Something odd happened to me on Tuesday night. Someone wanted to talk to be about suicide. It was one o’clock in the morning and I was ready to head home from my weekly karaoke outing when a young man stopped me. He explained he wanted to know more about me, because for the longest time he wanted to take his own life and I seem to have it together. He asked: “But you’re in a wheelchair! ( a sentiment he repeated many times throughout the conversation), what makes you go on every day?” it was unthinkable to him that indeed I can have a disability and still find happiness in life. It’s not that I’m always ecstatic and life goes my way all the time. There are times that I feel confused and lost and sad or downright unhappy. Everybody has those moments when they want to be someone else somewhere else. But I can honestly say I never had any thoughts to end my life. I don’t want to trivialize his experience. He was 24, seemingly funny,intelligent and good looking, with nothing visibly ‘wrong’ with him. He did say he just broke up with his girlfriend, but that he’s been having those thoughts continuously for quite some time now. And I don’t know what it must be like to be in such a dark place all the time that nothing you do can ever bring you joy, I just can’t relate. But I think it’s a real problem, an illness of the mind and soul that prevents you from enjoying all the things you were blessed with.
I know that people say that if someone wants to take their life they just do, while others just talk about it. But I really didn’t want to take that risk, so I stayed a bit longer. I ordered another drink and I introduced him to all my karaoking friends, as eclectic of a bunch they are. He told me he looks up to people “like me” when he sees individuals in wheelchairs every day. But to me, he’s the inspiration. It makes me appreciate what I have so much more. I have passion and gladness in my life, things that I often take for granted. When you don’t like it where you are, you move somewhere else. When you don’t like who you’re becoming you strive to change who you are. But I can’t imagine what it must be like to not like yourself to an extent you would just end it, because one thing you can never escape from is yourself. One place you can never leave behind is your head.
It’s simple really. My wheelchair has always been a bigger issue to those who noticed it and turned it into one than it ever has been for me. From where I’m sitting if the outside world is not accessible enough for me to get somewhere, yes, it’s upsetting and yes, it’s annoying, but the problem is not with me, it’s with the world. And I’m out to change it. When he asked me what are the things that keep me going I said I have plenty. I have a family that loves me and plenty of friends. I have places I go to and things I like doing. I have dreams and goals and I want to help other people. I’m trying to start up a non profit and stir up some awareness. I have passion for what I do, plenty of humor, I can’t wait to get started and network and start accomplishing things. I like mochi and Starbucks, movies and karaoke. I like to travel and explore and there’s so many things I haven’t seen. I get excited about getting a sandwich at Subway or a salad at relish. I strive to make my parents proud and I really do get excited about the little things in life. I’m always curious about other people. Meeting someone new is often more fun than a movie or a night of playing trivia. And a lot of times I feel like I’m inspired. And motivated. And on a mission. I always say- if my Cerebral Palsy is a problem for you, then, well, you’re the one with a problem. Because I’m just getting started. What it boils down to I guess is that I do like my life. I have plenty of faults but I do like myself. I wanted to help him, because if there was anything I could do I would do it, even at the cost of him thinking it’s so much worse for me. I really don’t think that’s the case- I enjoy my life. Could it better/ Of course. But it’s mine and it’s a work in progress.