Ridiculous Disability Guilt

I had an epiphany last night about how ridiculous I’m being. I was thinking, against my will, about a set of years I still feel great anxiety and shame for. They are the years when it looked like I might get my life on track and out of poverty, and then I didn’t. I found myself reflecting, “If I’d only finished college, I wouldn’t be disabled.”

It’s not surprising I feel responsibility and guilt for my disabilities. That happens in the best of circumstances, and my circumstances include a childhood cult where illness was proof of sin. It is a little surprising how counterfactual my mind is being 

I was already disabled, though I didn’t know it. I only knew that I had arthritis, tendinitis, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder. I didn’t realize those counted as disabilities, or that they meant I was disabled. 

My efforts weren’t sustainable over the long term.I was pushing myself to the limit every day, and feueling myself with Newport’s and Rock Star energy drinks.I wasn’t eating or sleeping, but by golly was I working. 

There are some things that year that were my fault, and some situations I made worse. But withdrawing from college so I could focus on earning money when I desperately needed it did not cause my disabilities. I do not have irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers from taking things too easy, though it’s possible living on acidic drinks didn’t help.

If anything is responsible for my illnesses progressing, it’s how poorly I treated myself. It’s all the sleep I didn’t get, all the meals I worked through instead of eating, all the anxiety provoking stimulants I subsisted on. If it’s my fault, it’s because I tried too hard, not because I didn’t try enough. 

Apparently I’ve been carrying that undeserved guilt around with me for the past six years. I hope this realization enables me to let it go. 

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