I have been disabled for about 14 years of my life, I am 32. I wasn’t disabled for the first 18 years of my life, 18 years 1 month and a few days to be exact. I must go on to say, life was much different when I didn’t have a TBI. My thoughts were almost always clear, I barely had any worries (which is probably how I ended up this way) and I was constantly active. If I wasn’t in school, I was playing lacrosse, or breakdancing, or playing music in the various school bands or on my own, actually I did all of that in school as well.
Long story short, I got into a car accident and lost all of that. The recovery process has been rough, and even tougher when you’re not backed by a $2 million dollar insurance paid rehabilitation team. Well, what can I say; I was brutally rehabilitated for predominantly 8 years straight. I was rehabilitated through my completion of high school, and through my completion of university. At the university, the disability department did a lot of work for us, they literally were my best friends. But now that I am out of the university, and I see how everyone else treats me, and those disabled, it’s fucking repulsive.
It doesn’t help that my disability is an invisible disability, one that has been associated with mental health disorders, like Bi-Polar Disorder. What is even worse is that people assume that these disorders are merely people seeking attention or acting out, because quite frankly, those that are seeking an easy way out or copious amounts of attention and care use mental health has an excuse.
Students with disabilities have a lot on their mind, a lot of usually perceived as medial tasks are actually very important for our success. I’ll give you a personal example, I have trouble physically writing, it’s slow, messy, and very taxing and strenuous on my mental capacity/abilities. Not a lot, but enough that if I were already anxious about remembering information to regurgitate on an exam or test (hell, I even take quizzes that seriously). I also am trying to juggle all my courses, I have to make sure I have enough time to study, get home and to school, to the gym for my physical limitations, that’s not even including the renovation going on at my place that my parents decided to do not before, not after, but during my start of school. So we have a lot going on, not just our disability. our disability affects our entire livelihood.
So why can’t people understand that we are far from lazy?
It’s hard to balance the fact that as a student we are going to run into an assortment of problems so we need help, and yeah you’re disabled and you’ve got to learn to fend for yourself. In addition to the world perceiving us lazy, many people use disability claims as a crutch. They “pretend” they can’t do things because it’s so hard, they willingly be inactive, or sluggish. They yell at other people for special treatment because they are disabled, TheMighty.com had a compelling story of a women who was having a panic attack, due to needing a certain medication to regulate some physiological condition. She gets clouded, her mind get foggy, her words are faint and slow to come out, yet there was a woman who was using an assistive device (a scooter) just pounding and yelling at this lady to get out.
“I’m going to miss my plane, get the out of there right now”
Did she know this lady was disabled, maybe she was told. But when they had met face to face, scooter-lady and her sister scoffed at the remark. What even gets me is that the lady in the bathroom even felt so bad that she apologized over, and over. Yet that is how we are made to feel, as if we are a burden to being alive. I wrote a piece about a similar idea, survivor’s guilt. I mean, are we so much a burden to people that we don’t deserve the same treatment as everyone else? It definitely feels that way, and yet I sit here and I have the gall to think that we deserve to be here too. We’re alive aren’t we?
So to the school departments, especially in post-secondary education; you better take your job seriously. To the rest of you, especially those who use disability as a crutch, disabled people are going through a lot more than you are at the moment, so be understanding, maybe try to plan ahead; don’t yell at other people who may have an emergency. But if you are disabled, you deserve to be here, no matter how people treat you. I’m always considered the cold person, or the asshole, but what I have seen, what I have read and what I’ve been through made me this way.