Increasingly over the past few years, and particularly in recent months I have been criticised, and in some cases vilified, for the attitude I have towards my own disability. Particularly from those who also have a disability, who should know better. The following is something you've probably read from me before in different forms, but this needs to repeated yet again.
My disability does not define my life. I refuse to be known, labelled and identified by my worst physical characteristics. I also refused to be defined by the lack of control over my life (although I do have access to more choice that I had previously since moving into supported accommodation nearly 3 years ago). I refuse to wear my disability as a badge of honour. I am not proud to be disabled, and I never will be. How can I proud of something that has caused so much anger and pain to my family and I over an almost 32 year period?
I do not deserve special attention for simply living my life as a disabled person. For doing this, I am not your hero, inspiration, guiding light, or role model. I am simply a man who has made the best out of a shitty situation. Nothing more, nothing less. I am just doing what I'm meant to be doing.
I have a right to be angry about this situation. Failure to deal with this anger for the majority of my life was a significant factor in triggering my extreme bout of depression. In acknowledging this anger, I have not only become healthier, but it has enabled me to become a more well rounded person.
People who have come in contact with me may not understand or agree with any of the above, but no one has any right to tell me how I feel about my disability. No one can possibly understand, the good, the bad, the ugly, and introspection it has created. I have no right to judge any other individual with a disability, and their feelings about own individual experience, because their journey is vastly different than mine.
I am not disrespecting any other person with a disability because I have a negative attitude towards my own. Lots of people with disabilities have, and will continue to do great things with their lives, but they shouldn't be considered 'great' because they achieve these outcomes simply due to the fact that they have a disability. People with disabilities deserve equitable treatment. I am one of those people. First and foremost I am a human. Treat me as such, whether I have a disability or not.