ablest, ablism, autism, bipolar, community, depression, disabled, disablity, inspiration, martyr, mental health, mental illness, mentally ill, neurodiversity, neurotypical, schizophrenia], writer, writing
I don’t think of myself as the most educated and updated person when it comes to all the issues regarding feminism, racism, transgender, disability, LGBT, etc. I care about all of these issues, and I particularly care about equality, but it is hard to keep up with the latest concerns, language, etc. inside each of these movements (and I realize that many of these issues intersect with one another).
There has been a controversy in the disability community about a site I write for called, The Mighty. The Mighty is being called out for not hearing the voices of the disabled, and instead posting mostly articles by caregivers with an ablest perspective, or a mommy martyr perspective, or exploiting the vulnerabilities of people who can’t speak for themselves (don’t worry if you have never heard these terms before. I read most of them for the first time yesterday, and I felt like I had been living in a hole in terms of the disability community because everyone else was using them frequently).
And my last sentence in brackets is what has me being thoughtful today. It is true, I don’t know everything going on in the disability community, and I should, or at least I should know more. How can I claim to be an activist and an advocate if I don’t read, read, and read some more about what is happening to the very community I am a part of? I can’t.
Besides the issues I listed before, writers with disabilities are claiming that The Mighty publishes mostly “inspo porn” (inspirational porn). People are speaking out against this because they say it simply exists to make abled or neurotypical (for information regarding the neurodiversity movement click here) people feel good about themselves, and another way to exploit people with disabilities (the idea is, we don’t exist to be other people’s inspiration).
Okay, I am beginning to deepen my understanding here. I wonder though, where does my voice belong? I am someone who has a disability, and my particular disability is supposed to be one of the most severe in terms of mental illness. I want to write things that give people with schizophrenia hope. I want to write stuff that is inspirational. My whole goal in keeping this blog is to help people see people with schizophrenia as their neighbor, or their friend, or their hairstylist, lawyer, etc.
I have a diagnosis that is often portrayed as someone who is a mass murder in the media. Rock bands use people in straitjackets and asylums to sell albums. It is common (like daily) to hear language that is insulting to the mentally ill. These are big issues to overcome, and my main goal is to get out a new message about schizophrenia, and to report the alarming statistics and conditions many people with schizophrenia live with. I don’t know if with all of that, I can also worry about trying not to be someone else’s good feeling or inspiration. I am afraid that I might be a disappointment to the disability community as a whole, and it won’t be intentional, it will just be that I feel like schizophrenia is so far behind the train of acceptance, equality, lack of stigma, etc. that we don’t even see the smoke from the engine. Until we can see that smoke, I simply can’t take on every issue in the community.