My Disability Is Not Your Problem

I could stop the post with just the title. Pick any one of my disabilities/health issues, or any combination, and then realize: not your problem.

I suspect this needs more unpacking, though, because I’ve encountered various forms of resistance. Some people get defensive when I need to take care of myself, and some people want to do too much for me, and some people think “people like me” are dangerous.

So, for the first: If we’re doing something together, whatever that thing may be, and I realize I need to stop doing the thing in order to let my body rest, I will say so and do so. This is not about you. It does not make you a bad person, whether you continue on with said activity or not. It simply means my body needs to rest. Often I can’t walk very far, and I definitely can’t walk very fast most of the time. Sometimes this is a knee/hip problem, sometimes this is an ankle problem, sometimes this is a migraine problem. Whatever the case may be, if I need to stop, I will, and this is about me, not you. It doesn’t mean I think you are a horrible person. I don’t think you ‘made’ me do anything. I simply must listen to my body or face more serious consequences later (and by ‘later,’ I might mean ‘in five minutes’). And in most cases, I will have some form of solitary entertainment with me (phone, book), so I will be fine on my own while you have fun completing the festival/fair/mall/etc. (The exception to this: sexy times, during which I likely won’t have a book {unless we’re reading sexy things to one another?}, and in which case I’m sure we could work something out.)

For the second: There’s a lot I can’t do a lot of the time. Right now I have arthritis in my neck in such a way that using my shoulders/neck can cause a really painful all-day migraine the next day. So I have to be careful. That said, there are things I can do, and I really hate feeling useless. Doing AllTheThings for me because of my potential for pain means I’ll likely end up sitting here feeling like a burden to everyone around me, particularly those who live with me. Let me do things that I feel I can do. If it turns out they cause me pain–then let me find something else I can do. But let me do things! I want to be useful and helpful.

For the third: There’s a lot of stigma surrounding people with mental health issues. We get pigeonholed a lot as dangerous, criminal, etc. However, the vast majority of us really aren’t. For my part, I am every bit as capable of thinking through complex issues and arriving at peaceful solutions as the next person–possibly more so, given the gun- and prison-loving nature of the USA. I’ve graduated at the top of all my classes, including #1 in graduate school. I’m a theologian. I support gun restrictions, Black Lives Matter, police reforms, liberation theology, inclusive and intersectional feminism, womanism, consent culture, inclusive sex education at all ages, mental health awareness and education, ecotheology, RACK and SSC, polyamory…. I support conflict resolution and learning when to walk away. And, while a lot of these things may be ‘dangerous’ to the status quo, they’re not violently dangerous; they’re not criminal. And they do not have a thing to do with my mental health. My mental health status is one part of me, not my totality, and so to label me as a danger purely because of that is to miss all the other things about me.

In sum, my disability/ies is/are not your problem. I’ll take care of me, and I want to be useful, and I’m not a danger. If I need help, I’ll ask. In the meantime, let’s enjoy one another’s company.

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Experiencing Depression

One of my favorite Vloggers, Laci Green, did a pretty personal vlog on her channel, Sex+, about her own experience with depression. It’s worth a watch:

She’s right when she says depression is isolating, just like TheBloggess is right when she says that depression is a lying bastard.

It’s hard to remember, in the thick of it.

For me, this most recent experience of depression has existed as a series of dips along a continuum. I can’t remember when I first felt myself falling into the hole…it’s been a really long time. I’ve been here for a really long time. Sometimes, the hole is deeper and darker than other times, and I feel like it’s so dark I can’t see the way out. I have suicidal ideation. I feel like no matter how hard a light shines, it cannot pierce the darkness. And then…somehow…because I make myself talk to Eren or Zyn, because I make myself move away from my brain long enough and focus into movies for six hours instead of staring into the heartache of racism and sexism/misogyny and transphobia and heteronormativity and monosexism, of staring into all the ways I’ve failed to be perfect….

Somehow, I come out of the deeper pits.

I’m still in the gray, though. I get a little higher some days, and some days I remember what it was like when I felt like I could touch the sky, what it felt like when the wind brushed my skin and sunlight poured in.

I think part of this is that so many days, I have trouble even moving. I would like to get out more. Heat exhausts me, and we’re being slammed with heat waves. Sometimes reaching down hurts. Sometimes walking hurts.

And I am riddled insecurities–that I read so much and post so many readings that my friends are annoyed, that I ‘love’ or ‘like’ too many things on various social networking sites, that I clog my friends’ feeds.

It makes it difficult to do what I’d like to do with this blog–more in-depth posting, less personal posting. I need to dig into things, and keep up with my academic things for that. Instead, I’m listless, and reading so much to run away from my brain, and then feeling empathic pain from much of my chosen reading, and then doing neither the digging in nor the posting.

I’m trying to remember to be compassionate with myself. My wife is certainly compassionate with me. I’m trying to remember that not everyone is completely irritated with my lack of ability to do anything, or disappointed in me.

I’m trying to figure out if there are triggers for some of these deeper pits. I think there are, for some of them. Some of them seem (for now) unavoidable. Others mystify me for now.

My experience with depression is much like what I think (without re-reading) this blog post probably reads like: a lot jumbled, as my mind tries to skitter away from things I need to examine in order to repair myself. I have at least e-mailed a therapist.

I am hopeful for more and better posting as I find my way out of the depth and gloom.

Observation Bits

I want to write more–I always do–but pain and fatigue have kept me from doing much of anything this week, including attending a friend’s wedding. So instead, I’m posting some brief observations–things that I may at a later point delve into deeper, but for now will just comment on lightly.

It is always weird to get calls from people who call my spouse by her legal name. Then I have to think in my head, “Purposely misgender her to this person, because they possibly do not know.” Usually this is the case with doctors and the like, since we live in one of the states that doesn’t have workplace protections for transgender individuals. She’s not ‘out’ to her work yet because of this, and so we haven’t done legal name-change things yet.

One of the ways I know my spouse has a fantastic partner: if I say something on here that worries said partner, she comes to me and asks me about it. I am so incredibly grateful that we both have someone who communicates so well in our lives–that is key to successful polyamory, and is one of the markers of her beautiful personality.

Being in chronic pain/fatigue has me questioning my symptoms. I have ideas about what may be going on, that perhaps there’s something with A Name here–but I don’t know if that’s a wish to have a Named Thing so it’s easier to talk about, to tell doctors and family and friends about. On the one hand, it would suck to have a Named Thing, because no one really wants that. But on the other hand, it would really…help, if all of these things were part of a Named Thing. Ferrett Steinmetz has a fantastic essay about this.

I wish I had a better way to wrap this all up, but given that it’s a loose collection of observations, perhaps a loose wrap-up is okay. I will do better next week. Also, I am looking into moving into a domain soon, which may involve a bit of bumpiness as I transition my site–I’ll keep you all updated.