Start the Evolution

Aimee Mullins is an American actress, athlete and fashion model. She became famous for her athletic achievements in softball. Her TED talks are among the most-viewed of all time. These are the things that define Aimee. When we hear this name the first thing we think is empowered, not disabled. 

Aimee was born with fibular hemimelia and had both her legs amputated when she was one year old. 

During this TED talk Aimee allows the audience to peek at the 1982 version of the word “disabled” that she stumbled upon in an old Thesaurus and the words are frightening to take in: “helpless….useless….impotent….mangled….”

Immediately she went to look up the 2009 version, expecting to find a revision worth noting. But sadly, not much had changed. The last two words under “near antonyms” were particularly unsettling: whole and wholesome. 

In a world that has progressed so much, especially in terms of technologies that allow people to move beyond the limits that nature has imposed on them (such as Aimee’s prosthetic legs), it is sad to think that these words still exist to define them. 

As Aimee believes it, and as I do too, the only true disability is a crushed spirit. Our language affects our thinking and how we view other people. Let’s evolve with technology and use social media as a way to change our way of viewing the world. 

“Many ancient societies believed that to utter a curse verbally was so powerful because to say the thing out loud was to bring it into existence. What reality do we want to call into existence? A person who is limited or a person who is empowered?”

START THE EVOLUTION. Prosthetic legs, cochlear implants, all of these innovations in technology have shown us that those limits once thought insurmountable were just deemed so because of language. “Limit” is just a word. A word like “disability.” These words are powerless until we use them to reshape someone’s view of themselves. 

“If instead we can bolster human spirit to keep hope, to see beauty in themselves and others, to be curious and imaginative, then we are truly using our power well. When a spirit has those qualities we are able to create new realities and new ways of being. “

Use the power of technology to pass along this message. It deserves to be heard.

http://www.ted.com/talks/aimee_mullins_the_opportunity_of_adversity?awesm=on.ted.com_qiyL&utm_medium=on.ted.com-facebook-share&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_content=awesm-publisher&utm_campaign

The Purest Form of Love

“Handle with care.” That’s the label society tells you to place on anything pertaining to love. And it’s true; sometimes love is fragile. Fragile like glass. There is no question that there is great beauty in glass. Glass, like love, often gives you the ability to see your own reflection. Sometimes you like what you see and sometimes you don’t. That’s how you can tell when it’s true love. When you see anyone other than your purest self in that reflection, it’s time to move on.
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Speaking of pure forms, most of you Romcom fans can probably recall from the film Sweet Home Alabama that when lightning strikes sand it fuses into glass. So, in a way, sand is one of the purest forms of glass. But, what’s the purest form of love? Watch the video below to find out:

Bill and Shel have a love that’s like sand. They’re just like us, except that they’re not. Their love is as pure as it gets. It does not worry about appearances. It does not collapse under life’s pressures. It seeks no approval and fears no judgment. It is not rigid. It flows freely and moves with the wind. It is not transparent; it is out for everyone to see. It is simple and plays no games. It gives us joy to see and experience. It relaxes us and helps us realize what’s really important in life.

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Their love is the sand by which our love is made. So whenever your love is cracking under life’s pressures, think of Bill and Shel and bring yourself back to that place before the lightning strikes: the place of pure love. As Bill said, “Our marriage is the same to us because of undying love. So if you’re in love, go for it, whether you’re disabled or not.”

Snow Day

As I sit here listening to the symphony that is New York City on a snow day: beeping horns, slammed-on brakes, frustrated voices, I am ever so aware that I am not living in a small town anymore where snowfall beckons tranquil words like “tiptoe” and “flutter.” No, no, I will not be able to hear the tiptoes of my fellow people, nor even their stomps, but I can hear their raging horns, those unremitting reminders that I live in a city where patience is about as hard to come by as a cab on New Year’s Eve. And yet, although the disparities between city life and life in suburbia are evident, it is not these variances that my mind seems to be narrowing in upon at the moment.

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Earlier today I sat in my bed hoping to get the news that my first two classes of second semester graduate school would be cancelled. I’ve been flu-stricken and bed-confined since Friday and the thought of trudging through the battlefield that is Manhattan in a snowstorm to get to class was too much for me to handle. Not to mention my brave hero Seamless had been slower than usual today at heaving my ten gallons of soup and orange juice up the four flights of stairs to my apartment, so I was not fully fueled and ready to face the challenges ahead. You would think this waiting would have reminded me of all those nights I’d stayed up waiting as a child watching the TV screen scroll through the surrounding townships to see if I could find my school’s name on the cancellation list. The thought of a snow day excites every child I have ever known…even the nerds like me who would cry when they had to stay home sick because they didn’t want to miss what was going on in the classroom. Yea, I was that kid.

But, no, this wait was different. Because as I listened to the loud noises outside, I thought not of the soft patter of snowflakes on a cold night in my hometown in Connecticut, but rather of the gunshots and bombs heard outside a home in a small town in Pakistan. I thought of Malala.

It’s strange to think about this. Two people waiting at different times in two completely different worlds for an answer to the same exact question: Will I go to school today? Except, the difference here is, my question went a little more like “Will I have to go to school today” and Malala’s was “Will I be allowed to go to school today?”

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At about one o’clock today I got the news that my school would be closing and I wouldn’t have to make my way through the blizzard to my classes. Five years ago, Malala Yousafzai sat in her home and heard the Taliban deliver the threats over her radio that girls were no longer allowed to go to school. 50,000 girls would lose their education because of this broadcast.

Now my worries don’t seem so large because outside my window I am hearing horns, not gunshots. And if I was going to have to walk to school today I would have been concerned about slipping on ice, not having acid thrown in my face. I wanted my classes to be cancelled despite knowing that regardless of the fact that I may have the flu and live in a noisy city, I would still be safe walking to class. Malala did not want her classes to be cancelled despite knowing that she was not safe walking there and that she could have been targeted at any moment, just like the corpses strewn across her village, left out there by the Taliban as an “example” for her people.

MALALA-i am afraid of no one

From this moment on I will never take my education for granted. Not that I have in the past. And not that I think it’s wrong to get excited over snow days. We live in a different world. Our worries are different here. But, after watching the documentary below and hearing Malala say at the age of eleven, “In the world the girls are going to school freely and there is no fear. But in Swat when we go to our school we are very afraid of Taliban. He will kill us. He will throw acid on our face. He can do anything,” I really appreciate what I have so much more. I am a woman and I am able to go to school freely, and not only that, but I am able to pursue the career that I want through higher education. This is how it should be for everyone.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/asia/teen-school-activist-malala-yousafzai-survives-hit-by-pakistani-taliban.html?pagewanted=all

When I say everyone it reminds me of a post I wrote almost a year ago today, on MLK day, where I said this:

“It isn’t until we all believe that the change that we want to see in this country and this world, and which we demand from all of our presidents is not the responsibility of one person, but EVERYONE. This is what I see when I look at that word: Every person becomes one. Every individual affects the oneness of our nation and our world. Think of a synonym for every: “each.” Take away the “one” from eachone and you get “each.” Take away the “each” from eachone and you get “one.” Each=one. They are equal. “Each” does not mean two or more. It means one. It means ONE person can make a difference. Now that we have a better grasp on the equivalence of “every” and “one,” let’s go back to the actual word, “everyone.” Replace “one” with “I am.” We use this phrase in order to convey our individuality and inform others of our relation to the world as a whole. I am Kelly. I am female. I am here. Saying “I am” means we are going to reveal something about ourselves. Now, reverse “I am” and put it back into the word. Everyami. Reverse the whole word. I may rêve. Rêve is the French word for dream. I may dream.”

Malala-Dream

At just eleven years of age, Malala Yousafzai had a dream. She had a dream to become a doctor. This dream has since changed due to the violence inflicted upon her home in Swat Valley, Pakistan. She has become a symbol of peace and hope for her people. She spoke up for the right of girl’s education in Swat Valley when even adults in her community were too fearful to raise their voices. And this bravery almost cost Malala her life as relayed by her in a speech to the UN below:

“Dear friends, on the ninth of October two-thousand and twelve, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life—except this: Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

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Malala has a dream: “let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.” And a means to achieve it: “let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” So as I spoke of before, I may dream, because I am part of the “everyone” and so is Malala. Our worlds may be different and I am deeply saddened by that, but that doesn’t mean our thoughts have to be. Education is power. The more we learn about the world around us, the more likely we are to achieve our highest ambitions. As we hear stories like Malala’s, our minds become aware that our dreams are not the only ones that matter. And it isn’t until we start helping others work towards their dreams, that ours will start to make sense.

I don’t know about you, but those horns are sounding pretty melodious to me right now. And I’m going to stomp happily to school on Thursday, so that my stomps can be heard. Because I am proud to be a female studying hard every day to achieve her dreams. And that’s a privilege that not everyone in this world is given.

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So, dream on, dreamers. We’ve got a whole world to change.

Los Enlaces Que Hacemos: La historia de Nelly y Kelly

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Vivimos en una era en que los recuerdos están disponibles en el tecleo de un dedo. Las fotografías han sustituido a los diarios y cartas como el medio para registrar eventos a lo largo de nuestras vidas. Me encanta tomar fotografías, pero también me gustaría confiar en las cosas que puedo tocar para traer de vuelta los recuerdos y sentimientos que van junto con ellos:una cáscara de una playa que fui a cuando yo era pequeña, pendientes una vez usadas por mi bisabuela, o una dibujo que un niño hizo para mí. Todos tenemos estos elementos, y ellos son los que nos solemos elegir cuando preguntamos qué un artículo tomaríamos si nuestra casa se estaba quemando. Estos artículos son especiales porque te hacen sentir conectado a otro lugar o tiempo, o persona. Las fotografías funcionan de una manera similar, pero no se puede tocar, lo que significa que no puede explorar los bordes y recordar dónde golpes y arañazos provenían o se preguntan por qué una pieza alta.

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Soy el tipo de persona que disfruta de la singularidad de las cosas.He sido así durante tanto tiempo como puedo recordar. Cuando Titanic se estrenó en los cines y todo el mundo estaba obsesionado con Leonardo DiCaprio, estaba tan molesto que me boicotear la película cuando era ocho años y no termino de ver hasta que yo estaba en la universidad. Y olvídate de los Teletubbies y Furbies, quienes nunca iban a pasar por mí. Hoy en día, se muestra más como, yo prefiero tener un collar hecho de una roca que se encuentra en unas vacaciones a África (una chica puede soñar) que un par de aretes de diamantes de una joyería en el centro comercial (Por favor tome nota: No estoy insultado ninguna de estas cosas, todos somos personas diferentes). Parece un poco loca y esta cualidad puede molestará a mi mamá cuando estoy buscando de un vestido de novia un día, pero a través de esto, yo realmente entiendo por qué muchos padres piden a sus hijos para los regalos hechos en casa o notas escritas en lugar de algo que tienen que gastar dinero en.

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En un reciente viaje a Florida , mi madre y yo fuimos a una tienda de joyas en el hotel, propiedad de una mujer llamada Laura. Laura era saliente y burbujeante y una de esas personas cuya energía se llena una habitación. Después de unos minutos de hablar con ella descubrí que en el pasado ella era un traductor para los hospitales, lo cual es algo especial para mí, ya que estaré trabajando con traductores al hacer mi trabajo como especialista en niños y tengo un interés especial en el barreras lingüísticas en el ámbito hospitalario .

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Un anillo de azurita azul llamó mi atención y mi mamá quería comprarlo para mí, porque ella sabe de mi obsesión por encontrar cosas únicas y esto, con sus bordes dentados y forma alargada y deformado, fue sin duda eso. Lo que ella no sabía era que cualquier cosa de mi mamá tiene un significado especial para mí — una tarjeta enviada por correo o un mensaje de texto en un día duro, todas las pequeñas cosas que hace todos los días que hacen que me diera cuenta de lo afortunado yo soy de tenerla. Así que en realidad, sólo este gesto tiene un significado bastante para mí .

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Pero a medida que avanzaba la noche, el significado del anillo se hizo más profundo para mí. Laura no era el único en la tienda. Iba acompañada de Sandra, que trabajaba allí una vez a la semana, y la madre de Sandra, Nelly, que estaba de visita desde Ecuador. En el momento en que usted cumple con Nelly, sabes que ella es una persona especial. Hay amabilidad excepcional en sus ojos y ella habla de una manera que te hace creer en el mundo nuevo. No es frecuente que la sabiduría es presenciado y experimentado, pero cuando lo es, tanto la tranquilidad y la ansiedad se apresuran a través de ti casi simultáneamente: la tranquilidad porque se siente como si los secretos de la vida están siendo revelados a usted, y la ansiedad porque no quiere olvidarlos.

A quote posted by Nelly's daughter, Sandra

A quote posted by Nelly’s daughter, Sandra

Nelly y yo hablamos en español (o al menos eso intentaron) y se rieron de la coincidencia de que nuestros nombres son sólo una letra de diferencia. Fui testigo del amor compartido entre ella y su hija y que me hizo creer aún más en el bien que está a nuestro alrededor todos los días. Nelly se ofreció a hablar conmigo en el teléfono para que yo pudiera practicar mi español una vez que ella estaba de vuelta en Ecuador y amablemente me invitó a visitarla a su casa allí. Terminamos la noche en el bar del hotel y Nelly hizo un brindis con su jugo de naranja (como ella nunca ha tenido una gota de alcohol en su vida). Durante esta bendición, que he grabado y publicado más adelante, se puede sentir la amabilidad y la sinceridad en sus palabras, algo que es un tesoro de experiencia.

Estoy escribiendo este post para Nelly, y para todos que quieren creer en el poder de la conexión humana. Cuando le di mi número de teléfono y el enlace a mi blog le metió el papel en el interior de su bolsa y cuando estábamos buscando en mi anillo y el collar de mi madre nos dieron, señaló a la bolsa y dijo que el papel era su “joya.”

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Conocerte y sentir tu espíritu brillante y la amabilidad incondicional es mi tesoro, Nelly. Hay una cita de un autor alemán Johan Wolfgang que dice: “El mundo es tan vacío si uno piensa sólo en las montañas, los ríos y ciudades, pero conocer a alguien que piensa y siente con nosotros, y que, aunque distante, está cerca de nosotros en espíritu, esto hace que la tierra para nosotros un jardín habitado.” La roca sobre mi anillo es un producto de la naturaleza. Mirándolo y sabiendo que venía de alguna parte del mundo que yo nunca tenga la oportunidad de ver que me hace sentir pequeño. Pero cuando mirando y viendo ti, me recuerda de que vivimos en un mundo tan grande, las conexiones que hacen entre sí forman enlaces como en una red de fútbol. Cuantas más conexiones que hacemos, mayor será la red se vuelve, lo que nos permite abrazar el mundo y mantenemos nuestros objetivos en el seno.

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The Links We Make: The Story of Nelly and Kelly

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We live in an era when memories are available at the click of a button. Photographs have replaced diaries and letters as the means to record events throughout our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking and keeping photographs as much as the next person, but I also like to rely on things I can touch to unearth memories and feelings that go along with them: a shell from a beach I used to go to when I was little, earrings once worn by my great-grandmother, or a picture a child drew for me. We all have these items, and it is they that we usually choose when asked what one item we would take if our house was burning down. These items are special because they make you feel connected to another place or time, or person. Photographs work in a similar way, but you can’t touch them, which means you can’t explore the edges and recall where bumps and scratches came from or wonder why a piece is missing.

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I’m the type of person who relishes in the uniqueness of things. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. When Titanic came out and everyone was obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio, I was so annoyed that I boycotted the movie at the age of eight (not that I should’ve been watching parts of it at that age anyway) and didn’t end up seeing it until I was in college. And, forget about Teletubbies and Furbies, those were never going to happen for me. Today, it displays itself more as, I’d rather have a necklace made from a rock found on a vacation to Africa (a girl can dream) than a pair of diamond earrings from a jewelry store in the mall (please note: I’m not knocking any of these things, we’re all different people). It sounds a little crazy and this quality may end up driving my mom up a wall when I’m finding a wedding dress one day, but through this, I truly do understand why many parents ask their children for homemade gifts or written notes instead of something they have to empty their piggy bank for.

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On a recent trip to Florida, my mom and I went into a jewelry store in the hotel, owned by a woman named Laura. Laura was outgoing and bubbly and one of those people whose energy fills up a room. After a few minutes of talking to her I found out that she was once a translator for hospitals, which is something special to me as I will be working with translators while doing my work as a child life specialist and I have a special interest in the role language barriers play in the hospital setting.

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A blue azurite ring caught my eye and my mom wanted to buy it for me because she knows my obsession with finding unique things and this, with its jagged edges and long, warped shape, was certainly that. What she didn’t realize was that anything from my mom has special meaning to me—a card sent in the mail or a text message on a tough day, all the little things she does every day that make me realize just how lucky I am to have her. So really, even just this gesture, holds meaning enough for me.

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But as the night went on, the meaning of the ring grew deeper for me. Laura was not the only one in the store. She was accompanied by Sandra, who worked there once a week, and Sandra’s mother, Nelly, who was visiting from Ecuador. The moment you meet Nelly, you know she is a special person. There is exceptional kindness in her eyes and she speaks in a way that makes you believe in the world again. It is not very often that true wisdom is witnessed and experienced, but when it is, both tranquility and anxiety rush through you almost simultaneously: tranquility because you feel as though life’s secrets are being revealed to you, and anxiety because you don’t want to forget them.

A quote posted by Nelly's daughter, Sandra

A quote posted by Nelly’s daughter, Sandra

Nelly and I spoke in Spanish (or at least I attempted to) and laughed at the coincidence that our names are only one letter apart. I witnessed the love shared between she and her daughter and it made me believe even more so in the goodness that is around us every day. Nelly offered to talk to me on the phone so that I could practice my Spanish once she was back in Ecuador and graciously invited me to visit her at her home there. We ended the night at the hotel bar and Nelly made a toast with her orange juice (as she has never had a drop of alcohol in her life). During this blessing, which I recorded and posted below, you can feel the kindness and sincerity in her words, something that is a treasure to experience.

I am writing this post for Nelly, and for all those who want to believe in the power of human connection. When I gave her my phone number and the link to my blog she tucked the paper inside her bag and when we were looking at my ring and at the necklace my mom got, she pointed to the bag and said that paper was her “joya,” her jewel.

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Meeting you and feeling your bright spirit and unconditional kindness is my treasure, Nelly. There is a quote by a German author Johan Wolfgang that goes: “The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.” The rock on my ring is a product of nature. Looking at it and knowing that it came from some part of the world that I may never get a chance to see makes me feel small. But looking at it and seeing you reminds me that although we live in such a big world, the connections we make with one another form links like in a soccer net. The more connections we make, the tighter the net becomes, allowing us to embrace the world and keep our goals close to heart.

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Empathy

This post is going to be short and sweet. One reason is because I think this subject is something that is particularly relevant today, one year after the Hurricane Sandy disaster. The other is because I believe this video is more powerful standing on its own. There is no dialogue, just music and images on the screen. This allows you to really absorb the message. You take out all the background noise and what do you have? Raw human emotion. A glimpse at the inner thoughts of all those around us. Take a look:

Everyone has a story. Let’s be active readers instead of just looking at the illustrations on the cover.

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Smashing Walnuts

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I want to begin by looking at the picture above. This is a little activity a blogging mother created for her children, but we have all been in science classes where we were able to participate in something similar. So my question for you is: How did you get your boat to make it to the other side? Did you talk to it? Tell it to “Get moving!” Or perhaps, “I’d like it if you got to the other side.” How’d that work out for you? Maybe you gave it a swift little push. Did that work?

If you were smart, like the little girls in the picture, you would have blown on it continuously, with constant effort, until it reached the other side. To get something moving, it takes ACTION. Will the boat move if you talk to it? Give it some words of encouragement to get it going across the water? I’m sorry, no. This is what Gabriella Miller teaches us in her speech about raising awareness for childhood cancer:

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Remember last February when the impossible feat of defining “love” was achieved through the story of the Long brothers? Get ready for “inspire” to be defined. This ten-year-old’s speech will leave you in awe. She truly knows how to inspire through her words, ACTIONS, and relentless attitude.

Did you know the word “inspire” comes from the latin word “inspirare,” meaning “to breathe or blow into”? Gabriella has achieved so much in her short lifetime. She has given all of her breath to keep the efforts (little boats) moving. We owe this much to her: to continue what she has started.

The goal is this:

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Give the walnuts sails so they can travel near and far to spread the word. (RAISE CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS).

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Now, with our breath, keep the walnut boats MOVING. Keep the ACTION GOING. (Be ACTIVE in the fight against childhood cancer).

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Then, one day, all the walnuts will be smashed the second they’re discovered. (Find a CURE).

If you agree that Gabriella defines the word “inspire” through her words and her ACTIONS, please post in the comments section the type of action you will take to raise awareness for childhood cancer. I want her to know that we will continue to fight for her cause when she is no longer able to do it herself. This way, as “We are the champions,” the song she plays at the end of her speech says, she will “go on and on and on and on.”

I will leave you with this, Gabriella’s quote that she typically ends her speeches with: “You may have a bad day today, but there’s always a bright, shining star to look forward to tomorrow.”

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Check out this outtake reel where Gabriella tells it like it is:

To purchase Gabriella’s book, visit: http://www.amazon.com/Beamer-Learns-about-Cancer-Series/dp/1457522462/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382802179&sr=8-1&keywords=gabriella+miller

“Like” Gabriella’s Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Make-A-Wish-with-Gabriella/489751111047045

BeBrave

I Wanna See You Be Brave

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you have no voice? Maybe you’re out to dinner with a group of people and every time you try to start a sentence you get interrupted. Or, you’ve been sitting in a three-hour meeting at work and each suggestion you make is met with a few apathetic head nods and a change of subject. It’s a feeling that is frustrating beyond words. You literally just want to stand up and scream at everyone for being so rude.

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But what if you couldn’t stand up? And what if your words were not only drowned out by inattentiveness but also by the relentless beeping of machines and shuffling of feet as they go in and out of your room. The room starts spinning. And you’re suddenly stuck in this revolving door, suctioned to the glass…watching strangers as you shout at them with your hands pressed forward in desperation…but they can’t hear you…and they are able to escape the spinning, but you’re not.

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I would imagine this may be what it feels like to be a child in the hospital. Children ask a lot of questions. That’s because they’re trying to make sense out of the world they’re living in. Maybe we don’t always see it because we’re in a hurry and we don’t have time to stop and explain things like how its possible that a ladybug can be a male or a female. It’s our world and they’re just living in it, right? No.

That feeling of frustration you get when your boss isn’t listening to you or you vent to a friend about something on the phone and they seem like they’re in a different world isn’t only possible for adults to have. Children are not immune to this feeling.

If you then add in the typical stressors for anyone in a hospital setting, it can sometimes become impossible for a child to have their voice heard without some help. This is where child life specialists come in and the idea of advocacy. As one of my texts says, “Where people have their own voice, advocacy means making sure they are heard: where they have difficulty speaking, it means providing help: where they have no voice, it means speaking for them.”

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This means, child life specialists and anyone who visits or works with a child in the hospital (or any other setting for that matter) can be the microphones or translators these children need so that their thoughts and concerns do not get drowned out by the constant thump-thump-thumping of the adult world.

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And even if this doesn’t apply directly to you and you aren’t typically in these types of situations, apply this rule to your every day life. Be more conscious of how loud your song is blasting over the radio because there may be other people out there whose songs aren’t being heard because of your frequency. We’re all guilty of this from time to time. It’s hard not to become wrapped up in our own thoughts and goals. As long as we are conscious of the other beats in the world, there won’t be so many sad songs on the radio.

Check out this video a few classmates and I made to touch on the subject of advocacy for children in hospitals and how child life specialists can help:

Hot Potato

I suffer from chronic migraines. Was that difficult for me to admit to publicly? No. Why not? Because there’s no stigma attached to getting migraines. I don’t feel like a weak person because I get them. People don’t run in the other direction when I tell them, and I’m not afraid that I’m being whispered about behind my back. My migraines don’t define me; they’re just a part of my life.

It is always said that you can never fully understand something until you are put in that situation yourself. And I find this to be true for the most part, especially when it comes to my headaches because it truly is so hard to relate to something when you’ve never gone through it yourself. (See article: 35 things you should never tell a chronic migraine sufferer…it’s actually pretty comical: http://www.migravent.com/blog/migraines/35-things-you-should-never-tell-a-chronic-migraine-sufferer/)

Migraine-Word-Cloud

People who don’t suffer from migraines don’t usually understand them. They think getting a migraine means having to shut yourself in a dark room and not being able to stand up or function while one is occurring. So if you’re up and at your job or out to dinner with friends, to many people this means that you can’t possibly have a migraine. But what people don’t understand is how easy it is to learn to live with things and to hide and suppress pain. After a while you just become numb to it. There are times when I am going through really bad bouts that I don’t remember what it feels like not to have a headache. And so it becomes routine and you get used to feeling like someone is constantly squeezing your brain and pain bugs are camping out behind your eyes.

But, despite all of that, I am lucky. So lucky. Because I can tell anyone I want about my migraines without fear of judgment. And, I’m not afraid to seek treatment or admit to taking medicine every night for them because there’s no stigma attached to suffering from migraines. If anything, people just want to help. But, that’s not the case with depression. Or any other mental health disorder for that matter. And that’s a problem.

mental illness equal opport

The other day I watched a video and listened to what was the most powerful speech I have heard in a long time. It was captivating in its rawness, and seeping in truth and pain. It took real courage to say and yet it was about one of the most pressing issues in our society, an issue that needs to be talked about all the time: depression. I URGE you to take the time to watch this video. It is worth every minute and will shake you to the core and really open your eyes to an issue that is all too often pushed aside in our society.

That stigma. That’s a blaring problem in our society. And despite being someone who understands what it’s like to suppress pain and hide behind a smile, I have even found myself guilty of this at times. I caught myself the other day; I was explaining the medicine I take for my migraines and said how it is an anti-depressant and then immediately followed this statement up with “but I’m not depressed or anything” as if depression was a hot potato I was immediately swatting away in order to protect myself from its immense heat. What was that heat? The stigma.

HotPotatoBox

It is crazy how engrained this stigma is in all of us. I consider myself someone who is pretty knowledgeable on mental health disorders and even I fell prey to subconsciously trying to combat the stigma that goes along with depression. In the past I was on a medicine for my headaches that was an anti-seizure drug and I didn’t feel the need to say, “but I don’t get seizures” immediately afterward, or at all for that matter. That’s the reality of the situation. That’s why this is such a big issue in our society: because we are all guilty of this at times, and that isn’t the way it should be.

mental_illness_isn__t_self_centered___by_rationalhub-d5emgyo

As Kevin says in the video, “Depression isn’t chicken pox…you don’t beat it once and its gone forever…it’s something you live with, it’s something you live in, it’s the roommate you can’t kick out, it’s the voice you can’t ignore, it’s the feelings you can’t seem to escape and the scariest part is, that after a while you become numb to it, it becomes normal for you and what you really fear the most isn’t the suffering inside of you it’s the STIGMA inside of others, it’s the shame, it’s the embarrassment, it’s the disapproving look on a friend’s face, it’s the whispers in the hallway that you’re weak, it’s the comments that you’re crazy…that’s what keeps you from getting help, that’s what makes you hold it in and hide it.” The reason why every thirty seconds someone, somewhere in the world takes their own life is because of this stigma. People suffering from depression aren’t getting the help they need because they are embarrassed and they’re afraid of the judgments of all those around them, including yours and mine.

drowning girl
Recognize when those around you are drowning. Lift them up. Help them breathe. There is no worse feeling than crying underwater. Tears should not be lost. They should be acknowledged. Otherwise, there’s no hope for wiping them away.

We can’t run away from the problem or shove it in a corner to look at later because we are a BIG part of the problem, and because we are part of the problem, we are also part of the solution. As Kevin says, “The only way that we’re going to beat a problem that people are battling alone is by standing strong together.”

Standing strong together means no more hot potato; no more pushing away issues that are immensely important and no more making people feel like the only way out is the door we don’t want anyone to have to take. Please, please pass this post/video along to friends and family so that we can raise awareness of this bully, this brutal stigma and eliminate it altogether from our society. No one should be alone in this fight.

you are not alone and this is not the end of your story