Rewiring My Mind by Focusing on Pride
My mind once seemed wired to focus on parts of me I wish I could change.
Most of my life, I struggled to accept my reflection in the mirror. I spent a lot of time hoping for the scars to fade and the fluid retention to dissipate. I tore myself down because of my loss of muscle tone and weight. I spent restless nights trying to find a sense of purpose and some hope to hold on to.
In the last year, however, my perspective has shifted tremendously. This month, I am rewiring the thoughts of shame and negativity to instead focus on pride.
In honor of Disability Pride Month this July, when I stop to think about what I am proud of, it feels refreshing to shift my mindset to the parts of me that I value. I am proud of the marks on my body, including my scars and stretch marks. I am proud of my bravery, perseverance, and the mental strength it took to restore my will to live.
I used to spend too much time in front of a mirror. My reflection would stir up feelings of disgust, anger, and sadness. For years, I fell victim to the comparison game and suffered the consequences.
Now, although I don’t always love what I see, I have a newfound appreciation for my body. It healed after major thoracic surgery last month. My lungs are currently able to expand enough to maintain an increased oxygen level. The scars that cover my chest are a reminder of survival. Stretch marks on my side and thighs are a sign of a changing body that adapts despite dramatic weight fluctuations. My external body houses organs that are functioning every single day.
I am proud of what lies below the surface. My disability and chronic illness have taught me what bravery really looks like. I once thought that to be brave I had to hide my fear. I thought it meant I had to put on a strong face and endure the pain, even when it seemed impossible.
Through the disability and rare disease communities, I learned that strength comes from sharing and owning my story, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Now, I have pride in my tears and my weakest moments, along with my accomplishments. For me, bravery means having the courage to be vulnerable. This level of vulnerability and the willingness to share one’s truth can be a turning point for someone else’s life story, too.
Life with a disability is far from easy. It takes an unimaginable amount of perseverance to get through my most difficult times. Some days, the fight to stay alive feels like a full-time job. When life feels emotionally and physically unbearable, I am grateful for my restored sense of purpose.
My life has meaning thanks to the rare disease communities, and I have a rewarding career. For the first time, I am motivated by setting goals for myself and accomplishing them. I am surrounded by people who applaud these milestones and encourage me to keep reaching.
It’s easy for me to criticize, tear down, and belittle myself, especially when I once looked at being disabled as something negative. So, I took some time this month to reflect not only on how far I’ve come physically, but also mentally.
This month, and in the months to come, I will continue to have pride. I will continue to actively silence the negative self-talk and rewire my thoughts. I am learning that there’s so much happiness to reflect upon, and even more to keep fighting for.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.