To the Girl Who 'Wishes She Was an Insurance Risk Like Me'


I was just having a chat with someone – light conversation, nothing serious. It wasn’t anyone I knew too well; we were acquaintances at best. Sitting in class, talking quietly, the topic of afternoon sports came up. It’s compulsory at my school – once a week, for physical and mental health. He asked which option I took. I explained, quickly and without detail (I find detail tends to culminate in a science lecture and a therapy session) that I didn’t do sports due to disability. I described myself – with a slightly awkward laugh – as “an insurance risk.” There were a few seconds of quiet, a manufactured lull while he absorbed my excuses.

Then, another voice chirped up. It was another one of the new students, another girl finding her feet. She had been sitting, listening, doing her work (as I probably should have been doing!). She was probably waiting for a gap in the conversation to speak, so she could join in. With a vaguely nervous tone, she said, “I wish I was an insurance risk.”

Conversation killer. Silence, then the slow shift of eyes towards textbooks, focusing on the questions, rather than what had just been said.

I get it. I really do. You were probably having a bad day. Maybe you were tired; perhaps it was intended as a joke. But it didn’t feel like that. It felt as if all the energy I put into simply getting out of bed, all the time I spent at appointment after appointment, all the tears I’ve cried because it’s all too much – it was all reduced to missing a few sessions you didn’t want to go to.

What, for you, is probably an afternoon to muck around (maybe doing some work if necessary, and avoid being out in the rain and cold) is time I spend sleeping and catching up on study that I’ve missed. I have to do this. It’s not a choice I make willingly.

I love the idea of doing sports once a week – running like I used to – before I keeled over on the side of the road and had to stop. It sounds freeing, fantastically fun. Unfortunately, it’s not something I can do anymore. Even if I could drag up the strength (from somewhere deep within me), I wouldn’t be allowed. I’m an insurance risk: a liability.

When you say you wish you were “an insurance risk,” you’re asking to be like me. You’re asking to be disabled, and I don’t think you understand the consequences of that. I may be pretty good at covering it up but it still impacts me so much on a day-to-day basis. You not recognizing that – even in a moment of humor – invalidates my disability.

I can’t tell you this in person. Your intentions were (presumably) good, and you’ve never said anything like it again. But part of me wonders whether, if you read this, you could begin to understand.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via dolgachov.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

building on college campus

Dropping a Class Due to Illness Is Not Admitting Defeat

As someone who has lived with chronic illness for about seven years, many people expect I have everything under control. That assumption could not be further from the truth. My EDS, CRPS and undiagnosed autonomic disorder leave me never knowing what kind of day I will have. In August I started my first semester of [...]
woman in a gray hoodie sitting near the beach looking into the distance

Despite the Frustrations of EDS, I Still Have Hope for 'One Day...'

The thing about having a condition like mine, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, is that you find yourself perpetually frustrated. There isn’t a moment when you are not exhausted, in pain and struggling to focus. But with that comes the perpetual desire to do the things that healthy individuals are able to do – especially when you’re in [...]
student standing outside looking upset

The Struggle of Facing an Unknown Future Due to Illness in My Senior Year

I’ve always loved learning. Like, really loved. I thirst for every drop of knowledge I can get. But the past few years as my brain fog has gotten worse, I’ve had a real problem retaining and recalling information. It’s like I’m standing in thick fog and can feel what I need, but can’t see it. [...]
couple holding hands and walking on the beach at sunset

The Challenges of Telling Someone You're Dating About Your Chronic Illness

Let’s face it, dating is hard no matter who you are, but add a chronic illness to the mix and it can be nearly impossible. My love life is nearly non-existent, and all my attempts at dating have been a mess, and I know Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (and all my accompanying conditions) is partly to blame for this. [...]