"When I Discover Who I Am, I'll Be Free"
The incomparable writer Ralph Ellison wrote these words in his iconic work, Invisible Man - a work and quote that applies to many of us who at times walk around in the world feeling invisible. But we don’t have to be invisible. We can be seen in all of our uniqueness, personality, and beauty.
The week of October 16th - 22nd marks Invisible Disabilities Week - a week that aims to both celebrate and spread awareness about the large global community that experiences invisible disabilities. An invisible disability is any physical, mental, or emotional impairment that typically goes unnoticed. This may include cognitive impairments, non-apparent physical impairments, and chronic illnesses. Although it’s marked as “invisible”, this experience applies to many of us, and even if you individually don’t have one of these conditions, more likely than not you have a friend or someone in your family who does.
This is why Invisible Disabilities Week is so important. It’s a time when we can shed light and erase the stigma associated with these common conditions.
It’s one thing to experience depression, anxiety, the autism spectrum, or chronic fatigue or pain, and it’s another to be forced to suppress this reality or have a fear of discussing it because of social pressures, misunderstandings, and misinformation.
Once we take the time, like during this week, to reflect and gain more understanding, we can tear down the barriers that prevent us from connecting to and understanding one another, and that keep us from living our best, most authentic, and fulfilled lives.
This Invisible Disabilities Week, remember that these aren’t just conditions - these scary things separate from us, but they are experiences that many of us go through and that many of us may go through at some point in our lives. It’s nothing to hide or be afraid of. It’s a part of our human experience.
So let’s break down the old norms that no longer serve us and embrace, love, and discover who we are - and be free.