From Self-Help Guru to Disability Advocate
A few years back I created a mental health and wellness website to both share my journey through self-discovery and in hopes to help inspire others to prioritize their overall happiness well-being. What started out as a hobby and just some blog on the internet, turned into a passion and a mission to help others get control of their lives again.
I posted every single week, read as many self-help books as I could, ran an Instagram account and even had the pleasure of interviewing some of my favorite influencers. For the first time I felt like I had my life together—like nothing could get in my way.
Everything changed when I got sick
I tried for as long as I could to keep this upbeat mentality once I started becoming ill. I eventually realized just how (unintentionally) ableist the self-help community is, and how much of it is full of toxic positivity. Every book I had read and memorized front to back had the mindset of “you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you try hard enough!”
But when you’re ill, of course, that isn’t always an option for us. Learning everything that I had over the course of those four years of essentially being a self-help guru, much of it became useless when I got sick. I could no longer “do what I set my mind to” or “change my mindset to change my life”. Of course, being hopeful and optimistic is important, but no amount of positive thinking or pushing myself would cure me.
I had to find a way to rewire my brain
It took me so long to realize that this way of thinking and living wasn’t beneficial to me and my new lifestyle. Everyone I once looked up to was no longer relatable or representing things I wanted to become, because none of them were ill and none of them knew what it was like to navigate the world this way. Becoming ill presents so many new challenges in life—many of which able-bodied individuals will never encounter.
I started to become depressed as I watched these Youtubers and Instagram influencers do all of the things that I wasn’t able to anymore. It was then that I realized this was a community that I didn’t feel a part of anymore, and that I needed to find ways to take what I learned and channel it in a different way.
I learned to use my voice in a different community
After dissecting everything that I learned in those four years and finding what is still useful for me and what is not, I was able to find a new voice and share it with a new community: the chronic illness community. I went from a self-help guru to a disability advocate. I may not be the person I was when I was healthy, but I had learned so much about myself and even more so after becoming ill. It’s nice to know that, not only am I not alone in this, but I can still use my experiences to help others who are in my shoes.
How long was your longest flare?