Becoming disabled

dear fellow survivors, I have been minded for a while to start a thread on this topic, so here goes  permit me to think out loud, and I would love to have your thoughts on this. after over two years living with the effects of a  significant stroke. I have come to accept that I am a disabled person. I am recognised by law as such, under thhe Equalities Act 2010, and therefore enjoy (not quite the right word) various protections as under one of the protected characteristics. so far so good. but there are more cultural pressures to deal with than asserting ones rights under the law. and this is whatI have been learning in the process of becoming disabled. one is the model of the super cripple. the expectation that an impairment is a challenge that anyone with character should be rousing themselves to overcome . I have struggled with this and I do not deny or diminish the inspiration of those who have overcome adversity, but as someone recently put it there are no olympics for chewing and swallowing. or just plain getting dressed yet for many of us these hidden mundane things takeevery ounce of energy and courage we have, every single day. the lack of understanding in society and the valuing of those who have spectacularly overcome injury in my experience is disabling, and that is partly why I talk about becoming disabled. I do not fit into society as I  did before the injury. I am treated differently. sometimes with a kind of well meaning pity that makes me want to throw up. sometimes people want to help me. and I don't know how to turn them down without being rude, and often end up being curt. People sometimes feel they are entitled to touch me or take my arm, or leg to "help" me walk or negotiate getting in or out of a car. at one time any such intervention was very painful. particularly when my weak arm was suffering from subluxation. while this not the case now. these well meaning interventions are totally unwelcome and worse-humiliating. I have also come to be antagonistic ito that little word "just" as in the toilet is just at the end of the corridor, representing about a half hour struggle to walk that far. so these are just a few ways I am disabled by my community, and made to feel lesser because not able bodied. that's before I even get started on the world of work. I have though found it something of a relief to identify as disabled. my daughter recently came out as gay, and I think I shared a similar sense of relief coming out as disabled. I have only scratched the surface, and I am still learning about this strange new world I have been thrown into without my choice. I still strive to recover function where there is the possibility. but not to become normal whatever that might mean.

I don't know if any of that will make sense to any of you but interested to hear your thoughts. 

with best wishes 


Tony, Well said. Your post makes utter and complete sense to me and, as a gay man, I have experienced two comings out. The first coming out was,of course, related to sexuality, but that was a long time ago and,in many ways, not as bad as coming out as disabled. I do so identify with people’s kind but intrusive help. I hate being grabbed by the arm or even being touched in a kindly way. I can and will do things myself. If I cannot I will ask. I also take my time walking and, yes, it is often irritating when the disabled loo is a long way off or when it is engaged and you wait, only to find a perfectly able person come out or, if the loo also says ‘mother and baby’ a posh parent come out with a strapping toddler. At a service station the other day, I was patiently leaning on my stick outside an engaged disabled loo, when a woman passing by said, ‘The gents is over there’. I resisted a rude response.

My pet hate is people’s behaviour in supermarkets. They either place trolleys lengthways across sections you wish to access or march towards you with their trolley expecting you to give way. Fortunately, a disabled friend of mine told me some time ago, ‘remember you have as much right to shop as anyone else’. I can stand stoutly in the way of insensitive shoppers till they move and tap my stick loudly to get them to stir themselves. What larks, eh?

Hi JJM, I can't really believe that people would actually try to touch/move someone in any way, shape or form, without some kind of agreement that it's ok or required.  I seem to notice people more these days, but still, would never dream of stepping in to man-handle someone unless it was an emergency - or to assume it's ok to make a comment (re. "the gents ...") Maybe I'm just odd!!  

I also really dislike the habit of walking around a supermarket holding a steaming hot beverage in one hand, and phone in the other, whilst the trolley does it's own thing - think the sleep deprivation is making me cranky.  

I'm quite good at the withering glare - years of classroom discipline with cheeky teenagers!!