*Trigger Warning - Suicide*
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this new pain clinic I have been going to, namely the ways in how I cope with my situations, circumstances, and disabilities outside of medication. This has become more important lately with how much extra pressure my physical health has been putting on my mental health. I have been evermore limited in the things I usually do to cope and that has taken more of a toll than I could imagine. As it always goes, the things I took for granted became apparent when they were taken away or made that much harder to achieve. I had to find new pleasure in smaller victories or often I would cave and buy something shiny and new just to give me a little positive anticipation and a small feeling of hope. Fortunately I was in a position to do that, I know many aren’t this lucky. I can’t count how many times I’ve felt that desperate clutch of hopelessness. I have been more suicidal while frightened to die than I have been in a long time.
Activities, relationships, and routines can be so important for people of varying abilities. A loss of routine can easily spiral in to a loss of self, of identity. Activities give me a sense of hope, of pleasant anticipation (albeit not fully). It is so much more than just doing a thing, it is a purpose and then a sense of achievement. It is a connection formed, an idea sparked, and possibly a decent conversation. It is a relief from the pain, from the monotony of being confined in one way or another. Relationships are important for everyone but even more so to those who are differently-abled. I have pushed people away because I was ashamed that they would see me as something other, something less. I didn’t want them to see how bad it was because I was afraid of judgement and pity. I didn’t want every conversation to be centred around what I can no longer do. Outside of the spoonie community it is rare to find anyone who would be as proud of you as you are of yourself for getting dressed that day, or doing the small mundane thing that terrifies you. Relationships can be hard for those with varying abilities, especially those with hidden impairments as the curious nature of people means they will naturally seek to understand which often puts us in an educational role. I’ve lost count of the times people have asked me what my disabilities are in casual conversation. Then comes the uncomfortable task of trying to condense my incredibly complicated array of symptoms in to one easily understandable summary, which usually fails miserably.
I know all too well that people can harshly judge that which they don’t understand, and that is something that people with varying abilities, especially those that are invisible, navigate on a daily basis. Judgement from the person watching you get out of your car to see how disabled you are because of the space your blue badge allows you to occupy, judgement from the GP because your complicated list of problems is too long for the time slot, judgement from the specialists or ER doctors because you have to list all your conditions and medications and one person couldn’t possible have all these problems... Every day people live with being judged by society for a variety of reasons, none more so than those in marginalised communities, and when those marginalisations intersect it can create a much harder world to find a sense of self in. The daily battles fought fraughtly against pain, nausea, fatigue, spasms, depression, anxiety, irritability, inability, exclusion, hopelessness, and loneliness only gets that much more complicated when we add judgement and insensitivity in to the mix. I don’t want able-bodied and neurotypical people to be more sensitive because we’re special little snowflake millennials or whatever ridiculous way to describe younger generations has been concocted, I want them to be more sensitive because it costs very little and our lives are hard enough without being constantly invalidated at every opportunity.
And I thought it was just about finding a way to cope with my physical pain.