31 Days of MS: I Often Feel ‘Imposter Syndrome’ When I Roller-skate

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Kaci Bell

Photo courtesy of Kaci Bell

Day 8 of 31

This is Kaci Bell’s (@myelinmoxi) story:

Something I feel a handful of people in the disabled community have experienced but are too shy to open up about is “imposter syndrome.”

Imposter syndrome and chronic illness rarely fall in the same sentence. It’s unheard of for someone to feel green with envy for another’s disability. I somehow fell down this rabbit hole during my multiple sclerosis journey when I began to connect with others in the community.

It wasn’t until I got my diagnosis that I realized no one ever teaches you how to be disabled. There isn’t a right or wrong way to have a chronic illness.

Because no two people with MS experience the disease the same way, it was hard to wrap my head around how I should continue my life moving forward with this illness that no one can see. My MRI impressions show that my MS is very aggressive for a relapsing-remitting type, and that I should be more physically disabled. I spend a great amount of my free time roller-skating in my neighborhood streets and defying those odds.

At first, this was an ecstatic discovery: that I’m disabled on paper, but I can still live an able-bodied life. But it wasn’t long after the frequent hospital visits, social media posts, and meeting strangers in passing that I felt a sense of “imposter syndrome.” I felt as if I was doing MS wrong, that there was no way someone with MS and muscle issues could live life on roller-skates!

Questions like “how can I be disabled and roller-skate?” and “how do I look so well but claim to be disabled?” echoed in my head. I felt like I was faking everything, that it was all in my head and that no one was taking me seriously when I explained my illness and symptoms.

It was, and still is, a mountainous journey to learn that there isn’t a box for disability, just like there isn’t a specific box for a person or a group of people. I’ve come to realize that disability was never meant to be a competition, but a community for comfort.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.

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