‘How the fuck are you disabled?’
Among other questions, I’ve been asked this one a lot more often than I would like to admit. Even then, sometimes my answer isn’t taken seriously. Most would never admit their ignorance, but it often shows when they ask why I can’t do something; and the answer is obvious, but its clear that ‘I have arthritis’ isn’t a good enough reason sometimes.
I want that to stop.
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects every single one of my joints. Think of an everyday movement that requires use of non of your joints at all. There isn’t one. That is how I am disabled. Its as plain and as simple as that.
There isn’t just joint pain and inflammation to contend with though. There’s the fatigue, appetite changes, irritability, lowered immune system, weird unexplainable rashes.. I could go on. Those are all before the medication side effects, which is another topic for another day.
But its not all doom and gloom! I have good days just like everyone else. On somedays I feel super able and I can spend a whole day on my feet or sometimes go skating for an hour or two. I’m also not always miserable on bad days, I am lucky enough to have friends and family who will come to me and accommodate my neediness if I’m having particularly bad day.
If you ever need to have a conversation with someone about their disability or health condition, just be considerate and never EVER use the phrase ‘you don’t look disabled‘ because not all disabilities are visible!
If you want to read more about invisible illness and understand what its like on a day to day basis, I recommend reading this page by Christine Miserandino about Spoon Theory. This really helped a lot of my friends understand what arthritis is like, and also created a way for us to discuss how much pain I was in without me feeling like the serial complainer that I am.
I’ve ran out of spoons now.