As a disabled adult, I often fall victim to internalized ableism. I find my own biggest critic being myself. I read so many articles about the dangers of inspiration porn and the ableist struggles so many of my friends made. As a disabled person, I’m desperately trying to navigate a world that wasn’t made to accommodate me.
I’ve talked about being tired of talking about ableism. I’ve talked about self-ableism in the past, but I feel like it’s a subject that needs to be revisited. Because I live in a world where I’m constantly seeing headlines about disabled people doing amazing things or an able-bodied person doing something nice for a disabled person.
And in a way, it gets tiring. Because I don’t want to be anyone’s inspiration merely for being disabled and I don’t want anyone to take pity on me simply because I am disabled. At the same time, I struggle with the same issue. I will never be making headlines for doing impressive physical feats. While I do push my personal limits and I do surprise people with what I can do sometimes, what is the cost?
Because I live in a world where disabled people are often praised merely for existing, I find myself wondering when I will be enough. I struggle with self-ableism when I see other disabled people get jobs, graduate from college, or do other really cool things. I wonder why I’m good enough. I wonder why these people can achieve these things, but I can’t.
It’s April, which means it’s “autism awareness month”. I see autistic people praised for merely existing. I see autistic people painted as burdens and difficult to love. I see autistic people being both held up on a pedestal and thrown under the bus. There are all these messages about what it’s like to be an autistic person and what it’s like living with us. As I read all this, as I’m taking it all in… I find myself taking it in much more than I realize.
We talk so much about the dangers of ableism, but what about when the one who is most ableist is yourself? The ramifications are serious. Depression. Anxiety. Physical. Is there an answer for it? I don’t know what it is. But I do know that this is a very real problem that we need to shed light on and accept that it’s okay to struggle with the very same thing that we speak out against.