Monday, January 1, 2007

A Whole Other Universe

I'm not sure where this piece originally came from, but it does a great job in highlighting the differences between `normal' life and the lives of people with disabilities. Differences that really have nothing to do with our disabilities and everything to do with people's attitudes to our disabilities. This is what happens when people are dehumanised and have little control over their daily lives. This is what it is to be `othered'. Any `tragedy' in our lives comes from this, not from the disability itself.

“You and I”

I am a resident. You reside.
I am admitted. You move in.
I am aggressive. You are assertive.
I have behavior problems. You are rude.
I am non-compliant. You don’t like being told what to do.

When I ask you out for dinner, it’s an outing. When you ask someone out, its a date.

I don’t know how many people have read the progress notes people write about me. I don’t even know what is in there. You didn’t speak to your best friend for a month after they read your journal.

I make mistakes during my check-writing program. Someday I might get a bank account. You forgot to record some withdrawls from your account. The bank called to remind you.

I wanted to talk with the nice looking person behind us at the grocery store. I was told that it was inappropriate to talk to strangers. You met your spouse in the produce department. They couldn’t find the bean sprouts.

I celebrated my birthday yesterday with five other residents and two staff members. I hope my family sends a card. Your family threw you a surprise party. Your brother couldn’t make it from out of state. It sounded wonderful.

My case manager sends a report every month to my guardian. It says everything I did wrong and some things I did right. You are still mad at your sister for calling your mom after you got that speeding ticket.

I am on a special diet because I am five pounds over my ideal body weight. Your doctor gave up telling you. I am learning household skills. You hate housework. I am learning leisure skills. Your shirt says you are a “couch potato.”

After I do my budget program tonight, I might get to go to McDonald’s if I have enough money. You were glad the new French restaurant took your charge card.

My Case Manager, Psychologist, R.N., Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Nutritionist and house staff set goals for me for the next year. You haven’t decided what you want out of life.

Someday I will be discharged - maybe. You will move onward and upward!

-- By Elaine Popovich

And this is my comment/addition to it:

Yes. Yes. Fucking damn it. And then people have the bloody nerve to assume that our depressions, our breakdowns, our bitterness is a result of our disability.

I have hydrotherapy, and can only use hospital pools. You go swimming, and can use whatever pool you want to - and can choose the one with your desired gender to admire.

I have respite care (and am someone that others need to have respite from), you have holidays, and can choose where to go, and earn enough to have that choice.

I have recreation options, you have hobbies, passions, activities you choose to do.

I have to justify my existence to every badly behaved troglodyte who thinks they have the right to ask me what is ‘wrong’ with me, you have your privacy that you can take for granted.

I have to be aware of all of this every damn day, you take your dignity for granted, and don’t have to be aware that not everyone can do so.


elmindreda said...

Very well written, both of you, and curiously similar to something (much smaller) that I never got round to publishing yesterday.

Book Girl said...

Thanks. And, go on, do publish your piece. :-)