I spend my daily life experiencing a “borderline identity syndrome.” (This is not to be confused with borderline personality disorder!) I outwardly appear as though I am generally healthy.
My subjective experience, however, is that of living my everyday life with multiple, disease-imposed limitations. I don’t necessarily look “disabled.” To which community, therefore, do I truly belong: the healthy or the impaired? I feel as though I belong to neither, and yet to both, if that makes sense.
Yes, I realize that I continue to possess the distinct advantage of not having my health challenges immediately announced to the world. It still remains at my discretion whether or not to disclose them.
For example, I just finished teaching my first Abnormal Psychology class for the Fall 2018 semester. In introducing myself to the students, I provided information about my academic credentials, as well as my diverse clinical and research experiences.
I intentionally decided not to disclose my chronic health challenges. It was absolutely not necessary to do so. Even my attendance at an illness-specific meeting, such as an MS support group, doesn’t mean that I will feel recognized as chronically ill.
Given that I remain fully ambulatory, a full 25 years post-diagnosis of MS, I am the exception to the way the majority of attendees enter the support group meeting room.I am fully ambulatory, with no need for assistive devices.
The majority of individuals who attend MS support groups, with the exception of those who are newly-diagnosed, utilize canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. Honestly, it is frequently very lonely to feel like there is nowhere where you truly belong.