Hello, my name is Ellie. I’m going to be sharing “My Story” with you, but first, let me tell you a little bit about myself. Presently, I’m attending Texas A&M University (whoop)! I’m in a one-year certification program, called PATHS. It’s a program for individuals who have disabilities, who are capable of living on their own and have the passion to work in Human Services. There are three “tracks” to choose from. You choose only one of which you think you want to pursue. I chose Direct Support Professional (DSP). I will work in a local school this year. In this program, we will be taking our track classes or going to our designated schools for volunteering hours. We must have thirty hours before the end of this semester. They keep us busy, which is good. This program is amazing because it allows me to become more of an independent adult and somewhat of a “social butterfly.”
For those of you who don’t know me, or who don’t know me well, I have a disability, called Hypotonia. It’s known as “Floppy Baby Syndrome.” When I was about 10 months old, my parents noticed I couldn’t sit up on my own nor could I walk without falling. I had to hold on to something so I wouldn’t fall. As I got older, I didn’t consider myself as an individual with a disability because I could walk, eat, sleep, and breath on my own. Hypotonia is invisible. It becomes noticeable as an infant stage and in early childhood. Once diagnosed, I worked really hard and was involved in sports and many other activities. I had physical therapy as a child to help me gain strength in my muscles that weren’t developed. I had to work hard with therapy even when I got frustrated and when I was picked on.
I was bullied from 4th – 8th grade. That was the hardest period of my life because that’s when people started to change (physically, mentally and emotionally). My classmates started finding their “friend groups” which didn’t include me because I was different than them and its okay to be different, we all are unique and beautiful in our own ways. At that time in my life, I felt so lost and alone, wondering what God was doing with me. Because I could not see any positive future ahead, I thought my life was over. Since I was very shy growing up, I did not have any confidence in myself. I think because I alienated myself from others, they noticed that and instead of being a friend about it, they would just make fun of me. I was teased about my appearance and the way I was made. I felt so hated by my classmates. A lot of the time I would ask myself, “Am I reading into this too much or is this really happening to me?” Because I was alone, I often thought and daydreamed a lot. When I was in 8th grade, I was cyberbullied. There was an app where you can have people anonymously ask questions in your social media bio. I would receive hate messages every day. I didn’t know who the messages were from. I was told I was ugly, “Your parents made a mistake for having you”, and “You should go kill yourself”. I was so heartbroken not about their comments to me, but for the people who made the comments. I wondered what I did to hurt these people. I wondered what was going on in their lives to be treating me and other people this way. Then I realized something. Maybe, just maybe, these comments were not intentional. Maybe they were so curious about what I had going on and didn’t know how to appropriately approach me and calmly ask me appropriate questions that I wouldn’t mind answering. Instead, they were scared and just wanted to hide behind a screen to get answers out of me in a very negative way.
I’ve learned and grown so much from this experience because my faith allowed me to see a bigger picture of human nature and He knew when He created us we were going to make mistakes and that we were not going to be perfect. All we must do is learn to forgive and move on with our lives, living it to the fullest, not caring what anyone says about us. No matter what happened to you or any disability you have, it doesn’t define who you are. Your heart and mind are all that counts.
I am so blessed for the family, friends, teachers, and others that have supported me throughout this journey. I know sometimes they didn’t understand my issues. All they could do was listen to me and help support me to the best of their ability. In my senior year of high school, I felt that my faith really opened my eyes. He showed me love and gave me confidence by guiding me to work with individuals who also have disabilities. We may not have the same problems, but in a way, we all can understand each other a little bit better. I felt my faith wants me to show others there is light at the end of the tunnel; there is hope, and there is a big, loving God out there who is very real! I have never given up and I never will because God’s love is bigger than all! I know that He is with me and can be with you as well. You’re not alone. We all have our own battles that we must deal with. You have the ultimate decision on how your life goes. You obviously can’t control people and what comes out of their mouths, but you can control yourself. My faith has opened my heart and mind in a way I can’t explain.
For those of you that are struggling right now, I suggest that you go on Amazon and buy the book, “The Village Girl Handbook” by Kristi Burden. It’s about young ladies and women who came together to share their stories on struggles in their lives and how God helped them overcome their challenges. There are two volumes. They are both only $10.99. I shared another story in Mrs. Kristi Burden’s first book The Village Girl Handbook volume 1, I’m on page 121! If you’re interested in checking out her book go, get it! I promise you, you won’t regret it my story in her book is a little bit different than this one.