Health & Medical Self-Improvement

How I Learned to Become DisAbled

As far back as I can remember, I have been hearing voices. It started when I was just three months old. I remember lying on my back in a cold sweat, undergoing nicotine withdrawal €" as I found out much later my smoking mother had switched from breast-feeding to bottled formula. Gasping for breath, I heard my father yelling at my sister in the next room. I was preparing to scream aloud.

Suddenly a voice went off in my head, saying €If you scream, something bad will happen to you.€ Since I was only a baby, it wasn't in words, but I could hear the voice. I screamed anyway, and my mother came in, swooping me out of the crib into her loving arms. I heard my father's yelling increase, and the sounds of my sister being spanked. It was so awful I can recall it even now, though I know that seems impossible.

I grew up clumsy, anti-social and unable to communicate. And the voices continued. I never told my parents about these things, keeping it quietly to myself as the other kids taunted me, making fun of how weird I was, unable to keep up with them except in my schoolwork. There, I excelled. But for many years I spoke to no one, crying to myself even in the classroom, my body twisting up into awkward shapes uncontrollably. My mother noticed this, but we never saw a doctor about it. Instead, she sought out psychological counseling for me when I entered my teens. This did me no real good.

One day, a nice lady coach who had seen me jogging around the high school track asked me to join the girl's track team. I did, and this began a partial recovery from my disabilities and social awkwardness. I made friends, and came in second in one of our races. By the time I entered college I was pretty much normal, though subject to strange feelings and occasional voices in my head. I dropped out of college, taking off hitch-hiking to find my own haphazard way of living. I ended up in Washington State, where I found work as an attendant for the disabled €" and met John Tyler, an amazing man with polio who taught me that disability is not the end of your life, but the beginning, and I finally made friends with other disabled people.

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