I was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy
—a genetic disease that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord that control the body’s muscles—at nine months of age and was given nine years to live. Now, at 24 years old, I find myself grappling with a variety of mental illnesses. My education in psychology has provided me with the language necessary to describe my experiences, particularly my relationship with grief.
For me, mental health revolves around the concept of “ambiguous loss
,” or loss without closure or understanding. Similar to a quadriplegic, my body is present, but there is still a sense of emotional disconnect, an inability to merge to the fullest extent with my physical self. My disability prevents me from participating in the normal flow of life.