Sunday, May 02, 2010

What's the point in making vows you're never going to keep?*

Yesterday was the 4th annual Blogging Against Disablism Day, hosted by it's creator The Goldfish. In typical fashion I am a day late. I am claiming the extra day as a 'reasonable adjustment' under the Disability Discrimination Act. I'm confident of success as it's a dual claim on behalf of myself and the hamster which lives in my computer and makes it work. The hamster was buckling under the strain of a clogged hard drive and refusing to be evicted virus, so felt life was no longer worth living and booked it's flight to Switzerland. After some serious surgery and time in intensive care the hamster is still poorly but feels life is now worth living and has given me it's permission to apply for a care package and cancel the Dignitas trip. 

When I've not been busy persuading the computer hamster that suicide is actually painful, I've also been wondering what I wanted to say about disablism; other than it's a rather cool internet invented word. It is though isn't it? What's less cool is that a bunch of cripples on the internet had to come up with our own word for the discrimination faced by disabled people every day because disablism is so far off the radar for most people that it didn't even have a proper 'politically correct' name. No wonder disablism is still struggling to take it's proper place amongst the other discriminisms. And yes, I did just make that word up too. I'm on a roll here. Well, I would be if the provision of wheelchairs on the NHS wasn't in and of itself disablist, but as it is you'll just have to imagine the rolling bit.

Being disabled is hard, not so much down to the obvious reasons such as physical limitations or mental health struggles; though they should be challenging enough, the invisible reasons are the really tough parts. It's one thing to have a poorly leg but quite another to be told by the world that that poorly leg makes you a lesser person, a person who can't go the same places as other people, not because you have a poorly leg but because those places don't see why they should enable poorly legged people to access them. There is a certain look which crosses the faces of the able  when the differently able speak of the way the world treats them. A look which says you are over reacting, over sensitive, it's not as bad as you say, and after all, you are worth less than  the able so you should satisfy yourself with what you have and be grateful for the concessions the able make for you. 

And you know what? They're right, it's not as bad as we say. Actually, it's far, far worse. Just ask the wheelchair user refused access to a flight because he couldn't climb the stairs, even after he offered to use his arms to climb them; the mother who felt her only option in life was to end life for herself and her daughter, that death was the only way she could ensure the safety of her child; the man kept as a slave and tortured for his disability benefits; or the former marine** blown up in the service of his country then told his prosthetic leg would give him an unfair advantage.

*With apologies to Frank Turner for the blatant title song lyric theft
** Discussion about accusations of 'advantage' start at 02mins12seconds


madsadgirl said...

You are just so right about things being much worse than we talk about them being. If we told it as it really is people just wouldn't believe us at all. Mental health problems can be even worse than physical ones sometimes. It's the fact that they are invisible that means that the general public have just no idea of how difficult it is to live with such disabilities and how it can affect every minute of every day and yet you try to carry on, rarely asking for help because you know you won't get it or will be considered as some sort of freak.

madsadgirl said...

PS. I'm glad that the hamster has rediscovered the will to live.

seahorse said...

Yes, it is worse. Only people don't believe us. No imagination, see.

Anonymous said...

It's not a coincidence that I have EDS, or we're both northern, or we're short (I'm dead tall compared to you mind, short by "normal" standards, but you are pocket sized-I'm 5'2") it's not a coincience that I was born in the mid-70's.

All that.

BUT I like Frank Turner (no one knows who he is) how can we both be bendy and like Frank Turner....HOW?! I am the bendy short freak who likes Frank Turner, get yer own guy! :p

hhahahahahah, OOh combining short stature, uber-bendyness and cool taste in music, we gotta be a catch, right?

Fire Byrd said...

You are an inspiration BG. I've been doing a lot of work recently with people who have become disabled for various reasons and I'm trying to help them find a way to come to terms with what has happened to them.It is work that I know will take a very long time. Just as well no-one I work for worries about what I do so I can control the number of sessions I give!
But when I talk to these people (using that word not as an insult against disability but rather than clients) Then I often have you in mind about how someone has come through something fighting and on the whole coping ( ok I know there are bad days) and doing your best to do something about it.
I know personally it takes a long time to deal with not being physically 'normal' anymore. But I just hold on to the fact I'm alive when it's a tough time.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Madasagirl: I couldn't agree with you more x

Seahorse: Enough to almost pity them for it hey ;)

Anon: I blame GangstaGuy for my current Frank Turner obsession, I'd not heard of him before. Long live the queen is such a spoonie song though! Where abouts in the lovely north are you?

FB: Thanks lovely. I think you nailed it in that last sentence, when it's tough, just holding onto being alive is enough until it gets less tough. Hope all is less tough for you and yours atm. BG Xx

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks for the post, good luck on the wheelchair, the NHS seems to pay people who work there so how come giving accessiblity aids takes so long?

And yes, it is so much worse, having to beg and plead to get on planes, being told you have an unfair advantage, yes, yes, really the thing comes down to: you are different, so I am going to use this rulebook to make sure you don't come near me.

It ills me. Thanks for posting it.

Vi said...

Wow Bendy, I just love how you can go from joking around one minute to hitting us with the cold hard truth the next. Love it xxx

Vi said...
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