On Being Disabled

On Being Disabled

This list on being disabled was originally published on my Facebook page, but I don’t Facebook anymore and I wanted to preserve and update it.

Inspired by the disability community on Twitter who have compiled similar threads, I wanted something to point to the next time someone says to me “you could work if you wanted to” or “you’re asking for special treatment.”

Okay then. Here we go.

Being disabled is being forced to perform your disability for doubters and then immediately being accused of acting. Abled logic can be summarized as: I can fake being disabled, therefore your disability doesn’t exist.

Being disabled is rationing your asks for help, because you’re scared people will get tired of you and abandon you completely. (Because they have, and they do.)

Being disabled is being charged a surplus (sometimes called a disability tax) on the things you need to survive, by people who don’t need the extra money, and then being accused of being a taker.

Being disabled is being called dramatic when you lash out at people who are doing things that will kill you.

Being disabled is being called rude because talking about your disability makes abled people feel uncomfortable.

Being disabled is being shamed for collecting benefits on an insurance policy you paid for, then having those benefits taken from you, then listening to someone bitch about their car insurance rates going up “just because they made a claim.”

Being disabled is having an insurance company tell you the date you became disabled was the day your doctor diagnosed you, even though you couldn’t get a doctor to listen for more than two years.

Being disabled is hearing, “you just want to be disabled” so ableds can pretend it can’t happen to them.

Being disabled is being called a complainer for mentioning you need accommodations then being asked why you never said anything when you can’t participate.

Being disabled is telling abled people what it’s like to be disabled and then being labeled an attention-seeker.

Being disabled is telling other people they’re harming you, and instead of stopping and apologizing, they come at you with a defensive attack.

Being disabled is operating on a battery that only charges to 30% and then being told that because you emptied your own dishwasher last week you could do dishes at Ponderosa 40 hours a week.

Being disabled is smiling at abled people who say they know what it’s like to not sleep for weeks because sometimes they drink coffee before bed and getting up for work the next day is just the worst.

Being disabled is researching and diagnosing yourself because your care team can’t or won’t and then being scoffed at by a nurse practitioner for using big, fancy words like “seronegative.”

Being disabled is having abled people say these problems are not systemic—that you’ve just encountered a couple of bad doctors or you’re a difficult patient—because they’ve never had a similar experience. Ableds won’t admit it’s because they rarely see a doctor.

Being disabled is saying these things over and over every day and then watching it all unfold again, just like before, day after day after day after day.

Being disabled is understanding completely that you don’t know what it’s like to be somebody else while somebody else pretends they know what it’s *actually* like to be you.

Being disabled is being told how lucky you are to have the ADA now and then being told it’s on you to file a lawsuit to enforce it.

Being disabled is being stuck inside or outside a hospital bathroom labeled “accessible” because the door is too heavy to push.

Being disabled is being bombarded with inspiration porn about how some disabled people have done extraordinary things most abled people can’t do and then being expected to do something similarly monumental or else be ashamed of yourself. (But it’s OK if an abled person claims a mental health day because she wants to go shopping. She can’t be expected to perform all the time.)

Being disabled is contributing to the social safety net for decades, being paid less than a dude who didn’t work as hard as you, having a smaller 401(k) and savings account as a result, receiving less in disability benefits based on past earnings, and then being called lazy by a Young Republican whose parents are currently buying his C-average college education.

Being disabled is taking the time to compile a list like this knowing that the people who need to be educated won’t actually read it.

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