Artist, designer, and cosplayer Amber Guzman’s world is full of colour and creativity. But life with muscular dystrophy isn’t always easy. Here, she shares her tips for tackling the difficult days
Mental health matters to me because… with everything going on in the world right now, it’s very easy to fall into a hole of depression. Being a disabled woman, I’ve had to work hard to not let bad thoughts bring me down. Helping your mental health is just as important as working out your body for physical health.
I first became interested in cosplay when… I went to a convention in California called Anime Expo. Cosplay was definitely not as big when I was in high school in 2003, so when I went to this event for the first time, and saw the few who did actually dress up, I was astonished! It was such an amazing way to bring the characters we all love to life, and I was instantly hooked. I always had a love for dressing up, especially for Halloween. Cosplay gives me an opportunity to dress up without it having to be a special holiday.
When I am in cosplay I feel… empowered and strong. It allows me a chance to escape what is going on with me physically because of my illness, muscular dystrophy. When I have people come up to me and say that they love my cosplay, and that they want to try it too, that really motivates me to continue on this journey. When I finish a complicated costume, it shows me that I am not as weak, physically or mentally, as this illness wants me to feel.
When I need support I… thankfully have a wonderful husband and his family by my side. They help me each day, not only with my illness but with my happiness too. They have been with me through thick and thin, and I couldn’t ask for a better support system. I also have an amazing group of supporters on my Instagram page cheering me on with my everyday life. They are an outstanding group of creative people who share their love of costume and fashion with me. Their comments keep me feeling like I can accomplish anything I put my heart into.
Three things I would say to someone struggling are…
• We need these times of hardship to show us how good the great times can be.
• The closer you get towards your goals, the more you will discover how amazing you really are, and that is something no one can take from you.
• Never be afraid to cry.
The moment I felt most proud of myself was... last year at Anime Expo. I was an invited guest to this event that I’d admired for so long. There were tons of amazing people who also had disabilities, who came all the way to see me, and told me how much I have helped them with their struggles. It showed me that I had a strong voice in this huge community, and helped me to realise that I was able to help others, like me, who struggle with their physical disabilities.
Follow Amber on Instagram @amberkohakuchan