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Impaired Self and 2,000 Mile Motorcycle Ride

David Feingold's picture


I just returned from a 2,000 mile motorcycle trip to South Carolina and Georgia.  There was plenty of time to think, traversing both Interstate highways and two lane country roads--of course, while paying close attention to the road.  The Impaired Self came to mind, even before pulling out the driveway.  Having bipolar disorder, seizure disorder and ADHD conjures up certain characteristics in people's beliefs systems.  In my situation, people were concerned that I have too many "challenges" to have a safe, successful trip along so many miles and uncertain/ unpredictable circumstances.  I refused to succumb to people's judgements and stereotypes that would have otherwise awakened my Impaired Self to the familiar aspects asociated with it, such as shame, humiliation, fear, anxiety, avoidance, low self-esteem, depression, etc.  As I make clear in my educational presentations, the Impaired Self can and is often more destructive and debilitating than the actual disability or impairment in which it underlies.  For those reading this blog entry who have a disability or impairment, whether it be physical, cognitive or emotional, think about some times when people attempt to put limitations on you.  The limitations may or may not have stemmed from previous difficulties and challenges, but nonetheless, they need not be predictors of successful vs unsuccessful undertakings. Failing can be seen as standing in judgement of others that rate one's performance as sub par.  Our very self is also vulnerable to the same judgement.  When that happens, our view of the world and our own capabilities can become skewed, limited and needlessly limit our control of ourselves and our environment.  I presented a video I made dealing with this information to parents, adolescent students and staff at a therapeutic day school in a suburb of Chicago.  It had positive reviews from all three populations because it highlighted and described an entity that is traditionally beneath the surface of people's struggles with disabilities and impairments--amorphous, out of reach of awareness and therefore lacking in practical understanding.  Today's blog entry continues the journey of learning about the Impaired Self and as always, it is in close proximity to it's 'first cousin, disabilities.