I have grown up disabled. I have no idea what it’s like to be able-bodied, although my health has certainly been up and down and I’ve had periods of being more able bodied that other periods. But I’ve grown up disabled – always sick, always weak, always in and out of doctor’s appointments. It’s a part of my life I’ve just had to accept and roll with. Sometimes literally. One of the attitudes I’ve gotten, in both real life and my internet life, is that “disability is a challenge to overcome.” If only people knew that this demeans the impact disabilities have on my life.
You see, this really belittles how difficult it is to have disabilities. While I straddle the line of visible and invisible and feel like I’m trapped in two worlds, I’ve seen the ableism that exists on both sides of the coin.I’ve seen what it’s like to be believed because it’s visible, and doubted because it’s not.
My low vision? More than just a challenge to overcome. I can’t see well. My vision sucks. I need help going places because I’m liable to run into things. I can’t read bus routes anymore. My print is all enlarged. This is not just a challenge.
My anxiety? SO much more than a challenge. You can’t see it. You may think that I just need to suck it up and go to the dentist or get over my social fears. But I can’t. It’s not just a challenge. It’s a matter of learning to live with it, learning to cope, and learning to work around it and with it.
I cannot overcome it. It’s not just a challenge. It’s me at my core. It’s who I am. I can choose to embrace it and make the best of what I have – sometimes overcoming, sometimes not. Both options are okay and fully acceptable. Both options have value and merely. But do not demean me and tell me my disabilities are simply a challenge to overcome. Because they are so much more than that.