Disabled. Spoonie. Chronically ill. These are just a few ways those of us with a lot of health issues identify. I prefer to be called “Differently-abled.”
Years ago, my husband and I talked a lot about my new status as “disabled,” telling him how I felt that saying I was disabled seemed inappropriate and didn’t really fit me. Some of this is my own acceptance of being labeled as disabled (it’s really hard for me to even write that – it feels so wrong to me). But I know from all the inner work, if I don’t like that framing, I don’t have to use it. So I don’t use it. Unless I have to for forms. In real life, I’m differently-abled and using humor to get through it as often as possible.
In seriousness, using that word to describe myself feels like I’m taking something from people who have physical or intellectual challenges in much greater ways than I do. There is a spectrum of disabilities and while mine are serious enough that I can no longer work a full time job, I still have so many capabilities and abilities. On good days, I can walk a mile without severe pain. Some people are never able to do that. Most days, if you saw me, you’d never know I deal with all the things I do. My issues are hidden in plain sight.
This status label also raised the issue with the word “disabled” altogether. The term itself can feel oppressive. Even though I have days and weeks when I’m not able to do things, and I’ve had to modify a lot my physical activities, and can’t work….there are a lot of things I am ABLE to do. I would bet that even someone in a wheelchair finds that label disempowering. So I’m figuring out my own label that feels more comfortable for me.
Differently-abled now has become a catch all for my quirkiness or clutziness. When I spill coffee on myself two days in a row….I know it’s just because I’m differently abled. 🙂 For those of you with health issues, how do you label yourself?