The following piece is a 557 Block Exclusive by Sarah Fader, published by the Editor at Diversability.TV.
I don’t want to be disabled but I am. I have multiple disabilities. I don’t even know if I like the word disability. Dis-ability – it’s so negative. In the 1990s when I was growing up, you insulted another person by “dissing” them. When I hear the word disability, I feel that I’m being dissed by society. You are not enough, you are weak, you are wrong, you are broken in some fundamental way. You are fucked up. You’re not enough, not normal, not a real person because you have nothing left to give.
I am a factory reject from a company that manufactures normal people, only I’m not normal. I’m disabled and I can’t stop thinking about all the things about me that don’t measure up. I want to know why I think this way and the reason is simple. It’s because I’ve been brainwashed by society to believe that I am not a correct human.
It’s my disability that makes me able to be better. It’s my disability allows me the courage to be who I am and it doesn’t mean that I’m broken. It means that I am layered with a variety of colors that just don’t match the walls of the room that you’re standing in and that’s okay. I’m okay with that, because I can mix colors and patterns and numbers even. I don’t know how to play by the rules and I’ve never been someone who likes rules anyway.
Rules are restrictive. I want to break free and be the person I am without labels and constraints and other people around me telling me who I ought to be. I’m tired of that shit. I’m exhausted from trying to emulate the person next to me on the train who appears to be “normal” just so that I won’t get stared at.
I’m disgusted with the part of myself that’s ashamed of who I am. I’m sickened with the tiny particles that want to change and be someone who they’re not. I’ll never be fucking normal and that’s okay because normal isn’t real. Normal is a mythological character who has a perfect jaw line and straight teeth with a killer smile. I’ve seen him in action, that Normal. He’s a duplicitous no-good whore. I’m done with him. I’ve trusted him to guide me in this lifetime and he leads me astray each and every time.
So I’m abandoning you, Normal. You’re not going to be my tour guide on this journey we call life anymore. Because you’re fake as hell and I can see through you. Those teeth aren’t even real. Goodbye Normal, I’m never going to be you and that’s what makes me beautiful. I’m not going to let myself pretend to be something I’m not any longer because my face feels like it’s going to fall off and I can’t breathe and I want to be myself.
And who am I? I am fragmented and sometimes I float above my body. I’m full of carbonated bubbles and sparklers inside my stomach and sometimes they crackle without my consent, but that doesn’t make me bad or wrong. It makes me who I am.
Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a campaign platform that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She is an author and blogger, having been featured on Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.
Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.