Disabled Labels

Today I applied for my first job. I have no earthly idea whether I’ll get it or not, but it’s still a milestone. Upon filling out my application I realized that Bipolar Disorder is on the list of things that you “disclose that you have but they can’t not hire you because of it”. Huh. It’s weird to think of myself as disabled. It’s totally true, but it’s weird. I have medical issue upon medical issue upon medical issue. Yet, even with the fibromyalgia, POTS, bipolar disorder, dysautonomia, central sensitization syndrome, and this heart monitor I have yet to really consider myself disabled. I don’t know if accepting the label would make me feel better or worse. If I identify as disabled what does that say about me? Am I succumbing to what I am, or simply acknowledging that it is? 

I’ve read work by people like me, like the whole community of differently abled people, who find solace in “disabled”. I’m not so sure. As a 19 year old with the world ahead of me, slightly manic me doesn’t want to accept disabled. And yet slightly manic me is exactly the me that merits the label. 

Slightly manic me wants to do lots of things: apply for a job for one, laugh a little too much and too long when my boyfriend’s head movement reminds me of a turtle, freak out a little when my phone is hidden from me and start a frenzied search that ends with my phone in a freezer, stare at my heart monitor and keep myself from dipping into depression mode by smiling it away and remembering David thinks I look like a “sexy-robot-assassin”, write a blog post about applying for a job. Meta. 

A friend once said “I don’t like putting myself in boxes”, I feel as though the “disabled” label makes people feel boxed into a label they don’t fit, a life they don’t want to live. But maybe, just maybe, the label makes us stronger as a community. Maybe I am disabled, or at least differently abled. And maybe that’s okay. 

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