Playing The Devil's Advocate When Talking About Able-Bodied People Dressing Up As Disabled People For Halloween
In one of my previous opinion pieces I stated that people should not dress up as a disabled person during Halloween. Sometimes people dress up as disabled historical figures and don’t even realize it (and it isn’t even their own fault to some extent). That is because some famous people with invisible disabilities have done a good job of hiding their disabilities, thus giving the illusion that they are not disabled. This is where I think we shouldn’t criticize people for dressing up as historical figures that have a disability. One rule of thumb I go by is “If this person was able to get to where they are without support programs for those with their disability, would they still be successful?”. Another rule of thumb is asking,” When can you use person-first language to describe the person and also have no descriptors change”, that is the time when it is ok to not criticize others who dress up as a historical figure with a disability for Halloween. If at least 10% of all adults have an invisible disability, you are likely to find a handful of people dressed up as historical figures with learning disabilities at any Halloween event.
Whenever people talk about Elton John, Edward Snowden, and Julius Caesar, all epileptics, their disability is almost never mentioned in the conversations about them. One could call Greta Thunberg an activist instead of an autistic activist: since anyone can memorize the amount of CO2 a sweatshop produces. One thing people in the United States don't talk about when mentioning Greta’s rise to fame and success is that she is a “nepotism baby”, even though she attributes her success to her autism. Also Elton John’s, Edward Snowden's, and Julius Caesar's epilepsy didn't get in the way of them doing their work at the height of their careers. Almost all the people dressing up as Greta Thunberg, Julius Caesar, Elton John and Edward Snowden aren't doing so to mock disabilities. In their context, those people are dressing up as famous influencers whose achievements define them more than their disability.
However, unlike the celebrities above, you cannot separate Helen Keller from her disability while having a conversation about her. If Helen Keller didn't have a disability she would just be known as a woman with a university degree. You also cannot separate Temple Grandin from her autism when talking about her, as her autism has played a huge role in her inventions. If Temple Grandin didn't have autism, she might have just been a veterinarian instead of someone who revolutionized the way livestock are treated and cared for.
Another problem within the Halloween costume debate is when able-bodied people treat adaptive equipment like accessories. I've heard of stories of “emotional support peacocks” and “emotional support pigs” pooping on planes, which can lead to people questioning the legitimacy of actual guide dogs. People who need adaptive equipment to do regular tasks is another situation when a person can't separate themselves from their disability, even if they are able to hold a regular job. An example is Walter White Jr from Breaking Bad. Despite the fact that his personality has a bigger influence than his physical disability in terms of his relationships with other people, he couldn't do every day tasks without his adaptive equipment.
Mental Hospital Tycoon; A Total Insult to Mental Health Patients and Professionals Alike
Who doesn't love a good tycoon style game? You get to manage a business that you'd otherwise never get to manage. You get to exert some control over something in the midst of chronic illnesses that constantly threaten your grasp of controlling the circumstances of your own life. It's an escape. Sometimes medical based tycoon style games like Project Hospital, for instance, are quite therapeutic as you help find diagnosis for patients and build a facility that you wish could be accessible to you somewhere. It puts you in a place of figuring out a diagnosis when your own is so complex that even the best doctors are still going "heck if I know!". It's sort of a break from your own illness firna moment and instead of the constant endless loops you face with your illness, you find yourself facing someone else's but there's a linear process to discovering the source of the problem. If life only worked that way all the time!
But then comes the misuse of the format. Recently I was on the Play Store when I came across a game that says "build your own mental hospital". From the get go it sounded cringy to me. However, a game in which you create a mental health facility is not at all a bad idea. It would empower patients to create the types of environments we want to really see and possibly give insight to professionals about what may really be beneficial for us and helpful if it let us design treatments etc. But this is not that game. It depicts stereotypes and not just stereotypes, but the blatant mistreatment of those with mental illness and further stigmatizes them. The game features restraints holding people unwiingly down onto beds, lock ups, beatings, patients escaping and stealing trucks on a joyride, features patients reminiscent of a band of stereotypical mocks of absolutely inaccurate depictions of mental health conditions, treatments that not even some of the worst former institutions would utilize, and altogether is a dangerous perpetuation of a stigma that still results in needless loss of life for those suffering from mental health conditions because of stereotypes like this that make people afraid of seeking mental health treatment. This depiction of a mental hospital is downright irresponsible, insulting (both to patients and mental health professionals alike), and quite dangerous should a child be exposed to this and think this is the standard treatment of the mentally ill in our society or that people with mental health conditions are to be feared, treated as inferior, or abused and it's all just par for the course, fun and games, etc. Perhaps the most disturbing overtone is that the patients deserve what they have coming.
What's your take?
Is it just a harmless game poking fun at the most serious parts of life to take the edge off? Or is this a problematic, dangerous depiction that should be removed from the Google Play app store?
I am embarrassed about this problem, but I am putting it out into the universe to hold myself accountable. I struggle with micromanaging my adult offspring who goes to university. Maybe not quite as bad as it sounds. They have learning disabilities and mental illness and are going to college. I have the password to their campus account and have helped them stay organized and with assignments when they want. But they are getting older, better mental health wise, and they need to be more independent. I have been pulling away my support because I know I need to. They want me to. I know they have work due tonight, and I am holding myself back from calling them and prompting them. They know I am here if they need me. Whether they complete the work, pass or fail, it is their life, and they will be ok. They have to grow up and figure things out and choose when they want help or not. They need to fail sometimes and just work it out. I know this sounds like something that should be easy and that I can be a helicopter parent sometimes. I think the experience of starting college during COVID and the stress that caused for us didn't help. Anyway, please don't judge I'm just a mom struggling to be better. Wish me luck. I will let yall know how it goes.
Medical assistants and optometrist aren't ophthalmologists
Finding things so hard
My mum passed away in May and 10 minutes after her funeral my partner suffered a stroke. I haven't had time to grieve for the loss of my mum. My partner is now home from hospital but obviously his recovery will take some time. My daughter is autistic and suffers with other learning disabilities aswell as anxiety and depression. I'm working 60 hours a week and just struggling to be ok. I have bipolar 1 so the last thing I need is an episode. There's no one to talk to and I'm feeling completely alone. Just want to disappear and now it's starting to sink in that my mum's gone. There's a lady at work who keeps picking at me and I just don't know what to do anymore.
I had a TMS consult today. Will be starting it in August for OCD! And off label C-PTSD as those two disorders are very intertwined for me. I did it for OCD and bipolar depression last year with success. So here’s to hoping it helps again!!
#MentalHealth #Disability #Anxiety #Autism #ADHD #BipolarDisorder #LearningDisabilities #TicDisorders #AnorexiaNervosa #SensoryProcessingDisorder #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Dermatillomania #GenderDysphoria
It’s been a minute
How is everyone?
If you haven’t noticed, I changed my name and pronouns on The Mighty (and in my real life too). So I wanted to re-introduce myself: I’m Kaden! I have NVLD, mental illness, and other neurodivergences.
Happy disability pride month too! I just had a new article published, not NVLD specific, but about disability pride:
This Disability Pride Month, I'm Celebrating Being Myself