with our tickets, came a small parcel. At first, I thought it was just the Playbill that comes with the tickets. But then I looked closer. It was autographed! To me! From Alan! The rest of the cast also added their names. It was from the opening night a few months earlier. Opening it up, I found a black-and-white autographed photo of Alan that was also personalized to me.

Apparently, without my knowledge, my mum wrote to Alan and told him the story of what had happened to me. She told him how much of an inspiration he was to me to keep fighting and to keep going through all the testing and treatments I had gone through and how his movies helped me to get through them. She told him how his portrayal of Snape was my favorite.

I was absolutely stunned. I held that parcel in my shaking hands throughout the entire performance.

He did all of this? For me?

He stepped in front of me. He took my hand in his and shook it, telling me how very pleased he was that I was able to make it to the performance. I thanked him for the parcel he left, and he was glad I’d received it. He spotted my book and asked if I’d like him to sign it. I responded that he had been so generous already, but he waved that away and opened the book. We turned to the chapter called “Snape’s Grudge” together. “The Prisoner of Azkaban” is already my favorite book but now?

My copy is priceless.

author and alan rickman

We took a couple of photos together, and he told me how he hoped I would start feeling better very soon. I asked him if I could give him a hug, and he graciously accepted.  Not once did my illness come up. For once, I could enjoy a few moments of my life and not talk about it.

Up until this point, I spent so much time having to explain my illness or deal with my illness or trying to convince others that I was OK. Everything in my life was about my illness. My illness was the center of my universe. I couldn’t escape it. If I wasn’t having the symptoms of it, I could cut the tension around me with a knife. I didn’t want to be known as a sick kid. I just wanted to be known as a kid.

He never treated me like a medical emergency waiting to happen. He never treated me any different than what I would imagine he treated other fans (he spent a few minutes with each of us at the stage door, making sure everyone had a chance to speak with him). He treated me like any other person my age. He treated me like I was a person, not a fragile being that would shatter without warning.

At that moment, I learned an important lesson that would stick with me throughout the years. I learned my illness, whatever it may be, did not have to be my defining factor.

I was able to wake up the next morning and fight my battle in a brand new way — a braver and stronger way. I no longer feared the tests and the treatments. That mental change made all of the difference in the world.

I was able to see him on the last performance of the show to say goodbye a couple of months later. He remembered me by name and once again, spent a few moments chatting with us. He had thanked me for the letter I sent him. He asked how I was feeling and whether we were closer to finding an answer. We had, and he was thrilled we knew what I was finally battling. He was extraordinarily sweet.
I always wanted to be able to meet him once again. I wanted to be able to thank him for all he did for that scared 12-year-old kid. I wanted to tell him how his acts of kindness meant so much for me. I wanted to tell him how he taught me that my illness didn’t define who I was. I don’t know if he knew how important that lesson would be to me.

But I never got the chance to see him in person again.

As of January 14, 2018, he’s now been gone for two years. The earth is a little dimmer with his loss. He was an extremely talented actor and just an amazing person to chat with. Harry Potter still remains one of the most important things in my life, and Alan’s lesson to me remains to be one of the most powerful that I’ve ever had.

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Watching ‘Coco’ While Dealing With Grief

I blog mostly about how Disney quotes, characters and films have helped me sort through my caregiving experience and also through grief. I saw new Disney movie “Coco,” which won the Golden Globe this year for Best Animated Film. It opened Thanksgiving weekend 2017.

“Coco” highlights the Day of the Dead, which is a favorite unit of my students in my Spanish language classes, who are often surprised to learn it is not just “Mexican Halloween.” We make “calaveras,” the decorative skulls, and we talk about the concept of how the spirits of loved ones who have passed away are believed to come back to visit their families on that holiday. Their spirits live on as long as they are remembered by the living who loved them. I always tell my students that although I don’t really celebrate Day of the Dead, I am moved by the idea that the spirits of my parents and my husband, Ben, would come back to me every year, but that I often feel that they are watching over me. When Ben and I went to Walt Disney World, I did love the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, where the artisans could be seen making beautiful Day of the Dead crafts and spirit animals.

I have always looked forward to the new Disney and Pixar films. I was definitely intrigued by this movie because of the theme. As I took my seat in the theater, I thought about how one of Ben’s and my favorite traditions was going to the Thanksgiving Disney movie release on opening day or weekend. As his ALS progressed, traveling became more difficult, and eventually it became impossible. I kept our tradition and went to see “Coco” on opening weekend, but I missed Ben terribly and felt very lonely and alone. I chose to go by myself because I thought I might be upset and it did not feel right to go with anyone else. Some things — particularly Disney things — will never be the same without Ben.

“Coco” was absolutely beautiful but very emotional, given my own experiences and losses. For one thing, the character Coco is young Miguel’s great-grandma, who is delighted by her great-grandson, although her memory of him and of everyone, is fading. But Coco is loved and respected and cared for by the whole family. I was happy to see Disney tackle the issues of respect for the elderly and memory
loss in a sensitive, touching way. But, it was also poignant, since it echoes my own experience with my great-aunt who has Alzheimer’s disease, with whom I was so close. She now seems to know I am familiar but does not know who I am. Since she does smile and get animated when I visit her, I comfort myself with the belief that memories of me are somewhere in her mind. I cannot have the same relationship with her I always had, but I continue to visit her and take comfort in making her laugh and smile without dwelling on her not knowing my name or that I am her niece, the daughter of her sister, my mom, whom she also does not appear to remember.

Also integral to the plot is the profound love of and connection to music that young Miguel feels to his core. Ben would have strongly related to that. Playing music and recalling lyrics that resonated with him were key to who Ben was until the day he died. In fact, on the day that he separated from the vent, a guitarist played some of his favorite songs for him at his bedside. I took comfort in knowing that Ben would have enjoyed Coco’s emphasis on the vitality of music.

It stands to reason that the lyrics to a song from the film would resonate particularly deeply.

“Remember Me”

Written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Performed by Miguel, featuring Natalia Lafourcade

Remember me
Though I have to say goodbye
Remember me
Don’t let it make you cry
For even if I’m far away I hold you in my heart
I sing a secret song to you each night we are apart

Remember me
Though I have to travel far
Remember me
Each time you hear a sad guitar
Know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
Until you’re in my arms again
Remember me

When I saw the film, I’d been struggling with missing Ben more than usual. Fall- encompassing my October birthday and Halloween was our favorite time of year, and there are constant reminders of him that make me feel very alone. Although it unnerved me and had me in tears at various points, “Coco” was a powerful and actually, a positive reminder that Ben, my mom and dad, my grandma and all of the other people I’ve loved so deeply but lost, are always with me in my heart. I was fortunate to be able to tell my dad, my grandma and Ben that I would never forget or stop loving them. Remembering them keeps them close to me always and very significantly, it keeps their spirits alive.

Sometimes that’s not enough, like when I wanted to be sitting next to Ben and holding his hand, knowing that as soon as he would have seen Coco and Miguel together that he would have handed me a tissue and I would have started laughing through my tears because he knew exactly what tugged at my heartstrings.

In typical Disney fashion, it is a movie that can be enjoyed by children of all ages. It is vibrant and colorful and fun, yet it also carries important messages for all of us about life, aging, love and loss. Ben was Puerto Rican, and he would have loved, as I did, that there was even some Spanish language in it!

Ben at the Mexican Pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World

Ben at the Mexican Pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World

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What I Want Every Young Suicidal Person to Know

Today I took flowers to a close friend. Just a few days ago he informed me that his little cousin, at 18 years of age, died by suicide. Like a slap to the face, my eyes widened and my jaw dropped. Like a mathematical equation beyond my grasp, my mind struggled to comprehend the news. The only response I could muster was silence followed by a tight hug.

bouquet of flowers

These tragic stories are all too familiar to me. I’ve been working in the mental health space for two years, but nothing can prepare you for when tragedy strikes so close. Then there’s a flood of feelings and thoughts that whirl around: “What if?”

I can’t comprehend what her family is going through. But having crossed paths with her on several occasions, part of me wonders if there’s something I could have done or said.

She’s gone now. But in the hope of saving another young person out there, I feel the following words are still deserving of their place:

Sweetheart,

There’s a look in your eyes; a heaviness in your heart. You don’t feel strong, but believe me you are — as I’m sure there are a lot of people being fooled by the front you’re holding up. The reason I can see past it is because I’ve been on the other side when I was younger. I won’t for a second tell you that your problems don’t matter or you should “move on.” All I ask for you to do is wait.

Time has a way with things, but we unfortunately only learn this when we’ve experienced enough of it. I’m not saying I’m whole, flawless or without my own occasional difficult days; I’m just trying to gently remind you that you’re probably not there yet.

In the most loving way, I’m trying to say that you’re still young, like the dawn of a new day; a rising sun unaware of the heights it will reach and of how many people it’s yet to touch with its warmth. Life is yet to surprise you, but first it needs a chance. You can do that by giving yourself time. You may not feel like it, but you’re worth every second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year. And there’s people out there who will give you every second, minute, hour, day, week and year of support you need. Please reach out to them.

Follow this journey here.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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10 Ways to Give Back to the Medical Community if You Use MLK Day as a Day of Service

One of the greatest civil rights leaders, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., lived his life serving others. He believed in inclusion for all and made the civil rights movement about universal acceptance. Following his example, millions of Americans use Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a Day of Service. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, breaks down barriers, and brings us closer to Dr. King’s dream of a world where there are equal rights for all human beings.

As a mom of a child with extra medical needs, I use this day of service as a reminder of what I can do to give back to the medical community that has helped my family. I believe giving back is one of the greatest lessons we can teach our children. Here are 10 ways anyone can give back to the medical community.

Ronald McDonald House

kids with ronald mcdonald

We collect pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House all year long. The Pop Tab Program shows how little things can make a big difference. Collecting tabs you pull to open soda, soup or other aluminum cans greatly offsets the house’s expenses. The Ronald McDonald House also accepts volunteers for baking cookies, cooking dinner and for other activities such as house cleaning and working the front desk.

5K Walks

kids at a 5k walk

Participating in a 5K family walk is an excellent way to support organizations that have supported you. Our family walks in a variety of 5Ks each year supporting hospitals, special needs organizations and rare disease research.

Kindness Rocks

kids painting kindness rocks

The Kindness Rock Project was created to spread inspiration and a moment of kindness for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way. A lot of family fun can be had collecting, painting and delivering the rocks. Think about spreading the rocks near your local park, children’s hospital or other places you enjoy visiting as a family.

Donate Blood

woman donating blood

Blood donations are a precious gift. Blood donations can help save a life or even several lives depending on how the blood is used. It is easy to find a location and it takes less than 30 minutes to save a life. You can donate blood once every eight weeks.

Lemonade Stand

little girl with a lemonade stand

A good old fashioned lemonade stand or an upgraded popcorn, Kool-aid or treat stand can generate a lot of money. Choose an organization to donate your funds to and celebrate making a difference.

Toy Donations

kids at toys r us

Hospitals can always use toy donations. For the safety of the patients, hospitals usually only accept new toys. Some donated items will be kept in-hospital for ongoing use, while other donations will be gifted to patients to take home. You can always check online for urgent needs, everyday requests and holiday wish lists. I have found many hospitals have a strong music and art focus and appreciate donations of art supplies as simple as boxes of crayons. Portable activities to help distract children during painful procedures, treatments, and exams are always a great idea.

Monetary Donations

kids donating coins

Keeping a jar for spare coins can add up quickly. Saving your change for a month or two or even a year can make a big difference to one of your favorite organizations.

First Responder Goodies

kid baking

If you have a medically fragile family, you may be using first responders a little more often than you would like. A nice way to thank them is to send over some treats or thank you cards. We have found our local first responders are extremely grateful when we stop by to show our appreciation.

Thank You Cards

Thank you Notes

Thank you cards are a simple way to show your gratitude. First responders, doctors, nurses and the hospital staff in general will be delighted to receive a thank you card. We also enjoy handing out thank you cards to people who would least expect it such as the UPS delivery person who delivers our medicated formula and the pharmacist who fills our prescriptions.

Notes on Cars at Hospitals

One other way we enjoy giving back to others and spreading a little joy is to leave random notes of encouragement at our local hospital. As a family, we create inspirational signs such as, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” Our cards, notes and signs are put on random cars throughout the hospital parking garage providing a spark of hope and love to its recipient.

In the words of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The time is always right to do what is right.” Have fun serving others, paying it forward, and enjoy your Day of Service.

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How I Rose from the Shame of Sexual Assault and PTSD

Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Unity can mean life to a survivor.

I am a successful businesswoman, a mom of three great kids, daughter, sister, friend… and I am a sexual assault survivor with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It took me a long time to be able to say those words. The intense feelings of shame and guilt kept me from being able to speak them. These are two of the most common emotions felt amongst sexual assault survivors, and they are destructive. My shame and guilt stopped me from reaching out for support. I felt like I had to hide in fear that someone would find out. No one could possibly understand my pain. I was totally alone.

Until I wasn’t.

Until another survivor was brave enough to tell me her story. She understood, and that was a powerful moment. When my “Angel of Support” confided in me, it gave me the strength to start talking about my experience. A small glimmer of light had peeked through the darkness, and that light was hope. I finally understood that this didn’t define me and I could speak my truth without shame and fear.

While doing some research on the link between PTSD and sexual assault, I came across a story about how Lady Gaga invited a group of survivors to accompany her onto the stage at the Oscars for her performance of “Til It Happens to You,” a song about her sexual assault. Gaga tells the story of how this community of survivors impacted her and how they decided to make this a permanent movement by getting matching tattoos to signify unity: “I was really having a hard time getting ready for this performance… Then I went out there and met the survivors and I just started crying. One girl said, ‘I really want to get matching tattoos’ because she was trying to make me feel not alone. She was dead on… I ended up getting the tattoo because it was what they said to me that made me feel like the pain was lessening. My healing process has now begun because I’ve told somebody and I know I’m not alone.”

When I heard about Lady Gaga’s performance and about the tattoo, I knew I had to join this movement. I knew this was my chance to give back and be that “Angel of Support” for someone else. This tattoo is a show of unity and strength and I’m asking you to share this post because it might find the one person out there living in pain, shame and isolation. While I still fear that talking about this will affect my career, my friendships and how people view me, I am more fearful of what it will do if I don’t speak out. I am walking through my fear towards recovery. I will no longer let my abuser hold that power over me and I’m asking, will you walk through that fear with me? With community and hope, all things are possible, including healing.

woman with rose on fire tattoo for sexual assault survivors collage holding hands

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Images via Contributor and Dawn Wehman.

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12 Pictures That Show the Different Ways Anxiety Manifests

You may be familiar with how difficult it can be to explain what anxiety is actually like.

Sometimes words just can’t accurately portray the surprising ways anxiety emerges, the thoughts and feelings it provokes and the seemingly irrational actions it makes you do.

Sometimes words just aren’t enough. 

So if you’ve found it difficult to explain your struggle with anxiety, or understand someone else’s struggle with anxiety, these photos showing the different ways anxiety affects people might help.

1. The “Butterflies” in Your Stomach

portrait of woman's stomach opening with butterflies emerging

Photo artist Anya Anti knows what it’s like when “anxiety butterflies” invade your stomach, and brought it to life in a surreal self-portrait. “Opening” up her stomach, she reveals what you can’t see from the outside — a relatable concept for people who have anxiety, but appear to look “just fine.”

2. The Isolation of Being Overwhelmed

Anxiety can be overwhelming, and when you’re overwhelmed, it can be hard to focus on anything but your anxiety. So if you feel like you want to shrink into shadows, like the photo featured above, you’re not alone.

3. When the World Feels Like “Too Much”

a woman shields herself from the camera

Savvy W. told The MightyThis is what anxiety feels like for me. Too much happening, overwhelming, so much that I can’t see straight. Everything is breaking around me until I eventually fall into an attack. I’m afraid of the negative or judgmental comments people may make. You’re always so happy, how could you have anxiety? [and] You always seem fine, are ones I get quite a lot.” 

4. Anxiety That’s “Disguised”

Instagram user and blogger T.J. Jourian said in his post, “That look when you’re slowly emerging from a two day anxiety attack masquerading as irrational anger and sadness.”

5. The Aftermath of a Panic Attack

Tia D. told The MightyThis is a picture of me right after I had a panic attack. I never share things like this on Facebook as I feel friends might think I’m doing it for attention and [worry] they won’t believe this is an actual illness. Whenever someone challenges the fact I have anxiety, it just makes the anxiety even worse so I never post pictures like this to avoid the chance of this happening. Most of my friends don’t even know I have anxiety as I have a fear of people not taking it seriously.” 

6. “Flare Ups” That Hide Behind a Smile

woman with hives on her chest smiling

Kalyn L. told The Mighty,“I have chronic hives but I mainly get flair ups when I’m anxious, which happens to be most of the time I’m out in public. Normally I wear high shirts to avoid people seeing them. I took this picture and even though the hives aren’t the main focus of this picture it’s all I can see.”

7. When Anxiety Fuels Compulsive Behaviors

a hand covered in many bite marks

Eric K. told The MightyI lost it a few weeks ago and it has never been this bad. Usually when I start shaking and my head goes ‘crazy’ I bite my hand hard while taking deep breaths. This time it didn’t work, I kept biting and biting. This was during work… I took this picture just because I never been that bad. I won’t post it because I don’t want questions. I don’t like the robot responses people give because they don’t understand. Sadly the only person who calmed the noise has left so the noise since doubled.”

8. When Nail Biting and Skin Picking Become a Coping Mechanism

Anxiety can sometimes lead to nail biting, skin picking, excessively lip biting or chewing and other body-focused repetitive behaviors. It can often start as a simple coping mechanism to distract your mind from anxious thoughts, but soon it becomes habit. So if you want to know how anxious some people are, just check their hands.

9. When Anxiety Feels Like It’s Pulling You Under

Chris C. told The MightySomeone once asked me what it was like dealing with anxiety and depression and if I could explain it. I decided to draw this picture to use as a tool to better explain myself. I said depression and anxiety is like being in the middle of the ocean with no boats in sight, floating with only your nose above the water with a 50 pound dog named anxiety sitting on your chest and a giant hand named depression pulling you under at the same time [when] all you want is to breathe.”

10. When Anxiety Makes It Hard to Breathe

This is my interpretation of generalized anxiety disorder. I often times feel as if a black hand is rising up through my chest and clutching my throat and chest, trying to pull me into an abyss of chaos. I feel like my brain can't function anymore as it goes into overdrive. I can't think clearly and feel like I don't understand what's happening around me. Dealing with anxiety on a daily basis is also quite exhausting which is why I added the shadow under my eyes. GAD is hard to live with and unfortunately many without mental health issues don't understand it. I want people to see what anxiety looks like on the outside as a way to deconstruct all the misconceptions around it. Having GAD does NOT mean that I want to be left alone and isolated. It's hard for me to to go social events but that does NOT mean I don't want friends. It's just harder for me but I'm trying my best everyday! May is mental health awareness month. Please join me in raising awareness by participating in the #insideoutchallenge. I challenge you to show the world what your battle with mental illness looks like so others who fight the same battles know they're not alone, so others will see that mental illness should be treated the same way as physical illness, without any judgment or stigma. ???????????? ________________________________________________ PRODUCTS USED: @kryolanofficial Aqua colours, @nyxcosmetics @nyxcosmetics_canada black liquid liner, vivid halo liquid liner, vivid sapphire liner, @katvondbeauty "Underage Red" everlasting liquid lipstick ________________________________________________ #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmonth #mentalhealthwarrior #mentalhealthmatters #getloud #b4stage4 #mentalillness #anxiety #generalizedanxietydisorder #nyxcanada #nyxcosmetics #bluehair #inspiration #makeup #makeupbyme #makeuplover #makeupartist #makeupaddict #mua #buzzfeed #themighty #mic #bluehair #depression #dontgiveup #wakeupandmakeup

A post shared by YASAMAN GHEIDI ????????/???????? YVR (@lilmoonchildd) on

Makeup artist Yasaman Gheidi, who started the #InsideOutChallenge, said in an Instagram post, “I often times feel as if a black hand is rising up through my chest and clutching my throat and chest, trying to pull me into an abyss of chaos. I feel like my brain can’t function anymore as it goes into overdrive. I can’t think clearly and feel like I don’t understand what’s happening around me. Dealing with anxiety on a daily basis is also quite exhausting which is why I added the shadow under my eyes.”

11. When Anxiety Makes It Almost Impossible to Get Out of Bed

woman crying in bed

Lena M. told The Mighty, “When I took this photo I was supposed to be at work already. I really wished I was, but anxiety didn’t let me leave my bed. I was laying like this for hours trying to convince myself it’s safe to go, but I physically couldn’t leave. I took the photo because I felt like I had to prove my feelings were real even though no one asked for proof. It’s a suffocating feeling you can’t describe. I never posted it because I’d be afraid people would think I did it for attention. I just wish people would understand what it’s like.”

12. When Anxiety Looks Like Being “Put Together”

Comedian Lane Moore shared a picture on her Twitter, saying, “When your anxiety is worse than it’s been in years but no one can tell bc your makeup is that good.”

What does your anxiety look like?

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Admitting I’m Scared of My Future With Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

In the last couple of years as I’ve learned more about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, I have considered myself lucky. I’m in my 30s and up until the past year I’d never experienced a dislocation. My chronic pain only became worse in the past few years. Not to say I didn’t have some aches and pains throughout my life, but it wasn’t daily constant pain until the last few years.

I’ve read in posts on The Mighty or in Ehlers-Danlos groups on Facebook where people just roll over in bed and dislocate a rib or a hip; I counted myself lucky that I didn’t have that problem… yet. That “yet” is always there. And that “yet” is getting closer. And if I’m honest, I admit that it scares me.

I’ve had subluxations many times throughout my life, even before I knew that’s what it was. It’s a common occurrence now for a joint to slip, sometimes painfully. I have dislocated my shoulder three times in the past year. I dislocated something in each foot in the last few months. I am now having trouble with feeling like I’m about to dislocate something when I stretch and often become scared to stretch even when I feel I need to. I’m starting to have trouble with my knees or hips subluxing in bed and being unable to find a position that will keep them in place. I’ve had that problem with my shoulders for quite some time but it scares me now that it’s happening with other joints.

I recently gave in on using braces when needed, to hold my body together. I bought a rollator walker not long ago because I realized it would be more helpful than my cane sometimes and would put less stress on my shoulder than my cane does. I haven’t used the rollator yet but I’m starting to accept that I need it sometimes.

it's ok to be scared sometimes nobody is brave all the time written on paper on woman's legs

Tonight I admitted to my boyfriend that it scares me, how it’s been progressing more over the last year. Not that I sit and stress over it constantly, but I can’t help noticing whenever something new happens, when a joint that never misbehaved starts misbehaving, when I have to be more and more careful with my movements to avoid injury.

I have no way of knowing if the progression will stay slow or if it will speed up. It has seemed fast over the past year. They say to “face your fears.” Well, I have no choice in the matter, I have to face this fear because this is part of my life. I’ve become so used to pushing through, keeping positive, not letting my illness control my life, not letting others see the worst of it.

To admit fear, even to someone who does see my worst days, I guess was a step toward acceptance, a step toward facing my fears. I can only take it one day at a time, and no amount of worry will change the future, but I have to remember it’s OK to be scared sometimes. No one can be strong and brave all the time.

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