when you're not *that* disabled
It took me a long time to overcome enough internalized ableism to finally be able to say, “I’m disabled”. Now that I’ve reached that point I still find my internalized ableism… constantly gaslighting myself. I tell myself all the time that I’m really not that disabled. And maybe I should just stop whining and try harder.
Some parts appear easier for me to swallow than others. Overall, I find it easier accepting mental stuff. I can recognize that anxiety, depression, and autism are all disabilities. Great.
But I still find myself resisting my more ‘physical’ diagnoses. Especially as concerns the ‘chronic’ parts of it. I find it hard to say, ‘hey, I have chronic conditions’ or ‘I’m chronically ill’ or some variation. I doubt it all enough that I think I google ‘chronic illness’ at least once a month.
Part of the reason why I’ve been stalling on this is because I realized that I shouldn’t bother applying for disability benefits because, as things currently stand, its unlikely that I’d be able to convince the state that I’m disabled enough to qualify. This despite the fact that I’ve managed to ‘prove’ to the state that I’m ‘permanently disabled’ enough to get repayment assistance.
Moreover, I have many friends who are ‘more’ disabled than I am. But of course, what I really mean is that they aren’t as functional as I currently am. I mean… I have a (part-time) job. I do most of the cleaning in my home. I shower daily. I make food. I run household errands. I can usually do one or two google hangouts with friends every week. I can usually write about 1k-2k worth of blog posts a day. Or I do research. Or something.
I have friends who can’t get out of bed. Who can’t do self-hygiene everyday. Who struggle to feed themselves regularly. Who can’t work. Etc and so on.
I’ll look at them and go, “you really shouldn’t complain (so much)”. Really. Look at how functional I am! See how my overall quality of life appears to be significantly better!
No doubt by now people are (hopefully) seeing the problem with my reasoning. I’m using the wrong gauge for ‘how disabled’ I am. The real question, of course, is am I capable of being as functional as a non-disabled person? The answer, of course, is ‘no’. I’m really not. If I were to do more, I’d probably need assistance or accommodations. As it stands, my current level of activity requires that I basically spend hours every day lying in bed to recoup my energy.
One of my other problems is that I tend to look at each diagnosis on its own, rather than accounting for comorbidity. Perhaps having just one of my diagnoses wouldn’t be all that bad. But… the reality is, is that they all impact my life at the same time. And the totality of this will always mean that there’ll be real limits to how functional I am.
(Especially considering how few of my dx’s are actually being treated or are treatabled at all).
Another thing I need to keep in mind is that while I may not be ‘disabled enough’ to qualify for benefits (at least at the moment), I shouldn’t be gauging myself by the overly restrictive criteria by the state. I need to remember that many of the current policies exist as a way to create barriers of access (bc of the non-problem of freeloaders). The state doesn’t want to help anyone. It only does the minimum of what it needs to do (arguably not even that considering how they fail many disabled ppl who are receiving benefits).
This post is really a reminder to myself (and others) that comparing yourself to ‘more’ disabled people isn’t really the way to do things. The point isn’t that others can do less, but that you can’t do more.