Do you remember the theme song from the television show “Cheers?” I was a kid when Ted Danson was at the height of his popularity, but I still can sing that tune like nobody’s business. “Making the way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would mean a lot.” There is something extraordinarily comforting about finding a place where you truly feel a sense of connection and belonging. A place where others accept and understand you… A place where different perspectives shed new light on difficult subjects … A place where there are no dumb questions… A place where even the smallest of victories are celebrated… A judgment free zone… Welcome to THE MIGHTY community.
Before stumbling across The Mighty, I felt like I would always be the box marked “other.” I was the square peg in a sea of round holes, an anomaly in the parenting world. I wasn’t the mom of a special needs child. I was the disabled parent of two healthy baby girls trying to balance the roles of blind mother, wife and mental health professional. I believed there were very few, if any, people that could relate to my circumstances and I desperately wanted to feel that someone could empathize, not sympathize, with my situation. In between diaper changes and 3 am feedings, I would scour TheMighty.com and frequent them on social media. Illuminated by the glow of my cell phone, these brave, personal stories both inspired and educated me.
Since becoming a mother, I know there is nothing stronger in this world than the bond between a parent and their child. Parents who share their stories with The Mighty become the voices for those too young, and in some cases, those unable to speak. They are the front line advocates and educators for a myriad of diseases and disabilities. Their stories offer teachable moments from the vantage point of caregiver, spotlighting the innate strength of the human spirit. The result does not diminish the experiences of those actually living with these conditions, but allows readers to become more knowledgeable in how these issues impact people both directly and peripherally. Within these stories lies a common thread, a hope, that the world will stop just “accommodating” the disabled. Instead, we seek genuine acceptance and affirmation that we can be viewed as capable, meaningful members of our society.
As a professional social worker, my experience working with clients has taught me combating disease and/or disability makes finding a sense of community difficult. Often times, this population becomes easily isolated. They are either unable to easily join social situations or they themselves are simply excluded by others. Their conditions create an endless stream of judgment. Friends and family can grow frustrated by the symptoms of these issues. Treatment providers are primarily focused on diagnosing and treating the condition, rather than considering the unique needs of the individual person. While it is not a substitute for professional medical care, The Mighty provides the opportunity to network with people, who have faced similar obstacles, to share experiences, and gain judgment-free support. This online community encourages readers and contributors to push on. It gives a face and voice to both the pain and joy of some extraordinary lives. It reminds all of us that those living in the face of disease or disability are more than a clinical label. We are people.
When I lost my eyesight at 32 years old after battling breast cancer, I didn’t know how I would survive the devastating loss. Moreover, I honestly didn’t know if I even wanted to try. For the first time in my life, I doubted myself. I lost faith in a world I had once actively been a part of. I found hope in the The Mighty’s community. Their contributors not only made me laugh and cry, but taught me in darkness there is light. These stories convinced me in the face of insurmountable odds, each of us possesses untapped resiliency. Combining this knowledge with professional and community resources empowered me.
I’m proud to be a contributor to the The Mighty. I’m grateful to share my experiences as a blind mother and promote educational awareness about blindness and visual impairments. I’m happy to show the world that disabled people can be integral parts of our community. I’m glad to connect with readers and I’m grateful to hear their opinions, whatever they may be.
“You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same.
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.”
I know I’m not alone, and if you’re reading this, remember, neither are you. Stay Mighty!