Disabled to Enabled

How does the term “disabled” make you feel?
 
For some people, it might be an easy transition. It might feel right for you, and if that is you, that’s okay.

 
Some people take it very literally, and their symptoms are shown to get worse.
 
For me, I was totally healthy and normal one minute and diagnosed with MS at the age of 22 the next. Suddenly having that “DISabled” label—when I could still mostly walk okay and wasn’t in need of any kind of walking aids, just didn’t quite sit right with me.
 
To me, it felt really strange having that label. I think there are a lot of people out there who don’t resonate with this “disabled” label. For me personally, it became worse when I succumbed to getting the handicap parking permit that I needed. There, on the front, was a big bold image of a stick person in a wheelchair.
 
I remember taking it out of the envelope for the first time and staring at it. A rush of sadness filled me. I didn’t like it. I became depressed. Very depressed. I felt my 22-year-old self slipping away and being replaced by a 90-year-old woman. My body already felt out of my control. And eventually, I got to a place where I said:
 
“Enough is enough. I am having none of it.” From now on, the handicap permit will be my VIP badge, not a disability badge.
 
The dictionary definition of disabled is “lack of ability.” I certainly did not lack ability.
 
No.
 
Sometimes I do things differently, but I didn’t lack ability.
 
I am just creatively abled.
 
Sure, sometimes I don’t do things the same way normal people do.
 
Some days I can do things that I just can’t on others.
 
Some days my body just defies convention.
 
Then I thought to myself… I’m not “DISabled." This isn’t me. I don’t lack ability.
 
I’m ENabled.
 
Now I’m on a mission to find other people like me who are ENabled. More specifically—ENabled Warriors.
 
Who are the ones that defy convention? Is that you?
 
Those who don’t believe they “lack ability.”
 
The kind of people that say no to their symptoms.
The ones who push the limits.
The ones who are mentally strong.
The ones who can do more than they think and are not afraid to try.
 
I wanted to find others like me who felt ENabled. People who persevere, or help others do their very best. I was so inspired by this revelation, that I began a podcast, “The DISabled to Enabled” podcast (you can follow it now on iTunes, Podbean, Spotify, TuneIn radio and YouTube).
 
Since I’ve changed the way I think about the disabled label, I feel limitless! I’m exercising again, I’m not afraid to take things on or go out with my friends. The label was holding me back, making me think I couldn’t do anything. Since choosing to be empowered by it, I feel in control, I hear that someone else calls themselves disabled, I feel a little sad because I think they are choosing to associate themselves with that label. The thing is, you don’t actually lack ability, you’re just creatively abled.
 
Comment below and tel me how the term “disabled” makes you feel!
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Jessie

Jessie Ace

Being diagnosed at 22 at the start of her career was hard, but Jess found it in herself to turn things around and use MS as a tool to give people new help and inspiration. She has now made it her life's mission to improve the lives of young people through The Disabled to Enabled podcast, through the Enabled Warriors' Facebook group and her ENabled Warriors Etsy store.

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    6 Comments

  • Kim   Jun 29, 2019 1:52 PM
    The word disabled makes me feel helpless & helpless I am not !!!! I am a full time working nurse with a husband & 2 daughters . I am enjoying life to the fullest. I may have to rest a little more than the average person and have bad days .... but heck so does a person without a disability! So I am a normal functioning person with MS and happy to be alive with my loving family!
    Thank you Jess for your wonderful blog on disabled to enabled . I think I’ll read it every day !
  • Gina   Jun 29, 2019 5:19 PM
    Are any of your illustrations in print for sale?
  • Jason Magdich   Jun 29, 2019 9:26 PM
    I agree with you completely!
    It took me a long time to even ask my doctor about getting my handicap parking permit.
    We do things differently because surrender & not doing it at all is not an option!
    I was diagnosed with MS in 2011 & I have had to adapt how I do things that I want to do. I'm the only person I know who air conditioned my garage so I can work on stuff & do wood carving during the summer months.
    Unfortunately I've had to give up on some things. I have served my community since 1991 as a volunteer firefighter. I stepped down from my position as captain at the beginning of this year. I am still an active member, I just can't do fire calls because of my walking difficulty.
    I've needed start using a cane last year, I carved a custom cane that is a pick head axe. My MS is limiting what I can do, but it cant stop me from being me.
    I'm not going down without a fight & I'm gonna go in style as I'm fighting.
  • Johan   Jun 30, 2019 7:33 AM
    I was diagnosed at 42, SPMS. I don’t know that terms make me feel anything, but if they did I would say all of the above. By that I mean mad, sad, glad and scared. 20% mad, 20% sad, 40% glad and 20% scared. When I was in rehab for substance abuse at 18, I had a problem with identifying feelings and a counselor suggested I use these 4 emotions as a starting point since they pretty much cover many emotions. She also suggested that I was ultimately responsible for how I felt, nothing else.

    What I love about this article is that it inspires within me a creative thinking ability that results in words on a page. So to speak. I hate having MS; every day is a vigilant effort to ensure my best life with MS. Which, as I have been known to tell my dad, is not that bad for as bad as I got it. I can’t believe what this condition does to me. Often, the most exciting part of my day is when I close my eyes in the shower. Thank goodness for grab bars.

    I say mostly glad because I believe gratitude is an essential for good, healthy living. I am grateful for the grab bars in my shower that happens to be a walk in shower roomy enough to roll up in there in a wheelchair not that I ever do but I have one (a wheelchair) should the need ever arise. I’m banking that it doesn’t because I’ve altered my lifestyle considerably, not to combat this condition, but to accept it and live my best life while I have it.

    Anyway, that’s my rant for this morning, thank you Jessie for allowing me the opportunity to exercise my soul, time to start my vigilant effort.

    JE
  • Pearl   Jun 30, 2019 11:05 AM
    I was diagnosed 15 years ago and am proud that I was able to work the next 14 years. Retired early at age 63 just last year due to health issues. I don’t feel disabled. I know there are things I can’t do but I focus on the things I CAN do. Now that I’m retired, I CAN exercise for one full hour every morning. I CAN take more time making sure I eat healthy food. I CAN volunteer with an organization that teaches immigrant mothers to speak English. I CAN spend time with my new baby granddaughter who keeps me feeling young. I CAN catch up with friends over coffee and feel connected. Focusing on the “I CANs” keeps me going strong!
  • Avatar
    jessieaceofficial  Jul 6, 2019 1:16 AM
    Thank you all so much for your comments. I have so much gratitude to you all 🙏 I’m grateful to have MS because without it I wouldn’t get to write articles like these and speak to the people I do. I hope you all listen to the DISabled to ENabled podcast and find inspiration there 🧡

    Gina - please email me for details jessieaceofficial@gmail.com 🧡