Saturday, August 28, 2010

-Being Disabled-

I am disabled.  I've been disabled 'legally' since 1999.  I've been disabled as long as I can remember.

I  have been diagnosed with epilepsy, major depression, anxiety disorder, spondylolisthesis in my L5 and S1, and recently, RSD.

Some how, something in my life has made me believe that being 'disabled' is a bad thing.  That 'disability' is a dirty word.  Every time I walk into a doctor's office and check off the box that asks me what my work status is, I feel ashamed.  Every time someone asks me what I 'do for a living', I am embarrassed.

I did try to go to college, and it was obvious the first day that I was different.  I had to explain to my roommates what epilepsy was, what my seizures might look like, and why it was important that I took medicine.  On top of that, if that weren't embarrassing enough, I had to explain that if I had a seizure for more then 5 minutes, I had an emergency medication (what I refereed to as butt Valium) that needed to be administered anally. 

I only last one semester.

I tried working part time- and soon found that my seizures were not cooperating.  To make matters worse, I began to have anxiety attacks.  I soon lost my last job.  I was working as a librarian, working 2 hours a week.  The administrator asked me come into the back room, and asked me if my medical issues were going to become a problem.  I knew he wasn't supposed to ask me that question, but anything I said outside of that room would be heresy.  I quit there, on the spot, and walked home.

Soon after I applied for disability, and was approved.  My life was forever changed.  Some family members treated me different.  As if I was leaching off their tax dollars. Some treated me as if all of a sudden my IQ dropped 40 points.  Some didn't understand why I was disabled due to the lack of a wheel chair.

Even to this day, people ask me what makes me disabled... I start to tell them, and I see the half puzzled look on their face, and feel like I should stop.  I get embarrassed.  It has taken me years to find friends that truly accept me for who I am, and a man that loves me, and stands by my side.  I dated people before, and the minute they heard the word disabled, could not get out the door fast enough.  

Today, I understand I will probably not work a 9 to 5 job.  But I have found things I am able to do.  I am a great artist on the computer, and I am a full time mom.  So, when I am asked what I do for a living, now I check 'homemaker' and I feel a little better.  
Does it effect you?

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes! I've worked since since the age of 12 doing paper rounds and part-time jobs. I left school at the age of 16 because my father had just died and I was the eldest. When my first husband decided that after, 12 years of marriage, having our first child was a commitment too far, I started my own business - and then became disabled. Like you I suddenly felt as if society looked upon me as the lowest of the low. I went from being a fairly confident, out-going, happy person, to an inward looking agrophobic (I still don't go out unless accompanied by my lovely second hubby. I now live in thge middle of no-where, where I don't feel I have to explain myself.

    That said, ten years ago I began to study for a degree through the Open University (distance learning). I had a break for a couple of years when circumstances became too hard to cope, and returned to my studies in 2007. I'm proud to say that I finished my degree this summer with First Class Honours :) I'm now trying to find a way to study for my MA. What this has done for my self-esteem is immeasurable. I plan to work as a freelance writer in the future, I've also built up the confidence to chat to the on-line OU community (which I will miss more than I can say). Is there anything similar to this in America? If there is I'd recommend it. For the first time in years I feel as if I'm worth something.

    I'm glad you have found your way of accepting who you are. You write a terrific blog which is reaching a lot of people and saving them from feeling alone with this. Keep up the good work!