For most of my life, I lived as a "normal" person. I empathized with people with disabilities, seen and unseen - I am that kind of person.
I suppose it is no wonder that when I became a person with a disability, I was surprised at how many "friends" quickly disappeared.
On reflection, they might have been friends with me because I had a high profile job and wanted the "ins" that came with such a position. I was naive enough to think that my "friends" would stand by me during my times of trials.
I remember in particular a remarkable couple of friends who came with my son, Tye to visit me in the hospital after one very serious Bipolar episode - Peter and his husband, Peter. They came with toiletries, treats and even came to my home after I returned from the hospital, complete with wine and pasta for dinner - they called themselves the "visiting creatures" - we laughed and I was grateful that when others had forsaken me, the few in my inner circle had not.
I am thankful for my disability and what it brings to my life. While I would not choose to be Bipolar, I am grateful for my perception, sensibilities, ability to write and make music, my outreach and community work - all of which I would not be able to do were I a "normal" person - my sensibilities are simply heightened and I embrace them.
It is a blessing that the ADA was passed, and while I was forced from my beloved job with the Salt Lake City Mayor some three years ago, I am grateful for the safety net that was in place here in New York.
I am in school full time, work part time, subsidized by SSI and living a full and joyful life thanks to the benefits in place by law and the passage of the ADA.
I hope that those who merit it, receive the benefit of SSI assistance as they transition to work.
If you know of someone with a disability, seen or unseen, please reach out to them so that they know they are not alone.
Happy disability week!