I'm not ever so keen on the word 'disabled' or identifying myself as such. The fact is- I am able. It might take me longer to do things, I might have to rearrange and take a lot of time to rest, but I am able. Ish. And there lays the crux of the issue- am I actually able? Are my disabilities enough for me to be disabled or are they too much for me to class as able? Does it matter? Really, does it matter?
I don't 'look' disabled. But that doesn't mean I'm not in pain and I'm not struggling mentally. It's much like how people can have eating disorders at any weight. I mostly use crutches when I go anywhere, because years of Anorexia has badly affected my bones and joints. I can't actually get myself out alone, because of my anxiety. I can't-
Wait, I'm typing (and thinking) as if I have to justify my suffering. I don't. Sometimes I am able, sometimes I am not. It fluctuates. Being disabled, physically, doesn't mean in a wheelchair, and being disabled mentally doesn't mean sitting in a corner, rocking and muttering (although I have been in both of those situations. Wheelchairs and all that comes with mental illness). My social worker today mentioned about the welfare I'll get to help manage my disabilities and for once he worded something quite well- it's all about management. Being disabled means a lot of things to a lot of people, but ultimately it means you have to rearrange your commitments, your relationships, your entire life, around the disability. It's being a slave to a new master. To me, it's not about literally being unable, it's about having to take each day and each problem and fitting it together as best you can.
Sometimes I feel like I should affect a limp, because of the stares (given that I'm on crutches most of the time, that's not massively relevant, but even more before I got my crutches). There are all manner of awkward disabled moments, and trust me- it's embarrassing and I think that's why I was panicking earlier on in this post about whether or not I class as disabled. Getting an woman who looked in her 60s to give me the disabled seat on the train was particularly awkward, but I needed to sit down. Look out for people, but let us be able when we can. We'll let you know how able we are that day.