*Pinned* Disability Misconceptions.

A former friend recently opened my eyes to some of the public’s perception of disabled persons – particularly ones receiving monetary governmental support. Below are some snippets of an opinion they so graciously left on my Facebook wall.  I’ve chosen the misconceptions I felt a large group (uninformed, of course) seem to believe:

 

db2

Most people who are on disability have worked and paid into the system for many years – in some cases, most of their lives.  Sometimes people are born with a severe disability that makes employment difficult, but most often the recipients are hard working people who became very ill, whether physically or mentally.  We live in a society that is modeled to take care of the sick and elderly.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a good system to have in place.  Often people don’t realize its true benefit until something unfortunate happens to themselves or a loved one.  Then all and any misconceptions they might have had previously fade away as they find themselves on the other side of the fence.

It’s regrettable that there are a few people that do abuse the system.  I understand why people act hostile and feel upset that they are working 40 + hours a week to support themselves and their families and not some person who is able to work, but doesn’t.  It’s reasonable to feel that way in those circumstances, but to group anyone and everyone (who you feel is unworthy of governmental assistance) is very wrong, and frankly, very ignorant.

  db2

This statement was in response to a proposal to limit the monthly disability allowance to $600 a month. Most people on disability feel extremely fortunate and are very grateful to receive even $1 – anything to help us get better and to survive.  But most of that money goes towards (excluding housing) medications.  I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s assumed that most people who are ill usually have to take a large assortment of medications – medications that would easily eat up that $600.

This misconception isn’t a very pressing one – I just thought it was pretty naive to compare a struggling healthy individuals monthly cost of living to an ill and disabled individual.

  db3

“Disabled” can mean a plethora of things: physically, mentally, etc.  For most people who are unable to work, it is not solely because they are immobile, stuck in a wheelchair, morbidly obese, loss of a limb, etc.  There ARE jobs that are catered to those disabilities that the government can help someone obtain.  I know several people with such disabilities that contribute to the workforce and that is very commendable!

However, the ones who are deemed unable to work are the ones whose health is unstable.  Maybe one day they will feel fine for a few hours and can execute basic tasks – another day can be filled with constant pain and an inability to even dress themselves, let alone perform simple functions.  No two days are ever the same and it’s in situations like those where employment is difficult.

Who can support themselves with a few select hours here and there in the work week?  Who will employ someone that might be able to work 1 hour one day and then none for the remainder of the week?  Just because someone can update a status – or like a post on Facebook – does not mean they are fit for some form of stable internet employment.  Being capable of writing a journal entry for 20 minutes complaining about disability misconceptions does not mean that one is able to perform and maintain a job at home to support themselves (and if it IS possible, please let me know! I’d jump right on it ASAP!).   I can continue with many more examples of incredulous statements, but I think my point has already been made.

 

Having your independence taken away, and having to rely on other people, can be a very humbling and humiliating experience.  Most people on disability have worked most of their lives and the suddenness of being stuck at home can be a huge shock to their confidence and self esteem.  Feelings of shame, worthlessness and failure are very common.  I know most of us would gladly go back to work, and contribute to society and the workforce, if possible. It is a misconception that we sit on our bums at home, collecting “free” money to buy alcohol and cigarettes, while partying and having a great time!  Although that might be the case for a minority, it hardly is for the majority.   The reality is that most often people are stuck at home because they are unable to go out, except for medical appointments.  And even that can be challenging.  So basically if you’re in this situation, you can kiss your personal and social life goodbye! Mwah!

I am a talented woman with a lot of skills and talents to offer.  I went to college, took additional college courses for web/graphic design and even lived in Europe for a few years working as a private tutor.  I was also in the Canadian Armed Forces for a short while.  I made decent money and had a great professional, social and personal life.  To give that all up for the opportunity to sit at home wasting away, not having the ability to go hang out with friends, not seeing my boyfriend for many months at a time, laying in bed in constant pain because sitting upright for too long can trigger it (among other things) just seems incredibly ridiculous.   I apologize for the examples, but I was just trying to express the reality of daily life for someone in a situation similar to mine.  It’s definitely a “party”, indeed…

Sometimes at home (especially after a home care visit), I will attempt to apply some makeup and put on some “regular” clothes to take a few selfies.  It might sound vain, but it’s really just me trying to convince myself that I am normal – that I feel normal – that I live a normal life.  It’s silly, but it helps me cope with current circumstances and makes me feel like a regular human being – a real person – again.   My illness does not define me (or so I keep telling myself). My suggestion is that if you meet a person on government assistance due to a disability, that you listen and learn their story and offer support.  To chastise and judge them not only makes you look like an ignorant fool, but it just shows how terrible society has become and can be.  The last thing people need is to feel embarrassed and humiliated of their current inability to change their situation.  Don’t be one of those people. Thanks for reading.  Diane.

This is the only reason I can think of for judgemental behaviour.

This is the only reason I can think of for judgemental behaviour.

On a side note, I must also point out that it is extremely difficult to be approved to receive any ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) benefits.  There are many steps to take, heaps of paperwork, regular assessment/doctor visits.  I would suggest to those naysayers that they find something more important to complain about rather than pick on someone who is not well.  And if they are really hurting for cash, then I’d gladly refund the tiny miniscule fraction of a penny that is likely paid to support me directly annually.  Sorry for the rudeness, but I am very irate that I was even put into a position to defend/explain myself when I shouldn’t have to.   It shouldn’t have to be that way…

EDIT: I will be keeping this entry pinned to the top because I think if anyone is to read and take anything from my journal, that this entry should be the one to do that.

 


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8 Comments
  1. 6 years ago
    Gui

    Im sorry that you have to deal with this type of ignorance. Like you stated, it is a burden until you become dependent on it yourself, or a close one. It is very important that you brought this to attention, being a very important topic to be discussed. I am proud of you for that. I love u

    Reply
    • Diane6 years ago
      Diane

      To be disabled these days creates a huge stigma. People are so hating. I read about someone who saw a person using one of those scooters Walmart supplies for their customers, and complain that they were “skinny and didn’t look disabled”. What on earth does disabled look like? The fact that she needed a scooter should have been a clue that maybe perhaps she was. It’s terrible how society loves to judge people. Terrible.

      Reply
  2. 6 years ago
    Valerie

    Oooooo this chick just dont know stupid ignorant idiot!!!!!! Sadly she’ll realize & eat her words when its too late But you dont need to worry about her because she hasnt met someone who handles people just as dumb as her shes this bad @ss chica i know named karma and although I dont wish harm upon no one but karma feels otherwise & she handles business…
    So brush your shoulders off & hold your head up high shes not worth any of your painfree time…get well stay strong

    Reply
    • Diane6 years ago
      Diane

      I am a huge believer of karma as well – and maybe he was already dumped with a huge load of bad karma (yes, it was a ‘he’) which is maybe why he was in a negative mood and attacked me. Oh well.

      I just hate that I am even in a position where I have to justify myself. Just leave me alone so I can heal in peace with only positive energy around me. It’s so amazing how you think you’ve known someone for years only to find how hateful and ugly they truly are.

      Reply
  3. 6 years ago
    Valerie

    I’ve noticed that you mention that again “its amazing how you think you’ve known someone for all these years & they turned out be so ugly & hateful” I understand that you may not want to see or hear what I’m about to say but maybe this is the positive you need to focus on. This illness and all the rolling aftermath that has happened to you has opened your eyes. It has pulled away the wool that blinded you and allowed you to SEE! You never noticed before how this “friend” has always been…Its opened your eyes, your mind & your heart

    Reply
  4. 3 years ago
    jordan

    don’t really have much to add to the above..it’s sad that this kind of ignorance abounds..sad and frustrating…and attacking someone on fbook is just pitiful..

    Reply
    • Diane3 years ago
      Diane

      I could not agree with you more. xo

      Reply
  5. 3 years ago
    Lorraine Toth

    Hi Diane, I am finding that agism is rampant too. Since I have “gone grey” I feel more invisible. I have to be louder and more animated for people to notice me. Some people treat me as a not so bright child not realizing that I have been around the block many times academically and socially. Since my heart attack I was blasted with good will and now people are backing away. I have to almost “chase” them to have contact.

    Reply

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