Anyone who wants to argue otherwise is free to do so in the comments area below. I’ve been disabled all my life and I have yet to encounter a situation or task that was easier to accomplish because I use a wheelchair. It will never happen. I live in a wonderful time with much technology and opportunities at my disposal. I am not bed bound, and confined indoors, but still, being disabled is not a way of living that I would recommend to anyone. I saw a headline that mentioned a newly discovered disorder called Body Integrity Identification Disorder, where people ‘desire disability’ and will amputate themselves or do other similar actions to achieve that goal.
I have not yet been able to delve further into ‘transability’ because the idea that someone would have the compulsion to live a disabled life is so foreign to me, it almost offends me. The thing about disability (well this applies to everyone, not only the disabled) is that there are always people worse, or better off than you. People say look to those worse off than you, and you’ll be happier or grateful. This doesn’t really work for me, because I end up feeling bad both for myself and others. I cannot attain happiness because I am spared someone else’s pain. Empathy doesn’t work that way. Having a disability negatively affects almost every aspect of life, some folks are better at overcoming their disability than others. This depends on what kind of disability you are dealing with, its severity, your living situation, etc.
“Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.” ― Haruki Murakami
I kind of agree with that quote, so perhaps I am an ass hole? However, feeling sorry for yourself is a natural human emotion, it stems from sorrow, and the hope that things should be better. I think anyone should be careful that we don’t let the self-pity consume us, because then we run the risk of bitterness and other qualities that signify being an ass hole. Now let us further explore what it is to be disabled. Having a disability while having access to great technology and a good support system of family and friends is wonderful, but being disabled is not something that only affects one or two parts of you, such that the rest of you feels whole, it really affects one’s entire being, so even when externally things are going reasonably well, or OK, internally anxiety is still there. We have to work intensely to increase our level of autonomy and independence. This struggle creates anxiety.
You wonder so much; wonder if you went into some magic device that made you able, would your chances of success at life suddenly skyrocket? You wonder if you would finally land that job. You wonder if that woman or man you love would see you in a new light. You might wonder what it would be like to dance. You wonder what it would be like to wake up one morning and have normal control of your body. You wonder if you’ll ever get strong enough to overcome your extra limitations. You wonder what if you develop a disease like cancer and if you’ll ever survive it on top of your disability. You may wonder if you’ll ever move out from your parent’s home.
You’ll wonder if you will ever find love when you’re jaded about your own worth. You’ll wonder how to approach dating, so she or he won’t be a nurse or caretaker for you, because you don’t want to impose that on a person you love, you want to be a provider and a nurturer. You wonder why a broken body also means a broken spirit. You wonder how to fix your broken spirit when it is part of a broken body. You wonder what it is like to parachute out of the sky, and if the acceleration will help you forget your body. You feel the only way to be the best version of yourself is to be able bodied. I once had someone affectionately remark something similar to the following: Oh you guys are so kind. Thinking back on it now, I am puzzled by that statement.
What could there possibly be about disability that makes someone predisposed to kindness? Even if there was something, it doesn’t mean that if I had full abilities, I would be any less kind than I am now; and having a disability does not mean I am always kind or gentle. I have found a few things that are a solace: humor, science, and friends (and family). Humor, because it is great for every situation, laugh at yourself more and you’ll be less jaded. Science, because it is an important ally to help disabled people gain more autonomy in our lives, and may someday end disability or augment bodies and minds to overcome limitations. And lastly, friends and family are important because we need human interaction and support just like everyone else. Never choose disability if you don’t have it.