When I saw the name of the award my first thought was, ‘an award for being disabled?’ but based on the nominees it’s clearly an award for people who strive to transcend their disabilities and give meaning to the pain. It’s an honor to get this award. Thank you, Melinda.
The rules are to display the award badge, answer the questions, choose your own nominees, and develop your own set of questions. Melinda’s questions are so practical I’m going with hers.
What was the first sign of your illness?
My first symptoms appeared when I was a child and found the name ‘Antonio’ scrawled in my schoolbooks. I was confused about my age, name and gender, which set me apart from the other children.
What is your worst symptom and how do you cope with it?
The symptoms of depression and dissociation affect memory and concentration, which makes it difficult read and write.
I often go back to a published post to discover typos and glaring gaps in logic. I cope by writing shorter pieces and relying more on photography and abstract designs for creative expression.
I’ve also stopped judging myself when I find mistakes in the work I post, although it’s frustrating to discover a flaw I would definitely have noticed a decade ago.
As for reading, I do a lot of reading I can’t remember.
This is even true of my work.
I often think I’m reading another bloggers post for the first time and discover that I’ve already liked and re-blogged it.
It’s confusing and frustrating.
What one thing about you has changed because of your struggles?
I miss reading and writing longer, more complex, stories, but I’m learning to be patient with myself, and to set more realistic timelines for achieving goals.
I am more compassionate toward other people.
What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone else suffering?
I’m changing the last word from ‘suffering’ to ‘disabled’, because suffering does not have to define life with a chronic illness.
My advice is set goals and let go of the way you defined success when you were healthy. Give yourself plenty of time to complete those goals.
Never compare your achievements to the achievements of people who aren’t ill.
Learn new skills and practice them.
I knew absolutely nothing about photography when I became permanently disabled. I still know nothing about photography. but I’m better at it.
Name one good thing that has come out of having a chronic illness.
Now that I have the right diagnosis and treatment, I have a better understanding of the forces that shaped me as a child, and a better understanding of why I made certain self destructive decisions as a younger man. I’m forgiving because of it.
What one thing do you disagree with that is widely accepted as true about your condition?
I obviously disagree with the idea that Dissociative Identify Disorder doesn’t exist. If I go to a shrink and tell her I think I have other personalities and the craziness of it is wrecking my life, I expect her to believe I believe they exist and to treat me accordingly.
I wish the United States had mental health system that wanted to treat the brain’s mind.
If you could change only one aspect of your illness, what would it be?
Some days I get sick of feeling like I’m running in place. I want the illness to go away.
Name the one thing that works best for you for symptom relief.
I get relief from photography or throwing myself into a project. I also try to eat properly, exercise, and get a solid night’s sleep.
Based on your experience, what is one thing that you would tell someone newly diagnosed with chronic illness?
Learn as much as you can about your illness and become your own advocate.Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging to advocate for better medical treatment for people with mental illnesses.
The blog began to shift focus in 2016 and is now more focused on art and politics., but I haven’t forgotten my roots.
Most of the disability bloggers I know have gotten this award from Melinda.