Over the last seven years in which I have been fighting this rare condition, I have had to come to terms with a lot of new aspects to life. Including the acceptance of losing the power in my legs, giving up certain aspirations, hopes and hobbies and getting used to new adaptions I now need in my life.
However, one thing I will not ever come to terms with, and will never understand is how other people in similar situations to myself can accept being called words relating to “disability”
To me, this word is just another way of calling someone ‘incapable’ or ‘broken’. All people who are associated with this word lack sufficient physical, mental or learning abilities and are considered as ‘incapable’ of achieving to the same degree in life as someone who possesses this ability. On the contrary, people who have full ability to achieve these challenges are well capable and are known as “able-bodied”, re enforcing my reason of hatred towards this word.
I for one, and many other wheelchair users do not meet the requirements that I think “disability” translates to have. I have a brain, a well working one, as do others in my situation; I have my opinions as do others and managing a two-year diploma in journalism, couldn’t be achieved if I was “unable” or “disabled”. But this label is still forced on me because physically, I am in a wheelchair – so that must mean I can’t partake in essential activities in life. Is society so shallow as to let someone’s physical ability be the determining factor for their overall ability, or in this case incapability.
All my family, my friends and some acquaintances know I HATE this word, and under no circumstances am I to be mentioned in the same sentence, or else there will be war.
I am a fairly independent person. I don’t like being told what I can and can’t do ‘for safety reasons‘, or having someone else dictate how I live life based on my physical abilities. Perhaps my resistance to being labelled has something to do with the age I was diagnosed and when my mobility started to decline; the fact that I have lived over half of my life with no mobility problems or reins on my choices in life based on my physical capability, or maybe it was because I have a degenerative disease where my mobility declined rapidly regardless of what I said or did to try prevent it. Unlike in an accident where the impact is instant, this condition broke down my mobility bit by bit, year after year as I innocently watched on.
I don’t want to be associated with a word that is used so loosely by others that defines something as being ‘broken’ or “unable”. ‘Disability’ has become cemented into society to describe those with impairments, perhaps as a result of the community being seen as too weak by others to have a say for themselves, we aren’t seen with enough respect and entitlement to make our voices heard and have an opinion on matters which affect us. When it comes to issues regarding our quality or way of life, other people seem to be making those decision for us, oblivious to the insensitive approach and how it makes some of us feel because THEY ARE NOT US! I seem to be the only one who disagrees with this practice.
It is impossible for someone to go from able to unable through the transition to a wheelchair. It is stupid for someone to be categorised as “unable” because of a physical degeneration, or is that the ignorance in which our society lives in; to have people assume they have the right to label me with words I do not agree with based on how I am presented
If no one else is willing to stand up and make an impact on society, to make changes to the treatment towards “disability”; then I guess it’s down to me. However, I can’t do it alone.
I want to stomp out the word ‘disability’ and all words connected. Replace them with words like ‘impaired ability’, ‘impairment’ and more friendlier words that are less likely to form a stigma of “unable being” and result in a more fair and equal society towards us all.