Date: May 11, 2017
Author: Adelyn VanTol
“Write about what scares you,” is a recent work assignment and something easily said and hard to do. I have to start by saying this blog might be one of the hardest things I have done in a long time. When I have written about disability issues before, it has been from more of a distant, academic perspective. Writing from more of personal perspective, especially writing about my own feelings makes this a more difficult task and, to be honest, it scares me.
I believe that one of the reasons it is hard for me is because the disability identity can be so hard to define. For example, sometimes there are months when I am so depressed and even getting out of bed is a challenge. This impacts my daily living. Other times I am depressed and yet from the outside I may look the same as I do when living without depression. Then, other months I do not come close to fitting the symptoms of depression. How do I fit in to the disability community when my disability is something that comes and goes? The second layer of confusion is the broadness of the label. For example, I have close family and friends for whom the disability labels impacts the way society views them because they have visible impairments. When people look at me they don’t see a disability, so in our society there is a certain level of privilege that I have and they do not. Is it fair for me to include myself with a group of people who have struggles that I have only observed secondhand?
Finally, the more I personally challenge myself to deal with this topic, the more I recognize the strength and seduction of ableism. We have found ourselves in a society where being able-bodied and neurologically typical is so desirable, that we don’t even notice when Disabled people aren’t included. As I learn more about disability pride and examine my own thoughts, I am forced to reconsider what I consider desirable. In the words of Mia Mingus, “Disability has forced me to shift racist, gendered, and capitalist notions of desire; of who and what is desirable.” This is a deeply rooted problem, and I can certainly say as I start to write this blog, I am scared.
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