Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Drawstring

When I was a child, I had a Chatty Kathy doll. I'll never forget when the dolls became available. Not only did this doll have my name, but she also had my hair, my face, and my freckles. Being the loquacious child that I was, it was fun to have a partner who would talk with me. I just had to pull her drawstring, and I did so often.

It wasn't long before Chatty Kathy's drawstring broke from overuse. It wasn't abuse, just my enthusiastic desire to talk with her. I kept the doll long after she was mute. I wish I still had her today because I cherish the memory of her.

Now I would be content just to hold this cherished item for a few seconds. I've learned that it isn't the spoken word that is so important. With my jaw so often dysfunctional, I rely on touch, typed words, and eye contact. They've become more meaningful to me than spoken words. Back in the day, I could talk all I wanted, even if my doll could not. Now I understand her so much better.

Chatty Kathy's value was limited once the drawstring broke, but not so for humans who cannot speak. Having a disability does not mean that we are worth less. Our value holds. Not everyone will see this about you, but it is true. As individuals with disabilities, we must believe in ourselves. We must know that although our abilities have changed, our value has not. It is the core - the melding of heart, spirit, and mind - that forms the essence of an individual. We don't have to allow ourselves to be discarded like a child's broken doll.

One of the best ways to overcome depression that can be secondary to an illness is to network with others who have similar experiences. Not only will you have the opportunity to be supported, but you will find yourself able to support others. Our strings might be broken, but our spirits can be revived.

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