Overcoming disability shame with a strong healthy spirit

There’s little doubt to me our mind, body and spirit are inner connected, each one having a significant impact on the other.

I have wondered if perhaps a healthy mind was more important than anything else. But then I’m reminded how I’ve seen beautiful spiritual beings in those who may be at a disadvantage from a mental state.

I remember being in some of my worst positions mentally and finding prayer comforted me. I would take it one step further and say prayer saved my life on more than one occasion.

As I’ve struggled to personally take steps to grow and overcome challenges, it has occurred to me I’ve been spiritually wounded by the shame of having a disability.

No, I’m not sitting in a wheel chair with an obvious physical disability. I’m walking in full awareness with an invisible disability, one that comes and goes with symptoms depending on how much I exert myself, how much sleep I get, how many emotional triggers I deal with and how effective medications are at keeping my symptoms from getting worse.

It’s been an interesting revelation for me. As I’ve stood and explained to audiences I’ve spoken to about how shame grows. According to famous author and researcher Brene Brown, if you put shame in a petri dish it needs three things to grow: secrecy, silence and judgment.

Powerful words I find really hit the nail on the head.

Even in the mental health advocacy community I’ve heard some powerful advocates say with near disgust how most people with serious mental illness are on disability. In the context of which it was said, it was intended to insinuate we are “less than” and have not recovered because we are disabled.

It has done an interesting thing to me by owning my disability. It has freed me of shame.

In my lifetime I’ve had much shame to overcome for many different reasons. Most of which I had little to no control over. Many of which I was a victim, and yet I carried shame.

In short, I have a deep personal understanding of the devastating consequences shame can cause. It can make us devalue ourselves making us a vulnerable target to those who would, could and do take advantage. It is not fair or just or right we have to fight so hard to overcome disabling obstacles, only to be met with having to fight for our rights as well.

My growth process is a work in progress. But I am a resilient fighter. My hope is I’m blessed with the ability to balance my mind, body and spirit, knowing when mind and body are vulnerable- spirit is all powerful and can overcome the greatest challenges and the biggest critics.

But I also recognize if I take it for granted my spirit can be wounded. When that happens the dark under current finds its way into my being. Some people call it the “enemy.”

Ultimately when it comes to mind, body and spirit I’m a believer our spiritual health is most important.

Amy Gamble