Coming Out as Disabled…

So yesterday (3/12/12) was the International Day of Disabled People, we’re also still in Disability History Month (22 November – 22 December) and for the first time in my life I am going to be a part of it as an insider as opposed to just helping other people organise events for this month. I shared my previous blog post (‘My Vulnerability and Shame’) with some changes and additions for liberateyourself.co.uk and on NUS Connect; the reason being that I wanted to come out as a disabled person.

After having re-read it, it applies now in my life more than it has ever before. On Sunday, during the NUS Black Students’ Winter Conference I attended and led three of the liberation caucuses which were women, LGBT and disabled students. I’m not going to lie, I was totally in two minds about staying for the disabled students caucus because whilst I am open about my mental health issues, I have never been open in front of large groups of people before. I mean, yeah I write blog posts about it and attend and lead events but staying in a room with my peers and friends that also identified as disabled proved to be an important and indeed empowering stepping stone in acknowledging openly my mental health struggle in more circles.

This struggle has taken a slightly different route in that I now define as being disabled too. Before my own personal journey, I never thought about mental health issues as being something that fell under the label of disabled. I think that’s probably to do with my own perceptions of disability. I mean we obviously know that there are many forms of disabilities that are both visible and unseen but I suppose the difficulty for me was that I thought I was the sort of person that could overcome anything and I suppose defining as disabled has forced me to re-think the perceptions of not only how I see myself but also how I see vulnerability, shame, strength and courage. It was also forced to me acknowledge that there are going to be times in our lives where we ask for help and that is not a bad or a negative thing at all and that when we do ask for help, it is not a reflection of ourselves in terms of our weaknesses and competencies but rather that we realise we cannot do everything alone and that actually we are stronger when we work together and also when we as for help.

So now, I define in all four liberation categories: Black, LGBT, women and disabled. It is an interesting mix to say the least but a mix that I mostly love. I mean yeah, there are difficulties with them all sometimes in terms of multiple discrimination etc but defining in those ways offers me a unique perspective on life that I just would not have had otherwise. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that without those various aspects of my identity I simply would not be the person I am today.

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5 thoughts on “Coming Out as Disabled…

  1. Nicely written, and ur guts is admiring too …

    but disability in definition is when a person can’t function as well as other “Normal” people ??!! I guess that would be the definition,,, but then excuse me what is disable ?? I mean who defines normal ? and what makes it disable ?

    I was just wondering and wanted to physic ur mind up !!

    1. Thank you for your comments. 🙂

      You’re right. That is a good way to define what disabled is and I do agree with you about what is normal and indeed who defines it too! It’s a interesting thought and something that I don’t really have the answer to…

      What do you think?

  2. I think if ” not being able to function the way you want it ” then you are disable eg. person has spine problems leading him not being able to walk ” and he wants to walk then I guess that him being disable, could be something to overcome, could be something impossible, so I think certain disabilities a person can remove easily if they count as “things that are stopping him/her from what they really wants” <<<=== applies to all sorts of disabilities

    made sense ?

    1. Ohh missing sentence =\

      ” remove easily if they count as “things that are stopping him/her from what they really want ” then a person is disable ( emotionally / physically / mentally )

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