A long time ago, I think I decided (without thinking about it first) that doing things that were meaningful, like being an activist, was too difficult because disagreeing with people and speaking up for myself was too hard and I didn’t want to do that stuff anymore. I had tried to be a member of the disability rights group on campus and I felt at the time that there wasn’t a place for me there because I use medication to treat my disability and some members of the group felt that the social model of disability was the way that people with disability should conceptualize things.*
So I stopped showing up. And I kept not showing up and I kept taking my medication and I didn’t have to disagree with anyone about it and I didn’t have to think about what it meant to conceptualize things in terms of the medical model of disability.
It is easy to not be an activist. It is very easy to not talk about things. It is exceptionally easy to let that become a trend and it is easy to stop talking and to stop writing and to let a blog which you (I) were (was) proud of just suddenly disappear.
Exactly a month ago, an email appeared in my inbox from my dad (with no subject line) which read “where’s da blog?” and I didn’t respond to it and I continued to not think or speak or feel. I continued to take my medication and not talk about it. My boyfriend asked me how I was feeling and I suggested that maybe we could schedule a regular time to talk about such things. Maybe once a week? We did not get around to scheduling that talk. I let MS slip out of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I continued to treat it, I turned in my accommodation request forms at my university, and I took care of myself. I just stopped thinking.
And then two nights ago, I decided to do something different. I went to a discussion entitled “Privilege, Ability, Wellness, and Policy” about disability on campus at Wesleyan. And when we were asked to write down a story of how ability or disability has affected our time at Wesleyan, I wrote this:
This is a story that I have been hesitant about “going public” about, mainly because I have absolutely no proof, but you know what? Fuck it. It happened almost three years ago, and I’m tired of hiding it. My class dean was entirely in the wrong. I can say that she was entirely in the wrong because I didn’t take medical leave and now I’m a senior and I will graduate with more than the required number of credits. With one major as well as one certificate. Having taught my own class, having participated in extracurricular activities, having had friends and having felt happy. And I’m tired of covering for her, she’s the one who made a mistake, and she’s the one who said the wrong thing. I shouldn’t have to hide what she did. She should feel ashamed, not me. So, anyway, two nights ago, I went back to basics.
I went to the discussion and I spoke up and I talked about what changes I think should be made to policies on my campus regarding disability. There happened to be a meeting of the disability rights organization immediately following the policy discussion, so I stayed for that too. Back to basics. For me, “basics” should mean “activism” and it should mean “speaking up” and it should mean “blogging” even if that feels self-centered because maybe I can, in some way, create positive change.
Hi Dad, this is a response to that email you sent a month ago. Also, happy birthday! See you this weekend.
*it should be noted that this seems to no longer be the culture of the group on campus that I’m referencing in this post.