Guest Post: Life in High School With a Disability- by Kim Petitt

There are challenges living with a disability while trying to maintain your mental health. I had a lot of anger for many reasons, which I let impact me in a bad way.

By the time I made it to high school I had fallen into a depression. At the time I didn’t know it was depression or even how to articulate what I was feeling. I only knew that I carried a deep sadness that held me down like holding your breath underwater. Even if it looked like I was functionally perfectly on the outside, on the inside I was battling something deep.

My depression in part was due to my tumultuous relationship with my disability and how I allowed it to affect how I saw myself. I became tremendously self-conscious.

I would find times to be by myself and get lost in my writing. This had become my safe haven and coping mechanism.

I realized that not only could I express myself in writing what I could never say out loud—I felt like I could express myself better in writing than verbally, it was the only thing I felt I had control over. I could say what I felt exactly how I felt it without any criticism or judgement.

It goes without saying that high school was an emotional time for me. I was attempting to reconcile with my disability while trying to figure out where I fit in. There were also those typical social pressures that accompanied my teenage years; building self-confidence, maintaining good grades, approaching college…then there were boys.

I must have been around 14 or 15 when I began to earnestly notice “relationships.” My initial response to that was to shrug it off. I could do all the noticing but was I being noticed back?

Simply put, back then I thought my disability made me undesirable—no one would want to be my friend. I thought no boy would want to date me or I was an embarrassment and no one would want to call me their friend.

It took a great deal of honesty and work, but I realized that those thoughts were driven by my own insecurities. My feelings were real, but that doesn’t mean they were necessarily true.

Honestly, I wish that I would have realized this earlier on. It may have improved my overall high school experience. Perhaps I would have put myself out there more or I would have taken more risks, put more effort in socially. Maybe I would have been gentler with myself.

If I could give the high schooler me some wisdom, I would say…

Your value is in God not in other people

You matter. You are the Apple of God’s Eye

You are perfectly imperfect…fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God

Visit Kim’s blog Beyond My Limitations