Hey guys! This is Curtis. We had someone else lined up to do tonight's Tuesday Truth, but they couldn't make the deadline, so you've got me. What do I know about Invisible Disabilities? Well, as someone who's lived with dysthymia, or low-grade depression, since I was a teenager, and has experienced multiple major depressive episodes since then, I know quite a bit. So let us begin:
1. How do you define "Invisible Disabilities?"
I would define Invisible Disabilities as anything that can affect a person's lifestyle and isn't readily apparent to those around him/her. Any kind of intellectual disability or personality disorder, even some sensory disabilities like deafness or hardness of hearing, can qualify. High functioning autism or asperger's, bipolar disorder, clinical depression or anxiety, these can all qualify.
2. How has your life been impacted by living with an invisible disability?
I would call it a mixed blessing. Some personality disorders are inherited, and I grew up with many of my family members suffering from bipolar disorder or general anxiety. When gone untreated or undealt with, those issues can steal a family's time away, which can cause a host of issues. With me, my own dysthymia has made me rather introverted, looking at my internal vistas, my own fantasy worlds, inspired by movies or books or games, to escape the doldrums of my real life. In some ways, it's caused me to be rather socially awkward, too, so it's made me rather ostracized throughout my school career, at least until I could find others like me.
3. Why do you think it is important for people to be made aware of invisible disabilities and its effects on people?
Mostly bullying. I've known people with asperger's and others on the autism spectrum who got terribly made fun of and picked on, due to the social awkwardness that comes with that. Myself, well, I spent a lot of time trying to find my happiness in others, which can make for socially unbalanced situations: either I was figuratively begging for someone else's attention or taking advantage of someone else's attention which happened to be coming from someone worse off than me. We're not all the same, and if love is the deal of the day, then I think we can prevent a lot of unnecessary suffering.
4. How can someone interested in learning more information or get involved in supporting someone with invisible disabilities?
To be honest, we're all around you! Haha, no, really, we're everywhere, and you'll never know unless we trust you enough to be honest with you. My biggest piece of advice would be "love and respect". Love as best you can, because you have no idea what someone might be going through. Show people the respect God says they deserve, because your judgment isn't as good as His when it comes to stuff like that. Other than that? I'd suggest learning ASL or something, haha.
5. Please share anything you would like for the world to know about this subject (you can include a personal story)
Some of these, like depression, are really hard to deal with even for someone who knows what they're struggling with. Personality disorders and hormonal imbalances have a tendency to influence a person's judgment and decision-making skills. Because of that, sometimes it's really hard to get out of a hole once you're there, because you might not even see it. Everyone goes through this, too, at different times of their lives. I mean, everyone goes through adolescence, right? That's a huge time of hormonal upheaval. For many women, hormonal changes during menopause can be a big deal, too. Sometimes, when left undiagnosed, they can be devastating, personally and to those around a person. We've all heard of mid-life crises for men, too. I just want to throw out there that no one is immune to these, and everyone, at some point or another, can go through a time of disability, when no one might know, not even you.
So, there's a good primer for you, and hopefully a discussion starter. Please, anyone who identifies with anything that's been written here, comment below and share your story. We would love to hear from you. Those that know someone or think they know someone who might identify with this, well, share this post on your facebook or google or twitter feeds, and let the world know. These are issues that are hard to deal with, because they're not so obvious. There's a huge stigma for those identifying with some of these disabilities, even today. I know I took years to finally come to terms with my own personality disorder, because I was so terrified that I'd end up bipolar, like a few of my family members. But bringing these things to light, and talking about them, is one of the first steps of removing that fear, of making them less scary. So, please, share!