On Sunday, I was hanging out on Twitter (which I actually don’t do all that often anymore) when I saw a hashtag that intrigued me. I use TweetDeck so I clicked on it and it brought up a list of the tweets being done under that hashtag. The hashtag – if you couldn’t guess – was #ShitAbledPeopleSay.
Here are some of the ones I saw that I couldn’t help but comment on:
“Yeah you have [illness] but you don’t /really/ have it. My friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s niece has it much worse.”
“If you got out more, you could meet some people and I bet you’d feel better.”
“You wouldn’t be so depressed if you thought more positively.”
“But you don’t want to be on meds for the rest of your life; that’s not good for you”
And here are a couple of mine:
“Anxiety is all in your head. You’re doing it to yourself. Just don’t think about it & you’ll be fine.”
“Social Security Disability is only for people with REAL disabilities. Mental illness isn’t a REAL disability.”
Now, I know none of you, my wonderful blog readers, would ever pull stuff like this. At least not consciously. But you may do it unconsciously, without thinking about it, because society has trained all of us to think this way. I’m disabled and I still do it to others with disabilities from time to time. I’m not perfect, and I’m not saying I never do these things. I am no hypocrite in this. I make mistakes just the same as everyone else. But we need to be aware of these mistakes and move to correct them.
I’ve talked about invisible disabilities, and how those of us with them are often fed a lot of bullshit about how we’re not disabled. But I think about all of those people I’ve known with visible disabilities – my blind friend Amber, my deaf friends Kacey and Heather, my friend Cecil who was in a wheelchair (I don’t remember why off hand). They got saddled with so much crap it was appalling. We’re all in this together and we need to stand together.
Take to heart the fact that we need to be careful how we speak to each other, not just those of us with disabilities, but to everyone in general. Treat everyone with respect until they show you that they don’t deserve that respect.