Endemic Disabled

Since it’s Mental Health Action Day and Global Accessibility Awareness Day it seemed like the perfect time to talk about a few things weighing on my mind lately. This was very nearly a social media post, but would have made for a really long Facebook status. What I need to say is better suited for long form.

To start, there are very real barriers to mental health care for disabled people. Whether those barriers are financial, physical (ie lack of transportation or accommodation) or the inability to find a provider competent in disability issues. This struggle exists for many disabled people especially those who are multiply marginalized. In the wake of so much loss within the disabled community throughout the pandemic, it is more important than ever that disabled people have accessible accommodating mental health care.

On the note of accommodations, those of us fortunate enough to have survived through this pandemic have watched the world seemingly instantaneously become more accessible. For the first time the accommodations we’ve been asking for were needed by the majority. Predictably, we’re now seeing those accommodations slowly disappearing again in the rush to return to normal. This will force a lot of disabled people back into almost total seclusion as we’re forgotten about again.

Which brings me to this, the treatment of the disabled community throughout this pandemic has been horrific. We were written off, once again, as the expected loss. The narrative was peddled of “only the already vulnerable are at risk”, meanwhile many of those who could and should have taken precautions chose their own personal freedoms, sacrificing the rest. Expected loss started to look like accepted, (or maybe even intended?) loss. Regardless, nearly half of covid deaths were members of the disabled community. None of this had to happen the way it did, but that is particularly unforgivable.

So now those of us left, the momentary survivors, where does that put us? Right where we’ve always been, members of a society that routinely forgets, neglects, abuses and does its best to silence us. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the disabled community, from my community, it’s we are not so easily forgotten, broken or silenced.

We are long lived. Our history is far reaching and our culture is rich. I am a very small part in all of this but I am grateful to be that part. I am just as grateful for each and every one of my disabled ancestors, elders and peers. I see you. I value you. I love you. Thank you for being. Thank you for continuing to fight for our place in this world.

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