All the fuss around the paralympics, which I have only been half watching as I have no interest in sport of any persuasion, has made me think about he representation of invisible disability. Reading Latentexistence’s  excellent post entitled ‘why the paralympics tell us nothing about most sick or disabled people’ has also spurred things on too.

The Paralympics – The Help Effect?

I also feel a bit nauseous from the whole ‘ohh aren’t disabled people wonderful!’ shtick from people who think that everything is now fine for people with disabilities and long term illness because a few exceptionally talented people are exceptionally talented at what is, to my non sporty mind, just a really fancy and expensive school sports day. Most of us however remain as boringly average and unremarkable as the vast majority of people without disabilities. People with disabilities can be mediocre too! Personally it’s possibly the one thing I do excel at.  As if the Atos logo everywhere didn’t make me want to projectile vomit enough now we have hordes of people who have no idea what it’s like to live with a disability or chronic health issues go all patronising by telling us we’re ‘inspirational’. I dunno, it seems a lot of the Paralympic hype is a lot of able bodied folk feeling better about themselves as they ‘just see the sport not the disability’ or whatever and having a big love in at being all non discriminatory and wonderful and telling people with disabilities that things will be great from now on ‘cos they’ve realised some people with disabilities can run fast and they’re totally like ‘normal’ people too. Call it ‘the Help effect‘ if you will. White people solved racism now able bodied people are solving ableism/disablism!

Scrounging Scum Redux

Meanwhile, the press is still full of the usual guff about ‘scroungers’ and benefits, ATOS still exist and are being their usual inhuman selves endangering peoples lives and livelihoods, the tories still exist, disability hate crime still exists,  bazillions of mediocre non athletic people with disabilities who’d just like to get on with life without having to fight for every tiny scrap of everything we get and not be either sainted for being some sort of ‘inspiration’ for just doing what we have to do and/or being an evil scrounger for doing what we have to do. Many of us are told we don’t have ‘real’ disabilities because we ‘look fine’. We even have the ‘overcoming depression to be an amazing winner ‘ trope in the media reaction to Victorian Pendleton’s admission of her past problems. The fact she was helped by a therapist swiftly provided for her by British Cycling is skimmed over whilst the rest of us grow cobwebs waiting for anything even resembling therapy on the NHS. Amazing recoveries and achieving against the odds are not the norm, framing these extraordinary achievements as ‘proof’ that many people with disabilities could really do everything if they just tried harder and we’re just lazy or seeing ourselves as ‘victims’ if we want any help to enable us to even attempt to live a half decent life, this rhetoric is disingenuous and dangerous, as skwalker1964 points out.

A return to normal telly

Also, I don’t like sport, some of it’s occasionally mildly interesting, but really I have no interest at all whether it be Olympic or Paralympic sport.  I resent the fact I should somehow view these people as ‘inspirational wonders’, yes they are brilliant and have done a brilliant job winning things but it’s still sport, something I have no interest in either taking part in or watching so it just doesn’t really inspire me much. I viewed being able to get out of PE lessons when I started to get ill as one of the few (if the only) plus side to the whole thing. Quite frankly I’m glad we have normal telly back now. Normal telly that has ooo fuck all people with disabilities shown in a positive light unless they have some big amazing triumph over adversity story arc and become some sort of human lump of amazeballs and climb Everest whilst solving global hunger and becoming the first person to find the secrets of the universe by racing round CERN in a wheelchair and colliding with a Higgs . Or are a dangerous nutter going on a rampage. gah. But hey some people with disabilities can swim/run/wheel/throw things/hit things/whatever really well so it’s all fine!

 

Edit: I have closed comments for the time being ad I have said all I can on the issues raised, which have been very triggering for me. I’m not willing to sacrifice my health for the blog. I shall hopefully post a follow up when I feel stronger but right now I need some time out.

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Comments

  1. Chris Ford says:

    I have just read this post having been directed to it via a fellow disabled individual I follow on twitter. I’d like to say I am utterly disgusted by your small minded view on what sport can offer to the disabled. I have recently had cancer spread from my brain to my spine leaving me in a wheelchair. The ability to engage in wheelchair sports has nothing to do with wanting to emulate the achievements of the Paralympics but I have been inspired by these individuals to seek out such opportunities. I would also like to add that I am on antidepressants but as a 23 year old who has twice battled cancer and now finds himself unable to walk I feel this is justified. Im sure you have had a horrific life that has lead to your depression but to refer to depression as a disability, I find personally insulting. Please email me, I look forward to a response.

    • Chloe Chloe says:

      Well this is going to be a long reply, you touched a rather large nerve.

      Firstly, not once did I say sport offered nothing to people with disabilities or seek to denigrate it or the opportunities and joy it brings many people, I just stated that it doesn’t do anything for me personally and that I’m probably not alone in this. There are many people inspired by the paralympics or who just wish to explore sport for whatever reason there are many who don’t, my resentment is with the assumption that I should be inspired by it when I’m not or view it as some sort of amazing new dawn of equality and acceptance when it is a step in the right direction, even a big one, but it’s not a panacea.

      My main point of attack was the people who have been using the paralympic success as an excuse to reason that benefit cuts etc are valid and to insinuate that because paralympian athletes can achieve such amazing feats that those who don’t, or perhaps most accurately those who can’t no matter how hard they try, are inferior, lazy or less worthy as human beings. The lazy attitudes of many non disabled commentators and general public who feel that by enjoying the paralympics and being awed by the athletes that that is all that is required to be ‘ok’ with disability and that whilst all the celebrations are deserved there is a real need to address the utterly shitty attitudes our society has to people with disabilities. Thinking Pistourious or Simmonds are amazing does not mitigate the fact that many people who think they are amazing also view many disabled people as ‘scroungers’ and ‘benefit cheats’ just as thinking Alan Carr is a funny guy does not make you a paragon of LGBT rights and mitigate the homophobia in society. Cameron and co have been using the paralympics to further their own ideology in which they seek to reduce or remove the help and support needed by millions of people with disabilities to function at the bare minimum, let alone compete in elite sports. Actually I lie, there was one moment of the paralympics I found amazingly inspiring and that was the booing of Osborne.

      It’s the whole ‘supercrip’ mythology which, whilst it appears wonderful on the surface, I believe is actually damaging as it is another example of disability being defined by those who are not disabled and then expecting disabled people to fit into a mould that bears little relation to their lives, damning them if they don’t and denying them access to support that they need.

      I am personally insulted towards your attitude to depression, depression can vary greatly and at its most serious it kills people. To say it is not a disability is horribly insulting to millions of people who struggle to live life with any sort of quality. Disability is not a top trumps where those whose disability is deemed ‘more serious’ get to look down upon those whose lives they assume are easier than theirs. I do not live your life so I am not going to assume I know how your illness and disability affects you every day or question your right to identify as disabled. I am a little insulted that someone who doesn’t know me or my medical history (which just so happens to go beyond depression and includes a spell of being ‘properly’ disabled in a wheelchair for a while, but that’s not the point) feels free to judge me and question how disabled I, or anyone else with a diagnosis of depression, is by their condition. Actually I am more than a little insulted, it’s ignorant, rude and prejudiced. I may look healthy and have few mobility problems but that does not mean I am not affected in my everyday life and that I have no right to refer to myself as disabled if I feel the term applies, as does anyone else. I have suffered with physical and mental illness that have both left me disabled in different ways but they have both had a profound impact on how I function day to day and one was not ‘worse’ or ‘more disabled’ than the other.

      I am intrigued by your used of the word ‘justified’, it implies you view yourself as ‘justified’ in taking anti depressants due to life circumstances but that someone without any such ‘mitigating circumstances’ is not; given that there is no known, definitive cause of depression, which is a serious illness in its own right, I find this puzzling. I find it especially puzzling as you know nothing about my life and what other illnesses or disabilities I may or may not suffer from, yet feel confident in telling me I am not justified in judging whether or not something that I, not you, live with every day counts as a disability or not.

      I don’t know if you’ve read about ‘opression olympics’ but it’s a theory that illustrates what I’m trying to get at. I am utterly sick to the point of not even bothering to be polite any more of the whole insinuation that mental illness is not ‘real’ or somehow ‘lesser’ than physical illnesses and disability and those those with mental illness are less ‘justified’ in stating the fact that their condition is disabling and that for all intents and purposes, according to the definition below, they are disabled. You do not get to define someone else’s disability for them, especially if you don’t know them, or assert if they are justified or not in referring to themselves as ‘disabled’.

      FYI:
      The definition of ‘disability’ under the Equality Act 2010

      In the Act, a person has a disability if:

      they have a physical or mental impairment
      the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities

      For the purposes of the Act, these words have the following meanings:

      ‘substantial’ means more than minor or trivial
      ‘long-term’ means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
      ‘normal day-to-day activities’ include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping

      According to that definition, which is the standard UK legal definition, depression is a disability.

      • Jaki says:

        Thank you for answering the person who doesn’t think depression is a real disability.

        I have to fight that kind of crap everyday. I’m 35 years old and have had depression for as long as I can remember. I can’t work and day to day life is a constant struggle. I’m on antidepressants (for 12 years now) and I see a psychologist (free: I’m in Australia)… But there is no cure for me. There is no “beating depression”. There is only trying to find a way to live my life with this illness. And it’s really hard and it costs me so much: it costs me friendships, relationships, time, money, hope, and the ability to live my life in a meaningful way.

        People say stuff like, “It’s not like you’ve got cancer” or “what have you got to complain about?” It’s not a competition.

    • Tayles says:

      Uh… you seem to be thinking of depression as ‘sadness caused by trauma or distress’. Which for some people it is. But depression is also a clinical mental illness caused by defective chemical production in the brain. This ranges from people like myself (ftr, I consider myself able-bodied with occasional brainfarts XD) whose chemicals are slightly off kilter causing bouts of depression and/or anxiety, to people whose chemicals are so out of balance they CANNOT LEAVE THEIR ROOM without medical and/or therapy help. People with these levels of depression can and often do hurt themselves in a number of ways, BECAUSE THEIR BRAIN TELL THEM TO. Their brain is working against them. Their body is working against them. And they are trapped inside their own defective body.

      That damn well sounds like a disability to me.

      Allllll that aside, I’m glad you’ve been inspired to take up wheelchair sports. I briefly helped out with a local wheelchair basketball team and the games could get really vicious but were a hell of a lot of fun, so I really recommend it!

  2. Emma says:

    I was getting really tired with the overarching overcoming adversity message of the paralympics. It presents disability not as a condition which is a part of the life of a person but as an obsticle to be overcome. I think every interview I saw could be boiled down to How did you become disabled and how has sport helped you to overcome that.

    It’s not only insulting and unrepresentative but I think it’s dangerous too in that when people see disability this way then see the person in the wheelchair who won’t even compete in the paralympics they presume they’re not working hard enough to overcome their disability. And even the people who can win paralympic gold, the fact that they have to live with their disability is ignored because they have OVERCOME it. As though being pretty good at swimming or whatever erases the systematic discrimination they’ll face in society.

    Then, of course, the BBC did a lot of back patting about how much more enlightened we are now and how we’re all so inspired. If we were really more enlightened the BBC would be discussing things like provision of wheelchair ramps, access to work schemes, provision of services within the NHS and how we can improve it, not just how we all feel better people now because this one time we watched the paralympics.

    • Chloe Chloe says:

      What irks me more is people like Cameron using it all to back up their benefit reforms and deliberate disabled hate scrounger rhetoric stuff saying ‘it shows what disabled people CAN do not what they CAN’T’ which is true but ignores so much, like what you CAN’T do being things like, erm I dunno participate in society as an equal. Or even get out of bed, let alone the front door.

      Yes it’s wonderful a lot more people now see people with disabilities in a positive light, but it’s such a narrow light and it’s still all defined from an able bodied point of view ‘ohhh look they can do sport too! how nice that makes me feel better!’. It’s good but it’s so superficial. I dislike the idea that unless you uncritically support the paralympic legacy you’re somehow against the whole thing. I just don’t trust the legacy of the olympics of the paralympics because I don’t trust this government and they are in charge of important things like benefit reform and equalitiy legislation.

      I just can’t separate all that, the gloomy reality from the whole thing, it’s always in the back of my mind no matter how awesome the athletes are and how people genuinely do seem to be more accepting of disability and inspired by it all. I just worry the acceptance doesn’t spread so far when people need support and help from the ‘public purse’, or worse still when people DEMAND the help they need without feeling acceptably guilty about it.

      If we were more enlightened the BBC and Ch4 etc might actually have some people with disabilities on programmes not about disability.

  3. Tayles says:

    I greatly enjoyed what I saw of the Paralympics, and I was awed by the talent these athletes had despite some rather large obstacles in some cases – there was a swimming competitor who’d had both arms amputated at the shoulder and he swam more gracefully than able-bodied me could ever hope to!

    It was inspiring as a nation to see how brilliantly our athletes – able-bodied and disabled – performed, and I did feel uplifted watching it.

    That said, I hate the representation of all the athletes as heroes, all of whom seem to have overcome something or other – I’m proud for them, yes, but the implication seems to be that we should all ‘get over’ things that impede us or hold us back in whatever way. On the one hand, the message that we can all achieve greatness if we put our minds to it is a good one, and everyone should believe themselves capable of amazing things. On the other, I don’t appreciate the implication that I’m just not trying hard enough. I imagine that would be even worse for anyone with a disability, especially ones who are currently facing benefit cuts at the hands of a company that is all too ready to deem them liars and frauds.

    The other thing you brought up, about the able-bodied backslapping over the Paralympics, well, as an able-bodied person who did cry when Ellie Simmonds got emotional over her gold medal, and discussed with awe the amazing achievement of the rider with cerebal palsy winning equestrian gold, I take a wee bit of offence to that, but I know what you’re saying. I’ve worked with disabled kids and have friends with various disabilities, so I’m not blind to the fact that the Paralympians are extraordinary cases, and I know that people with disabilities are often still treated poorly, subjected to abuse, or just plain forgotten by a lot of the able-bodied population. I do get the point you’re making, but I think at least the overwhelming support of the Paralympics (it’s the first time it’s received equal coverage as the Olympics, and the first time the events have all sold out) is a step in the right direction. If even a handful of the spectators go away with a new insight into the world of disabilities, or rethink the fairness of the current disability benefits system as a result of seeing what the Paralympic athletes have been through, then at least that’s a start.

  4. Chris Ford says:

    I don’t know enough about the reform to benefits to comment meaningfully, but I used some initiative and found the original bill because I don’t think you do either http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/5/pdfs/ukpga_20120005_en.pdf. It is very easy to base ones opinions on what they read in other blogs, but when these blogs are particularly biased and have in turn based their views on another biased blog, it somewhat leads to he perpetuation of false truths. I would suggest in the future you attempt to mould an opinion for yourself based upon primary sources, as it is apparent to me, mainly by the fact you have quoted other bloggers, that you are following the blogger crowd like some sort of bleating ruminant.

    I would hope that the replacement of DLA to PIP will not effect you personally, primarily because I am hopeful that you do not receive DLA. I assume it is more likely that your anti ATOS sentiments are born out of their assessments for continued ESA. I can assure you there are disabled individuals like myself who believe benefits are unfairly claimed in the disabled community and I in someway support the idea of assessments in which an individual must justify continued support, as circumstances can change. Payouts should match an individuals requirements and thus those who are most vulnerable and needing of financial support can receive it, possibly at the expense of “less” disabled individuals who may well benefit from the independence and social interactions that work provides. Or maybe this is just further evidence of your herd based mentality? Isn’t ATOS and Tory bashing trendy? Baaaaaah?

    I think my main problem with you is that you assume things without any evidence. I’m not sure if you have been stigmatised first hand by able bodied individuals for being “disabled” but I was unaware that such views were held by such a large majority of the able body population. I had not come across such opinions as an able bodied individual, so unless attitudes have radically changed in the last 6 months I thought the overwhelming attitude towards the disabled was one of support and respect, to think that able bodied individuals look at the disabled only as scroungers is outrageous and in my mind completely false. This brings me back to my primary difficulty with your article which is your incessant belief that you are disabled and trying to use this such that you can talk from a position of authority when it comes to the changing attitudes towards the disabled community as a result of the Paralympics.

    Firstly the definition of disabled you provide is self defeating, unless my understanding of the clinical features that depression presents are wrong, I was unaware that severe depression could lead to an inability to walk, feed yourself or go shopping? I accept that depression is a horrible and at sometimes debilitating illness, but disabled you are not. Would you walk in to a room of amputees, wheelchair users, short people and individuals with cerebral palsy and feel an equal? Would you feel comfortable pronouncing yourself disabled in front of individuals with learning difficulties, Autism, Alzheimer’s or Downs syndrome? I would hope not. You are probably unaware but the Paralympics has classifications for the mentally disabled individuals S14 in swimming and T20 on the track, these individuals often have severe learning difficulties and thus full fill the requirements of your definition due to cooking and shopping being impossible without healthcare supervision or assistance. Depressed athletes do not feature as a classification, probably because a large number of both Paralympic and Olympic athletes have themselves experienced periods of the disease. Anyway I am quite happy I “hit a nerve”. I assume this was not meant as a joke at my expense, as a spinal cord injury a large number of my nerves are damaged such that they are unable to transmit nervous impulses and thus such a statement is either extremely insensitive or merely a faux par on your part. I find it extremely difficult to read your repeated labelling of yourself as disabled.

    Requiring multiple nurses to shower, this is the reality of disability for me. Shitting yourself, again, because you don’t make it to the toilet in time, this is the reality of disability for me. Not being able to stand for long enough or with enough balance to give your parents and brothers the proper hug and reassurance they need, this is the reality of disability for me. Not being able to return to your job or participate in a majority of the activities you once loved, this is the reality of disability for me. Not knowing when you will next be able to go out for a drink with your friends as the bars and pubs you once frequented don’t have wheelchair access or disabled facilities, this is the reality of disability for me. I don’t see such issues or a majority of the other day to day issues that effect physically and mentally disabled individuals being a problem for you or others who are depressed and thus your constant infatuation with labelling yourself as disabled and talking about the stigmatism we face as disabled people, sickens me.

    I guess my main problem with your article is your assumption that exceptional achievement of a minority will result in stigmatisation of a majority due to the view that everyone should be capable of emulating such feats. I would instead argue from the complete opposite angle. What the Paralympics taught me and I hope what it has demonstrated to its able bodied spectators is that the Paralympians can achieve amazing feats, just like their Olympic comrades and thus although not everyone is capable of beating world records be that able bodied or disabled, the disabled community is just as capable of achieving in their own more modest environments be that the work place, in further education or at school just like the average abled bodied individual. Maybe this is just the opinion of at optimist amongst cynics. Maybe I am now expected to get a Paralympic medal as Emma suggests :S, maybe the success of the Paralympics has paved the way for more benefit cuts, as Chloe suggests :S, or maybe you are just both overly cynical about an event which has only had positive implications for myself and I would suggest a majority of disabled people.

    • Chloe Chloe says:

      Nowhere did I suggest that all disabled people will be judged capable of emulating such feats, but that the exceptional achievement of paralympians can be used as a tool to further this agenda that there are millions of lazy people claiming benefits for the hell of it and that they’re all personally ruining the lives of ‘genuinely’ disabled people when it’s genuinely disabled and seriously ill people who are being told they are fit to work. People have DIED after being declared fit to work, if you do enough research there are many harrowing cases of people’s experiences with ATOS.
      http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/latest-news2/work-test-not-fit-for-purpose
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/31/disabled-people-benefits-panorama
      http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.co.uk/ – is an excellent campaign.
      http://wearespartacus.org.uk/ – very informative about disability reforms and how it will affect people.

      I never once claimed to speak from a position of authority, all I have done is express my personal views on the matter.

      I’m not saying people don’t need to be assessed but the current system is not very good at assessing people and leaves far too many under a great deal of stress with appeals etc and being thrown off say ESA for example but being refused JSA as they are unfit to look for work for 40 hours a week. People end up in a no man’s land of not being able to claim anything, leaving them effectively destitute.

      My problem with ATOS is that their assessment is not fit for purpose and the government continued use of ATOS when they have knowledge of this. There have been two documentaries this year, on BBC and Ch4 that both uncovered what many have been saying about ATOS, that their staff are poorly trained with little specialist knowledge about many medical conditions and are under pressure to ‘pass’ people as fit to work when they are not. When peoples own doctors, GPs, specialists etc have asserted they are unfit for work and it is ignored in favour of what is essentially a tick box questionable on a computer screen. That and the fact ATOS government contracts are worth millions. My personal circumstances don’t come into it, it’s a moral issue. The fact that the DWPs own figures show that disability benefit fraud is 0.5%, yet the govt use a rhetoric of the ‘masses of scroungers’ and ‘taking something for nothing’. (http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/02/26/new-figures-show-low-level-of-benefit-fraud/)

      I find your continued insistence that depression and mental health issues can never be counted as a disability insulting still. Not once did I claim I, or any other depression patient or anyone else with mental illness, was servilely physically disabled or that it was akin to being so. I have never claimed to be ‘equal’ to anyone else with another condition or impairment, I would not say my disability was ‘worse’ or ‘as bad’ or whatever, many many people are far more disabled than myself but many people being more disabled than me and needing much more help and support, doesn’t magically make me fine or mitigate the disabling affect depression has on my life. I recognise different people can be disabled in a million different way and the severity of how it affects them and their ability to live life varies widely. By recognising that it does not in any way, shape or form imply I view having a depressive episode with being confined to a wheelchair any more than I view having the loss of one arm being akin to the loss of both legs and I doubt you , but correct me if I’m wrong I’m just making assumptions, would be as harsh or insist that the person with the loss of an arm was being ‘infatuated’ with calling themselves disabled and it was personally insulting to you them to claim the term when some people have lost both arms, or all their limbs etc. Why do you feel able to do so with a mental health condition?

      Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to go out an enjoy myself again without being hounded by suicidal thoughts or an inability to enjoy anything. Sometimes I can’t go out as the noise and bustle becomes too much and I can’t cope, the noise can physically HURT sometimes, I might become triggered by something, anything, something on tv, or an ignorant comment on my blog or whatever and it will send me off into an episode, Sometimes I have to fight urges to hurt myself and I don’t always succeed. I can’t concentrate on my work to the point I can read a page ten thousands times and have no idea what it says as my brain just won’t process the information. I wish I had a normal life, that I didn’t spend pretty much my entire teenage years at home being too ill to go to school and having no social life, that I missed out on the entire teenage thing of growing up, missing out on an education it took me years to catch up on as I was offered little support, refused an educational statement of special needs because I was ‘too ill’ so what little support I got was stopped at 16 despite the fact I’d only taken 2 GCSES. I never got the chance to go on a gap year like my sister, or feel able to move away from my home city and away from my support network. I lived away from home during university but could not have done so without my parent’s support and the fact I was able to easily go back home if I needed to, which I did often, I had to repeat a year as I had a bad patch of depression, worse than the usual. Those were the years my health was at its best. I have friends who have been in similar situations and their academic careers and attempts to get and keep employment have been affected severely by depression. My cousin’s friend died before the age of 25 because of depression. That’s just a tiny sample of the reality.
      Suicide is the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 5 and 34 (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health1/leading-causes-of-death/2009/leading-causes-of-death-in-england-and-wales—2009.html) around 90% of suicides suffer from a mental health disorder at the time of their death (http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/S/suicide/).

      I’m not asking for pity or doing a whole boohoo sob story, but that is my reality and it’s similar to what millions of others go through, it’s not unique and that’s why I get so angry and insulted when people like yourself who have no idea about my life feel fit to judge me and assume I am being an attention pity party seeking insulting whatever for claiming that living with a long term chronic illness or two is disabling. I’m not saying this is the same , worse or equal to what you or any other person with physical disabilities has to deal with but to say it doesn’t affect my day to day life is simply incorrect and a judgement you seem to be making on no evidence, which is rather ironic seeing as you have accused me of relying on bloggers to illustrate a point rather than official evidence; you seem to be relying on thin air and your own prejudices, unless you somehow have access to my confidential medical files or can magically assume all knowledge of my day to day life by internet osmosis. There are people worse than me too, people who are hospitalised for weeks, months on end. People who can’t fight the suicidal thoughts and take their own lives, people who can’t fight the urge to self harm and injure themselves far more seriously than I ever do. All that stuff isn’t a choice or something people can just ‘get over’ if they try hard enough. That is every day reality for millions of people.

      Shit like that, trying to define other peoples health and ability for them, imposing you views on people you’ve never met, hurts and has real consequences; http://www.rethink.org/living_with_mental_illness/everyday_living/stigma_mental_illness/

      I find it arrogant and ignorant that you feel you can tell people you have never met, indeed define anyone who suffers from a whole cluster of medical conditions, that you judge them to be unworthy of claiming the term ‘disabled’ and that you are offended by it when you have NO IDEA how things affect them in their day to day life.

      I am sorry for my use of hit a nerve, it wasn’t meant as a joke it was an unthinking use of a stock phrase which was not meant to reference your disability in any way. It was a stupid mistake and I’m sorry, I will apologise for that and if you thought I was insulting the paralympians or the paralympics in anyway, I wasn’t and certainly did not intend for it to come across that way. My issues are with the way it’s being used by some people to further their own agenda, which I believe to be harmful. But if you felt I was insulting them and anyone who enjoys sports disabled or other wise I apologise, it was not meant like that.

      The one thing I refuse to apologise for is referring to myself as disabled, the fact you personally find it difficult to read that or find it insulting is not my problem. I have never claimed to be severely disabled or physically disabled or equated myself with anyone who is or claimed my life is as difficult as yours or anyone else’s and that I’m somehow using the label for my own gain or whatever, that is something you have concocted yourself and read between the lines. The fact is I live with illnesses, including depression which is currently my primary diagnosis and (classed as ‘moderate to severe’ and treatment resistant if you must know) as the ME/CFS has improved a lot (I’ll happily admit I am not as disabled as I was and I am delighted about this but I remain far from 100% or normality or whatever you wish to define ‘not disabled’ as), that affect my ability to live my every day life, illnesses that are in essence disabling which dictionary.com defines as:
      verb (used with object), dis·a·bled, dis·a·bling. 1.to make unable or unfit; weaken or destroy the capability of; cripple; incapacitate

      Thus logic and language dictates that living with something that is disabling me makes me disabled. If I don’t fit your definition of disabled fine, but that’s your definition, not anyone else’s and certainly not mine. As difficult as your personal circumstances are they do not give you the right to judge other people’s lives and medical conditions and whether they consider themselves disabled or not based on how they measure up to your personal experiences of one aspect of disability; it’s quite frankly got nothing to do with you. Being disabled does not make you an expert on anyone else’s experience of disability/illness/life and their right to identify with the term. My experiences of having my life fucked up by illness, including mental illness which FYI has left me just as, if not more, incapacitated than any physical illness I have suffered. The I is key here, not you or anyone else, what I have experienced and how it affects my life. Because someone else has more needs than me physically does not mean my illnesses and symptoms disappear and they don’t have a disabling affect on my life, it might not be as disabling as someone else’s condition but is IS disabling, just as as disabling as your condition is I’m sure there are people who are able to do a lot less or who may be viewed as ‘more disabled’, it doesn’t make your disability less worthy or severe; it just means it’s different and you have different needs. I’m sure you would feel insulted if someone who is more severely disabled than you told you they were insulted you referred to yourself as disabled as you’re able to do certain things or they view your condition as not as severe as theirs. Not all disabilities are equal on a scale of incapacity, the care and help people need, the pain people are in, what part of their bodies they can move, or have had removed or didn’t develop properly, but they are all disabilities.

      I feel I have the right to call myself disabled due to my current circumstances,which you know nothing about yet feel free to judge me by what you ASSUME based on your own prejudices and little else what I am capable of or not, it doesn’t matter whether you find it insulting or not.

      You might also wish to look at the DDA, in which depression is specifically mentioned as being considered a disability, paragraph A5, here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/equalities/equality-act-publications/equality-act-guidance/disability-definition?view=Binary

      If you still wish to argue then I have said all I can and we won’t agree on this.

  5. […] my last post I suggested that some people were likely to use the paralympics as a political tool to demonise […]

  6. […] this sometimes makes me feel like I never quite fit in anywhere. I have been attacked in the past, see some of the lovely comments on this post for example, for not being disabled enough and told it’s insulting for me to claim the label and I have […]

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