Saturday, September 3, 2011

'Overcoming' Is Not a Moral Obligation

When you are disabled, there are a couple things that are expected:
a) people will say you can't do something
b) people will push you to do that thing anyway

And if people can and want to do the things they "can't" do, good for them. I support people's rights to push their perceived limits.

What I don't support is pressure to push any and every limit intrinsically or extrinsically imposed. Given everything else that we do (like having to fight for our right to be seen as human), developing a knee jerk reaction of "watch me!" when someone says that we can't do something is just asking for long term burn out.

Sometimes they're wrong, and we can do that. Sometimes we just can't, and that's ok. Sometimes we kind of can, but the energy trade off just isn't worth it.

Society demands that we keep overcoming, overcoming, overcoming. But we don't have to. Nowhere is it written that to be a really real human you have to brute force your way through your limits. Nowhere is it written that not doing so makes you less worthy. For most people, constantly refusing to acknowledge that you have limits is seen as a problem. We all have limits & we are supposed to acknowledge them, know where they are, work within them.

But when you have a disability, it's like everyone expects you to push past your limits all the time. They want to be inspired, or they want to not have to deal with the fact that a disability means "there are things I cannot and will never be able to do", even as they expect me to know there are things I can do that they will never be able to.

So we are pushed to keep 'overcoming', and if we can't we are failures and lazy. But if we can, we aren't really disabled. It's a no win either way. Our choices are be burned out or be looked down on even more, be told we aren't disabled because we can do xyz or because we can't.

Feh. That is all.


Anonymous said...

Finally, K has common sense! The physically handicapped aren't forced to go beyond their limitations, but the mentally handicapped (that includes language disorders) are forced to do so by those orthodox speech therapists who love to turn their clients into robots.

Neurodivergent K said...

Oh look! It's my stalker!


If I did, I would have emailed you back after any of your nonpologies, but I didn't, because you fucked up forever. Between being verbally abusive, vaguely threatening, and a creep, I don't want anything to do with you. Ever.

I can call your dad again if you want.

La Literista said...

Thank you so much for this. As a mother to a 5 year old with autism, I appreciate your insight. I struggle with this. There are times when I feel like push him too much to be "normal." And times when I feel like I don't push him enough. Am I burning him out, bombarding him with services? I don't care if he doesn't have a million friends, but I'd like him to have one if that's what he wants. Ultimately - I just want him to be happy.

alexclark said...

Great points.
As someone with an invisible chronic condition I want to add to this: just because someone looks 'normal' and able to do something, doesn't mean they are just because you want them to be/expect them to.

Diane Bluegreen said...

well said. i think i'm gonna print this out and show it to my therapist. i'm caught in the 'work really hard and get better so people will think it's easy for you and then you'll lose your disability benefits and be really screwed. ' rock and a hard place. can't win. damned if you do,damned if you don't blah blah blah. thank you for writing this!

Anonymous said...

I really like a lot of the points you made in this post. I would like to quote some of them on my blog with credit to you of course. Would this be ok? thanks!


Neurodivergent K said...


Absolutely, yes!

emma vanderklift said...

Love this, Kassiane. Just two seconds ago I had to respond to one of those positive thinking memes on FB that showed a goldfish with a shark fin strapped on that said "you are what you think". Just said something like "been there, done that, tried to pass - maybe the goldfish thing is just OK". And then your blogpost. (Big smile)

Unknown said...

Thank you so very much for this. I already have disabling clinical depression and chronic pain, and those are both made so much worse when people, even sometimes those with good intentions, push me to try harder. Thank you for putting my feelings into words so I can share them with others.