30 Days of MD: Why I Became a Therapist
Day 22 of 30
This is Briana Mills’ (@brianamills) story:
I always knew I was different. As one of the only physically disabled children in regular public school classes, I was shamed by other kids because of my disability. Learning how to navigate that was like climbing a mountain, constantly.
I began going to therapy at age 6. The first therapist I had, I saw on and off for about 10 years. He was able-bodied and unfamiliar with how to approach a client with a disability.
When I was in college, I tried out multiple therapists. They were ill-educated on disability and would use microaggressions, unknowingly. I found myself continuously frustrated like there was no one out there who understood my situation. I felt like my therapy sessions were spent educating my therapist on living with a disability rather than processing my feelings. I felt like a burden, I felt shame for my disability, and I felt discriminated against for simply existing.
I soon realized I was not alone. Unfortunately, many disabled individuals experience isolation, constant grief, or feelings of not being valued. Mental health is extremely important, especially in the disability community. I decided that I would be a therapist for those like myself, who felt isolated and had no one to relate to about their feelings as disabled individuals.
It was hell, but I earned my master’s degree. Now, as a therapist and advocate for the disability community, I understand that those feelings were not reality. I strive to get the message out there that WE ARE NOT A BURDEN. We have so much value. We are just as important as everyone else. We are so worthy of love, affection, and compassion.
If you’re struggling, please seek help. There are good therapists out there. There are groups on Facebook where you can find support. Follow disabled advocates on social media if you feel alone.
We are all part of this community. Taking care of our mental health is just as important as our physical health. I’m an associate marriage and family therapist because I want people like me to know they are not alone and they are worthy.
Muscular Dystrophy News’ 30 Days of MD campaign will publish one story per day for MD Awareness Month in September. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofMD, or read the full series.