I was born with a congenital spinal anomaly, Sacral Agenesis. I have under-developed legs and visible signs of my birth defect, so I have become “used” to people staring at me.  Sometimes, it gets a little out of hand and someone stares so long that they run into something. I do giggle in my head because other people watched it happen. Yes, at times in my life, it has hurt my feelings. No one is immune to getting their feelings hurt or dealing with ignorant people at one point in time or another.

Over the past couple of years, as my health has degraded, I’ve encountered a new phenomenon. It’s from medical providers and it is very strange. I use a wheelchair nearly all the time now and I am just now starting to use my walker. My mode of transportation does not define me nor does my diagnosis. So, I find it very odd that my doctors, nurses, and other healthcare people keep on asking me what anti-depressant I’m taking. I say, “Oh nothing.” They look bewildered and then the 9th degree follows. I don’t think my parents ever reamed me for being home too late in high school as much as some of these providers do about my saying that I am not depressed.

 

You have to be depressed

The providers go on and on that I “have” to be depressed. I say, “Why?” They declare that since I’ve had a million surgeries and struggle physically that I “HAVE” to be clinically depressed. It’s like they’re trying to bring on a melt-down or something. I have no problem saying that I need to talk to someone when things are too much. I’m quite open about it and I believe it is healthy. Although, I prefer someone with a doctorate who specializes in medical psychology.

Why is there a perception that because I’ve had more surgeries than I am old and struggle with incredible pain that I absolutely have to be depressed and that my smile is fake? Why? It goes on for more than one appointment. I am baffled. I am sincerely an optimistic, forward thinking, happy person. I am not fake. I am like every person in the world. I have bad days when I am angry at something. I have days where I cry because I am sad.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, to be authentically happy, I have to express all my emotions. I do so with a small group of people. Doesn’t everyone do this? I support individuals who are depressed and have reached out for help and, if needed, take medication. Why do doctors assume I must be depressed? I know the struggle is real but it’s shocking to be on the receiving end of such ignorance. It’s a whole new level. I think I prefer the people who stare at my legs because, let’s face it, it is human nature to look at what is different. There is just a tactful way to do it.

 

I am a woman named Julie

The way I see my life is that I’m a woman named Julie who has had a ton of major surgeries and endures extreme pain on a regular basis. Yes, but wow, I have THE best husband, family, and friends in the world. Of course, I have our lab Stella Blue, who is so silly and loving. No, I don’t get to do everything I want to or used to do, but I did get to do them once before.

I feel so blessed each day I am given with the people surrounding me. I love life. I will get my strength back and my endurance. I’ve never been afraid of a challenge. Yes, this is a huge one, but bring it on! I have a support system, dogged determination, and faith that God will give me the strength. I have extreme focus. I’m just a person living life. We ALL have something. Mine is just visible.

And, of course, if you have read my stories before, you know that I also have music! As Eddie Brickell sings, “What I am is what I am….”

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