Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Respecting the Work of the Disabled

In the screenshot below is a comment someone just left on my latest weekly content selection where I talk about all of the work I've done over the past week. In this comment I'm sensing sarcasm, ignorance, and ableism. It is despicable to disparage the diligent work of someone who's mentally disabled.

I work constantly every day to such an incredible extent. I work until I can't keep my eyes open and unfortunately when I try to go to sleep, I can't even stop my mind from thinking that it is still aggregating numbers. I'm obsessive and I do my best work when I'm working on something that I'm passionate about.

I feel that part of why I work so hard is that I'm afraid that privileged people, like this person, will look down on me. For those who've watched my video series about mental health, I talk about these fears and how the past 13 years of my life have been about dealing with my feelings of insecurity. In the following video particularly, I talk about why I am open about my mental health and my fears regarding how people perceive me.

For those who don't understand why I'm so bothered by this comment, it is because society makes us base so much of our value on what we do and data aggregation and analysis is currently what I do. As a vulnerable mentally disabled person, when my work ethic or the products of my work are disparaged, this implies that no matter how many countless hours I constantly work, I am still meaningless to society.

This person's comment is the complete opposite of progressive. They are reinforcing the stereotype that those who're mentally disabled are simply lazy and that their work is meaningless. The work of minorities needs to be taken more seriously since many people can live fulfilling lives if the normative expectations of society are diminished. Society wants us all to fit in one single mold, but we're much more diverse than that. This is why I try to use the term "neuroatypical" more often than "mentally disabled" these days. I'm different and atypical, and sure I have struggles and need help, but I'd likely have significantly fewer struggles if people recognized how many kinds of diversity there are in the world. Diversity that goes beyond skin colour, hair, or nationality. Diversity concerning sex, sexuality, gender, how people think and act, among many other things needs to also be accepted.

My online presence is the only place where I publicly display my identity because I'm often not able to go out into the physical world. My work and my patrons over on Patreon, where I post my weekly content selections, give me a sense of meaning that is much greater than the sum of money that they pledge to me.