A meme I recently saw come across my Facebook timeline really pissed me off. It was originally posted by David Wolfe, the man who does the NutriBullet infomercials and generally spreads a lot of woo around on Facebook. Anyone who looks at his feed regularly can see that he’s all about erasing disability. He’s shared plenty of “disability is just a mindset”-like memes in the past, and he generally just pisses me off. And it’s not just what he posts, but how many of his followers treat his word like gold.
The meme that made me write this was posted last week and has been shared by several people on my friend’s list since. It reads, “Never own a disease. Reduce the amount of time you talk about being ill. Refuse to allow illness a place in your consciousness.”
Screw that shit big time. For a few reasons.
First off, I would love the luxury of not thinking about MS. It would be great to go back a few years and not have to go to sleep thinking about whether my legs are going to work right the next morning without my cane. I’m reminded constantly about my illness. Every day when I take that little yellow pill, every work shift when my walking slows from the heat in the kitchen, every time I struggle with a button or a zipper, I’m smacked in the face with MS. Every time I wake up with legs like cinder blocks, I have to think, “Hey, you’ve got MS, you can’t just jump out of bed and run off to the bathroom.” I don’t get to push it to the back of my mind; it affects every damn thing.
Second, who are you to say I shouldn’t talk about my illness? Is it because it makes you feel uncomfortable? Do you just not want to hear about the struggles of being disabled? I am not going to stay silent about my illness just to placate others. Not talking about disability, to me, is what propagates the stigma surrounding disability. We NEED to talk about our illnesses and our struggles to help create a larger understanding of disability in the world.
And lastly, by telling me to stop talking, you are erasing what has become a huge part of me. It’s like anything else that describes me – I have blonde hair and blue eyes, I live in Wisconsin, and I’m disabled. And I own my disability. I take pride in my disability. I think being disabled has changed me for the better. Dancing around disability helps absolutely no one, most of all the person who lives it every day.
No one gets to police what I say, and no one gets to erase a major part of who I am.