Friday, April 29, 2011

Supercrips make each other sad

(WARNING: This post talks about internalized ableism and suicidal thoughts)

When people hate themselves for having difficulties that I also have, or feel proud of themselves for not having to ask for help in ways that I ask for help, I have trouble knowing how to feel. It’s difficult to pull apart self-hate from the implied hatred for other people like me. It’s hard to work out how personally to take these statements.

You know how sometimes able-bodied people say to people who are visibly physically disabled, “If I was in your situation, I’d kill myself”? Obviously the disabled people feel hurt, because no one likes being told that their life isn’t worth living. It’s easy to figure out the ethical implications of that comparison when it’s a non-disabled person saying it to a disabled person. But what about, “I am also disabled and I fear that I may soon be in your situation and then I would want to kill myself?” “I am in your situation and I want to kill myself?” “People like us deserve to die?”

It’s hard not to take that personally. It’s hard respond just to the other person’s pain, and not the implications of someone else’s self-hate with regard to my disability and my life.

The idea of the supercrip hurts us all. Growing up in a society which teaches us that the only good disabled people are the ones who overcome, who never give up, we are set up for failure because eventually we will have to rest and we will have to give up. But other people lay this expectation on us again and again, and tell us yes you can do this when the continual trying is tearing our heads apart and we are begging to stop. And even though we can feel in our bodies that we have reached a limit, somewhere inside us there’s a little voice that tells us, you’re making it up, you can do this, you’re worthless if you can’t do this, why do you think you deserve accommodations, why do you think you should get to feel safe.

And this little voice gets louder and louder, and eventually the only options are being Not Good Enough or being dead, and a lot of autistic people I know sometimes lean toward being dead. Because being raised with this idea means making it a weapon, and using it to hurt ourselves, and using it to hurt each other.


  1. I've been dealing with this a lot lately.

    When I found out I had autism, I was pretty much okay. That's because I was reading blogs like this one written by super awesome autistic people straight up telling me what was going on with being autistic, and all that learning I was autistic did was give me a great new set of vocabulary and ideas to understand my life with. It was a super positive experience.

    I just found out that I have Borderline Personality Disorder and I've noticed a serious lack of people with anything good to say about it. Damn near everything I've been able to find, by mental health professionals or borderlines alike, tells me that this is a horribly debilitating disease that will hurt me and everyone I'm close to until I kill myself. Nearly everything written by other borderlines centers on attempts at "overcoming" it, and aside from a couple supercrips with PhDs in privilege, those efforts all look super futile from here.

    The message I'm getting out of that is that borderline is an inherently terrible thing to be; that my life sucks on such a deep existential level that we're all just gonna kill ourselves and who can blame us.

    I expect that shit from mental health professionals but the fact that it's coming from other crips really, really hurts.

    (ps my name isn't joshua it's maple)

  2. Thank you.

    I know I say that sort of thing a lot when my head is trying to get rid of me.

    Thank you.


  3. I'm glad you mentioned this. That sharply reminds me about what's been on my mind a lot. I've been getting vibes from others about effort and choices that have been messing with my mind. And cause of that, I've had subtle thoughts like the ones you mentioned, in which I wonder if I'm exaggerating my problems, think that I could actually do something and be better off if I just tried again and harder and by doing something else, regardless of my many previous unsuccessful attempts. I wonder a lot what extent of effort that I would have to endure that would mean trying hard enough.