Invisibility and Disability

Hey. I have to tell you something.

I’m disabled.

Yep. I know. Shocker. You wouldn’t know it to look at me; you might notice I’m missing my top teeth, or that I’m overly heavy even given my great height, or that I have thick-ass glasses, but none of those things really qualify as a “disability,” in any meaningful sense.

But I’m still disabled. I have bipolar depression. I have mild schizophrenia. I have asthma that packs enough of a punch walking for three minutes is almost outside of my ability, talking for more than a minute or two at a stretch is going to take a dose of albuterol, and anything more strenuous than either is going to lay me on my ass for hours or require a nebulizer treatment, which has its own side effects and risks that are almost as nasty as the root problem itself. My back is so out of whack that standing, sitting, and laying down have to be constantly switched between, unless I want it to seize up completely. I need surgery for my lungs to try to make them not degenerate any further. There’s medications for all these conditions, and I take ’em all, but they all add their own side effects and problems… like completely borking my sleep schedule, so I get maybe two hours at a stretch and have to go take two or three naps to get through the day. Fun stuff.

When people talk about disabilities, they expect people with big ass sunglasses who are blind, people who are missing an arm or a leg or have some other hideous and obvious disfigurement. They look at someone who looks mostly put together, and assume that person must be faking or lying… and usually aren’t shy about voicing that opinion and berating the person.

When you have a person like me, who has invisible disabilities and a nice bundle of mental illness with suicidal ideation, and then shit all over them because you think they’re faking it, or lying, or exaggerating, it’s not helping in the slightest. It only makes it worse.

So, for your good deed for the day, try not assuming you know what a disability looks like, or who has one, or what one might feel like. I’m not saying straight up “listen and believe,” because there are plenty of people who will pull the card for sympathy or an excuse, but I am saying “keep your disbelief to yourself, if you’re not a medical professional or working for the SSA or an employer’s disability claims department.” Because if you’re not one of those people, it’s really none of your damn business, now is it?

Sorry, everyone. Just feeling more curmudgeony than usual, I suppose. But, as noted, my lungs are turning to mush and they say I need surgery for it; if you want to help me get that surgery, consider stopping by my GoFundMe. It helps. Thanks, everyone.

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