Life is not easy. Especially when you are in a family of invisible illnesses and disabilities. It can be serious, funny and downright hard! But we make it. Just like everyone else. We just do it in a different style.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

We Are One People

A friend of mine today was worried and sad. She had to go through a physical exam and a mental illness exam. She was so afraid that she would be labeled "mentally ill." Once she wrote this, I began to realize that she was reacting to a quiet discrimination leveled at people who suffer with mental challenges.

How many people hide their co-morbid emotional and mental challenges as they deal with more visible physical challenges? How many people don't seek out care and support because they need a physician of the mind?

Part of the disability movement that I am so excited about is the attack against accepting the labels, the pity, and prejudice leveled at persons with disabilities. Here was a person dealing with fatigue, skeletal issues, governmental programs for the poor and she was afraid to be labeled "mentally ill."

It is my hope that the community of persons with disability will continue to break down barriers, especially the ones that exist within our own ranks.

Below is a portion of my reply to my friend. Her user-name has been changed to protect her privacy.


I just want to say a word or two about mental illness. Please bear with me.

Many people are discriminated against in our "health care" system because they need physicians of the mind. It is okay to miss a whole limb, but don't be anxious or depressed. There is a stigma attached to mental needs that I am making part of my mission to attack. My husband has depression, general anxiety and dissociative identity disorder. He suffers with mood swings (for which he takes medicine) and with his epilepsy, may deal with mild short-term memory loss. He lives in mortal fear that someone will discover all this and fire him or not want to be friends with the family. His own family verbally abuses him by calling him names (coo-coo, nuts, idiot, etc.) He lived a miserable life until I came along. We are not perfect, but I love him and have tried to help him in every way I can.

There is no shame in needing mental health support while you try to build up your physical health. I credit the short-term support I received in giving me the mind-set I have now. Don't allow anyone to judge who Blakely is by what mentally or physically challenges you.

You are a wonderful soul, and need support. Period.


This goes for everyone. We are all wonderful souls. We need support, whether we have a physical, mental or invisible disability. We are one people and cap(able).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lemons, Lemonade or Someting Else?

Lately, I have been listening to many motivational speakers and coaches. As part of my goal to begin public speaking in 2010, it is important to get to know who is in the industry and what people are saying and how they are saying it. Part of my nature is to observe, take notes and draw conclusions based on my own experience. For the most part, I love what I hear!

There are so many great people out there, making it their mission to help others. It is uplifting, encouraging and yes, motivating.

Throughout my audio online visits, I kept hearing a certain phrase over and over,

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

I personally don’t like that phrase. Why?

Because, it is so limiting.

As human beings, we have the potential to create so many things with our lives. Our minds are capable of creating ideas that eventually turn into products, companies, movements; forces beyond what the original thought intended. When I hear that phrase, I envision people squeezing the difficult parts of their lives into a container, adding sweeteners, and then, trying to enjoy the finished product. Somehow, that is not appetizing. Nor do I think it is practical.

I decided to do some research on the lowly lemon. What I found blew my mind away!

That one fruit is part of our lives in so many ways, most of us are not even aware of it.


  • make furniture polish

  • strengthen our immune systems

  • purify our blood

  • stop bleeding from a cut

  • aid our digestion

  • create cosmetics and skin products

  • flavor foods

  • kill bacteria

  • keep other foods from spoiling

  • Lemons are non-toxic to children, pets and the environment

  • The scent of lemons is invigorating and refreshing

So, how did this wonder plant get the negative connotation of being attached to a bad or broken thing? How did such a plant with so much potential become synonymous with adversity, loss and failure? Maybe some scholar would like to chime in with a comment, but the source I read believed it began as a metaphor arising from its bitter taste.

I can see it. Something that tastes this bad CAN’T be any good! It is obviously not a good thing? Or can it be? We see from it uses that lemons are good, even though they taste sour. So what do I take away from this?

Here is my thought for you today.

Take a look at those sour, bitter experiences in your life. Examine those failures, losses and adversities. Perhaps, they can create so much more than just lemonade. Perhaps they can purify your intentions. Perhaps, they can clean away the bacteria of doubt and denial. Perhaps, they can freshen up the recesses of your mind with a clean, non-toxic attitude. Or keep some part of you from spoiling in decay. Maybe there is more that adversity can do than make a sweet drink that you will try to swallow.

So, do you still want to just make lemonade? I don’t.

I don't claim to know how or why we are given the losses in our lives. I don't claim to like the bitter taste of adversity. But, the next time you feel you have been given a lemon in your life, don’t just mix a drink.

Plant the seeds and grow lemon trees. Sell the fruit to companies, the juice to chefs and the skins for furniture oil. Clean your house. Color your hair.

Find out how those lemons in your life can become so much more than what they seem.

Lemons are Not Just for Lemonade: 31 Uses for Lemons and Lemon Juice

Online Etymology Dictionary