Yesterday, my friend Kate wrote a post that made me sob, shake, and really want to throw something. As a rheumatoid arthritis patient, she has access to permanently disabled parking. She uses it to her discretion and for her well-being. It makes normalizing her life despite a debilitating disease POSSIBLE. As Kate was using this parking, a woman asked her what was "wrong" with her. Kate responded, crying, and explained the RA (treated by chemotherapy infusions), fibromyalgia, and tarsal coalitions she suffers from and deals with on a daily basis.
To be honest, what angers me about this situation isn't that my beautiful friend was crying. It isn't that the woman ruined Kate's night. What truly, truly angers me is that there is NO compassion for people who deal with diseases that are often invisible.
I know that Kate is so much stronger than anything that woman could have ever said to her. I know that Kate woke up the next morning determined to have a better day. The only thing that didn't change was the fact that there are still millions of people out there who will treat someone else the same way because they are unaware and oblivious.
That makes me so incredibly angry.
When starting this blog, I needed a place to vent about my health struggles. I felt alone and chose publishing my feelings on the internet instead of writing in a journal because I knew there had to be someone... ANYONE... Who was feeling the way I was. It took awhile for me to find a community I was comfortable sharing in, but it soon became the reason I got out of bed in the morning. It became the passion behind my writing. It became my purpose in life. Raising awareness and openly sharing my struggles was therapeutic and beneficial not only for me, but also for other people. People fighting the same disease I am.
Now, since starting this blog, I've had e-mails, comments, Facebook posts, and tweets come in about the disease that I, too, suffer from. Some have been encouraging. Some have been curious. Some have been knowledgeable... And some have been downright ignorant, disrespectful, and just plain MEAN.
I'll never forget the time I posted about my faith and how sure I was God would heal me when He was done using this for His purpose only to receive a comment that said, "If 'your God' is so big, why hasn't He healed you yet?" I remember responding to it with my favorite scripture and shaking my head at how unbelievable the comment was. I also remember feeling defeated. As if there was no purpose or reason behind anything I'd ever shared here.
But then I remembered this: People LOVE to discount the importance of things they don't understand.
That's when I remembered that the words I share here... The stories... The struggles... It ALL matters. It's not whining. It's not asking for attention. It's raising awareness for diseases that people are completely oblivious to. And my voice in this community... It makes a difference.