Sunday, 19 January 2020

Let's Talk About Internalised Ableism

By this point I think a lot of us are aware of what ableism is, the discrimination against disabled people, but what about internalised ableism? It's a topic I've been wanting to tackle on my blog for a couple of years now, it's a complex subject however and not always the easiest to explain but I'm going to have a go at doing so today and talk a little about my experience with it. I don't claim to be an expert, these are just a few thoughts that have been circling about in my head!


I think I probably come across as someone who is 100% empowered by their disability but I'd be lying if I said internalised ableism isn't something I struggle with still. I think I will never stop having that voice in the back of my head questioning my disability, and really that's what internalised ableism is. Internalised ableism is in short disabled people believing the assumptions that society makes about disability, it's me thinking I don't need a wheelchair because I can still walk, albeit painfully and not further than the front path outside my home. It's me thinking I would struggle to find a partner and would find myself single forever. I know deep down that none of these things are true, I do need a wheelchair and of course I did find my partner but as long as ableism exists in society, that voice in my head will too.

Internalised ableism can be just as dangerous as ableism though, it can stop us asking for the things we need and can really damage a person's self belief and esteem. I wish I'd accepted I needed a powerchair far sooner, but I believed so strongly for so long that powerchairs weren't for people like me. Even now I occasionally wonder whether I truly need it, and maybe I should test how far I can walk, when it reality just walking around my home is a struggle. I could have claimed back years of my life if I'd been able to accept my need for a powerchair sooner, but thanks to internalised ableism it took me far longer to reach that level of acceptance. In the end it was thanks to other disabled people on social media that I realised that wheelchairs weren't just for those with paralysis, without that encouragement and acceptance from others I don't think I would have taken the necessary steps to get my life back.


Ignoring the voice in my head can be really difficult some days but surrounding myself with empowering people, both in my everyday life and on social media has made a big impact. I make sure that my Twitter and Instagram feeds are full of empowered disabled people who love their bodies. Doing this really showed me what was possible and fought the message society had fed me about disabled people being less than. It helped me to see that my life is not a tragic story or something to be pitied by others, that I didn't need people's sympathy. Fighting those societal messages is a never ending battle though and one I think I'll be fighting for the rest of my life. But, as time goes by I get better at listening to the truth and prioritising what I need and believe over what society wants or thinks. I trust that I know better than the ignorant lies society spreads about disability and disabled people.
SHARE:

6 comments

  1. I get this. My husband moans because I will empty the washing machine, but in my head I just want to do it because I can, never mind that it hurts like hell and I will suffer for it. Also, I walk a little around the house and I often think that I should just go out there and walk to the end of the street, which is bloody ridiculous because I can't even walk the path to the car without help. Internalised abelism is the pits and I'm not sure if it ever goes away, especially if you've not always been disabled, or you have some sort of ability. Last year I turned down the offer of a lift and a wet room being installed in my house. I was so stupid, thankfully I saw another occupational therapist and I'm now on the waiting list. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy I'm sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you're on the waiting list now! I've definitely delayed or turned down things that would help me, out of denial. We absolutely aren't alone in that!

      Delete
  2. I suffer from this every time I go out in my powerchair because I don't need it all the time, but then I think of the things it's allows me to do and it makes it a little easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really struggled with that at first but like yourself, I just remind myself of all the things I can do now thanks to it!

      Delete
  3. I am so glad to see someone highlight this. I have MS and chronic pain and the doctor's keep telling me not to get a scooter or an electric wheelchair because I'll loose muscle faster. The problem is my pain is the thing slowing me down, I can walk short distances before it cripples me. I don't have a car at the moment and I can't leave the house unless my husband is home from work to push my wheelchair. Granted with the help of my new amazing walker that turns into a wheelchair I am slowly doing better some days but the reality is I'm mostly isolated at home unable to even go to the shop. I thought I didn't deserve to use mobility aids because I needed them because of my pain and not muscle weakness. I'm slowly realising that only I get to decide what I do and don't need and not the doctors. Their comments have been so damaging but it should be about my quality of life. Well done on a great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well said! Doctors are knowledgeable but they aren't living in our bodies, they don't know the pain we go through. We shouldn't be trapped in our homes for fear of losing muscle if we use the mobility aids that would give us our lives back!

      Delete


Blogger templates by pipdig