By Daniel J. Vance
On this January 3, I'm shaking and shivering in 30 degrees below zero cold in Minnesota. For this native Ohioan and transplanted Marylander, Minnesota weather the last fourteen years has been challenging. Perhaps writing another column will warm me up.
For the benefit of newer readers, I began writing this column in late 2002, and more than 260 newspapers have since published it at least once. Thanks to your local newspaper, I have had the privilege the last seven years of sharing the day-to-day experiences of hundreds of people with disabilities.
That said, over the next calendar year, I want to try a new approach to writing. Specifically, I want to hear your personal story. In the past, many dozens of readers contacting via email with a comment have ended up sharing their stories with me through this column. However, I've never before appealed to readers in such a straight-forward fashion.
In particular, I'm asking readers willing to share their personal stories involving the following diagnosed disabilities to contact me via email: major depression, bipolar disorder, severe osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, lupus, limb loss, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, chronic migraine headaches, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury, Down syndrome, blindness, deafness, fetal alcohol syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, spinal cord injury, intellectual disability, post-polio syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, Lou Gehrig's disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, chronic PTSD, muscular dystrophy, stroke or back problems causing a disability, or a person with a diagnosed disability due to other disorders, conditions, syndromes or diseases.
Of these, I'm especially interested in interviewing people experiencing major depression and bipolar disorder, two often overlooked disabilities. Up to 20 million Americans alone will experience major depression this year.
If you're a tad newspaper shy or prefer anonymity, I can create a pseudonym to mask your real identity. I've done this dozens of times. So rather than share your real name with the world, you can be “Sarah” or “Tom” from Florida or Arizona or wherever you live. Caregivers or parents of a person with a disability can share their stories, too.
Thanks in advance for your desire to share your personal story with others and to help raise awareness for the 56 million Americans having a disability. People with disabilities can gain strength when other people with disabilities publicly share stories, struggles and triumphs.
Lastly, you can find my email address at danieljvance.com. [All American Foods and Palmer Bus Service made this column possible.]