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Over Half a Lifetime of Struggle Has Just Made Me Twice as Strong

About Me

I’m Cait, a queer writer, artist, and thriftlord. I wheel through a young-adulthood flavored by neurodivergence (Autism, C-PTSD), disability (EDS, FND), and lots of coffee (usually a large flat white). I use social media (@caitruthlawrence) to share queer fashion for wheelchair users and perspectives on disability and mental health. I’m also building up to returning to university where I’m studying sociology and digital media, and this year I am living independently for the first time, which is going amazingly, and that in itself is amazing.

First 5 years

I was born with 2 of my disabilities (EDS, Autism) but nobody knew that until I was diagnosed as an adult. Not knowing for over 20 years meant the problems that arose were mismanaged. With some further personal traumas, as a teen, my mental health plummeted about as low as you can go. I spent 5 years in hospital across 12 different wards and rehabs and it’s taken about 10 years to climb back to stability.

Next 5 years

There was a rather large complication though: as I clawed my way through recovery, I started to get physically unwell, with pain and injuries and strange sets of symptoms no one could quite make sense of. I bounced around hospitals and health professionals for issues with my bladder, digestion, joints, mobility, pain, nervous system, heart, and was so scared and confused that we didn’t understand why I was having problem after problem. For 5 years I’ve fought through the struggle both with my body and mind and now have some better clarity and support, but am also having to rebuild my identity which has been so battered by being unwell for over half my life. I must now weave permanent disability into myself, this person I now am and am getting to know.

Perspective is Everything

It’s been about 13 years of all-consuming fighting with my health, and I’m only 25. Has it been hard? Absolutely, it’s been really hard. Do I wish things had been different? Yeah I do, but I don’t place importance on that. I don’t need things to be different to build a life I am proud of. I look back now in awe of my past self for how much they survived. I never had a choice in what struggles I faced, but I always had choices in how I would face them and the fact I am still alive. I am mostly mentally recovered, continuing to learn and reflect and grow. I must have made some good choices through what options I did have, and that gives me power to move forward further.

Recovery is Possible

I’ve made it through 100% of my worst days (and some of them have been truly awful). I feel like if I can do that, then there’s so much more that I can achieve also. I’m only just getting started.

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Cait Lawrence

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