For most of my life, I’ve hated the word strong. To me, it’s a reminder of all the times I was told to be strong as a code for shutting up and shutting down my appropriate emotional reactions or that I would be the one to have to keep everything and everyone together.
Either way, it’s a pressure that a child shouldn’t be forced to bear let alone think about. Add to all that the inspiration porn-like way strength is used towards those in the chronic and/or mental illness communities and it’s no wonder I have an issue with it.
Like seriously, this is ableist in SO many ways. It denies us, again, the ability to experience and express our emotions which is really bad not only for our mental health but for our physical health as well.
Lately, though, I’ve begun to embrace this word as it rightfully should be used.
I think that strength is about dealing with the hardships we face and admitting what we’re dealing with. Strength is making it through all of that despite how many times we fall down. Continuing in the face of all that adversity is worth of admiration and celebration, especially if we come through intact and true to ourselves.
There is definitely something to be said for the crap we all must go through in our lives. I think that any illnesses we deal with just add to that whether they’re chronic or just long-term, mental or physical. I am a 27 year old woman living with chronic and mental illnesses that are basically a product of the abusive home I grew up in, which led me to further abuse. I cut contact with the toxic and abusive people in my life and starting building or rebuilding bonds with the best people I’ve ever known. The fact that I’m alive right now through all that shit is amazing.
Most of all, I think that the most incredible thing is that I’m happy – happy to be alive, to be a chronic illness fighter and advocate, to be someone who helps others, to be a piggie momma and wifey and sister and auntie… That’s all awesome, but the best thing of all is that I’m true to myself.
Am I still dealing with coping with my illnesses? Totally. Do my mental illnesses sometimes get the best of me? Yup. Am I passionate about making sure people are inclusive? Sure. But all of that is true to myself, to the problems that I see.
We all need to learn that our opinions are the most important in regards to ourselves. Do what makes you happy as long as you’re not harming others with your actions.