Archive for the ‘Disability’ Category

Depression ruined my vacuum cleaner   Leave a comment

People with depression sometimes get really good at hiding their symptoms.  I guess I started when I was kid.  There is a real pressure in the kind of Christianity I grew up in to be OK. You don’t have to be perfect of course, some minor struggles are allowed, like gossip or gluttony. You can even struggle with forgiveness if something particularly horrible happen to you, but there is this tyranny of OK that must be obeyed.   It’s not OK to be depressed.  There is a stigma against mental illness in normal society, and particularly against depression.  People who’ve never been there think that depressed people need to just buck up and get their shit together.  This is unusually true about the church because so many of the promises in the Bible about the “peace of God” and such.

So I started hiding my symptoms when they started showing up around the time I started middle school. I didn’t trust my parents or my parents church to deal with me or my symptoms the way I needed (a decision I have zero regrets about 20 years later) and I just hid it.  I was honest about it with my wife and later my daughter. (I figure having a dad who answers your question honestly when you ask “Daddy, why can’t you get out of bed today?” is less scary than having one who lies to you about it or does it in the first place) but in general, mostly no one really knew, or if they knew had any idea how serious it was.  I thought I did such a great job “functioning”.  I wouldn’t call it living really, just functioning, but now I am not so sure.

Yesterday I vacuumed the living room.  As usual, the vacuum cleaner barely worked. Irritated, I took it at apart.  Low and behold, all three filters were clogged, the hose was clogged in two places, and the beater bar was so covered in hair it looked like a legless ferret. Half and hour and 2 gallons of hair, lint and funk later, it works great. When you’re depressed, you feel like everything is broken, no one cares, and nothing really matters. Because everything I did felt pointless and shoddy, those feelings about the experience of vacuuming didn’t stick out from any other feelings I had. I felt that way about the work I put into relationships, school, music, and employment…why would housecleaning be any different?

I wonder how much this is going to help me with things like college?  Instead of being surprised I’m not going to fail in every single class I take, maybe the doubts I have about that class will be uniquely meaningful, and I’ll do better?  Regardless, at least I’ll have clean floors.

A perspective on disability   Leave a comment

A story

So, I have a disability:  I can’t run 60 mph, and snow and rain slows me down even further, but luckily I have really great piece of adaptive hardware (A Volvo V70) that allows me to have a normal life.  Of course, since I can’t afford one of the better power chairs (Like a Ford Expedition or a M1 Abrams tank), I’m almost totally dependent on the government to provide me an infrastructure that my mostly-smooth-surface Volvo can handle.   Again, fortunately for me, there is a fantastic infrastructure available.  I can use my adaptive device almost everywhere.  There’s hundreds of thousands of miles of paved trails that are designated for people who share this disability.  In fact, normal people, without the same adaptive equipment aren’t even allowed to use OUR infrastructure so there is more room for us, and the unique needs of our power chairs.

Yesterday it snowed, and the city didn’t clear the hill by my house, making it a slippery, icy mess.  All my similarly disabled friends were infuriated by how we were following our civic duty and paying taxes, but the city wasn’t following it’s civic duty and maintaining the infrastructure that allows all of us disabled people to use the different parts of the city.  This is fairly rare.  Usually the city really takes us into consideration with everything it does.  It never builds a park unless we can get to it, and it regularly improves the infrastructure so that I and all my disabled friends to get to more places.  A lot of people have a similar disability, in that they can’t carry up to 40 tons of cargo.  Almost identical infrastructure is needed for their adaptive equipment (Peterbuilts and Macs and such), and every effort is made to make sure they can get to all the stores around town.  For them we make paths a little wider, a little stronger, and parking a little bigger.  For both groups, service centers and refueling centers for our adaptive devices are among the commonest of all businesses.  Truly, we live in a great world for disabled people.

A truth

A disability is a limitation, and a car really does correct your limitations.  You can’t run 60 mph, and you can’t carry hundreds of pounds of stuff.  A car really is an adaptive device that lets you do those things.  Without roads, your car is useless.  You are 100% dependent on the government to provide an infrastructure that makes it possible to use your adaptive device.  I have never heard anyone complain about everyone’s taxes going to build an infrastructure for this particular disability.  If a bridge is needed to cross a tiny creek that separates two business districts, no one even ponders telling car owners to buck up, no one ponders telling the business owners to build it themselves, and no one bulks at putting the infrastructure costs of their adaptive equipment on society.

A question 

Why do people think it’s right to build a publicly supported infrastructure for their inability to be a car, but wrong to build a publicly supported infrastructure for other’s inability to walk?