Humiliated. Ashamed. Embarrassed. These are words that are synonymous with disability in my mind. I hate this about myself. I want to be confident in my disabled body. But it is so difficult.
I do want to say that this is my personal views. There are so many amazing disabled people out there who are confident and love their disabled bodies. I definitely recommend seeking them out, especially if you’re disabled yourself. They offer tips on how to love yourself the way you are.
Before I had my last spinal surgeries I was having difficult time walking. Because of this, I would fall. A lot. Several times a day. I would fall in a busy college hallway. I noticed other students would avoid eye contact and just walk around me struggling to get up. Teachers would stop to help me. I hated people ignoring me, but I also hated when someone would stop to help. I was mortified that I fell.
A lot of the mortification came from the act of falling itself, but I also was embarrassed because I know it’s much more entertaining for them because I’m fat. You know the joke. You’ve seen the videos that get shared on facebook where innocent fat people are just living their lives, but it’s somehow entertaining to skinny people. We’re just big jokes. Add the disabilities (that were mostly invisible at the time) I had a difficult time just existing.
It’s not just the humiliation amongst peers. There’s also a special type of humiliation that comes from doctors and other medical staff. The humiliation of them not believing you when it comes to symptoms. To them not listening to you. I had an intestinal blockage a few weeks ago and I had to go to the emergency room twice within 12 hours for them to finally admit and treat me. I was released the first time because they wouldn’t believe that I was in the type of pain I was in. They weren’t trained in GI issues, and they wouldn’t listen to me.
I used to wish that my disabilities were more visible, but now that they are, I find that it’s just as humiliating for me. I use an electric wheelchair now. I was in the grocery store a few months ago and a couple of boys (who looked around the age of 10) were following me around snickering and taking pictures of me. (On a damn Nintendo DS of all things.) I just ignored them, because what else could I do? Make even more of a fool of myself? Become one of those viral videos of a fat person angry?
There’s a million other experiences I’ve had that have left me feeling ashamed and humiliated.
I know I shouldn’t feel these things. I should be strong emotionally. Be a warrior. But it’s so damn hard. I think I’ll get there one day. I have gotten better about some things. I no long care when medical staff have to examine my naked fat disabled body. I’ve gotten a little better about standing up for myself to doctors. I can talk openly with anyone who is curious about my various disabilities and chronic illnesses. I attend therapy and I’m working on it.
I think society needs to change though. I know that it’s going to fall on our (the disabled community’s) shoulders to change it. I don’t know what I’ll (we) need to do. But something has to change.
I’m sorry this post is rambling and not very eloquent. I can’t write those type of posts that are short and to the point. If you’ve read this, thank you. Sincerely. I share this in hopes that there’s someone out there who feels a little like me and they know they’re not alone.