I have the honor of having one of my poems be part of an exhibition, presented by the local chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness. (NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.)

Take a look at the wedding picture of my husband and me.  People may assume that because I am in a wheelchair,  I have more struggles in life than Jayson. They may be surprised.image

People seem to have a small inkling of the obstacles that come with having physical disabilities. However, I don’t think people have the remotest understanding of the struggles of living with mental illnesses. This was my case. Jayson and I were friends for years before we dated and married, but I now realize I had no clue about mental illness, beyond depression (and that is because I deal with clinical depression myself.)

Read this, and I bet perspectives may change a bit.

A Heavier Cross Than Mine

My cerebral palsy
His mental illness
Our union: an eye opener

My inability to walk
My damaged sight
My muttered speech
My limited hands
A five year old can tie her shoes.
I can’t even put them on!

Low expectations from Society
Physical barriers of isolation
Strangers’ sea of pity overflowing
“Aww, that poor woman!”

His distorted perceptions of his allies
His depression, anger, and anxiety
Suffocating. Overpowering.
Hospital stays clutter his resume.

Unrealistic expectations from Society
Family. Friends. Even me, his wife.
“It’s just mind over matter!
“Just try harder!”
“You just need a good woman to guide.”

Battling barriers within and without
A tornado during wintertime. Exhausting for this brave knight of mine.

Medication. Blessing. Helps navigate the tides and waves.
The side effects. Not so much. Enlarging and weighing down his body.

I tell you the God’s honest truth
I take my cross over his anytime
My external cage vs my love’s internal cage of schizoaffective disorder

Unmasking Time

What about you? Are you dealing with something that others just don’t “get” or remotely understand?  It’s hard, isn’t it? That is why you need to find others in similar situations. I adore my friends and family members. However,, I feel a special  closeness to my friends with physical disabilities. We don’t need to convince one another that the struggle is real because we all live the struggle in some way or another.

Sigh… it is just so nice to know I am not not alone.

Keep being brave.