I chose two pictures I created for my reflective blog post today. The first clearly expresses we can have wounds that are never seen. We can have invisible disabilities that do not show. They can cause a lot of isolation and suffering. Coping can be a constant struggle. A lot of wounds that never bleed.
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” This quote is a favorite of mine. You see chronic pain, chronic illness, have broken me. I was suicidal. I tried to kill myself. And I don’t even just mean this extreme. Chronic illness and pain erode us. It is isolating. It is draining. It is a constant battle. There is no break. No victory. There are times when we cope very poorly. It is a constant struggle. At times it feels like it breaks us down pretty good.
I like to think I am stronger in my broken places. That when I get back up, dust myself off, try again that I learned a little about myself and my capacity to cope from the experience. That I can cope better because of the experience. Or at the very least learned I need to know more about how to cope to deal with the pain.
In some respects this is just a belief I want to have. It is comforting to believe that I am stronger for all the struggles I have gone through. That somehow I have learned something through the difficulty. I truly want to believe this.
In some respects it is a fact. When I was younger I knew nothing about how to cope with my initial diagnosis and it took a lot of difficulty and struggle to figure it out, but figure it out I did. And then did the same with diagnosis after that. That person I was is not the same person I am now. I can cope a lot better than I could back then. We never give ourselves enough credit for the skills and methods we have learned along the way and which work to help us cope every single day. Not to say we might even improve on them, but the fact is, they are vastly improved on what we began with.
In fact, we are stronger in our broken places. But we have broken places. And we have more than most people do. And they are all wounds that cannot be seen and do not bleed.
Another fact, we are at more risk than others of breaking. We have a lot working against us. More likely to have suicidal thoughts. More likely to commit suicide. More likely to have comorbid depression or other mental illnesses, if those are not our primary invisible disability to begin with.
We fall. We get up. We cope poorly. We cope well. It is a process we go through continuously and we must always be aware of the dangers that can occur along the road. Like when our pain exceeds our capacity to cope.