Am I Disabled?

And who does or doesn’t count.

Chronic Illness:

As someone suffering from a chronic illness, whether or not I ought to consider myself disabled is difficult question to navigate.

When I was first diagnosed, it felt like a land-mine of a question, with so many conflicting opinions surrounding me. I was at a loss.

For a long time I had no idea what was wrong with me, how long it would last or how to manage it, and that had to take precedent over personal identity questions.

But that didn’t stop it always buzzing around my brain.

I have days where I can’t get out of bed because I’m in so much pain but I also have days where I can go about day-to-day life with minimal impact. So without a diagnosis and having a condition that’s constantly fluctuating, I had no idea where I stood.

When I need a stick, I definitely felt disabled, but when I was wearing heels and dancing in a club then no, I didn’t.

However, I ultimately realised that didn’t matter, what mattered was that my chronic illness was limiting my life.

It was disabling me.

And I don’t say that as either a good or a bad thing, I say that just as a fact. I had to stop running, I need grocery deliveries, sometimes I can’t cook my own meals. None of things are bad, they are just my reality.

So, yes, my chronic illness does make me disabled.

Autism:

This is the one I am still grappling with and truly do not have an answer for.

I know that a lot of autistic people consider themselves disabled, and I fully support that.

However, I am still very early on in identifying as autistic and figuring out what that means for me. It took me a long time to identify as disabled when I first became ill and so I am allowing myself the same time with autism.

There is no rush and no pressure to figure this out, and that’s something I have learned from experience.

Maybe in a year I will consider being autistic a disability, or maybe I won’t. Either way it’s fine, I’ll just wait and see how I feel as I figure out what it means to be autistic, for me.

So am I Disabled?

Yes. I am disabled.

I know this because my life is regularly altered by my health. I face various limitations as a result of chronic illness and wider society is not set up in a way that is always accessible to me.

But I also know this because it is how I feel comfortable identifying. For a long time I didn’t feel comfortable identifying as disabled, adn that was ok, I was still figuring my disability out.

Now I see labelling myself as disabled as useful and empowering. It allows me to tell others that I may have additional access needs and it lets me connect with other people that have similar experiences.

I am disabled. And that’s a good thing.

Why can’t I stop watching Grey’s Anatomy?

It’s a Sunday evening, my girlfriend’s away and I have a few free hours with nothing to do, so how will I fill this time? I could read a book, bake a cake or do some creative writing, but do I choose to do any of these? No. I choose to sit down and start watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning again.

For those who don’t know, Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama that started in 2005, following the staff at a fictional Seattle hospital. It has been incredibly successful, wracking up an impressive 380 episodes and season 18 set to air this week . Earlier this summer I decided the watch it for the first time, starting from the very beginning, and I quicky became obsessed. I watched it at a frankly unacceptable pace and would constantly bring it up in conversation, unable to think about much else.

Now I should clarify that it’s not unusual for me to marathon a TV show like this, it’s something that I will often do, however the extent to which Grey’s Anatomy was occupying my brain, was reaching an entirely different level. When I was watching the later seasons of the show, I was becoming nostalgic for the early seasons and already wanted to restart watching it from the beginning…..while I was still watching it.

So for those who haven’t figured it out yet, I am autistic. And Grey’s Anatomy had become a new special interest for me.

This is a pretty new revelation for me; self-diagnosing as autistic and waiting on a referral, but it has completely changed the way I understand myself and the things I do.

I’ve always felt slightly on the outside of things or as though there are a set of unwritten rules that I don’t quite understand, but it was ony after further reasearch that I realised I might be autistic. Women often present autistic traits very differently to men, which leaves a much lower rate of diagnosis and increased misunderstanding of what autism is.

This left me feeling very isolated when I was younger, developing a lot of anxiety and masking a lot of my natural behaviours in an attempt to fit in. This means that I am now gradually unpicking traits that I have long since learnt to mask.

One such trait is my incredible ability to marathon a TV show and learn everything there is to know about it. This is something I have always done with TV shows and movie franchises and seem unable to avoid. So why should I?

I’m sure there are lots of people who think it is a waste of time or useless information but if I enjoy it then I don’t see how it can be. I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and admit that my knowledge of Grey-Sloan Memorial is not exactly helping me out in life, but I also don’t care.

I am autistic and my special interest in Grey’s Anatomy makes me happy.

I know this has deviated from my usual book-related content, so let me know if this type of post is something you would like to see more of.

Thanks for reading!