Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The cost of disability - a cautionary tale

I think I need to apologise to my body and myself because I have played out the true cost of disability: loneliness. I was thrown into the world with a stammer, depression and Parkinson’s but the presence of these things is not my fault (they weren’t even chosen for me, they just are). What is my responsibility is how I manage these things and in the past I tried to contain their effect on me (and other people) by closing myself down. At the time it seemed like a good strategy when not one, not two but three very difficult things were punching me in the face every second. My strategy was to dull the pain. But, looking back I realise my strategy introduced a fourth entity that threw punches; I see myself standing over myself joining in the beating. I was defeating myself by shutting myself away and making loneliness almost a certainty. It helped to stop the beating by seeing the thrownness of my problems; I am not to blame for their presence in my life nor am I a slave to them.

So, I’m sorry body and mind for making your (and my) isolation more likely. I built barriers around myself to keep my disabilities away but I ended up keeping away everything else; I also stopped myself from reaching over the barriers and sharing myself. I’m sorry you haven’t been wanted. I see the choice I have to change this and I’m trying to make up for lost time before Parkinson’s potentially takes the possibility away.

Disability can be defined as physical difficulty engaging with the world (I see mental ability as having a physical basis so this includes mental difficulty). Our world contains varying physical terrain we have to manoeuvre ourselves in and around. There is another terrain we have to negotiate with, that of society and the interaction between people. Disability can lead to isolation in both types of terrain. I’m not sure which is worse; having difficulty getting to a social event or once there, feeling alone in a room full of people. Help should be given to battle both types of terrain isolation.


  1. i start every dsy by reciting: Give me the courage to change the things I can; the patience to accept the the things I can't; and the wisdom to know the difference. I find it helpful when deciding what I cant actually do as opposed to what fear of embarrasing myself is stopping me from doing.

  2. You highlight a crucial point - is the line I draw in the sand out of fear and the line I impose as my limit in the same place as my absolute physical limIt?

    I'm not sure...