Defining strength…

It’s Friday night and I’m sat prosecco in hand, music on… not that I really need Friday as an excuse, but hey! I want to take tonight to really just recognise strength in all it’s forms. So pour yourself a glass of your tipple of choice (a big one), and enjoy!

I have recently been in touch with some other DMD siblings which honestly lifts my spirits so much, because the whole point that I write this blog is to reach out to others in the same situation, and even try and help other family members understand what we go through as siblings. So to know that I am not only reaching the right people, but also being able to help relate to other people means the world to me!

I’ve reflected a lot of late on how we define strength. Everyone’s version is very different, some define it by physicality, some by situations we deal with and some by seeming to always cope but to name a few. In my opinion we all have strength in us, and sometimes we don’t know we have it until it’s the only choice we have. Some of us are life’s ‘copers’ and some of us might seem to melt down at the small things on the surface but are strong in other ways or even just processing the situation we need to be strong in differently. It’s important to note that neither way is right or wrong, just different. We are all unique after all.

Being the oldest I have always done my best to stay calm on the surface, cope with the situation, resolve it peacefully and be strong for everyone else. Not because anyone has ever told me that I have to be, but because I I felt that is what I needed to do. I really do think this is an eldest sibling thing, so if you are the eldest you will probably understand where I’m coming from.

When I was younger, people would say that I was ‘too sensible for my age’, and looked like I was ‘carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders’, which at the time I would take very personally and see as a criticism. Now I see them as compliments. Those comments only reiterate the strength that I have, and that us as siblings have to have in order to look after our family. Yes there were times (and still are) where I did take myself a bit too seriously, but when you are trying to deal with your own health issues, along with that of your brothers, and then try to fit in and keep up with friends, and make sure your other siblings are ok, and that your mum and dad are ok… it really isn’t a bit of wonder is it?!

I like to use the following analogy of explaining what I mean: You’re in the gym and in the squat rack, ready to get as low as you can… heart’s pounding, doubts set in “What if I can’t do this”. But you look at yourself in the mirror and think “I will not be defeated”. You take a deep breath and get low…then there is that moment where you think “This isn’t going to come back up”, but you put everything you have into making it back to the top, even if you have to scream your way up until you knees lock and you’re out of the woods. Then you know you’ve made it… and the sense of achievement comes in, and you’re proud of yourself for making it. (As you can tell I work a lot of shit out in the gym!)

This is a great analogy for really appreciating the strength and determination we have to be as strong as we can. I think we all need to recognise and appreciate the strength we have, no matter the situation. The grit and sheer determination we have as humans is incredible really. No matter how many times life kicks us down, we get back up and come back stronger than ever. Because what choice do we really have? We can crumble (which is needed every now and then) or we can fight… and we ARE fighters! We fight for what is right, and not just our siblings but others too, we fight to be the vision of strength every day, we fight our way out of difficult situations… but never forget that you need to fight for yourself too!

The biggest lesson I have learnt of late is that while I know now that I am a strong person, I let this consume me to the point where I felt that showing any sign of weakness was a failing. I hate getting upset about Joe’s condition because I see that as a weakness… god forbid should someone realise that I am not invincible eh!?. But it’s taken me time to realise that I am human, and being upset doesn’t mean that I can’t cope, in fact it’s the very opposite. What we deal with is difficult and that doesn’t even factor in our own separate issues.

It’s really important for other people in our lives to remember, that while we appear strong and will always do our best to be there for others… the ‘copers’ and often the people struggling the most. In light of World mental health awareness this week, take this into account, ask if everything is ok or just land on someones doorstep with a cake… (because cake solves everything right?) these things are appreciated more often than you will ever know. Never forget, it’s ok not to be ok and you’re doing bloody amazing!



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