About the Author: Wilma is an amazing visual content creator and disability advocate. She has a spinal cord injury that she never misses the chance to educate on. Her platform is not only incredibly aesthetically pleasing, but also full of wise words and thoughts on everything disability and life-related. She talks about everything from busting Spina Bifida myths to zip lining. Her vulnerability with her audience is unique and refreshing, and we highly suggest you dive deep into her instagram here!
When you have a disability, there is no getting better or being cured. You go through so many different emotions and I've found myself going through a process of mourning, sadness and acceptance, followed by empowerment. I'm not going to get better. Only by grieving have I been able to move forward.
You're allowed to grieve. It's hard. You're allowed to think that it's uncomfortable, that it sucks. That does not mean that you wallow forever. It doesn't mean that you hate yourself. But there is this sense of grief and loss around disability that’s not always accepted. This expectation that you're positive all the time. I have a very positive outlook on my disability and life in general, and acknowledging this sense of grief and loss that comes with disability feels like a betrayal of that positivity. It feels like an undermining of a part of my personality.
But it’s not, it’s okay to grieve. It does not make you a bad activist. It doesn't make you a bad disabled person. A lot of times what we see in the media is the denial, the anger, the bargaining and the depression but it just stays there and I think that's how you see people with disabilities. The guy that is angry at the world and is stuck feeling that way and eventually goes off to die because disability can’t possibly be lived with (you all know the movie I'm talking about). That's not real life.
There is depression, anger and resentments and it’s okay; but there is also happiness and strength. You will figure it out. Whatever it is you're going to survive this, and you're not just going to survive it. You're going to thrive. Don't let yourself sink so far into this rabbit hole that you think you're worthless because you are not. You're allowed to be depressed, angry and bitter. You're allowed to hate the world but it doesn't mean your body is worthless, it does not mean that you as a person don't have value. That's the rhetoric that's forced so deep into our brains.
Worth is not based on your ability to walk. We all have limits. Accepting my disability has been a hard pill for me to swallow. But through grieving and acceptance I’ve learned that these differences to my body does not change who I am or my identity. I've met friends in waiting rooms at hospitals and we are still in touch.
I've made amazing friends through this community and I've realized that I'm allowed to express a full range of emotions and still be proud. You are allowed to have emotions that are like, "I don't like being disabled" or "I wish I could skateboard" and at the same time you could also say that "I'm proud of this", "this is part of my identity". There's nothing wrong with it.
You can embrace your disability and love yourself. When I realized that both of those things could coexist I became a new person. Remember you’re not alone through this and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Have you felt that you’ve gone through a grieving process with your disability?