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Why Are People So Afraid of Disability?

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I read a post the other day where someone was speaking about how ill equipped the world is for people with disabilities. Talking about how we are expected to deal with incomprehensible pain and suffering because the healthcare system cannot handle us. Then I see articles floating around about how doctors are pushing “pain acceptance” and the like. The world does not like that we want to be treated humanely. They do not know that we have already accepted our pain, but decided to do something about it. We have a voice.

The extent of the lives of those who live with any condition often comes down to the fact that we have said condition. We always know it is there, so in a way we are defined by it. Defined by it because it changes our lives. However, most of us choose to lead lives of joy and make the best of our circumstances. We live because the only other option is to wallow in the death of our old lives.

My mom recently had a benign brain tumor removed. It was a horrific experience with a lot of complications. She is healing now and doing well. The funny part to me is that she is super concerned about coming across as “disabled” or “slow.” It is ironic considering that her child, me, has chronic physical and mental health conditions. So what if she comes across as “disabled” (which she does not). I am disabled. Why is she so worried, so terrified of being disabled?

It is like disability is a death sentence to those who have never had to experience it personally. They do not want to be associated with it in any way. Sure, it’s fine if a family member is “disabled” because that’s their own problem, isn’t it? I believe this horrible mindset we as a culture have about disability is why we have so many inaccessible buildings, disapproving doctors and no access to helpful medication. Why? Why are we so often ostracized, even from the ones we love?

I personally do not understand the mental view that comes when thinking about disability. We are warriors. We fight like heck everyday, but to the outsider, we are something to be avoided at all costs. On the rare times I complain about my disability, my mom tells me, “it is what it is.” So it is my burden to bear, but everyone is going to make it as difficult as possible? It just does not make sense. When I have to go over my diagnoses at medical appointments, she tells me she forgets everything I deal with every day until it is listed out.

I feel like it is my fault that she forgets, because I choose not to complain, even when she complains about her temporary problems. I choose to suck it up and make the best of the life I have. So when people talk about disability like it is the plague or tell us just to “accept” it, I want to scream. Most people with disabilities already do this. We already know this. However, we also know that we have just as much right to get quality treatment as anyone else. We have just as much right to be looked at as a person, not a label on a chart. I am not a disability. I am an individual. Please remember that.

Image provided by contributor.

Originally published: January 24, 2019
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