A few months ago I tripped on the stairs in my house and hurt my ankle really bad. I am very clumsy and fall a lot. It doesn't help that I have arthritis and falls hurt me more than other teenagers. But this one was worse than the other times. My parents had to take me to the emergency room because I was in so much pain. I was lucky it wasn't broken but I did have a bad sprain and had to use crutches for almost a month.
This was my first time using crutches before. I had to get used to it. First I really sucked at it and was very slow. It was annoying. Then I got more used to it and did better. I wasn't as fast as walking the regular way but I was able to move and get stuff on my own. I might have needed more time to get places but I could still get there.
A lot of people were very concerned that I was on crutches. Especially kids at school and grownups too like at the store and church. They kept trying to baby me and carry all my stuff and help me all the time. And people kept saying stuff like, "Poor you!" And "What happened?" They were trying to be nice but it was also like really embarrassing too having all that attention. I just like to melt into the crowd. I don't like standing out.
It reminded me of me having HIV and also having arthritis. And being adopted too. Sometimes when people find out I have HIV or juvenile arthritis they feel sorry for me just like people felt sorry for me because of my crutches. Or when they find out my parents died and I got adopted. They get sad and treat me different. They ask, "How did you get it (HIV)?" or "How did your parents die?" Or, "What's it like being adopted?" "Aren't you too young to have arthritis? My grandma has it."
I know they are just trying to help and be nice but it feels really weird. And makes me feel bad and uncomfortable. Like I'm not a regular person at all but I am just someone you feel sorry for. I don't want extra attention and I don't want pity. Help is okay if I need it or ask for it, but I may not need it. It's better to ask first because you trying to help by doing stuff I can do myself or telling me how sorry you are for me all the time just might make me feel worse, not better.
I like walking regular better than using crutches, but I would rather walk with crutches than not be able to get around. Just like life would probably be easier without HIV or without arthritis or if my parents didn't die. But I would rather have the life I have WITH HIV and with my disability and having my adoptive family than not having life. This is the life God gave me and I'm going to live it and not waste time crying every day about how it might be harder for me than somebody else. At least I have life, and a good life. It's not that bad.
Next time you see someone different and you want to feel sorry for them think about if you would want someone to feel sorry for you if it was you. Maybe you will change your mind and just treat them normal. Having HIV doesn't kill you. Having a disability doesn't kill you. Being adopted doesn't kill you. I am okay and you should be okay with it if I am okay with it.