“Be Kind, for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle.”
Every once and awhile it is useful to point out that I am disabled.
I have what is called an “invisible disability,” that is, a disability that is not always obvious to an onlooker or acquaintance but sometimes or always limits daily activities. This may range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person and sometimes, even from day to day.
“Invisible disabilities” can also refer to things such as cognitive dysfunctions, chronic pain, fatigue, learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, as well as hearing and vision impairment and more. In my case the hearing in my left ear was severely damaged in late 2015. While I wear a hearing aid, it is nearly useless in loud conditions, such as in the Great Hall during potlucks or anytime when several people are talking at once, such as when we greet our neighbors at the beginning of worship. Because my hearing loss is due to damage in my inner ear, it can vary from day to day. Somedays I hear quite well, other days I struggle even to hear regular conversations.
Why is this important to know? You might think I’m ignoring you when I don’t respond to a question or comment when I simply didn’t hear you. You might get annoyed when I ask you to repeat something several times. I might mis-hear something that you said and seemingly reply inappropriately. Some tips that might help – catch my eye or touch my arm before speaking to me; approach me from my right side (my right ear is undamaged); or move with me to a quieter place for conversations.
The quote in my headline is from the Rev. John Watson and I chose it deliberately because it doesn’t just speak to invisible disabilities but to other things we cannot see. There are people around us struggling with incredible disruptions in their lives. Disruptions like divorce, custody battles, food insecurity, the death or severe illness of a loved one, the loss of a job — the list is endless.
Recently two students at Turpin High School died through suicide. While we will never know what drove them to this terrible act, this we do know — suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain. If you or someone you know is struggling, know that your Heritage community is here to help. Call me or Rev. Bill and we will find help for you to strengthen your coping skills, and live.
And please, my dear ones, be kind to everyone you meet. Above all else, be kind.