Life with a disability is interesting. The first thing I can say is: Having any kind of limitation is an emotional roller-coaster. In my mind, there are many voices that are constantly processing information. Most of that information is environmental. The first voice says: “I’m just as capable as anyone and I don’t want any help.” This mindset is destructive when a person has the desire to be independent but has no idea of his or her own limits. When you add that information to an environment of paranoid family members and friends who don’t want to let you do anything because they are too afraid you’ll fail yourself… it’s anything but healthy.
Every disabled individual has a dream that is exactly the same as any other person that has no limitations. In my experience, when you’re disabled, you are always looking over your shoulder. You’re always overcompensating for what people think of your limitations. You, if you’re smart, are fighting hard to preserve your pride. The one thing you are always aware of is other people. I find myself wondering often about what picture “disabled” people represent. We have a long way to go in terms of fair representing “disabled” people. We have seen the blind person, the braces guy, brace-crutch guy, the wheelchair man, the convulsion child, the dysphoric person. However, we have yet to see a disabled person like me. I am rare. I haven’t spent my life in a wheelchair. I’m fortunate that I don’t rely on many assistive technologies. I don’t need a person to watch after me, if I happen to be left to my own devices. There are very few portrayals of the disabled that truly emulate my position or station in life.
I’d like to know when I’m going to see a black disabled person who ascends to greatness. It’s easy to make a story about down syndrome, the special olympics, and wheelchair bound individuals. I’m no Helen Keller, but my story is just as epic and necessary to tell.
There are days when to be disabled is very lonely. Many people aren’t going to be friends because they believe you look weird. Being disabled also makes you an easy target for mental and physical abuse. Hollywood has yet to write a story that includes that piece of puzzle. I think that maybe a picture like that is just a little too vulnerable.
It’s not all blue. It’s important that I’m a creative person, and that I have an intimate relationship with music and art.
Depression and anxiety are sometimes a part of disabled life. It’s not that it just magically shows up. It’s that depression and anxiety materalize when social connections a few.
A disabled man or woman is a person. This personhood highlights the need for social ties. Disabled people must graduate from the world of isolation. They must migrate away from the prison of the “outcast” so that they might have a more fully-involved adult life. If the disabled person you love is capable of more than what he or she is doing right now, it is your job as caregiver, parent, and friend to propel them forward.
A person that is limited physically or mentally must have creative ways to stimulate growth. My creative passions are writing, music, and song.
When I get down, I thank God for all the gifts he gave me, and I dance. I still have hope and more than that I have a testimony!