ARE WE ALL DISABLED?
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a certified study on mental health and disability, but rather a focus on individual experiences and interpretation within the scope of an extensive university capstone project.
For my writing minor capstone project, I was particularly interested in the psychology of how people socialize and how their abilities today are silently influenced by their individual past experiences, good or bad. Initially intended for 30-40 pages, I ended up writing about 160 pages on social communication afflictions specifically in terms of one central aspect:
"Are We All Disabled?" is about trauma. Trauma happens everywhere, anywhere - during childhood, in the academic setting, in the workplace. It is about afflictions - both the ones possessed by birth and the ones born by experiences. Everyone has an armor suit scarred by various experiences and burns that affects their actions and perceptions today. This is about a reality.
In the interest of getting down to the most close-up detail, I went in to investigate one individual's story out of the relatability and creative liberty. Written in first person, I wanted to emulate both the emotions invoked from his/her first-person perspective as well as the hindsight perspective of a bigger picture scope. However, this is actually a story reflecting that of many people's, individuals who've all had similar things happen to them. All names and identities have been edited for anonymity with creative liberty for privacy and respect.
I'm an advocate. I'm an advocate for those who've suffered trauma, and where it's gone wrong in bureaucracy. I'm an advocate for mental health. I'm an advocate for understanding that everyone is different, listed disability or not. I'm an advocate for calling out where dealing with horrific situations goes wrong by others' negligence. I'm an advocate for applauding when the right people take the right action. This is a story about the nuances of human interactions.
I believe in extreme measures to make sure those who feel threatened are given proper protection, above and beyond.
To those who were witnesses:
There's never, ever an excuse for you to not take action. Be proactive. Victims don't need you to have gone through the same experience. They don't need you to see the semantics. They don't even need you to understand. They just need you to believe them. And not turn a blind eye.
To those who were accomplices:
If you are someone with the right power to enact that protection, and you don't jump to take the proper action, shame on you. You are worth no more than the original cretins that did the harm in the first place.
To those who were perpetrators:
If you are someone who has ever violated someone else's right to freedom, safety, innocence, sense of self, anything, you are worth no more than the dirt that everyone else walks on. And if you ever consider even breathing again in the direction of someone you've previously tormented, I believe in taking extreme measures to make sure you don't. Because a survivor never forgets, and a survivor never stops fighting.
To everyone else:
Don't make light of any disability. Don't make bigger or smaller the magnitude of someone else's struggles. Don't make light of someone's past insecurities. Don't make light of harassment. Don't make light of someone else's mental health. Don’t make light of someone's physical or emotional health. Don't make light of what is a micro-aggression. Look again - everyone is experience-based.
To those who identify as survivors:
You are stronger because of what you've been through, not because you went through it, but because you are still here despite it. No one has a right to discriminate you because of it. Instead, they should respect you because your very existence proves your worth of survival. And for the perpetrators? They should be afraid of what you have to say, what truth about their wrongdoings you have the power to reveal. In the end, you are the bigger person, simply by being here.
I'm an advocate because I've gone through my own traumas, and am sure that you, the reader, has as well. This story is for everyone.