I remember sitting in the brightly lit room talking to my new Primary Care Physician (PCP). After a very negative experience with my previous provider, I had waited months to meet with this new doctor who came highly recommended. My hopes were being pinned to a white lab coat of a person I hadn’t yet met, but a doctor who everyone said ” truly understands” and doesn’t judge. Since my last doctor wasn’t able to even address my disabilities or how they impacted me there was still nervous apprehension.
I talked about the challenges of being able to care for myself lately and how I felt like a failure for not being able to work as much as my non-disabled peers.
“Your worth is not measured in the ability to work an arbitrary number of hours per week,” was her first response to me.
The biggest thing I’ve been struggling with is being kind to myself. I am aware I hold myself to higher standards than anyone else does and I don’t even hold others to the standards I make for myself. That’s an issue I’ve even faced with this blog. There are times when content does not come out because it’s not “perfect”, yet “perfect” is an illusion. Especially to an artist like myself.
There’s still a huge amount of internalized ableism that comes from being “passing” as not disabled and not receiving the appropriate services at a younger age. There’s a pressure, mainly ones we place on ourselves, to meet the same milestones at the same time as our peers or do things the way they do. The harm of using functioning labels is one that has been addressed multiple times by my peers. Those considered “lower functioning” have their strengths ignored while those “higher functioning” have their challenges ignored. This is a very real problem facing our disability community and one that advocates are trying to address.
2017 has not been an easy year so far by any stretch, but it has also already been an amazing experience. The only way for me to move forward and continue to thrive is to chip away at what has not been working. Sometimes we need to dig up the foundations in order to make the building more solid. Being kind and putting myself first is one of the ways I can start to take better care of myself.